Travel has always been something I aspired to make a big part of my life. There is so much to see in the world, so much beauty and so much to learn. When you go with others, it can also be a bonding experience, and the memories that come of it are priceless. Lately, however, I have had the desire to hit the road on my own. A few weeks ago, I ventured off alone for the first time. I took a weekend getaway to Vancouver, B.C., and I really enjoyed myself. Traveling solo is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt like it was something I needed to do for my own enrichment. I didn’t go off too far for my first time, but Vancouver was far enough away to allow me to have that out of town feeling I was seeking, and it did the trick. I know people who have gone as far away as Israel to South Africa completely solo, but I’m not quite there yet. I talked about doing it for months, but never made the commitment to going. I kept putting it off and I wasn’t sure why. Fear, perhaps? Anyway, I was sitting at my desk one day and I went online and just booked a hotel. At that point, I felt obligated to go, and I planned the rest of it from there. My family was apprehensive. We are extremely close, so one of us taking the initiative to go away without one one or all of us was foreign. Safety was their main concern, which is completely understandable. A female traveling alone is vulnerable, after all. I’ve always had a fear of being sex trafficked, especially after seeing Taken. That movie had me shook for weeks. I am close with my dad, but he doesn’t have a special set of skills to come save me from sex slavery. I am, however, not fool enough to tell strangers where I am staying and that there is no one there but me, so I relied on my own common sense and looked up a few safety tips prior to leaving, just in case there was anything I didn’t think of. I pre-planned most of my activities so I wouldn’t be looking like the typical lost tourist, and I chose a hotel that was in the center of everything I wanted to do. Mama didn’t raise no fool, so I made sure to look out for myself, took note of my surroundings, and kept in frequent contact with my family back home. I didn’t want to give my mom a coronary by not keeping in touch. She would have had my face on a milk carton after five hours of no communication.
Have you ever wanted to go somewhere but didn’t have anyone to go with? That has been my situation for quite some time. Family members have their own time constraints, friends don’t always have the money or vacation time, and a lot of us don’t have significant others to take baecations with. Who does that leave you with? Yourself! Be your own best friend. As much as we would prefer to have someone come along with us, it won’t always be possible. Are you going to let life pass you by, waiting on someone to comfort you with their presence? I realized it’s either go on my own, or continue to get older while I wait for people to have the time &/or money. When I first arrived in Vancouver, I felt a twinge of loneliness. I always have people around me, so the solitude felt very new, but I welcomed it. When your family is as tight knit as mine, alone time is not something you experience very often. I reminded myself that yes, I was alone, but there was no need to feel lonely. Everyone needs time to themselves to decompress, relax and be one with their own thoughts. Of course I want to take trips in the future with family and friends, but I will also make it a priority to visit new places on my own as well.
When it’s just you, you are at the liberty to spend your time how you please. Want to stay in bed and watch TV for hours? You can do that without your companions whining that they are ready to get up and going. Is there a museum or show you want to take in, but everyone else wants to go to the club? You can go without having to compromise your wants for the majority of the group. The autonomy is priceless, and you don’t have to feel rushed. Your time is yours to spend how you please, and that is an amazing feeling. When people want to go, go go, constantly, it tires me out. Traveling is exhausting enough, and I like to relax at least a little bit while I have time away from work and other responsibilities. My second day in Vancouver, I took my time getting up. I stayed in bed for a little bit and watched TV, got up and showered, leisurely did my hair and makeup and got dressed. No one was huffing and puffing for me to hurry up and when I was ready to leave, I got brunch, took my time, then headed out for my activities. After about five hours of shopping, eating and exploring, I went back to my hotel. It was only about 7PM, but I didn’t feel it was necessary to stay out ALL day. My goal wasn’t to take the city by storm, but more so to test myself. I wanted to see how I felt and how I fared out on my own.
So what did I learn about myself during this short, solo excursion? Quite a few things, actually. I realized that fear will stop you from doing so much. A couple of days before I was set to leave, I texted my mom telling her I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go anymore. She didn’t allow it. She reminded me that fear has no place in our lives, and if we allowed it to stop us, we would never accomplish anything, With that encouragement, I kept my plans and I am so glad I did. I know I would have been disappointed in myself if I had chickened out, and that is a feeling I try to avoid at all costs. The 2nd most important thing I learned is that it is imperative we push ourselves out of our comfort zones. I almost allowed myself to stay stuck inside my hotel because I was intimidated by going out into the city alone. I don’t know why I felt this way, I just did. Maybe the unfamiliar territory gave me anxiety. Maybe I was afraid I would get lost. Ultimately, I just told myself “girl, if you don’t get up…” and I got up. I went out. I enjoyed myself. I met and talked to people from different countries, like Morocco and South Korea who were also travelers. I am not sure where my next destination will be. I’ve considered San Francisco or perhaps Chicago. I do know that it will either be in the Spring or Summer, because it was COLD in Vancouver this time of year. I can’t wait to see what other adventures life has in store for me. Time to start planning!