I remember the first time I was taking a trip by myself that wasn’t for work, or anything along those lines- just pure enjoyment. I went to stay with a friend in Portland and then took Amtrak (my first time) to Seattle. I hopped off at the station and made my way down to the cabs before being dropped off at my hostel. The smell of fish was overwhelming and I considered calling my friend to say, “Hold up, I’m comin’ back!” But I didn’t, and I’ll be forever thankful for that.
I wandered around Seattle, sometimes with friends I made at the hostel, but most of the time on my own. By the time I had to leave, I just wanted to cry…and it had nothing to do with Portland or Seattle. It had everything to do with the fact that I managed to drive around Oregon and go for a hike on my own. I read maps and found my way. I talked to strangers and met some of the most inspirational people who were so excited to just live, to see things. It was a boost of confidence I desperately needed at the time.
Three months later, I had to scratch that itch again, so I went to San Francisco alone. I planned out a few major things and let life fill in the rest. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge alone earrrly in the morning, which led to happy tears. I still managed to make a great friend while I was there, too. I have this theory that I make friends a lot faster when I’m relaxed and confident in the decisions I’ve made, like embarking on an adventure. 😉
I remember hanging out with friends later that year and telling them where I’d been. “Who did you go with?” That was always the big question. I think the next one was, “Did you like, ride the buses and stuff?” (Public transportation isn’t a big thing here, haha) I didn’t even leave the country and my friends, especially the guys, were so surprised I’d gone alone.
I decided to write this post because the same thing happened last week. I was working at a conference I manage when one of my favorite couples asked me about travel plans. I mentioned Camp Grounded and my Canada plans, and they couldn’t believe I was going alone. “You’re so adventurous. I could never do that.”
The funny thing is that I don’t really see myself as adventurous, just curious and determined. Most of my friends are married with children at this point. They can’t just pick up and go whenever they please. I can’t imagine sitting alone and waiting for someone to go with me to all the places I want to go. I would have already missed out on so much!
If you keep waiting, someday will turn into never.
When you travel alone, you have the opportunity to see and appreciate things you wouldn’t otherwise. You don’t have to pay attention to anyone else’s needs. You can just be alone with your thoughts. You can make friends with other people traveling alone. You can figure things out and discover skills you never knew you had. I know it’s not for everyone, and I never mind having a good travel buddy, but I wish more people believed that they could do it.
Anyone else like a little solo travel now and then?