How to Embrace Your Next Solo Adventure

What I’ve Learned Traveling Solo

I had mixed feelings while packing for my first river trip on the Snake River through Hells Canyon.  On one hand, I was about to embark on a trip promising adventure and good old fashion disconnected relaxation, but on the other hand I was about to embark on said adventure alone. With a bunch of strangers.  The introvert in me then commenced shaking her head and holding tight to the door frame of my house.  But when the opportunity to explore a new place comes a callin’, my inner-introvert must strap on her Chacos, take some deep breaths, and board the plane.

Grand Teton National Park solo adventure

Since that first solo trip, I have backpacked through 3 countries, camped on the California Coast, and taken another trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks—all technically “solo.”  While the introvert in me still shakes her head from time to time, she has given up her door-frame-holding ways.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Say yes. Want to wear this feather boa I pulled out of the hull?  Sure!  Want to climb to the top of that mountain to get a better view?  Absolutely!  Saying yes may get your blood pumping and make your cheeks rosy, but trust me when I say, the view from the top is worth it.

Speak up.  Whether that means around the fire while everyone is sharing their stories about tripping in front of crowds, or during the slower stretches of water where the “what do you want to be when you grow up” tales are freely shared, joining the conversation may win you some new traveling companions so, you know, you don’t always have to go it alone.

Middle Fork Salmon River rafting

Plan ahead. While embracing serendipity and following your fancy is important, especially on vacation, a lot of anxiety is taken out of the equation when you have a plan.  Be it packing tums and melatonin to having a map and knowing where you’re going, these details can take a lot of the guess work out, and leave you free and informed enough to experience things as they come.

Break your plan.  The best thing about knowing a little about your surroundings (ahem, through planning), is being able to intelligently explore.  When someone mentions those relaxing hot springs on the “what was it called?” river, you will be ready with an answer and a map.

Finally, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned while traveling the world solo is that people are open and welcoming no matter where you go, as long as you’re open and welcoming wherever you go.  So when it’s easiest to head straight for your tent, grab your headlamp and book, and curl up in your sleeping bag, give a thought to the conversations you may be missing fireside.   Pretty quickly the introvert who was shaking in her sandals before the trip will realize that although it’s true you came alone, you have never been more surrounded by good company.