I used to think that if one had the guts and fortitude to get on a plane alone, it symbolized an incredibly powerful personality; one who was open, receptive, and willing to take huge risks.
What courage it must take to venture off into the unknown, and be completely responsible for every move you make.
I thought I would never be the type of person who would ever want to travel alone. Until I did.
The year was 1998.
I was 26 years old when I got on a plane all by myself and took off for sunny Oahu, in Hawaii.
What was originally intended to be a short 5-day getaway, turned into an extended two-week vacation. I remember calling my Mom on day five and simply announcing that I was staying, and her first words were, “What are you going to do for money? Stephanie, don’t be ridiculous, come home.” I should have listened to her.
But, being the rebellious and belligerent young adult that I was, I ended up staying in Hawaii. And I was scared.
The reason I travelled to Hawaii in the first place was because my brother thought it would be a good experience for me to see if it was something I could actually do. Before I got on the plane, I was excited at the prospect of being completely on my own. Once I was there for several days, I started to feel the enormity of what I’d done—I had taken a major leap and thrust myself into the unknown.
I made friends easily. I actually made several wonderful and meaningful connections while I was there.
I met one older gentleman who gave me insight on where to dine for the most incredible cuisine, the best places to see, and where to shop for the coolest clothes. I even met a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed boy named Randy, who was an avid surfer and sports enthusiast. Randy took me to some incredible beaches during the day with his friends and we “painted the town red” in the evening. I had such a blast.
But the thing is, I ran out of money. All the cash I had was spent, and I couldn’t access more funds from the ATM. Even the credit card I had was maxed out. I panicked. I ended up calling my Dad in desperation, and right after I explained my situation to him he said, “Okay, I’m getting on a plane to join you.”
I cried with utter joy. I cried because my beautiful father literally took the time out of his busy work schedule to rescue me. He saved me from isolation. He was worried that I wasn’t eating because I had no more liquid cash, and he was right. I actually didn’t eat for two days straight, and I wasn’t about to beg anyone to feed me.
I will never forget when I saw him come into the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. It was like a halo was hovering over my Dad’s head and I was dazzled by the light. He was my savior that day. I was elated when he hugged me. My tears were overflowing. I felt safe again.
For the next 48 hours, he made sure I was properly fed and feeling grounded. We travelled back home together and I told my Dad that I would never forget what he did for me. I know of no one else who would have done this for their child—and that’s what made my father so uniquely spectacular. A gem of a human being who selflessly gave of himself, to come to the aid of another.
So even though I initially travelled on my own to Hawaii, I needed a lifeline at the tail end of my trip. Some would say that I’m so fortunate to have a father who would give his life to be by my side. And I would say they’re absolutely correct.
My father rocks. Big time.
The year was 2009.
I was 37 years old when I boarded the plane for my solo adventure to Costa Rica.
I was given the opportunity to teach yoga at a luscious resort for two weeks, and I was so excited about it. The perk was, I would teach two sessions a day, and as compensation, I was discounted for my entire stay at the resort. Cool, right?
When I got there, I literally had to hike uphill to get to my room every day. I wasn’t complaining, though—as an avid fitness freak, I welcomed any form of intense physical activity, but in the sweltering heat of Costa Rica, it was tough. The room I stayed in was beautiful, indeed, but as soon as I had my first night alone, it hit me—intense fear and loneliness.
I was absolutely fine during the day because I had my yoga sessions, interaction with people, swim-up bars, fantastic music, water sports, beach walks. But the nights were grueling for me.
So, I called my Dad again for some solace. Only this time, our chat was raw and honest about how I was coping with being alone in this foreign place with no one to talk to at night. It was then that my Dad simply said, “Steph, this is just a temporary gig. You’re going to be coming home in two weeks. Just practice your yoga, breathe, remember that you chose this path for yourself to gain experience, and you know you can reach out to me every day, if need be.”
That’s all he had to say. And I was immediately moved.
He changed my perspective instantly with those words. So, for the duration of my stay, I did exactly as he directed. And when I came home, I was a changed woman—hook, line, and sinker.
Travelling solo is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you know yourself, it’s easy to make the decision and stand by your choice. If you are trying to “find yourself,” perhaps being alone in a strange place is a great way to test your tolerance for being all by your lonesome.
I know that for me personally, I learned some major life lessons that truly shaped me when I was going through some incredibly rough patches in my life.
All this to say, I have no regrets, whatsoever. Would I do it all again? Yes.
Do I recommend travelling solo to others? Absolutely.
Knowing yourself will make the decision to travel alone much easier. If you’re frightened at the mere prospect of getting on a plane and fending for yourself 24/7, then I would strongly recommend against it.
But, if you’re willing to take a giant leap into the unknown, I simply say: Life’s too short. Go for it. You will not regret it.