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I’ve grown up in a generation where women go to the restroom in pairs and ‘dinner for one’ might as well be a sad Lifetime movie rather than a reservation. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I impulsively booked a six-day trip to SoCal earlier this year with no plan whatsoever, people looked at me like I was crazy, a loner or both.
Last fall I visited friends in Denver for a weekend, then took a couple days during the week to “solo travel” as the cool kids say these days. I honestly didn’t know it was a thing, I just knew that I wanted to check Red Rocks off of my bucket list and I was in Denver anyways, so why not explore?
My friend let me borrow her car and as I drove deeper and deeper into the mountains, my anxiety slowly released into the clean mountain air and I breathed in a new perspective of life.
I hiked a bit to a small crevice where a girl was singing quietly with an acoustic guitar. Her voice bounced throughout the vast clay walls and echoed the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. At that moment I was overcome by it all, the site of mountains, larger than any obstacle I was facing in life, the raw acoustic rhythms echoing on the walls, the sun beaming down on my face…and at that moment I realized I was alone.
I had never been more grateful to be alone than at this moment. Being alone doesn’t need to mean being lonely. Why are we so scared of going to the restroom alone? Is the toilet going to eat us?! Being alone is an empowering state. Had I not been alone at this moment, I would not have been able to appreciate all of its beauty. It was this very moment that got me hooked on “solo traveling.”
Want to try solo traveling for yourself? Here are a few pointers.
Screw it, Let’s Do it
As anyone who has read my m.blog on Sir Richard Branson knows, sometimes you just have to do it and not think it through (many, many disclaimers here, like making sure you don’t hurt anyone, it’s not going to make you lose your job, the basics…). I have a few apps that give me alerts when flights to places I want to explore are cheap. If you have a flexible work schedule or are #blessed to have unlimited vaca like we do at marlo, you can find cheap flights a few weeks out, leaving you less time to second guess yourself. While there are great apps like Hopper and Skyscanner, I personally recommend alerts from Kayak, which is how I got my flight to CA for around $200. #steal.
Yes, I’m contradicting myself – be impulsive, but do your research. As someone who plans every minute of my day, week, month, etc. not having a solid plan for an entire week scares the sh%t out of me, which is exactly why I didn’t plan anything. I searched locations of places near LAX that I wanted to explore as a backup if I got restless, but did not allow myself to make an itinerary. If you’re anything like me, not crossing off everything on your to do list gives you anxiety, buttttt if you don’t have a list, then you can’t cross anything off!
It’s Who You Know
Know at least one person in the area (safety first). I have a cousin in Hermosa Beach and knew that she had a futon if plans fell through. I was lucky enough to be able to reconnect with a former coworker in West Hollywood and a friend I met when living in Barcelona in Playa Vista and stay with them each too. A true “solo traveling” experience would yield staying at a hotel or Airbnb, but I need to save money so I can keep up this new hobby of mine.
Also ask people if they have friends in the area. My cousin sent me numbers of some of her friends in LA and I met up with them at a local’s bar. While I felt like I was going on a Tinder date when walking in, I walked out with ten new friends, and some old guy who is a regular at the town’s dive bar… They were able to give me a local’s perspective and recommend new places to explore, which I did the next day when I took a day trip to Santa Monica.
Traveling alone can be scary. Sitting alone at a bar alone can feel weird. Hell, eating lunch alone can make you feel like a loser. But once you shush the voice inside of you and replace “you’re a loser” with “you’re an independent woman” you open yourself to a world that you’ve closed out for 26 years. If eating alone isn’t your thing, grab a sandwich and take it to a park or beach and enjoy the view.
I never want to look back on my life and say “I should have done that when I was younger” #noregrets. Mid-twenties are a weird time in one’s life. Half of you are getting married and having kids and half of you are stressing over not being married and having kids. Then there’s the few of us who don’t want to be in either of those categories (sorry, mom).
Whether you’re single, married or in between, try solo traveling, truly uncover who you are as a person and walk back into the real world as your best self. If you can find someone who compliments your best version of yourself, then you’ve found a keeper, but if not, the least you can do is be happy with yourself. The stigma that being single over 25 means that something is wrong with you needs to go back to the 1950’s. I encourage everyone to join me in being alone, because solo traveling has taught me that being alone means having the opportunity to do whatever the f&*^ you want, when you want and experiencing the world for everything that it has to offer…and that makes me proud to be alone.
Posted by Christina B.