Solo Travel

Self-portrait at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts.

Self-portrait at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts.

Back in January, I took a solo trip along the United States’ west coast to scout for locations that I was considering moving to. I picked four main creative hubs I was interested in: Portland (Oregon), Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where I’d spend about 3 weeks total getting a feel for these places.

Before this, I had traveled quite a bit but had never really on my own - the one time being a weekend trip to a neighbor island in Hawaii, which wasn’t too much of a stretch since it was in the same state I was living at the time. As an introvert, I definitely had all the anxiety and fears of making a trip like this on my own, compounded with the noise of other people worried that it wasn’t safe for a young woman to travel solo, or that I didn’t know anyone in those places, or that I was going somewhere I haven’t been, alone.

If you can take only one thing from this post, just remember this - I’m glad I didn’t listen to the negativity and did it anyway. I can’t say enough how much I highly recommend doing a solo trip, at least once in your life, no matter what age you are or what your relationship status is. Yes, it is always nice to share something like this with someone, but this allows a time of seeing what you’re capable of and of self reflection. Granted, I was traveling within the same country and a first world one at that, it was still something that was most definitely out of my comfort zone.

Here are some things I learned on this solo trip:

  • Things are never really as bad as you think (or other people try to tell you) that they may be.
  • A smartphone and google maps is a life saver.
  • Interaction with others is much higher if they see you’re on your own. I’ve never had so many people come up and ask me about myself. It helped that I had a big camera with me to act as the ice breaker - i.e. asking if I was a photographer.
  • You learn to take yourself out for a nice meal, and not care what anyone else thinks (because most people are thinking about themselves anyway!).
  • You can do whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. If you want to spend all day at the museum - do it! Or if you just want to spend the night in - you can!
  • You learn what you’re capable of and feel great that you accomplished it.

Tips if you’re having apprehensions about traveling on your own:

  • Make sure someone you can rely on has a copy of your itinerary - just incase something does happen.
  • Have at least 2 physical copies (stored in different places) of important contact information - emergency contacts, accommodations, consulates etc.
  • Like I said, a smartphone and google maps is your life saver. It’s how I found what public transports to take, where I was going, what to eat, etc. Some places, I could even download the bus pass to my phone and not have to carry a physical copy.
  • Because you might be using your smartphone a lot, it’s wise to invest in a battery bank for those times that you might not be near a place with access to an outlet.
  • Just remember to be aware of your surroundings and if you have any funny feelings at all, you can always leave. Remember, no one is there to judge you and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. Preparation definitely took a lot of anxiety out of traveling on my own. I made sure I did these before my trip:
    • Obviously booking flight and accommodation.
    • Did my research on public transportation options - how easily accessible is it? Is it reliable? Is there an unlimited pass I can get that I could hop on and off with?
    • I made sure to at least map out how I would get to and from the airport to my accommodation so I wouldn’t have to worry about it once I disembarked.
    • Research what are the safer areas and ones you should probably avoid at night, just so you don’t accidentally stumble into something when you are out there on your own.
    • My last tip is what Nike has been saying all these years, “Just Do It”. You’ll never know until you try, and you’ll be glad you did!  

Tomorrow I will start posting my travel diaries from this trip, along with some tips to see and do. Have you ever traveled solo before? Or if you’re thinking about it - comment down below where you’re thinking of going?