How I Knew I Wanted to Travel Alone
My love for solo travel is not something I “just knew” about myself. It was not something inherently inside me that I always did, knew I would do, or dreamed of doing, it was actually a total accident. My break into the world of solo travel was not an intentional thing. I am not an introvert, I don’t hate being around people, and I don’t think so highly of myself that no one is worthy of traveling with me. It’s something that started unintentionally and grew into my greatest love affair.
The first time I accidentally traveled by myself I was in San Diego. I had gone to visit a friend and on the last day of my visit they had to work. I woke up and realized I was alone, in an unfamiliar place, and without a plan. I sat in bed for a while, then I got dressed and put my make-up on to do potentially nothing as far as I knew. Like any smart, 19 year old girl would do, I walked to the Starbucks across the street because, let’s be honest, no real decision making gets done without a surge of caffeine, am I right? I ordered my overpriced latte and got onto google and searched “things to do in San Diego”. After scrolling through a million options I came to my conclusion, and before I knew it I was on my way to Ocean Beach.
Sitting in bed that morning, thoughts were going through my head like, “what am I supposed to do, I definitely can’t just sit in this room all day” and “well, this is a disaster. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, I am alone. I can’t do things in a place I’ve never been before if I’m by myself” and boy, was I wrong! That day ended up being, and still is, one of the best days I’ve ever had. It was the first day I spent where I felt like I had total and complete freedom to do anything I wanted to.
Fast forward a couple years to the beginning of 2015. I was stuck in a rut of wanting to explore and adventure, and having friends that would “yes” me to death, but when it came down to it would rarely make ideas into a reality. I was in Pensacola for a couple months for work, and it was only a three-hour drive to New Orleans. I basically invited every single friend I had, and after many friend’s unfulfilled promises to come up for a weekend, I finally just went without them.
After my first weekend trip to New Orleans I was reminded of the time I spent in San Diego and that feeling of freedom and excitement of traveling alone. When I got back to Pensacola I immediately started researching New Orleans and reading blog after blog when I realized that even though I was alone in my trip I was not alone in traveling solo. I returned to New Orleans my last weekend with a new confidence. This time rather than wasting all my time inviting my friends, I spent my time researching the city and made goals of what I wanted to do . I spent my first night in a hostel that weekend and everything changed for me from that point on.
That was when I figured out that solo travel was for me. After that I started taking trip after trip, anytime and anywhere my time and money would allow me to. Hostel beds became as comfortable for me as my own bed and walking 45 minutes to a free art museum to save $8 in an uber became totally logical. When I was in groups of friends I had made while traveling alone, I found myself occasionally looking for a retreat, and when I did travel with friends I even found myself wishing I had gone alone. It has become as weird for me when someone asks me how I manage to do things alone as it is for them when I tell them how much I like it. Traveling alone was initially an accident and became something I did out of an attitude of, “Fine, if no one wants to go with me, I don’t need them anyways, I’m just going to go.” Now, it is something I want to do as much as possible while I am able to do it.
I think everyone has in them what it takes to travel alone, but not everyone will love it as much as I do, and that’s ok! When you start prioritizing your travel goals over the desire to have other people come with you, I think that’s how you know that you’re totally cool doing it by yourself. Be yourself, love the time you have with yourself, and love your life! Who needs #squadgoals anyways?