I’m often asked about how and why I travel so often…alone!
Is it an act of bravery, stupidity or out of necessity??
And the answer is, quite frankly, a little bit of all of them.
After witnessing both my parents passing, I made a truly conscious effort to change the parts of my life that weren’t making me happy and began to live the philosophy of Tim McGraw’s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’:
“Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity to think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it
What would I do with it?”
Well, I wanted to LIVE this one marvelous life to the enth degree and experience all that it could throw my way. And just because I don’t have a traditional partner to do that with, doesn’t mean I should sit home alon. So, I put my big girl panties on and dove head first into an unbelievable abyss!
Anyone who really knows me, will tell you I am THE ultimate planner…albeit just to the left of Type A control freakishness. And solo traveling fits very well into my type of personality. No one to tell me what time to get up, no one with their own agenda, I get to do what I want, when I want and how I want…pretty awesome to be honest! And it’s equally awesome that my job has such a great vacation plan to afford me such unique experiences.
My first journey into this new found ‘live life’ philosophy took me to Tanzania and fulfilling a lifelong dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and then relaxing on safari afterwards. From figuring out flight times to trip details & training, special Visa requirements to shots, shots and more shots, I arrived in a completely foreign environment and met up with 10 strangers-all couples, mind you! What had I gotten myself into? After the requisite getting acquainted period and answering all the burning questions of, “How are you here by yourself?” we settled into the next 3 weeks of navigating terrain, climate changes and personalities. It wasn’t always easy and I realized I had to give up a lot of my control and just LIVE in the moment!
It was truly a life-changing trip for me.
From that moment on, it’s been a non-stop whirl of activity and I wouldn’t have it any other way. From the gorgeous and equally humbling National Parks that I adore so greatly to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Nepal, Bali, Singapore, Amsterdam, London, Italy, Ireland, France and beyond….the world is truly an incredible oyster and I hope to continue exploring it for the rest of my life!
Sure, there have been challenges: Flat tires at 4am with no cell service, forgotten passports in another country, unique outdoor restroom facilities without the comforts of home, periods of silence and quiet reflection while not encountering a human being for days, misplaced luggage, flights being cancelled – you name it, I think I’ve been there, but I thrive on that and can’t wait for the next adventure to begin! I find complete solace in the prep work of a trip. However, it’s meeting the varied and incredibly friendly ‘strangers’ that walk into my life for short bursts of time that has brought the most happiness. Some I’ve stayed in touch with and formed unbreakable bonds, others will never be seen again, but it’s the unspoken understanding that we are touching each others lives in ways that could never be measured that has made the biggest impact. I’ve learned how resilient the human spirit truly is. How we handle and figure out just about any circumstance if we take a good hard look at reality and how life is is such an incredible gift…we’ve only got ONE!! So what have you got to lose?
Go Rocky Mountain Climbing
And maybe even go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
But most importantly
And give forgiveness you’ve been denying….so one day you can truly say that you lived like you were dying.
Any tips I would share for a first time solo traveler? You bet!
*Solo travelers can blend more easily in a group so you don’t immediately stand out as a ‘fish out of water’
*Know in advance your destination point from airport to accommodations and approximate cost/time to get there-that way you can’t ‘be taken for a ride’
*Keep an extra copy of passport and money in more then one place on your person
*Walk confidently and with purpose-avoid “looking like a tourist”
*Never let anyone you are traveling alone, even if it’s just someone you’re asking for directions. Instead say, “I’m meeting friends at the Louvre in 15 minutes, I’m heading in the right direction, correct?”
*Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend at home and stay in touch regularly via free International apps
*Most importantly, have a sense of humor! Something is bound to go wrong, but that’s the fun of it!