Ever since I decided to travel to Alaska all by myself, I have heard lots of worries from my family and friends. I understand their concerns and I do appreciate the kindness very much! After all, it is a long journey, and needless to say, I am, besides extremely happy and excited, also a little scared. However, as I wrote in the first blog, I have been preparing for this journey for years, even without truly realizing it at the time. This is obviously not my very first solo trip!
Actually, believe or not, it took me a long time to start travel solo and enjoy the solitude!
As I mentioned in my previous blogs, I have always loved travel. However, I didn’t start travel by myself until about 8 years ago. By that time, I have hiked with a local hiking group and became an organizer of the group for a year or so. Hiking with other people and organizing my own events of leading others gave me experiences and encouraged me to venture out of my comfort zone, little by little.
My very first step of “solo travel” was only driving 3 hours to a state park, hiking there for 3-4 hours by myself and then driving back! It seems so trivial nowadays, but it was a big deal to someone who has never done it before. It was the first step toward the right direction.
The next trip wasn’t so impressive, either. After all, even though I drove 4 hours to South Carolina to attend a dance weekend, I stayed with a friend there. So “technical speaking”, it wasn’t a solo trip. However, it was a weekend trip out of town, driving back and forth by myself.
The one after is a “semi-solo trip”: I went to California for a week long dance workshop, and I spent extra 3-4 days traveling and hiking on my own beforehand. So, I had the freedom of traveling on my own and then the comfort of being with other people, the best of both worlds. J
The real solo trip came 2006 when I went to Whistler in Canada and Washington State for about 10 days! This trip changed my life, or at least changed my way of travel. I had been single for a couple of years by that time, but I wasn’t truly alone without even a friend for more than a couple of days. Spending ten days without someone by my side, without anyone to talk to, without a person to share the beauty of nature or the trouble of travel seemed, even to me, quite uncomfortable and a little worrisome. “How could I go on 10 days without speaking to anyone?” I asked a friend of mine, concernedly.
Little did I know that how much I would enjoy the freedom of traveling on my own! The beauty of the nature consumed me and my time. I had no time for loneliness. Instead, I was “racing” with time to go further and to see more. Oh, no worries about no one to talk to! As long as you are open and friendly, there are plenty like-minded people to start a conversation, on the trail or off trail.
On day two of my trip, I met a Chinese family from California. We had a short but nice conversation when we passed by each other on a remote trail. And believe or not, we ran into each other again the next day in another very remote area (I didn’t see anyone beside them)! The mother was so impressed with me that she actually tried to “hook” me up with her son who was a medical student at the time. Guess what? He was probably 15 years younger than I was! J This story always brought a smile on my face. In another words, ladies, traveling solo would make you seem much younger! How cool will that be? Certainly beats all the makeup and plastic surgeries.
From this trip on, I become a “solo traveler” – have been to UT, NV, CA, AZ, NM, OR, ID, WA, MT, WY, CO, TX, Australia, New Zealand, Yunnan (in China) all by myself.
The reason I am telling you the “history” of my solo travel, first of all, is to reassure my friends and everyone cares about me that I will be okay, that I didn’t wake up one day and decided to take this long journey. Secondly, I also want to share my experience of solo travel with anyone who has a small voice in her head telling her to try something new and urging her to travel on her own. Well, you can do it, if you want to. Just take one small step at a time. I hope, in time, you will enjoy solo travel as much as I do!
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html