Picture: Cartagena, Colombia
Hometown: Rochester, New York
When it bites, it bites HARD. The solo travel bug I mean - and it leaves a scar in the best way. A weird metaphor I know, so let me explain it with a story. One full of nerves, tears and even more laughs.
I had traveled before, but with the comfort of family or my best friend when we went to Ireland in between semesters in college. This time was different, I single-handedly landed an internship at a start-up company in Barcelona, Spain knowing minimal Spanish and NO idea what to expect. Making this jump for my first solo venture was so important to know how capable I was to make my own decisions and live my life how I wanted. In those 3 months I met some of my soul people from around the world, gained the confidence to trust my gut and make choices for both my safety and opportunities to learn as they came to me and realized what a small bubble I was living in for the entirety of my 21 years of life. This is what I mean when I say it scarred me. It left a mark that I couldn’t and didn’t want to ignore.
What tested the scar and how much it meant to me was returning to ‘reality’ in the US and feeling the pressure and expectation to settle into a 9 to 5 office job. I knew I wanted to travel more but was out of money and didn’t have an opportunity abroad calling my name as my way out. So I settled into a comfortable existence for months longer than I said I would. I became complacent and miserable at my job and it took me being mistreated, demoted, and resigning from my job to feel the burn of that scar again. It was reminding me of the happiness I knew I deserved and had to take action to see a change in my life.
So it was almost 2 years after I had returned from my first solo trip that I booked a one way flight to Mexico with the intention to go for another 3 month adventure - learning Spanish, immersing in unfamiliar cultures and connecting with locals as well as other nomadic travelers. I ate all the tacos, soaked up the Caribbean sun and decided 3 months wasn’t enough so 3 months turned into 12. I know - that solo travel bug got me good!! I traveled through 8 countries in the 12 months, from Mexico to Colombia, almost completely by public transportation, using my new found love for speaking Spanish everyday and meeting incredible people along the way. All with the comfort knowing I was the only one in control of my life and happiness. And you know what? It’s still my favorite scar. It’s my reminder that I have already discovered my happiness in life, and now I’ve made it my mission to help other womxn with all different backgrounds, experience it too.
Travel Advice: It’s not hard, it’s just new - make the leap or you’ll never experience anything more than your comfort zone.