Thoughts on Traveling Solo

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Window display in downtown Seattle

As an introverted woman, exploring on my own brings its own unique challenges and rewards from cost, to loneliness, to empowerment. Today I will be speaking to the challenges specifically. I’ll save the pros for another post so that I can do them justice.

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It took about 43 bad shots for this ONE mediocre shot
  1. Selfies– Guys, I am really shy about taking selfies. I have some friends that will stop walking in the middle of a busy hallway or street to snap a quick picture for Instagram or Snapchat. I wish I was that bold. I don’t always view taking selfies as bold though. It often seems self-centered and self-absorbed when there are grandiose monuments or radiant geography with me standing in the foreground. I usually just quickly look around and say quietly, “It’s for my blog!” and rush off. Let’s be serious, no one cares if they could even hear my barely audible justification. This leaves me with lots of beautiful pictures of other people and places, which is not always so good for writing blog posts or texting parents. Don’t even get me started on the selfie stick. Yikes.
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How much I paid to stay in a semi-safe neighborhood

2. Cost – Invariably, traveling solo costs so much more. Hotels, cabs, Ubers, food, booze, etc. is always so much more when you are paying for them on your own. There are, of course, very cheap ways of traveling for which I usually make weird sacrifices that almost always turn out to be rookie mistakes (as evidenced in this post).

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A sunset during which I felt particularly lonely

3. Loneliness – Sometimes there are things that I see, smells that I pick up walking by a restaurant, or familiar music on a breeze that invariably remind me of someone I know. When traveling by myself these moments remind me that I’m in a place where no one knows me or cares for my general well-being. I usually trust in the good will of humans, but it can be difficult to be surrounded by strangers who you cannot count on, especially when it causes excruciating anxiety to speak to someone, much less ask them for help. This sunset, though picturesque, left me feeling so alone. By the end of the day, the excitement of exploration and empowerment often erodes, leaving a sense of fear and exclusion.

There are a multitude of gifts that the world offers only when traveling solo which far outweighs some of the negative aspects. I often prefer exploring by myself to being with a group or even my significant other, but selfies, high costs, and unavoidable loneliness can make me rethink going it alone.

 

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Impromptu Hot Springs Visit

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Colorado scenery never gets old 

After what felt like a two day, post St. Patty’s Day hangover, some friends invited my significant other and me on a quick adventure to a hot springs located one hour away. It took me all of two seconds to, maybe a little too enthusiastically, say yes. We grabbed one of our friends who also suffering from a hangover, St. Patty’s Day was rough this year, you guys, and set off.

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{Picture borrowed from http://www.dakotahotsprings.com/}

This was the ideal day trip. The drive was short but filled with breathtaking mountain views. (Side note, if the iPhone maps app takes you through a rock quarry off M street, don’t go that way. Stay on the main highway, and it will take you straight to the front gate.)  It’s $5 with an active military i.d., and $15 for couples. The pool was the perfect temperature, with a view of the distant mountains. We stayed until sunset, which cast a warm, golden glow on the valley and the mountains.

{Picture borrowed from http://www.dakotahotsprings.com/}

What I didn’t realize was that this Dakota Hot Springs, located in Penrose, Colorado, is a swimsuit optional hot springs. I am a huge proponent for body positivity and desexualizing nudity, but it was still a bit of a shock at first. You really have to be aware of where your eyes are wandering at all times. Our friends brought their kids, which was very refreshing. I really admire that they’re teaching their boys to be comfortable with nudity from a very young age. There are no phones or picture taking devices allowed, so I took no photos at all.

This was the perfect way to unwind for a few hours. We will definitely be going back, maybe even to camp there for a night or two. Check it out if you want a budget friendly, Colorado hot springs experience!