3 Things I Learned About Traveling Solo

This past Memorial Day, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for years but didn’t think would actually happen: I went on a vacation by myself.

For many people, traveling alone is as normal as ordering extra fries in the McDonald’s drive-thru; you don’t even think twice about it. But for me, this was uncharted territory. I’m fortunate enough to say that I have been to a lot of cool places around the U.S., but it was always with family. Even when I started embarking on my own trips that were not coordinated by my parents, I always had a friend with me. The thought of actually getting on a plane and flying to a place thousands of miles from home to sleep in a strange bed by myself was both exciting and nerve-wracking as hell.

But one dreary March afternoon I found myself on the Expedia website during a slow day at work, and I was thinking about how envious I was of my friends who are always traveling somewhere new, especially on their own. The whole “I never get to go anywhere” mentality started eating away at me, so I decided right then and there to shut that annoying voice up and go on my own trip already.

I booked a three-night stay at the Walk of Fame Hostel on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my short 24 years so far. I met so many cool people and saw places that I’ve only seen in movies. I was hooked, and now I can’t wait for my next solo adventure.

Here are three things I learned after traveling alone for the first time:

  1. Hostels are really community-oriented. I purposely chose a hostel for my accommodations as opposed to a regular motel because a) it was cheaper, and b) it would force me to socialize with new people. I shared a room with five other women, none who were from the U.S., and it was great to talk to people from the other side of the world. I made fast friends while eating breakfast in the dining hall, hiking to the Hollywood sign, and taking the Metro down to Santa Monica Pier.
  2. You’ll have to set limits for yourself. When you have a travel companion, you can ask them to watch your stuff while you run to the bathroom real quick. Not so when you venture out on your own. Since I was by myself, I had to be more cautious than usual and really plan out what I was doing. For me, this meant not leaving the boulevard after sunset, only taking public transport with the hostel group, and watching my alcohol intake. I still had a broad range of awesome experiences, but I also needed to ensure my well-being.
  3. Vacations are so easy when you get to be in control of everything. Do you know how much time I had to spend in souvenir shops while on family vacations as a kid? Too much. For my Hollywood trip, I realized this was the first time that I could literally do whatever I felt like and not have to compromise or worry that someone else isn’t having fun. I got up at sunrise to hike Runyon Canyon, I explored Madame Tussaud’s wax museum for hours, and I stayed at the beach until sundown, not worried about the time or where I was going to eat dinner. It was glorious.

Needless to say,  I have been bitten by the travel bug and I have many more adventure plans to make happen!

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