By: Jennifer Starr
With 2014 at an end, I’ve found myself reflecting on my accomplishments and trials over the last 365 days. Yes, there are things I wish I had done more of, and a few that I wish I could change, but the event that sticks out the most (and sums up my year) was my first solo trip. And, it was AMAZING!!
After traveling by myself, I have come to the conclusion that it is as liberating as getting your first car or moving into your first solo apartment. To me it is a sign of a new beginning. I believe every woman should try it at least once, even if it is a short day trip. You learn a lot about yourself and the world that you never knew existed. Here is what I learned from my first solo travel experience.
Don’t Let Other People’s Fears Stop You
When I told friends and family that I was going to LA by myself, here is what they would say, “That is awesome, but aren’t you scared of going? I couldn’t do that.” Yes, I understand I need to be cautious when traveling to an unfamiliar place. But anything can happen to you no matter where you are. So, I ignored those negative comments and did what made me happy. Let’s face it, I couldn’t pass up a chance to take a round-trip ticket to LA for $46.00 (thank you Delta Airlines ticket glitch).
You Are Stronger Than You Think
Traveling solo has shown me that you are stronger than you think. I find it funny that it is easier to believe in others strength and not our own. Yes, traveling by yourself can be nerve racking, especially if you are completely out of your comfort zone and have no clue where you are going, but you will figure it out. I promise! With no one there to “save” you, you’ll see that you CAN find the way, try the new foods, and even make new friends!
When I traveled to Los Angeles, it was my fourth time flying so I should have been a champ at it. But, I wasn’t. I get really nauseous from the altitude (plus the thought of being up in the air makes me rather nervous). Before the trip, I kept telling myself that I can’t do this, and there were several days along the way that I swore I was going to back out. But then, I began to think why am I telling myself this, and why am I NOT looking my fear in the eyes and telling it to f-off? So, I did just that. I got a motion sickness band and hopped on a plane to have a great adventure.
After my trip I felt so proud of myself. Recently, I was reminded of a great quote from Winnie The Pooh, “You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” As humans, we sometimes use our imaginations to make up scenarios for the future that can scare us and keep us from reaching for what we want. I truly believe that solo-travel is a great way for women to show themselves what they are truly made of, and it gives you the courage to make changes in your daily life.
Channeling my inner Super Hero with Storm & Zorro on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings & Listen To Your Inner Jiminy Cricket (AKA Your Gut)
When I was young, my father always told me “Beware of your surroundings no matter where you are, and never pick up a drink you left unattended.” This advice is relevant whether you’re walking around during the day or having a cocktail at the hotel bar at night. Always keep an eye on the people around you, and if your gut is telling you that something is off with that cute guy with the nice smile….run!
While walking on The Hollywood Walk of Fame I didn’t realize how many panhandlers were going to be around. It seems when one came at you in the front there was another one right behind them. (Side note: Let me just say there are some weird and shady characters walking the street in this area….trying to take advantage of tourists.) I was trying to be nice to the one in front of me, I could hear my inner Jiminy Cricket saying, “Leave now; something is not right.” And sure enough, the one behind me was trying to pickpocket me!
Even though I wish the world were a place where everyone would play and frolic into the woods; it is not like that. No matter where I am I pay attention to my surroundings and listen to my gut.
I made it to Hollywood!
My first visit to Disneyland!
Always Have Fun
Traveling by yourself can sometimes SEEM lonely, but you learn you have to get out of your comfort zone, make your own fun and re-frame your mind. Your trip is only lonely if you let it be that way!
– Go On Tours – This is a great way to see the place you’re visiting AND meet people to share the day with. Most of the other people on the tours are also visitors who will be open to new friends and adventures.
– Be Silly – During my time in LA I stayed at Disneyland and loved it. While there I made sure I had lunch with the princesses, and I treated myself as a princess as well and even wore my own crown! Now, I did receive a couple of odd glances, but I didn’t let that stop me from having fun. They were just missing out on the awesome time I was having! Remember to always have a good time and don’t worry yourself about what people may think of you. This is YOUR vacation, not theirs.
– Sit At The Bar – I better not hear you’re eating room service the whole trip. NO! Part of adventure is trying new restaurants and cuisines. If you still haven’t mastered eating at a table alone, try the bar. This is a great way to meet and interact with other people, and you can even chat with the bartender if needed.
– Relish In The Alone Time – Don’t see “alone time” as a bad thing because it’s not. Enjoy the time doing what you want to do, spend time reflecting and planning, take the time to find out who you are without other people around, and enjoy learning about and loving you.
Your trip is a time of self-discovery and adventure. So start the New Year by planning your next trip and treat yourself like the Queen you are!
Rockin’ my princess crown with Tiana & Cinderella.
Featured Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/freedigitalphotos.net
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Starr is a customer service and hospitality professional. In her free time she enjoys the performing arts, film, travel and laughing. Follow her on twitter @jstarr09.