Today I realized that first impressions really do matter. I know it sounds cliché, but hear me out.
I was hanging out last night with my friend Effy, and the conversation turned to travel. More specifically, I was curious about why he hadn't traveled more, especially since he is one of my most experimental and curious friends.
One of the reasons he mentioned was that the first time he traveled solo, on a trip to Mexico, he had a disappointing experience. Now, when he wants to plan a trip, he's afraid of a repeat experience, feels overwhelmed, and just ends up postponing it.
Now, the truth is that traveling solo is almost always a difficult task. Even my most rewarding trips had their fair share of failed excursions, lonely moments, and regrets.
But, when I consider my very first solo-trip (to Puerto Rico, back in 2013), it was a distinctly successful trip. I seamlessly met fun and interesting people, had a mix of nature, city, and sun, and even landed a spontaneous job at a pizza store in exchange for a penthouse on the beach! (In full disclosure, the front bumper of my rental car did randomly fall off half way between San Juan and Rincon, and had to be repeatedly duck-taped back on every 50 miles or so, but that's just a footnote.)
It's only natural, then, when the next opportunity for travel arose, I pounced on it. For me, solo travel = challenging experiences that push me to try new things, reconsider old habits, and make strange friends. For Effy though, solo travel came to mean loneliness, struggle, and perhaps some boredom.
First impressions can determine, to a certain extent, how we relate to something, and it is this relation, not the thing itself, that we will interact with during each successive encounter.