Last year I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime! I had just finished my Masters, been going through the toughest time of my life and decided I needed to do something for me. So I did, and it changed my life!
I had always dreamed of doing the whole ‘California Roadtrip’ type of scenario, so that’s what I did. I travelled on my own, which I had never done before, but it was the best thing that I’ve ever decided to do. I grew as a person, I learned so much and I found true happiness in California, nothing like I had experienced before. Of course, there were times where I wish I had someone to share my adventure with, but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. I had to time of my life on my own – I got to do whatever I wanted, go where I wanted, wake up and go to sleep when I wanted and best of all – I didn’t have to share seats on the bus. I had two seats to myself so I could chill out whilst we were en route to our next destination – the dream situation!
If you’re thinking of travelling alone – do it, I promise you won’t regret it. Here are my top 5 tips for travelling alone:
Don’t Carry Too Much Cash
I went with a guided tour, so the same people were on the bus everyday and we all got to know each other – there was trust there, but when you got off the bus you were on your own. I felt uncomfortable on many occasions where I knew I had a little more cash on me than I should have. I was constantly holding on to my bag, checking it to make sure I hadn’t forgotten or lost anything. On my tour we were on the road almost every day, we’d stop for lunch and an hour or two of downtime to explore the town we were passing through, and then we went on to our destination. My advice is just have enough cash with you to get you through the day of buying lunch, snacks and water. When you get to the destination that evening, you can always hit up an ATM and although yes, the charges are pretty high, I preferred knowing that if I lost my purse, or it was stolen (I always kept my card separate), that I wouldn’t be stranded in California with no money!
Sign Up to a Phone Plan
I was travelling for a month, so this would only be necessary if you were going somewhere where phone charges from your regular network would be obscene AND you’ll be travelling for a while. My mom was in Boston at the time so I went to visit her before I set off for California. Knowing that WiFi could be limited and unsure of whether the bus would provide WiFi (it did…when it was parked!!), I decided to go to a Mall and purchase a phone plan! I chose a plan that cost about $50 and that provided me with 3-4gbs of high speed data and unlimited lower speed WiFi, along with texts and calls. If your mom is anything like mine, she’ll want to know your whereabouts every hour of the day. Not only that, I loved sending her pictures and messages of how exciting the trip was, what I was seeing, where I was going and what I was learning. I also used long trips on the bus as an excuse to update my social media and check in at home. Plus, now that I have an American sim card, I don’t need to buy another one when I move there!
Err on the Side of Caution
Everybody is your friend, yet nobody is your friend. You need to protect yourself and your belongings. So whilst I’m sure you’ll come across some fantastic people on your travels, be cautious of their intentions may be. Tell nobody that you’re travelling alone and always stick to crowded, public places – especially at night! Because I was on a bus tour, I felt a lot be secure and confident in myself than if I was doing the whole thing by myself. Yes, I travelled alone, but on the bus tour you were with the same people everyday and inevitably you were going to make friends on that bus! But, when you got off the bus and had down time, or some days whole days to do whatever you wanted, you’re on your own and it’s important that you acknowledge that and take necessary steps to keep yourself safe. Trust everybody, but trust nobody. If you feel like something isn’t right, don’t take the chance. Use your own best judgement and have your wits about you at all times, but most importantly – have fun! Don’t stress the small stuff. Just be safe and everything else will fall in to place!
Use your Travel Time Wisely
As mentioned, I did a bus tour. We travelled the west coast of the US over 2 weeks. A lot of that time was spent on a bus traveling from city to city. Whilst we had plenty of stops along the way, there were a few days where bus-time was a little longer. Use this time wisely! When you’re off that busy, you’re constantly going – visiting new places, meeting new people, going on excursions and tours – that gets tiring! Use your travel time as an opportunity to have a nap, read a book, update your Instagram with all your #wanderlust (guilty!) pictures! Check in at home, listen to some music or just to relax and watch the world outside your window. Once you reach your destination for that day, you’ll be glad of the time you had on the bus to rest your legs before another great adventure begins!
Don’t Pack the Kitchen Sink!
You want to make sure you have enough, but keep in mind that you’ll probably be shopping too, so leave plenty of space for that. I did a pretty good job with my packing, I didn’t pack too many clothes as I knew with the heat, travel and walking, I’d be repeating outfits pretty often. If you Irish Mammy is anything like mine, she’ll have you stocked up as well as your local pharmacy. You know, ‘just incase’! Which actually came in handy on my trip because for the first week I had strep throat and towards the end of the trip I had an ear infection. You want to take the basics, but don’t over do it. Basic medications for headaches, stomach aches etc, clothes appropriate to the weather, a good pair of shoes and don’t forget suncream! But you also don’t need to pack 8 pairs of sandals, 15 tops, 3 jackets and slippers. Go with the flow, bring just what you need and if you’re stuck for something – there’s a thousand and one shops that will have 5 different options of what you’re looking for!
Bonus Tip – Embrace Every Moment
Enjoy yourself! This is your time, you’ve worked hard to pay for this trip, you’ve spent days making lists and packing your bags, but make sure you embrace every moment and every single opportunity, because you may never get to go there again. Take this trip as a way of growing both in mind and spirit. You will see things you’ve never seen before, experience such incredible things, you’ll have extreme highs and you’ll have a few lows, but don’t let that take away from the journey you’re on. Travelling alone was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I changed as a person, found happiness and genuine excitement for life again. Take lots of pictures, post them on all your social media and make everybody jealous – this is your time, do this for YOU, do this how YOU want to do it and most importantly, have the time of your life!