A Case for Going Solo

Written for & published by The Trip Tribe (March 2014)


So, it’s July 2011 and I had just finished two of the hardest years of my life: graduate school, also known as countless hours of reading, writing, internship, class discussions, and wiping the sweat away from my forehead while awaiting my final semester grades.

I had told myself during my second year that I wanted to celebrate my graduation by going on a long trip…

…but, I figured I’d only do it if someone came with me. Why? Because I’ve always gone to foreign countries with other people, never solo. There was always comfort in knowing I would be journeying internationally with a familiar face.

My final semester of grad school came and I decided I wanted to go trekking in Central America, specifically Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala — areas of the world I had yet to explore — and areas where the backpacking tours were not for the faint of heart. They would require living with the bare minimum for one month and not being afraid to get down and dirty.

For me, that was awesome! For some of my friends, it sounded like their worst nightmare.

I was confronted with a choice: Do I go on this trip alone and try to get to know the folks I’m assigned with? Or do I forego the trip and do something closer to home because it would be easier? I opted for the former option, and let me tell you, I’m so intensely happy I did.

Make no mistake, going on a backpacking tour for four weeks with a bunch of strangers was definitely a risk. Would I like the people? Would I be able to handle the constant travel? Would my possessions be safe…?

But how would I know if I was capable of going on the trip unless I tried?

In July 2011, I packed a large backpack and flew to San Jose, Costa Rica into the unknown. Scary? Yes! But the minute I landed, I was thrilled and so thankful I had the lady guts to take on this endeavor on my own without knowing a single soul.

We often freak ourselves out ahead of a big change. But once that change happens, and you arrive at your destination, you see why you ultimately did it in the first place.

My experience challenged me in ways I never thought possible, but it showed me new things about my stamina as a traveler, my tolerance for ambiguity, and my open-mindedness to trying new things.

After all, if I can handle sleeping in a hostel in the middle of a jungle on an island in Lake Nicaragua with a hornets nest in the corner of my room and freezing water for a shower… I have a feeling anyone can.

Let me leave you with a few questions to pose to yourself if you’re considering doing some solo globetrotting:

  • What is your hang-up about doing this trip by yourself?
  • What do you want to achieve by going on this trip?
  • How will this trip make you a more well-rounded person?
  • What do you need to do to adequately prepare yourself for this trip?

You may find that you have fear and hesitations about traveling off into the infinite abyss. These are often unfounded and can be conquered by just biting the bullet and taking a leap of faith… and doing so will be a good test of your adaptability, resiliency, and ability to tolerate discomfort.

Do yourself a favor, and just try!