My first experience traveling “alone” was during my senior year of college when I decided to take a trip with EF College Break for Spring break. As of now, I am the only person in my family of 4 with a passport. With an EF College Brrak trip, you book by yourself, but you’re placed in a tour group with 10+ people to go on your trip with you. This was my first solo trip, taking initiative, and doing what I wanted to do for Spring Break. I cannot give a better review about my experience. They planned everything and we were able (forced) to cover A LOT of ground in one day…. that wouldn’t have happened without the mob mentality of traveling in a foreign country with essentially strangers. After the first two days, however, I learned that as much as I was alone… I was with a LARGE group of people. We spent a lot of time waiting for the other memebers of the group to show up before being able to proceed to the next place. This got old, really really fast. Other than that, I was so grateful for the opportunity and damn proud of myself for taking the initiative to take the financial risk and go to Europe ALONE.
Then I graduated college and I never felt so alone. Coming from a place where everyone around you is around your age and is in the same stress bubble that you are… I made friends quite easily. I got a job 50 miles away. Then I began commuting 100 miles round trip, waking up early to avoid traffic, and coming home to 4 other roommates… all students. I struggled with not wanting to go out or do anything during the week because of my exhausting commute, but having all of the time in the world on the weekend… when the girls were studying and doing homework. So… no spontaneous adventures.
Long story short… Within 6 months at my “big girl” job, I was given the opportunity to travel for 2 weeks for work. I say week, but we were really only there for 3 days. Day 1: travel and internal itinerary. Day 2: 8-10 hours of meetings. Day 3: morning meeting, then travel home. I am so fortunate that when I asked to arrive early at one of my destinations, I immediately got permission to arrive on Saturday instead of Monday. The catch? I paid the difference, for my housing, food, etc. Where was I going, you ask? We were traveling to Waikiki, Hawaii. 🌺 An unbelievable opportunity, am I right? Before I knew it, I was researching my accommodations that I would be staying at when I arrived 2 days earlier than my colleagues. I found a hostel, walking distance to the beach, with 4 girls to a room, for only $36 a night. For Hawaii, this is an absolute bargain. I didn’t want to be bogged down with hotel prices when I wanted the freedom to explore, take catamaran sunset rides, and go mai tai tasting (by hopping bar to bar tasting the deliciousness that is mai tais 🍹). I accomplished everything I wanted to and more. I met a lot of strangers and had various roommates during my stay at the hostel. Everyone I met was incredibly friendly.
The moment I realized how lucky I was to be traveling alone, was on my last morning at the hostel. There were two Australian girls that were in my hostel dorm. I woke up early (as always) and immediately got ready to head on a walk to the beach. I threw my hair up, put sunscreen on and grabbed ziplocks for me to hide my money and phone in when I went into the water (tip: touchscreen still works in a ziplock, but water and sand don’t get in!). I noticed one of the two Aussie friends was awake and browsing on her phone. I silently waved goodbye and as early as 8am I bee lined to the sand. After enjoying some relaxing waves and time in the sand in the middle of January, I was ready for breakfast and to start packing to leave the hostel to my work accommodations. After unlocking the door to the dorm, I realized that the poor Aussie girl #1 had not moved from her phone browsing and that her friend was still asleep! I couldn’t help but feel bad for girl #1 as I had already gone to the beach, grabbed breakfast, and thought through my plan for the rest of the day, while she was stuck (literally) thumb twiddling.
I was reminded of my time in Europe with the large group of people when I wasted so much time waiting for people to be ready to move on to the next part of the trip and how frustrating that was. This is when I realized that as frightening traveling alone can be, being on my own schedule, making my own decisions on the day’s activities, and not having to wait on other people to go (drag) with me was the very best part of my trip.
After this, I was inspired to go on more trips on my own… which is what inspired me to tell my story.