On an old highway in Oregon, away from any tourist destination, I came across a field of colorful trees filled with an array of vibrant fall colors. There were wildflowers, a crisp breeze in the air and a gorgeous view in front of me that took my breath away. I knew then that I was right where I should be. It was a day for slowing down, dreaming about what’s ahead and exploring what the natural world has to offer. I’ve been on a few solo trips, ones where I pack my bags to hit the road hours from home, and ones where I spontaneously head straight to the coast to clear my mind. With my bag filled with snacks, my journal, camera, a good book and possible hiking gear, I hit the road knowing, no matter what happens, this trip will only provide me with gratitude and help me grow for the better.
My first thought when I hit the road is usually positive and exhilarated about the adventure ahead. My second thought is usually, “I’m tired, lonely and ready to go home.” I love the romanticized idea of how traveling alone sounds and looks. It’s easy to get caught up in the solitude and freedom of the open road. Don’t get me wrong, there are always those moments of pure bliss that seem to justify the journey you embarked on; the moments when all the windows are down, my hair is dancing in the wind and I am singing my favorite songs at the top of my lungs with one hand stretched out towards the mountains and the other hand tapping on the steering wheel. There are those moments when my heart feels nothing but happiness and contentment. But, through my personal experiences, there are always those moments where alone feels lonely and you wish you had another person by your side to admire the beauty that surrounds you. You start to miss your bed, seeing familiar faces and hearing their voice. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with what feels like infinite time on your hands. It’s hard; no one tells you traveling alone is easy. I’ve done it only a handful of times, but I still struggle with it, physically and emotionally. But I’ve always told myself I’d rather be that girl who went on a road trip alone instead of the one who waited for someone to go with her.
I’m okay with the fact that I tried, and it may not have been perfect, or everything I had imagined. If I was too afraid or too dependent on a travel companion, I would have missed out on more beautiful places and memories than I can count. More often than not, we try to find peace and happiness, but we get so caught up in the busyness of our daily lives. Sometimes, all it takes is going on a solo hike or going on the road alone to observe the here and now, to observe your mind, thoughts and your surroundings and be present with oneself. Those moments of gratitude and sincerity make solo trips all the more worth it.