I’ve been traveling “solo-ish” for about 5 years. I say “solo-ish” because most of my adventures while solo do include a group tour. I need to make that clear from the start. I do spend time on my own in countries discovering the treasures of it by myself or with a friend.
I started traveling because I had reached the age where all my friends started getting married and having children. I felt left out, big time. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. So, I bought a house about an hour south of where I grew up, and figured that the life of settling down would just happen. It turns out it doesn’t. You actually have to make friends when you move. I moved to a very small town, I think the population was just over 1,000 people. I decided to have my friends over for Friendsgiving and my best friend Kari dropped a bomb on me. She was moving to China with her boyfriend to teach English for two years. I had to admit I was a little stunned when I heard she was moving to the opposite side of the world. As the year progressed and babies were born, I got tired of working 7 days a week, and my new life was not what it was cracked up to be. I was not meeting people I may be interested in for dating, marriage or even coffee. I baked a lot of cupcakes. I mean a lot! I decided one night on my hour long commute into work, I was going to China. I emailed Kari, and said “I’m coming to visit!” That was it. Some questions asked. I told my parents, they were a little nervous. The next thing to settle was when and the time off from work.
About work, I work in healthcare. I discussed my vacation with a good coworker and decided that if I was going to fly 13 ½ hours to Shanghai, I needed to stay longer for a week. So I decided on the month based off of when our non-prime season for vacations is. October it was meant to be. I went to my local AAA and spoke to a wonderful agent named Katie (who, I have booked every trip but Australia with) and decided on a tour through the travel group Collette Vacations. I figured out my dates and submitted my days off to my boss. After some discussion I was able to secure my days off. I worked all summer singles, doubles, sometimes up to 26 shifts in a row before I had a day off. I wanted to be prepared. I booked my flight, booked my hotel using Agoda and emailed frequently back and forth with my best friend. Kari and I worked out the details. I would leave the states on September 30th and arrive October 1st in China. I was meant to stay 21 days in the country. I was ready to go, bags packed, passport acquired and visa ready to go.
What started out as an escape from doing nothing but working and having competition with a co-worker to see who could work more shifts in a row became a wonderful adventure. I have seen things, experienced food and cultures I never thought, I would. It has been an amazing experience. I fell in love with travel and the world.
Now that you know my story and why I decided to travel, I have a few tips.
- Make sure your passport is up to date.
- Spell your name correctly when you book your airfare. This happened to me when I booked for china. I ended up in tears at the ticket counter at the airport.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when you travel. I cannot stress this enough and would not want anyone to be hurt while traveling.
- Always get insurance when you travel
- Do your research. You don’t want to be staying in a hotel in the bad part of the city. I one time booked a hostel and then read the reviews on TripAdvisor and very quickly cancelled my hostel. Also, the Eli Roth movie scared me senseless.
- Please be knowledgeable about where you are going !
- Don’t go with anyone.