Though I love and appreciate getting to travel with family and friends, I also love and crave the occasional solo adventure. Solo travel has taught me many valuable lessons over the years — about myself and others. I also pay much more attention to my surroundings, both for safety reasons and because my senses are much more attuned to everything happening around me. Not to mention I'm able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want (within reason).
It reinforced my appreciation for exploring by myself and stepping out of my comfort zone.
I love solo travel so much that I traveled to Mexico by myself to celebrate a big birthday. Though it's been months since my last solo adventure (hey, Lisbon!), it reinforced my appreciation for exploring by myself and stepping out of my comfort zone.
As I think about my travels and the times I've found myself alone in a new and foreign place, there are several moments that stand out to me as unique occurrences that I'm not sure would have happened had I not been by myself. Here are a few of my all-time favorite solo travel moments:
My Day on the Water in Phang Nga Bay
Doing a tour of Phang Nga Bay is not necessarily unique in itself; it's what led up to me doing that tour that has become one of my favorite solo travel moments. Long story short, I was supposed to spend three days in Ko Phi Phi but after about 10 very rainy hours, I realized this was not the island for me so I took the first morning ferry back to Phuket. The bad news is that my move prevented me from doing a tour of Maya Bay and there was an unusual amount of rain throughout my time in Thailand but the good news is that the sun eventually came out and I was able to book a day tour from Phuket to Phang Nga Bay, the place I really wanted to go.
Cenote Swimming and All the Tacos in Mexico
On the day of my birthday, I woke up in Tulum with no plans except a flight that night from Cancun to Florida. Until then, my plans were my own, so, after waking up early, I walked down to an empty beach and watched the sunrise. Then I had a leisurely breakfast and decided to go check out the above ground cenote I near my hotel. After wandering down a dirt road, I came to what felt like a hidden gem: vivid blue water situated somewhat randomly in an area mostly full of houses. I spent some time swimming in this gorgeous cenote before relaxing by the pool and going to have what were some of the best tacos of my life. Overall, it was a birthday success.
Sunday Morning Explorations in Lisbon
During my last solo adventure in Lisbon, I woke up early, mostly because I'm a morning person, and decided to do some neighborhood wandering before heading to the airport later that afternoon. To some people, it may sound boring to literally just walk around a place for who knows how long, but this is genuinely one of my favorite things to do, particularly in a new place. I've lost count of the number of cities where I've meandered down random streets and make some great discoveries. Lisbon was no exception. While wandering around the beautiful Principe Real neighborhood, I came upon my favorite view of Lisbon, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Gotta love those random but beautiful discoveries.
My Awkward Turned Fun Dinner in Hong Kong
Not everything is amazing when it comes to traveling solo. For me, one of the things I dislike about solo travel is nighttime when everyone is out and about eating dinner or having drinks with friends and loved ones. I love trying new restaurants and lounges but I'm not always comfortable doing that on my own, especially when traveling. But sometimes I just suck it up and make it work. Hong Kong was one of those times. Since I really wanted to eat at a trendy restaurant called Yardbird, I decided to head there on my own to check it out. Once I got there, I realized this was not the place for sitting by yourself but instead of turning around and hightailing it back home, I went to the bar, sat myself down (more like squeezed myself in since it was so crowded) and ordered a drink. I ended up meeting a couple from NYC and chatting it up with the bartender, and I had great time. What started out awkward ended up being a lot of fun.
Meeting New Social Media Friends in Paris
Continuing my theme of solo dining at night in foreign cities, I really wanted to try a place my friend recommended in the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. So I took me, myself and I to the restaurant and sat down at a table with my book. I never ended up reading that book, though, because the couple next to me asked me a question and that was that. We ended up chatting and I found out they were visiting Paris for the first time from California. Somewhere along the way, we exchanged social media handles and six years later, we're still connected via Instagram (and now they're married!). That situation was a great reminder that you never know what will happen or who you'll meet when you step out of your comfort zone.
There are many other solo travel moments that I've enjoyed over the years, but these stand out as my favorites. I'm looking forward to experiencing more.