Taking a solo trip is really the best thing you can do for yourself. The first trip I took completely on my own included a spur of the moment decision, deciding weeks before, packing my bags, hopping on a plane across the country and living in Los Angeles for 4 months. Now you don’t just go from living in a small town in the northeast to planting yourself in one of the biggest hubs in the country, but I did, and I haven’t been the same since. THOSE 4 MONTHS CHANGED ME … yada yada, you’ve heard the soap box speech before. But I mean it.
Hell, that trip was what prompted me to start this blog. I owe so much of who I am today to those 4 (grueling) yet amazing (but God awful) life-changing months. Growing pains are just that after all – painful.
As the new year hits me full force, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the travels I took last year, and I can’t believe how fortunate I was to travel as often as I did… alone. Sure that might sound lonely to some people, but I grew to enjoy it more than I can even explain. Bored on a weekend? Hop in the car, drive across state lines, hike a mountain, drive back in the same day, sure why not. Hurricane headed up the gulf coast? Same deal. Let’s hop in a car, drive straight into the storm for a few good hours on the beach. Fly to California a couple 2, 3, (4?) Yeah we’ll go with four. And I am all the wiser from each and every one of those trips.
Traveling solo teaches so many life lessons, but above all it teaches you…
…that you can really take care of yourself. Without relying on anyone else. If something happens, it’s up to you and only you to find a solution. To remember to pack everything you need. To make sure your cell phone battery is charged and there’s enough gas in your tank. That you have emergency funds and you choose the right stranger to ask for directions at the gas station. You know, the important things.
…that there are great people everywhere. One of my favorite memories of my trip home from Alabama was stopping in Savannah, GA to visit Wormsloe planation. Growing up with two history teachers as parents, I had wanted to see the grounds since I was a little kid. But of course, the instant I got into the city – I mean the very second I got off the interstate – a huge storm rolled in. After sitting in my car for 20 minutes hoping it would pass, an SUV pulled up next to me and a middle-aged woman got out, braving the rain to get a picture, the exact thing that I was waiting to do. (Yes, this is a bonding over Instagram photo story). I went out on a limb and started talking to her, and we chatted for almost a half hour, exchanging travel stories and candy, bonding over stories that would create moments much like we were in the midst of. Well-traveled people are some of the happiest people, I’ve found. Makes you want to travel more.
…that it’s the ultimate freedom. Sure, I had planned stops to hit along the way, but when I had to pee, I went pee. When I needed a redbull, I pulled over and got one (or 6). When I saw a sign saying “fresh peaches,” I’ll be damned, I went a couple miles out of my way to get some peaches. I took detours and saw landmarks I’d always wanted to see. I did whatever I pleased and there was no one to tell me otherwise.
…that you’ll learn a lot. Podcasts are your best friend when you’re 500 miles away from home and everyone else is either working or at school. You’ll find yourself browsing through murder mysteries, conspiracy theories, learning about the life of that millionaire you only kinda heard about once in passing. Teaching yourself how to open your own business and why a strange noise has been heard in some towns in Michigan (Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know – What is the Windsor Hum).
…that time to yourself is so necessary. There really is nothing like being stuck in a car by yourself for days. You can only listen to so many podcasts, play so many playlists, call so many friends. Eventually, it’ll be just you, the road and your mind. And it’s amazing the kind of sorting out that gets done, the internal conflicts that get solved, the angst that gets let loose. I haven’t felt peace like that in ages.
…that there is more to life than routine. Than the 9-5. Than going out to the bar with your friend on a Friday night. Than grocery shopping on Sunday and doing the whole dang thing all over again. Sure, all those things are great, but try the adrenaline rush that comes with spontaneity, with stepping outside of your comfort zone. There’s no hangover from adrenaline, I’ll tell ya that much, only a high that carries you through the rest of your day.
What are some of your favorite solo adventure memories? Where have you traveled that has changed you? Drop me a line!