I love to travel. Always have, always will. It sets my soul on fire. I love the researching, the planning, and the budgeting. I love the adventuring, the exploring, and the sightseeing. I love it all.
But what if I’m alone? Will I still love it then?
You Are Alone
What if there is no one to share these moments with? No one to reminisce with? No one to research with or plan with or budget with? What if there is no one to sit next to me on a Friday night because, “we’re on a budget,” for this big trip coming up? What if I’m all alone?
What if there is no one to adventure with or explore with or sightsee with? Will it still be fun? Who will share these memories? Who will help retell the story? Who will relive these moments over and over again?
I love to travel. Always have, hopefully always will. Let’s see how this solo traveling goes….
My First Solo Trip
I call this my “first” solo trip because while I did go on this one, it wasn’t solo solo. Read the post and you’ll see. But this one, this was solo solo. This was the real deal. This was it.
I’ve been all over the United States, 25 states to date to be exact, yet I have never visited the Grand Canyon. It’s been on my bucket list for years but every time I plan a trip, something else always seems more exciting or more fun. So on the shelf my Grand Canyon trip remains, covered in dust. I know it’ll be a “family trip”one day when I have a family. I’ll just have to wait.
The Moment of Inspiration
It all fell apart. (read this, its an important piece of the story)
March passed, April flew by, and May was quickly coming to an end. Life was passing me by, and sadly, I was allowing it. I knew I needed to shake things up, but what, what could I possibly do?
What did I even like to do? I didn’t know anymore. I was so lost.
I reached deep inside and asked myself, “If money wasn’t a worry, what would you want to do today?” The answer was simple, “Travel.” So travel it was, anything to fill the hole in my heart.
My heart screamed, “Spend the summer in Europe! It will be fun! Portugal, Spain, Italy! Ah, I can see you lounging on the beaches of Ibiza and sipping wine while touring the Amalfi Coast. You MUST go! ”
Well that was easy, “Europe it is!”
I eagerly told my parents the great news, yet their reaction was not so great. While they are extremely progressive in parenting and have a strong grasp on millennial norms, they were scared. “But I’ve traveled to Europe a dozen times! What makes this any different? Why are you so scared?”
All of that was true, but they didn’t want me to go alone. This was going to be a problem.
Wtf mom and dad. Do you not trust me? Do you not think I’m capable? If anyone is capable of doing this, its me. I know you know that. I love to travel, why are you stopping me? Have you seen me this excited about ANYTHING in the past few months? Why are you standing in my way? Do you honestly think I’ll get kidnapped? I could get kidnapped here. People in Miami eat other people’s faces off. I’m going. You can’t stop me. Sorry you’re scared but deal with it.
… Is what I wanted to say, but thankfully didn’t.
Let’s Make a Deal
I may have said some of my thoughts above, just enough to spark an agreement. They were scared, and while I respected that, I was still going. We agreed I’d do a trial run in America to see if I enjoyed traveling alone, and if I did, then I could book the international trip. Deal!
I had a ton of airline points about to expire so I figured wherever I can get with these points, then that’s where I’ll go. I looked at the flight options… Ehhh…
- California– Just came back from there.
- New York– Have visited enough times.
- Seattle– Been there, done that, don’t need to go again.
- Las Vegas– Don’t go alone.
I need to get creative.
What if I fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive to the Grand Canyon? Wait, that could work! How many days could I possibly stay at the Grand Canyon though? 3? Then what? How close is Horseshoe Bend? And Antelope Canyon? I want cool pictures. Everyone has cool pictures. I had a friend visit Zion National Park recently. I’ll ask her for tips!
[obsessively researches road trip routes]
Okay, these places are a lot further apart than I expected. Hours apart. Hmm… Now what? How much is this going to cost me? Is a week in the Grand Canyon really worth $1,000? ← That was my budget. Yes. Yes it is. Its worth it. You need to get out of the house. You need to get your spark back. Go. Go at any cost. Go now.
This was 2 weeks before I left.
I went back and forth all week whether I should go or not. The only time I could go was 2 weeks later and 2 weeks is not a lot of time to plan a trip, especially when its a holiday weekend in America and everything is already booked.
