Triumph in Traveling Solo

November 21, 2016

I am packing up my bags in an Airbnb in Budapest. My two travel buddies who have been with me the past week are packing up too, but with a different destination in sight. Today is the day we part ways and I have to make it back to my host city in east France all the way from Hungary - alone. My stomach is in knots.

In the hopes of avoiding the confusion of public transit, I scroll through TripAdvisor threads on the local taxi system. One thread, titled “Budapest Taxi and Death,” inspires my decision that the public transit couldn’t be too difficult. Another thread explains the trip easily; one metro line, then a bus. Not too bad. I wave goodbye to my friends and set off on my expedition five hours before my flight’s scheduled departure. Yes, I am ridiculous.

The metro and bus are a blur to me now, but I can’t forget the feeling of triumph just in the moment of arriving at the airport. Showed Hungarian public transit who’s boss.

The airport came with the usual list of suspects: overpriced bag check, outrageously long security line, and a middle seat on a small plane between two people who have no awareness of dental hygiene. Traveling is very glamorous.

Arriving in Charles de Gaulle, I followed the signs to the RER/Metro trains. With two hours to get from airport to train station, I had no concern about this part of my journey. I slipped my new RER ticket into the appropriate slot and slammed into the locked turnstile before noticing the large, red “X”. My ticket was not working. I’ve wasted four euros, thirty minutes and humiliated myself in the process. A line of sassy travelers has formed behind me and I waddle out of the turnstile, head down and tail tucked.

The line is longer than 30 minutes now, and my train leaves in an hour from a station that is an hour away. It’s about 6:30 p.m., and Parisian traffic is in high swing. My best bet is Uber, so I make a mad dash to the closest pick up option. I hop in the Uber and nervously watch the clock on my phone as minutes tick away to my train departure. 60, 50, 40 …

My Uber pulls up to the station ten minutes before my train’s scheduled departure. I walk (but quickly darling, I do have places to be) to my train and make it on with five minutes to spare.

Sitting in my seat on the train is where the real crown of triumph descends from the plastic ceiling and gracefully rests on the top of my head. I did it. I traveled alone, I rolled with the punches.

These are the trials that make study abroad so important; the trials that make you stand out in a line up. You can adapt and problem solve. You can do more than you give yourself credit for. You can wear your crown proudly.

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