I remember distinctly the moment I realized that traveling solo is really a gift. My work had taken me to Anaheim for the week and I had flown down the day prior to get myself situated and well, go to Disneyland obviously; Anaheim is the City that was built by a mouse! My colleagues, to put it mildly, wanted nothing to do with it. I, on the other hand, had an annual pass and Disney well, Disney is my thing. So I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go solo.
I had read on several of the travel blogs that solo Disney is actually not that uncommon of an occurrence. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks, travel journals, anything that would make me feel like what I was about to do was normal. I brought a book (just in case it got awkward standing in line for an hour or so with no one to talk to), my phone, I had earbuds so I could listen to music. Basically I prepared to entertain myself in the event I couldn’t handle being alone.
The day came and I flew from Sacramento down to Orange County, I checked into the hotel and then off to the park I went. I had my purse of supplies and I remember calling my husband shortly after getting in the park because I was nervous about spending 12 hours by myself. We spent 10 minutes or so outlining my touring plan (if you don’t know that that is, send me a message, that’s a entirely different subject) and then, with a bit of trepidation, I set off on my own.
I didn’t need any of my packed-in distractions. Traveling solo allowed me to open my eyes and see what was around me.
Taking the opportunity to go to one of my favorite places in the world by myself let me experience it exactly as I wanted to. More importantly, it allowed me to slow down and just be an observer. My typical role in life is that of a planner. I joke (but it’s not actually a joke) about carrying a clipboard. I will tell people I have a clipboard that outlines my clipboard projects! Disney is no different. When we go, either as a family, or with friends, I tend to plan the day, know the course, and guide the group.
Late in the day on this first solo trip I remember standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a Dad and his three boys in front of me. They were rambunctious and rowdy…typical end of day Disney behavior right? One of the boys was particularly worried about me; he must have been about seven. As we boarded the ride, he and his family got in the front row and I climbed in, by myself, in the row immediately behind. When he realized no one else was boarding with me, he turned around, and with wide-eyes asked me, “Are you alone?”
I smiled and said, “Of course. Hanging out with myself is one of my favorite things to do.”
Since then I haven’t shied at the opportunity to travel solo. Usually, these opportunities are tied to a work event or a conference I am attending. Not only do I get to slow down and really take in what is around me, traveling solo also pulls me out of my comfort zone and tests my ability to be social. I’ve made new friends in Ashland, New Orleans, and sometimes, just sometimes, I even chat up people on the plane.
Lastly, by freeing myself of distraction while traveling solo, I have found that I have been able to clear my head. Usually these opportunities come at a time where I am really wrestling with something. I have a decision to make and taking some time to be alone let’s me focus, think, and listen to the inner voice in my head that often gets drowned out by life. Without a doubt, taking an opportunity to be by myself for a little amount of time has always helped me make a decision.
So here comes the challenge, this week, start planning a solo trip. It doesn’t have to be big. Take a day trip to the city. Spend a night at a hotel and have a spa day. Find a weekend conference and book it. The possibilities are limitless but I promise you, so are the rewards.