A year ago, I traveled solo for the first time. Now, I don’t mean just flying by my own, I mean I was completely solo, on vacation, in a foreign country for 2.5 days. It was a really empowering experience, so I decided I wanted to do it again this year. This time, I was in Las Vegas for a work conference Sunday – Wednesday, and decided I wanted to take PTO on Thursday and Friday, rent a car and go explore Zion National Park. Because I was staying in the United States for the trip, some people could think it’s weird that I didn’t invite any friends or family to join me. Wouldn’t I have more fun with friends?
Well for one thing, I knew I would need to constantly be “on” and socializing 8am-10pm every day of the conference. As an introvert this drains me (but it was worth it! I was glad I got to participate in the conference). Regardless, I thought a few days of solitude in the wilderness would be the perfect balance. Being solo also meant I could do as I pleased – decide how late I wanted to sleep in, spontaneously grab ice cream in the afternoon, etc. And I also just wanted to test myself again to see if I could do it – was I brave enough to go to a sit-down restaurant by myself? Would I strike up conversation with others at the park? Choosing to fly solo this time doesn’t mean I don’t also love trips with family and friends.
In case you were wondering, yes, there were times I felt lonely and wish I had a friend with me. I saw plenty of groups of girls my age which made me think how fun it would be to visit a national park over a long weekend with some of my besties. There were also tons of families in the park which made me think of my family since all the other times I have visited national parks has been with them.
So what was it actually like?
- I had no problem finding people to take pictures of me. Zion is the second busiest park in the US, so there were always people near me on the trail that I could ask. Or I would see a family that wanted a picture together, and I would offer to take it for them if they returned the favor.
- I did plenty of chatting with strangers. Meet a nice couple from San Diego while I was standing in a 20 min long line for the shuttle into the park. They had been to Zion before and gave me some great advice. We talked almost the whole wait and it really helped the time fly by. There was also a sweet little girl that started talking to me on the shuttle, and a girl about my age who I talked to while in line for a smoothie. I think because I was solo (and because there was ZERO cell service in Zion) it made me be more fully present in these conversations and I appreciated them more #YayHumanInteraction
- I had to be more alert because I didn’t have anyone else to rely on. I couldn’t fall asleep on the shuttle ride back to the hotel, because no one would wake me at our stop. I had to read the safety notices and pay more attention to the trails I took.
- I did not see any other solo female travelers on my trip (don’t think I saw any men traveling solo either..), which was different than my prior trip in Europe and made what I was doing feel odd
- I felt completely safe the whole time. If I had injured myself on the hike or gotten in an emergency of some kind, I have no doubt the people around me would have helped. I just got the vibe that people were looking out for me when they learned I was alone. And that’s pretty cool.
That being said, if you’ve never traveled solo before, you should give it a try! It’s empowering to see you can navigate it all on your own, and I think it’s a good skill to be comfortable with silence and alone time. Sometimes you need to get away from people to do some soul searching and get clarity on decisions/challenges you’ve been facing.
If you want to hear about what I actually did on my trip, read this blog post.