This a subject I’ve become a really staunch supporter on. And something I’m proud to say my friends always reach out and ask me about!
I started traveling by myself for my work a few years back and got pretty good at traveling + being alone. Two things I always enjoyed, yet had never combined beforehand. In some ways it’s still my favorite way to travel as it holds some of my most fond memories. I’ve seen some really amazing places in my country (and some not so amazing places) and feel as though the experiences I had are those that keep on giving even when I’m in my home town.
I found out when I traveled with others I often found myself depending on them to be strong and capable, or quick witted and charming, giving myself a pass and ultimately a lazy back seat. Not that I need to be center of attention, but it’s those terrifying center stage moments that have challenged me and forced me to grow into the person I am today.
Traveling by myself forced me to no longer depend on someone else for being capable with a map or no longer depend on someone else to extend a hand of friendship to strangers. It made me stand in the spotlight and give it my best shot.
And guess what I figured out?
I am strong. I can be somewhat witty. And I can navigate a map.
I also discovered a lot of passions I never knew I had.
While I’m perfectly capable at using a map, I’ve actually learned my favorite way of traveling is using what I call the “Eh, close enough” approach. As in I turned down the wrong street in downtown Charlottesville,VA… “Eh close enough.” It’s this method that helped me find tucked away neighborhoods adorned with flowers I would have never discovered before. And alleys lined with not only the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had, but also the cutest vine covered walls.
Does this method work in downtown Austin this past year with L? Not so much. But I find little ways to work it in in big cities. Like when we walked to our favorite taco truck of the trip, I forced us to walk a different route back to the car just to see a different vantage point. I like finding the unexpected even in the midst of all my ultra strict-borderline-neurotic planning.
I also got really really into Founding Father’s history from my year of travels to Virginia. Like really into it.
Two things I never knew about myself until I was forced to stand on my own two feet.
So how do y o u go about solo traveling??
Well the first step is like for many adventures and just s t a r t.
No need to set your first step into uncharted Italian countryside (though if you do please give me a call 🙂 ), you quite literally can practice traveling by yourself with as small as a step as you are comfortable with. A well known mountain town you’ve always coveted or even a trip you’ve made previously with friends that you think you could manage on your own. The point is to just s t a r t.
Also always, always, always think of your safety.
I may be a big supporter of traveling alone, but I’m also just as big of supporter of traveling safely.
There is unknown danger anywhere. Even in my home state. A quick google search of “Yellowstone tourist” will show you just how dangerous and fatal my beautiful state can be. Unknown places and cultures are a beautiful thing to discover and experience, but please don’t stick your head in the sand worried about asking the wrong questions. Be kind, but ask questions.
And from there start exploring. You can choose the typically touristy things to do or try to strike out on your own. A city I always suggest people start exploring solo is – Salt Lake City. I’ve spent many a weeks and weekends in the big city by myself and feel completely safe in it. It’s big enough to find a lot to do on weekends off, but small enough that I can try my “Eh close enough method.”
Have you ever traveled by yourself? And if you have where do you suggest people explore??