The Trip Is Off
From the moment I began planning, I hit every road block possible. Every campsite was booked. Flights were gone. Extra costs sent me well over my budget. I couldn’t go. I physically could not fly there or sleep anywhere. I hustled to look for accommodations but I was out of luck and time was running out. I decided not to go. The trip was off.
But then, I had an idea! In the shower, of course, where all of life’s greatest ideas are created. I checked the camping website, yes. Flights, yes. Timing, yes. Prices, yes. I could make this happen! This is going to work! I booked the campsite, not the flights (just in case) and told my parents later that night.
I leave in 9 days.
Apparently I’m Crazy
“Camping?! Alone?! Are you crazy?! You are ALONE and a GIRL and you want to go camping?! I’ve never seen you camp at home. Do you even know how to camp? And alone? It’s not safe. Aren’t you terrified of the dark? No, absolutely not. No. No. No. We’re not comfortable with this.”
I pushed back HARD and they didn’t budge. I FAKED so much confidence to pull off the idea that I was okay with camping, but honestly, I was terrified. I figured if this was the only way to get there then I might as well be excited. Right?
And then, my grandpa intervened.
I respect his opinion, a lot. He is very well traveled and someone who is smart, logical, and usually always right. Grandpa if you’re reading this, hi and I love you! But anyways, he hated the camping idea so much that he offered to pay for a hotel.
Ah, I don’t want your money. I want to make this work on my budget. I don’t want help. And I most definitely don’t want to sleep in a hotel. Hotels are boring. I want to meet cool people. I want to push my comfort zones. I want to do this my way. And so I did.
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll find a way.”
In response to my parents’ fears (and a little of my own), I cancelled the campsites. The truth is, we had a HUGE thunderstorm at our house one night and I woke up terrified that it would rain while I was camping and I wouldn’t know what to do. The universe intervened and when I woke up, I canceled the reservations.
Almost Out of Options
Now what? Does America have hostels? What about airbnbs? Are those safe? After hours (maybe days) of searching and mapping distances and googling strange, desolate towns surrounding the Grand Canyon, I finally found a hostel. It was in Flagstaff, 1.5 hours away from where I wanted to be in the Grand Canyon and 3 hours from Horseshoe Bend. That’s a lot of driving.
Thank god for friends (and social media).
After seeing a friend’s post and reaching out about her trip, she had tons of tips! She highly recommended I stay in Flagstaff, a college town with tons of restaurants and shops and bars. It was a “real” town, nothing compared to the others nearby. Flagstaff looked fun. The hostel looked cute. And clean. And safe. Flagstaff it is!
I did the same process with Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, however Page, Arizona is quite an expensive town, especially last minute on a holiday weekend. I mapped how far I could possibly drive in one day. 3 hours from Flagstaff to Horseshoe Bend, all day exploring (at least until 6pm or 7pm) and then another 2-3 hour drive to Zion. Could I really do it? Would I want to do it? I settled on an interesting hostel about 1 hour outside of Page and the halfway point to Zion. Hello Kanab, Utah. Hostel booked.
I told my parents the updated plan and they were on board. Yes, finally! But my grandpa, not so much. He’s a smart man and he immediately saw the amount of zigzagging and odd driving I would be doing and it KILLED him to think I’d be in the car that long. He pushed for the hotel. He pushed hard. He researched the cities and the time saved. He made it look VERY appealing. So appealing that I got as far as the confirmation screen of Motel 6. I called him. He cringed. “Motel 6? Can’t you stay somewhere nicer.” To me, it was fine. Recently redone, it was actually cute. I caved and upgraded to the Holiday Inn. I could hear a subtle relief in his voice. Very subtle.
While I was on the confirmation screen of the Holiday Inn, I had a meltdown.
I don’t want to stay here. I don’t want to stay in this city. I don’t want to stay in this hotel. I don’t want to stay in ANY hotel. I like hostels. They’re fun. I like Flagstaff. Flagstaff looks fun. I liked my plan. I don’t like this plan. Its logical, but not what I want. I don’t want help. I don’t want to stay here.
And then it was settled, no Holiday Inn. Although confused, my grandpa accepted my decision and wished me well on my lengthy and wildly redundant road trip.
I finally booked the flight. It’s on. I leave in 6 days.
Do you have a crazy travel story like this? Please tell me I’m not alone!