My Experience Traveling Alone

In my first semester of junior year, I decided to book a plane ride to Colorado. After a (for a lack of a better word) crappy semester of doing all of my classes online, which was so much more isolating than imagined, dealing with an illness that seemed never-ending and kicked me down not just physically but mentally, and a rather abrupt college heartbreak, I woke up one morning and decided to do something for myself that would make me feel excited about life again. 

This was far out of my comfort zone, and an idea that came out of left field, but when you're going through hard times it’s important to lean on people who support you and lift you. So after some encouragement from my friends, family, and a long time friend who lived out in Colorado, I decided to spontaneously book a trip out west. I had never been to Colorado before, let alone flown on a plane or navigated an airport by myself, so naturally, I was pretty anxious. At the same time though I was ready to have a break from my college town and take advantage of my classes being entirely remote. After a few months of going through some of the toughest personal challenges I have ever faced, I wanted a change of pace and some new scenery, literally. 

Photo Of Snow Capped Mountain Through Windshield Sharafath Athimannil / Pexels

I packed my unnecessarily large suitcase for my brief trip and headed to the airport!  Navigating it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. If you are reading this as someone who is a first-timer and is nervous about traveling alone, it’s not bad at all (coming from someone who is very directionally challenged) and it was empowering to feel a sense of independence by navigating a place that seemed so big, scary and confusing as a little kid. While being as COVID  cautious as I could be I piled on the hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, and as the plane took off I thought about how far I had come personally over the past few months, and how proud I was for pushing myself for planning and conquering an opportunity I never would have dreamed of being able to do a few months prior. 

Landing in Colorado and walking outside of the airport to see mountains in the distance, I noticed right away how easy it was to just breathe (partially because their air quality is so much better than the middle of nowhere Illinois) but also just the sense of relief and excitement I felt after feeling so anxious upon my arrival. The trip was so refreshing. I got to see a long time friend who I stayed with, and even met some new friends who welcomed me graciously! I got to see mountains for the first time, hiked around beautiful scenery, and saw some beautiful sunsets. Pictures couldn't do it justice, but I was in awe at how people could be surrounded by such beauty regularly. 

Unsplash/Matt Ragland

My trip was brief, but each day was so amusing. I know this sounds very “Eat Pray Love” but for those days I wasn't isolated in my apartment bedroom doing online classes, I wasn't focused on health issues, I wasn't sad over college boy problems, or stressed about school. I was reminded that it’s important to do things for yourself and that if the universe doesn't deal you the best cards for a few weeks, or months, you can create your own happiness and opportunities, and that I did. 

I returned from my trip feeling confident, content, and ready to take on the second semester of school. I don’t know what life will throw at me in 2021, none of us do, but the things that seem big, scary, and impossible (even something like an airport) are usually not as bad when you come face to face, and you always find a way through it. Not that booking a trip will solve all of your problems, but remembering how big and beautiful the world is outside of your bubble is sometimes the little kick you need to keep going.