10 Revelations From My First Solo Trip

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffani Emery, a high school math teacher in Seymour, Indiana, about her very first solo travel experience.

I spoke with Tiffani just days after her return from New Orleans, and she was full of incredible insights and personal observations. So many, in fact, that I couldn’t figure out how to fit it all into one post. Instead, I broke our conversation in to two different posts.  

Here are the highlights from our conversation including great solo travel tips:

  • how she decided to give solo travel a try

  • how she chose New Orleans as her destination

  • how she spent her time

  • safety tips and other advice for women interested in solo travel

  • how she made connections with strangers and formed new friendships on the road

Read on for “10 Revelations From My First Solo Trip” – a compilation of the fantastic self-revelatory comments and observations Tiffani made about her first solo travel experience (be sure to check these out!).

I liked the person I was when I was traveling more than I liked the person who is at home all the time.

I liked the person I was when I was traveling more than I liked the person who is at home all the time.  Not that I don't like myself, but I thought to myself:  "You think very negatively of yourself and you don't need to do that." Sometimes my confidence is very low and I worry about making other people happy, even if that comes at my own expense.

Sometimes stuff is our own fault.

Someone said to me, "If you're having a bad time in New Orleans, that's your own fault." If you want to do something (travel solo) and you're talking yourself out of it, that's your own fault. Try it, and if you don't like it, you don't have to do it again.

I can form really fast friendships with the people I meet while traveling

It's hard to meet people at home. I don't want to say being at home makes you close minded; but when I am at home, I am more comfortable so I don't necessarily seek interaction because I already have it. If I want to have adult conversations, I already have people that know me, so that's who I go to. When I am by myself and want to have a conversation, I have to force myself out of my comfort zone and have to seek new people. I don't have to do that when I am at home.

Doing my best is enough.  

I hold myself to such high expectations that I can’t always meet because they're so high they are impossible. But when I was traveling, I didn't even have those expectations of myself because it was new to me and it was like "as long as you can get out of bed and go experience something, that's going to be good enough. If you don't get everything done, great!" And I was happy with that. But when I came home it was like "I have to go back to work where sometimes I feel inadequate." That's not my work making me feel that way; it's just me in my head.

I don't have to settle for what other people think is appropriate for me.

I had people tell me they didn't think I should go. Not because they didn't think I was confident, but just based on the fact that I am a single woman, and because I am 24-years-old and to them that's too young. I don't know what the age range is for solo travel, but that's what they thought. So I learned that I don’t have to fit in to my expectations of myself all the time, and I definitely don't have to fit in to other's expectations of myself all the time.

I changed my mindset.

I have felt happier with myself this past week on my trip than the weeks leading up to my trip. Some people might say it's because I had a vacation, but I think it's because I was able to take my time and reflect on myself and what I wanted to change about myself. And I did. I changed my mindset; and I don't think I could have done it if I hadn't pushed my boundaries. I had to experience it to know it.

I feel like I gained a new part of me that I really like, and I hope sticks around.

I wish I had known to take people seriously when they said solo travel is life changing. I would sometimes roll my eyes… like you had this big large prophecy and you went for five days to a foreign country “oooh wow!” But no they’re serious. I honestly feel like I gained a new part of me that I really like, and I hope sticks around.

I’m happy for myself too.

I am usually the type of person who brushes off compliments. But when it comes to this stuff, I told myself if someone complimented me on taking a solo trip to say, “Thank you, and you’re totally right.”  I think I deserve the compliment, but that’s weird to say because I don’t often think I deserve much -- but I had a great time and I think I owe it to myself.

"That's what I was worried about? That's it?"

So a couple of weeks ago (before leaving for New Orleans), I was driving the couple of hours to my parents’ house, and I was hungry. Instead of going through the drive thru at McDonald’s, I stopped at a Denny's and sat in a booth all by myself. In the middle of nowhere in the Midwest, I sat in the booth by myself and ate my meal by myself and tried to not be on my cell phone. I just sat with myself, and it was uncomfortable but at the same time it was like, "That's what I was worried about? That's it?"

One of my biggest fears was having to eat by myself. The most intimidating part was telling the hostess, "I am by myself." I was worried that she would think it's really sad that I don't have anyone to eat with. But then I thought, the hostess might think it's cool and I’m really brave to come in to a restaurant and say I just need a table for one.

I am good enough.

I don't know if people would believe that traveling by myself for just three days was this revolutionary, but it really was. I told myself the part (of you) that sits at home alone thinking "I am not good enough," is not you. You need to realize that.  Because I am. I just did it. I did what I thought I would never be able to do, so that person needs to leave. I would like to find a way to be the person I am when I was traveling 100% of the time.

I want to thank Tiffani for taking the time to share her story with the Her Bags Were Packed community.  If you’ve not yet done so, be sure to check out the full interview here.

If you were inspired by Tiffani’s story and are interested in trying out solo travel, check out the Her Bags Were Packed solo travel guide with 5 steps to ease into solo travel or check out the solo travel support services I offer here.