5 Things You Learn from Traveling Solo

J.R.R. TOLKIEN

Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Time

It’s been almost three months since my last post!  I thought this day would never come. But it’s that time of the year, when teaching has started picking up, and I am drinking more coffee than ever to stay awake. Hence, I think that coffee has put me on over drive. It’s a good thing. I am being productive. I have a feeling, though, I am going to crash this weekend (but what’s new?).

Does anyone else have a crazy million ideas hit your head if you’ve had too much coffee?  It happens to me every time.  Random blog posts fill my head, as well as recipes I haven’t tried, trips I need to plan etc.  Not only that, but I start to think of things I want to learn and start making lists like (random): I want to learn to sew shirts, I need to start a YouTube channel, I want to create a recipe no one has ever created, I need to buy outfits to do photoshoots, I want to write songs and record a demo, I need to learn French, Korean, and practice Spanish (maybe Sign Language??)!!!  (I possibly spend too much time on Pinterest and Bloglovin’.)  Alas…I leave work, get home, destress by sitting on the couch with a good book (aka, pajamas and Netflix), and one by one, all my ideas slowly drift off into the air, out of my head, till my next cup of coffee.

I don’t know if anyone else has this problem or if this is just something  that is wrong with me.  Why do I never start or finish any  of those projects/ideas?

My Experiences Traveling Solo

Which brings me to today, finally I am starting and hopefully finishing a post I’ve wanted to do for awhile.  I would like to share some experiences I’ve had with traveling alone.  It seems solo travel is a popular subject that bloggers have definitely already covered. Everyone’s experiences are different and there are always pros and cons. But even with the bad (getting lost) there is always good (learning your way around, meeting new friends).

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My First Solo Trip

  My first solo trip was when I was 17. I drove my car from Texas to Arkansas and stayed a couple of weeks in a city. Even though I was staying with friends of the family, there was no one my age and I was free to come and go and explore on my own.  I saw a movie by myself for the first time, and I enjoyed it.  No one gave me weird looks. No one noticed I was there by myself.  Even though I only stayed for a few weeks,  I realized I loved exploring the small town by myself. The drive home was 7 hours. That was the longest I’d driven anywhere alone. I didn’t want the drive to end.  It felt like a huge accomplishment.

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My First Solo Trip Out of the Country

After college I moved to Costa Rica to study Spanish.  When I first moved I was armed with two years of college Spanish, and a couple of months at a language school in Texas.   The truth was I barely knew enough Spanish to have a simple conversation, but just enough to get myself into a fair amount of trouble.  I remember a resturaunt that looked particularly good and was excited about trying it (especially after rice and beans mostly every day).    The veggie pita with hummus looked particularly yummy…but somehow I got a Falafel pita and no hummus.  The first time I was mildly disappointed and discovered something new,  I hate Falafel.  No worries though, the next time I would order that Veggie Pita!   The next time I would be sure and say it correctly.  But the next time I also somehow got Falafel.   It’s embarrassing to say, I tried a third time and never got to try that veggie pita with hummus.  I still sometimes wonder what it tastes like.IMG_2607 copy

Another time I ended up near the ghetto of Costa Rica because I thought the girl who invited me was talking about a beach resort, when in fact she was talking about her home town.  She took me to a carnival that evening when we arrived (after an 8 hour bus ride) where most people were stoned or drunk. I didn’t know enough Spanish to tell the girl that this really wasn’t my thing.  I left early the next day but there were landslides and the busses got stuck so I got back to the San Jose bus station really late at night with barely an idea of which bus to take (I had only made the trip before by relying on my host). The San Jose bus station is scary in the day time, so I was slightly worried when I arrived at night.  But making it back to my home stay was exhilarating.  Finding your way is a true confidence boost.  Of course I encourage people to navigate in the day time and be prepared.  This was before cell phones were really cheap, and I took my Costa Rica guide book with me every where I went.  It was a life saver at times.

I have quite a few other trips, but those two trips are what I think back on when I wonder how I got started traveling solo.mehat

Five Things I’ve Learned Through Traveling Solo

So here are the 5 things that stick out in my mind when I think about what I’ve learned over the years of solo traveling.

1. Confidence– I grew up a shy kid who hated talking to strangers.   I now have friends all over the world.  Traveling alone is a great way to meet people.  People all want to connect.  Being alone forces someone shy, like me, to reach out and connect to people I would have never talked to had I been with a close friend.  Figuring out your way around a brand new place and realizing that you have the skills it takes to do something like that, it’s empowering.

2. Self Enjoyment– I don’t always talk to myself out loud, but the converstations I have with myself when traveling and making decisions on my own, well, it’s a great way to understand yourself more.  If you can learn to be content alone and enjoy yourself, then it’s quite possible that you can learn to get along with anyone.

3. Friends– I can’t count the amazing friendships I’ve made over the years.  I still keep up with them!  I don’t really think of Solo Travel as being alone, because I meet more people when I travel then when I am at home working.

4. A love for different foods– I still hate Falafel, but I love Plantains, Yucca, Mamonchinos (Lychee), Passion Fruit,  Duck (this is a new obsession, thanks to the many places in France that serve duck),  and Italian food (truth, I’ve never loved Italian food, until I had Gnocchi in Italy!).

5.  Flexibility– Things can and will go wrong.  Life isn’t perfect and neither are decisions. Sometimes the best decisions are spur of the moment, and sometimes carefully planned decisions can go horribly wrong.  When a problem presents itself, being able to stay calm and think through it will put you on the other side, and well, that’s life. IMG_6480 copy

Five Things You Can Learn from Traveling Solo

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