By Renee Franklin
This month, as we celebrate the spirit of adventure in all of its forms, we want to draw attention one: The solo endeavor. While sharing a journey with others can be an incredible experience that can lead to the strongest of bonds, embarking on an adventure alone reaps rewards to be found nowhere else. Whether you are hiking one of Michigan’s stunning state parks, traveling to a new town or jetting across the globe, here are some of the treasure you will yield from your solo excursion:
You Will Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses
As you come up against the inevitabilities of traveling (late flights, navigating unfamiliar cities, language barriers), your strengths, some of which may be surprising to you, will emerge. You will learn what you can rely on yourself for and what you are better off asking for help with, which leads us to our
You Will Learn to Ask for Help
No one can accomplish great things all by their lonesome. Even with all of the advantages of modern technology, you will have to ask for help, whether you are asking for directions or help interpreting a menu. In our everyday lives, we are not often in situations in which we must reach outside of our comfort zone and ask for assistance; doing so can be a beautiful, humbling thing that will remind you we are all in this together.
You Will Enjoy You
Nothing allows you to enjoy your own company more than bearing witness to awe-inspiring sights and having only yourself to share it with. You will forge a deep and lasting connection with yourself as you are immersed in the beauty of our world, uninterrupted. (feelings). Instead of turning to those next to you and saying, “Wow!”, you will be rooted in the moment as you fill with wonder.
You Will Learn to Ask Yourself
What You Want
When you are traveling alone, your itinerary is yours to create. Instead of asking your companions, “What do you want to do today?” you instead ask yourself, “What do I want to do today?” The answers may surprise you. Do you want to spend an afternoon reading on the beach? Trying a nibble at every local bakery you can find? Climb a mountain? Take a tour? Go to a concert? Ride a bike? Visit museums? Kayak? Rest? It’s all up to you. Being decisive about what you do, and pivoting if it doesn’t work out, is an invaluable skill that you will carry with you when you return home.
Tips for a Safe Solo Adventure
Research, Research, Research
Did we mention research? Familiarize yourself with your destination. Read travel blogs, study maps, watch videos and read guidebooks. Before you arrive, you will want to understand what the public transportation is like, which areas you should avoid, what the weather patterns are, if you need vaccinations and where to go in case of emergency.
Make Copies of Your Documents
Bring your essential documents (ID, visa if necessary, travel insurance, health information, tickets, and pre-paid confirmations) and leave your wallet safely at home. A money belt or a travel purse that fits around your neck, both of which can be worn under your clothing, are excellent measures to prevent theft. Make a copy of each document and store them in a separate place, such as your luggage, and be sure to store in a locked place at your accommodation. Alternately, take pictures of the documents and store them in a cloud you can access from any device. Having these copies will save you further headache in the case your documents are misplaced or stolen.
Email your itinerary to your family and friends so they can keep up with your journey. Check with your cell phone carrier beforehand to see if you will have service at your destination. If not, rent a pocket Wi-fi device for the duration of your trip. Whether you are hiking in Northern Michigan or city-hopping through Europe, the wi-fi device to send a quick check-in text or email your family and friends each day, so they know you are safe and having the time of your life. Additionally, if you are in a state or national park, alert the ranger station of your plans.
Spend Money on Safety
Spring for a hotel, hostel or bed and breakfast in a reputable area close to public transit. If you are joining a tour group, spend a little extra on the company with the highest safety ratings. Make a cushion in your budget for taking a taxi at night instead of walking. Buy a high-end hiking coat that will protect you from the elements in case of inclement weather.
Last but not least, have fun! Adventure solo is one of the most enriching gifts you can give yourself. After all, the world is your oyster, so why not