My Little Sisters First Solo European Vacation

May 27, 2009 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

Addy and I in Morocco

Travel is big in my family. It's part of who we are, what we do together and some of my fondest, funniest and most frustrating moments with my family have often been on the road. When I was a kid, we did very traditional family vacations, alternating spring breaks were to Florida for sun or Colorado for skiing. Summer vacation was the first two weeks of August when we went to Kiawah, South Carolina.

As my two younger sisters and I got older, and especially after my mom and stepdad split up, the annual vacation with mom has been one adventure after another. Of course, this is in addition to the travels and adventures I like to take on my own.

My first solo vacation was taken when I was a junior in college studying abroad in Rome, Italy. It was our fall break and most of my friends were going to Amsterdam or down to Naples and I was reading On The Road_ (ironic but really true)_ and I wanted an adventure of my own! I decided to take the slow train through Italy and stop at villages along the way and eventually take an overnight to Zagreb, Croatia to see my distant family. That was one of the first trips to truly open my eyes and change my life.

It was with great joy then when I heard that my youngest sister, Adriana, had decided to take 10 days to travel by herself in Belgium and Switzerland this May after school got out (she's a freshman in college). While my family and I are certainly nervous for her, I also know this is a great step into the wide world of being able to stand on your own two feet and feel comfortable with yourself.

*Travel, especially solo travel, has been my savior the past 10 years. *When I feel lost or spinning out of control or not sure what is next for me, I like to hit the open road. The freedom of making decisions at every turn - which way to go - where to eat - where to sleep - is empowering to me, freeing and ultimately a huge assurance that I can make decision big and small and I can trust my instincts.

I've often said over the years that I'm my best version of myself while traveling. On my toes, alert, awake to the experience - and this last trip I took to South America I had this aha moment when I was hiking by myself one day in Ecuador after being away for about a month. I thought, "Why I can't be the best version of myself all the time?" I booked a return ticket home for two weeks later. I have been on a roll ever since.

Addy got to Bruges the other day and sent me this email:

From: Addy To: Sloane Subject: Little sister like big sister!

So I"m in brugge now and just en route to the chocolate museum waiting for my room to be ready. But guess what I did for lunch? On thr bus to my hostel I saw farmers market in the markt so after checking in I went there got two slices of cheese(more than I thought it would be) a mini wheat baguette and two peaches. Lunch with plenty left over for later! And under 5 euros! How bout that! How's the burgh?

My response:

From: Sloane To: Addy Subject: RE: Little sister like big sister!

Sister, sounds wonderful! I'm so happy for you and got your other message too - sorry I didn't get to get back to you. I'm so proud and excited for you!

Soak up the travel lady - life truly doesn't get much better than what you are experiencing now.

Travel is your chance to take ownership over your life - every decision you make today is yours and yours alone. Where you go, what you eat, how you deal with situations - I've found travel to be the one thing that picks me up when I'm down and rebuilds confidence in my ability to trust my instincts, make plans and follow through with them and yet also throw caution to the wind and abandon all plans and just go where the day take you.

Enjoy a peach for me. Stick your face towards the sun close your eyes and take a deep exhale for me. Take a turn down a random street and sit on a bench or church steps and people watch for me.

Keep the updates coming!

All my love, Sloane

Addy - I'm so proud of you. Keep it up and remember corners are round on the journey - and sharp on the destination. You don't have to rush any of it, let the experience flow and wash over you. I can't wait to see the pictures and welcome you back!