I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but a couple years ago I decided it was time to stop waiting around for a travel partner to go with me on the trips I had been dreaming of for years. Even though it scared me to think about going to a foreign country on my own, I pushed myself to plan out a trip to Greece and just go.
On the first day of my trip to Santorini, I signed up for a volcano tour. I’m not the most physically active person, so the amount of uphill hiking involved sounded a little daunting, but I just went with it. Hiking up the volcano was tiring but not too bad, and the view from the top was amazing.
A little later in the day our boat docked at Thirasia, the smaller island across from the main island of Santorini. There were several restaurants to choose from right there, but it seemed like there would be better options at the top of the cliff. Catherine, a solo traveler from Ireland, and I decided to hike up the long path rather than wait for the donkeys to come back down. I can’t even tell you how many times I had to stop to catch my breathe, desperately hoping I wouldn’t hyperventilate. But it was all worth it when we got to the top. It was an amazing lunch of meats, cheeses and vegetables served up by an endearing old man who had probably been there for decades.
At the end of the day, and after much more tedious hiking, I collapsed on my bed well before my typical bedtime. I was physically exhausted, but mentally charged. I had never really pushed myself to do things like that before. I realized I’m a much stronger person than I thought before taking this trip by myself. Pushing myself up that hill was about a lot more than a great view and a delicious meal. It was about pushing through my boundaries and my expectations of myself, and it was an amazing feeling.
Read next: Solo Travel Sucks. Do It Anyway.