Solo Traveler – Am I Addicted to Traveling?
The first time that I was sitting on a plane all by myself was back in 2001. I was 15 years old and went from Germany to Paris in France. I still remember when I arrived at the, in my eyes gigantic, Charles-De-Gaulle airport and I had to find my way from one terminal to the other side of the airport to catch my long distance flight to fly all over Africa to get to a small island called La Réunion, a French overseas department, located close to Maurice, in the Indian Ocean, at the east side of Madagascar.
First-time solo traveler as a teenager
Why would I fly there on my own? Good question. I decided to spend half a year of my high school time at a French Lycée. My school had a student exchange program with a high school there, and I had been there before together with my school class. So this time, I could not fly with my friends and teachers, but all by myself. I lived with a guest family, went to school and participated in all kind of sports activities and met up with my school friends. It was a great time and I never wanted to go back to Germany. I actually had everything planned to stay there and graduate from high school on this beautiful tropical island. For some reasons (that I did not understand at that time) my parents wanted me to come back home and finish my school in Germany 😉
Also read: Things to know as a female solo traveler
…And I did and also applied for studies at the university in my hometown. I got accepted right away with not much time for travels at all. Shortly before I graduated, I met some students from the USA. They were on a visit to Germany, and we talked about that I cannot wait to travel again and that I want to go to an English-speaking country to improve my language skills. They suggested that I should come visit. One of the girls even invited me to stay with her in her house as long as I want. My initial plan was to stay for a year and do an internship at the university. I had everything arranged when I received the news that I can start my Ph.D. work right after summer. So I skipped the internship, however, I went to the USA for five weeks to meet up with friends and even flew to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding.
Travels as part of my education
I was very lucky in my time as a Ph.D. candidate at the university that my supervisors encouraged us to go to as many international conferences as possible. I think we were the most “travel-active” research group in our faculty. My supervisors could not pay for all the travels, but they supported us with small incentives as much as possible, for example when we were planning to present our research at the conference, we received some reimbursement for the travel costs. I think I went to at least three to four conferences every year, sometimes even more, when there were some smaller seminars in Europe.
Travels as part of my job
I was already traveling a lot during these years between 2010 and 2014, but when I moved to Finland for a new job at the beginning of 2015, my travel schedule became even more packed with visits at home in Germany, but also more international conferences and invites to meetings. Over the years, I started working with different collaborators all over the world, which gave me the opportunity to travel to the USA, but also Brazil, and several countries all over Europe.
The constant travels became a routine, being at my home base, which is currently still in Finland for more than one or two weeks feels awkwardly weird. This year, I decided to finally start traveling in Southeast-Asia. It started as vacation, but by now I have some of my favorite global office spots in places like Bali in Indonesia or Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Back to answering my initial question: Am I addicted to traveling?
Maybe. Maybe, I have always been a traveler at heart with a passion to spend time at different places on this world. I am just not made for a 9-5 job spending 365 days of my year in one place with an occasional 14 days vacation trip to the nearest Mediterranean beach location. So, I understand that some people might get the impression that I am constantly on vacation.
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