Biggest Lessons in Traveling Solo

Lesson One – Solo is not for me

This may sound like a cop out but the biggest lesson I learned during my travels is that I prefer not to travel solo.

**Let me preface this by saying that I’ve fluctuated between the independent and codependent behaviors since I was a kid.  It changes, I’m not entirely sure why, so I’ll go from venturing out into new groups/hobbies/activities on my own for a few months, then the pendulum swings back the other way and I refuse to go anywhere or do anything unless I know a friend will be there to hang out with the whole time (or an SO if I’ve got one at the time).  Sometimes I’m fine on my own, other times I could use a security blanket.  I hate admitting that security blanket bit, but that’s the truth.**

While on my adventure, I found that I appreciated the sites, the food, and the people well enough, but there was this deeper sense of wanting to share it with someone. You know when you’re with your best friend, or your significant other, and you naturally make inside jokes out of everything? I could feel that missing while I was exploring.  I would find things that I thought were funny or whenever I learned something entirely new and it was oddly clear that I didn’t have someone to turn around and share that with.

This is where I contemplated if my codependent behaviors were getting the best of me but after much internal arguing, I decided no.  I went on this trip solo, I enjoyed it solo, and I would take advantage of any other opportunity like this that came up – even without a friend or SO with me.  Although my preferences are to travel WITH, I will certainly jump at the chance to adventure even WITHOUT.

Side note, that movie Love Actually completely ruined me in terms of romantic expectations because damn-it-all if I don’t get a little sad every time I arrive at an airport ungreeted.  Curse you, adorably flawed British romantic Christmas movie.


Lesson Two – Make it Happen

The biggest lesson I learned once I returned and had time to process everything, is that you should never wait for things to happen, you need to MAKE them happen.

Now that I’m back, unpacked, and getting over this sinus infection, I’ve had time to think about my solo adventure and what I can take from it to improve my existence. Before this, I had never gone anywhere, on an adventure, by myself so this was a challenge I set myself to. This trip to DC magically presented itself to me by way of convenient corporate training in nearby Baltimore so I took full advantage of the serendipitous circumstances. I had been to DC once before, by way of train, and only got to explore it for a day and a half. If you’re familiar with DC you know that a day and a half is not nearly enough time to see even a third of what the city has to offer. When I learned that I had to go to corporate training and it was a short train ride from DC, I started planning.

Originally I was going to stay at a friend’s place the whole time (an ex from college that I’ve kept in touch with) but closer to the date (after I had booked my flights) he said that his work asked him to attend some conference during the weekend. That was fine, I’d just fine an Airbnb for the weekend and crash at his place the rest of the days. NOPE! He ghosted just a few days prior to my flight out! Someone I’m friends with on facebook and text every once in a while, just completely ghosted. I had hope that he’d still touch base closer to my travel dates so I only got the Airbnb for the weekend.

I was screwed.  Long story short, I grabbed another Airbnb reservation and that ended up being what was essentially a bed in the basement of a frat house.  YEAH.  AWFUL.  And I was sick with this sinus infection.  It was miserable but I was determined to roll with the punches.

I did most of what I wanted to do on this trip, some things were left out because my sinuses got the best of me, or because the activities were meant for more people (I was supposed to be hanging out with my friend and his girlfriend for the weekend), but overall I think I accomplished what I set out to.  I dined out ALL BY MYSELF.  I went to amazing museums and sites ALL BY MYSELF.  I tried to figure out public transit, but honestly, it got to the point where it was worth the $6-$20 lyft fare to not spend 45 minutes getting somewhere that typically takes 15-20 via car.  But, I took lyfts ALL BY MYSELF.  I caught more pokemon ALL BY MYSELF (I downloaded the app when I got my new phone and it’s fun, I really like renaming all my new little pets).  I flew on planes ALL BY MYSELF (I’m not a fan of flying, though I used to be).  Man, this list kind of makes me sound like an 8 year old.

Had I said to myself “You know, Jessie, you really should wait to take a trip when you can do it with someone else.” I wouldn’t have seen all of the super cool stuff that I did.  I wouldn’t have had the conversations with strangers that I did.  I wouldn’t have leapt so far outside of my comfort zone and learned that I landed safely.


Lesson Three – You do You

No matter what, you do what suits you best.  I went into this adventure hoping to be more like an amazing friend of mine – she’s been traveling all across Germany, mostly on her own – and I realized that ultimately, I’m going to adventure only like myself.  I can’t hold myself to the standards of experienced travelers, or adventurers who seem to have better fortune than me (you know, they don’t end up in frat house basements), or those travelers who also happen to be professional photographers.  I can only be Jessie.  Jessie the adventuring introvert.

Be true to yourself and what you want out of your own adventure.  If you want to go to a crazy exotic place and read a book against the beautiful background, do it.  If you want to go to London and party, do it.  If you want to go on cruises and show up wherever they take you, do it.  You own that adventuring.

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