As a 23-year-old female with a full-time job, graduate of university, and fresh out of a nearly six year relationship; I realized that I needed to live, explore and do some self-discovering. So long had I been part of “we”. It was what was comfortable and familiar to me. As my relationship came to a close, I realized that I had lived my life up until this point focused so heavily on my relationship and my partner. As a result I began questioning – “Who am I?” “How am I possibly going to meet people?” “What makes ME happy?”
Growing up most of my family’s finances went to my education, so my parents rarely traveled. I was 18 when I first saw the ocean in Destin, Florida. I loved every minute of traveling and making the most of an ‘unknown’ area. I traveled and studied abroad for a week in Guadeloupe – a poverty-stricken, French Caribbean Island. The water, climate and culture was nothing like Destin or my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. After that trip, I gained so much knowledge and realized just how much I loved traveling – getting away from reality, feeling relaxed, learning new things about, not only myself, but cultures, regions and history. It was on this trip that I saw a whale for the first time and I felt connected to those creatures more than anything in this world. For whatever reason, when the whale breached the water I felt as though I myself was finally coming out above the darkness, having light shed on life and its realities.
I have always dreamed of traveling to Oregon, as it is home to some of the most beautiful mountains, beaches and landscapes. I knew it would be the perfect getaway for a road trip and discovering myself. There is something about being in nature that helps me relax and think clearer. I decided on a trip down the 101 and back inland, so that I could get a taste of the coast and the mountains. As the trip approached I had some people calling me crazy, telling me to bring pepper spray. I also had the more optimistic folks telling me how fearless and confident I was to travel alone. Personally, I was a little anxious, but mostly excited. I was eager to do what I wanted, when I wanted and, along the way, getting to know myself better.
I did not have a strict agenda as I travelled, so that I could improvise and do with my days as I wanted. My biggest fear was eating alone, such a small undertaking, but yet so scary to me. My first night out I ate a small local restaurant. It was Father’s Day. There was an older couple sitting nearby, very sad and surprised as they saw me eating alone. Not knowing I could hear them, the woman constantly kept asking her husband, “Do you think she has a father? Why is she alone? Maybe her father has passed and they came here often.” Deep down I giggled inside because I realized how easy it was eating alone, occasionally eavesdropping on conversations, both funny and in this case sad.
Traveling is exhilarating to me and most of the best things on my trip were just walking along the beach as the sun rose and realizing how some of the best things in life are free. I met quite a few people on my travel, which is not easy and it does, I repeat, does take effort. I had to engage people by asking questions and explaining I wasn’t a local. By doing this I learned a lot about the people, the area and myself. I also was able to go whale watching, which for me is incredible. It amazes me how these large creatures navigate through the ocean and bless us with their presence.
I made it home safe and well. For all those wondering, nothing bad happened to me. And just a side note bad things can happen ANYWHERE. It is being aware of your surroundings that makes the difference in the outcomes. I loved being in control of my trip and because of the recent breakup I got to be ME instead of WE. That in and of itself is an exhilarating experience. I was not there to network or meet people. But I can say that the handful of people I met and conversed with, I did feel connected to their stories. I feel they were placed along my path to make me question and learn more about myself.
Normally, I am a very anxious person. However, during this entire trip, having no priorities, deadlines and very few expectations, I felt calm and more energized as each day passed. I used Airbnb as a means of finding housing along the way, which I recommend to any young traveler travelers looking to save money. I reluctantly had to come back to reality. But I can say I left my weaknesses, sadness and problems to be washed away by the waves of the ocean. I returned from my trip ready to start anew for myself. After realizing I planned and took the trip of my dreams ALL BY MYSELF, I can only think that I CAN DO ANYTHING as the independent, single, young woman I am.
I am already contemplating my next trip as I enter into the next chapter of my life, more aware of my abilities, talents and qualities that make me special. I am so blessed to have an entire world to discover. All I can say about solo travel is it was the best decision for me, in my situation, to heal naturally by being surrounded by some of Earth’s most spectacular natural beauty.
Thanks to Samantha R for sharing this inspirational story!
All photos courtesy of Samantha R