8 Things I Learned Traveling Solo

Friday, June 30, 2017



Last year, around this time I took what was my first solo trip on my motorcycle. The goal was Moab, Utah for Motos in Moab and I don't think i realized the magnitude of that trip until I was well on my way. I've begun reflecting on that journey and want to emphasize a few learnings. It makes me happy to see more and more people, women especially, that are taking the leap to a temporary life on the road. Traveling by bike is extremely different than just a road trip in your car; as you'll learn below. I've always been more solitary, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. Either way, growing up I learned to be comfortable with being by myself fast. Here are a few other things I learned from the road about myself; perhaps you'll relate too:

1. Traveling solo made me realize I am brave and should be confident in myself
People told me that I was living the dream and that they were inspired by my taking an adventure on my own. Truth be told, I reached out to numerous people and didn't get a response on traveling with others. I was feeling defeated and almost bailed the day before my journey's start. I had the text message ready on my phone to my manager to let them know that I was actually coming in. I didn't think I could do it. Every worst-case scenario popped up in my mind: motorcycle crash, being stranded, getting hurt/killed/raped by someone, etc. Now I am so happy I got back with a story to tell and that I feel my life is my own. It felt really good to take control of a situation and do what I wanted for a change. It's okay to be scared, as long as you take the time to consider what you're afraid of. But that brought me to the next point.

2. Traveling solo made me self-aware and reliant
When scrappy times call for scrappy measures, I now know I can handle it. Traveling solo makes you think critically and helps you deal with ambiguity better than you ever thought. You also start sensing when you're truly uncomfortable and you stop giving a f*ck if others like it. I was at a grocery store and I mentioned that I was traveling solo to an old crusty dude (hindsight: yes, that was dumb) and he proceeded to tell me that "boys are very bad nowadays" and that he was locked up for "being a bad boy" back in the 70's. Um, what? Promptly shut down a conversation that started about my bike to be something else. You don't owe your time to anyone and your safety/security comes first during these times. Trust your intuition; it's there for a reason - it is really okay to be selfish on your own.

3. Traveling solo made me grateful for the relationships I had back home
I didn't tell my parents I was going until I was already on my trip. I did this because I know they would react the same way even if I did say something. The fact that they freaked out made me realize I need to start sharing more things. People care, even when you don't think they do. Also, being alone on the road, with no one to share stories with around the fire as you sip on a beer, makes you think about the folks you'd want there. Make more time for those that come in your thoughts. 

4. Traveling solo makes me more social
I met a few people along my journey that I wouldn't have if I didn't make the first move or make myself vulnerable. It helps when others can relate to you or if you ask questions. Also peace offerings of oatmeal, canned chili, chopped firewood and tea really break down those social walls!

5. Traveling solo makes me think long and hard about the goals I have in my life
1,900+ miles of alone time in my hologram helmet gave me a lot of grounds to think about my goals and their respective fears, considerations and roadblocks. I've been given a mental clarity I wouldn't have if I had spent the week surrounded by people at home. There is a point where you feed off others' creative energy and a point where it exhausts you. Being off the grid at times made me really dissect those areas of my life.

6. Traveling solo showed me I'm not a great planner, but I am a great doer
My trip back from Moab? I *barely* planned. I may be exaggerating a little bit, I used the Roadtrippers.com app to map out most of my journey - but, what I mean is that I gave myself permission to explore, to take the backroad, to take my time. This is the one time I don't have to ask people if they're okay with getting a coffee at this place, or staying at Horseshoe bend for an hour. I only had to answer to myself and doing things instead of worrying about other's people's time made the trip truly special.

7. Traveling solo showed me I need these explorations to stay inspired
Unless it's for work, I barely make time to create things for myself. So much of my creative process has been done for work that I don't have time to mess up. Deadlines loom and approvals happen in a flash. The creative process has become sort of mechanical that when I do have time to create on my own; I paralyze myself with questions. Who will see this? What is the purpose? etc. Taking a break away from screens, annoying coworker emails and workflows frees up the inner creative and hushes the critic. 

8. I really don't need as much as I have.
Packing up my motorcycle every morning after a night of camping made me really realize I don't need as much as I have at home. I have way too much stuff and a lot of it, won't lie, are creature comforts that just accumulate in my home. There are the things you should always have on you, on these trips, and some things can stay at home. You really won't know what those things are until you take the time to explore that option. Stay tuned for my packing list for my two kinds of trips: short weekend away and long ride!

Have you ever traveled solo? What were your thoughts? 

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