It all started when I missed the Etihad glitch fare to Dubai that broke the internet on Christmas morning 2014. I spent time trying to find who and when I could go with someone who's itinerary would match mine. I kept a good face when I found out later that afternoon that prices were surging back to normal, but let's be real, I was pissed. I missed out on a trip across the world for $300! #JesusFixIt From that day, and one week later when my "New Year's Resolution" was to travel more to places I had never been, I vowed I was going somewhere for Spring Break. I didn't give two snaps where and with who, but I knew I was going and I would have fun.
Fast forwarding two months later in February, I finally had the opportunity to purchase my Spring Break flight ticket for March. I spent idle time in my classroom filling up a notepad with scribbled dates, location, and price comparisons. Cruise? All inclusive? How long is that flight? It was nerve racking. So, I decided to be a punk and buy tickets for my line sisters' graduation and wedding in Atlanta and Miami first, but I still had business to tend to. After some deep soul-searching, research, and price comparisons I knew where I was going. I had some real butterflies when I booked that ticket.
Houston --> Miami --> St. Thomas --> Puerto Rico --> St Thomas --> Miami --> Houston
"Who are you going with, Court?" MYSELF. I laugh in hindsight at the reactions that I received, but I am not surprised. Some people were excited, but most of the people I knew were hesitant. I'm black, young, a female, moderately placed on the "sexy" totem pole, and planned on going to the Caribbean, during Spring Season season, alone. I was not going somewhere familiar; I was taking on the task of a completely foreign place alone. Crazy? Partially, yes, but I was excited and grateful that I had the conviction to keep on with my #MostEpicSpringBreakEver as planned. Internally I wondered if the words of caution would hold true, but thankfully I had been reading a book by Jen Sincero, and she had a chapter strictly dedicated to fear and how it can cripple our lives. She mentions,
I truly believe that was the case for some of the people within my circles, and it's nice to know they care, but I choose to live with the phrase "cautiously fearless". I'll discuss the details of my trip on another post, but throughout my entire time away, I felt amazingly free. I was not constricted to the itinerary I did not want, and if I wanted to change my plans, I had no one else to answer to. I spent time praising God for the opportunity to see His beauty about once an hour and enjoyed time with myself. I was alone but I never met a stranger. From a woman on the 12-passenger plane, to the freelance graphic artist on my British Virgin Islands tour who was also traveling alone, to the group of young black adults I met in Puerto Rico, my time away was refreshing and a testament that I could hold my own.
I think that we as women [of color] get so wrapped up and worrisome about our fears and do not take the time to #TreatYoSelf. What if something dangerous happened to me on my trip? Well...that would suck, but what if I had the absolute best time of my life instead (which I did)? I don't even think that you have to start big and take a solo trip across the globe as your first move. Maybe book a flight to a random state for a weekend and see how you enjoy it (but keep that phone off). As you get comfortable, your wings will spread. I purposefully decided to start with the Caribbean as my first solo trip, with the end goal being a solo trek in Asia / Africa. I do sincerely believe that every woman (men are welcome, too) should try it in her life, at least once. When a man goes away we hear, "Don't get into too much trouble" so why are we telling women "don't go"? There's crime everywhere, and the last time I checked, the United States wasn't so great for "us", but that's another topic for another day. My message is get out, learn more about yourself, and #SeeSomeWorld!
Courtney's Solo Trippin' Suggestions
- As much as I like to twerk and twirl, watch your turn up when out of your own element. More than likely, someone is noticing you and your alcholic / drug intake.
- Have NO shame in asking others to take photos of you and your bad self, otherwise it didn't really happen.
- If you're truly paranoid about eating dinner alone, find the bar and sit there. Make friendly with the bartender for extra special service. Breakfast and Lunch aren't so bad.
- Walk like you know where the hell you're going. No maps in public!
- If you plan on feeling froggy, make sure you are prepared. Don't count on your new international lover.
- Do NOT spend your precious time away wishing [person] was there with you. This trip is about you.
- Take risks and smile! I met a great group of diverse people that I still keep in contact with to this day. In fact, had I not spoken to the couple from Key West, I wouldn't have taken my epic tour to the 4 BVI islands. I also went kayaking for the first time in life because it seemed like something new and athletic.
- Pack light! You'll regret not having any room for your souvenirs and you really aren't going to wear that much makeup / jewelry, because you're chilling by yourself.
- Bring a journal and keep momentos! I know you think you are going to remember every museum and every restaurant, but guess what, you won't and you'll appreciate this in the long haul.
- Watch your precious cargo. Make copies of passports, itineraries, boarding passes, etc. I even have two ID's, just in case.
Do you like to travel solo? What are some rules that you always abide by? Or do you NOT follow any rules? Let's talk about it in the comments.