Being alone in this day and age is almost unheard of. Everybody needs alone time every once in a while, but typically that time is spent reading a book in a comfortable location or treating yourself to a mani/pedi. Rarely ever does being alone mean traveling somewhere you’ve never been before with the task of entertaining yourself for 36 hours. In an effort to approach life a little more boldly this year, mastering the art of being alone is exactly what I decided to do.
For those of you who’ve read my 2020 manifest list, you know that traveling to a new place at least once a month was a big thing I wanted to accomplish this year. While this task is proving to be a little difficult financially, I am trying to broaden my horizons by at least experiencing something out of my comfort zone a couple times a month. If that happens to cross over with traveling, all the better. My recent trip to Kansas City, Missouri definitely hit those two birds with one stone.
Living in eastern Oklahoma, Kansas City is one of the closest modern get-away destinations for young adults. And I’d never been. In the weeks leading up to the trip, after I decided I should finally see the place, I was actually incredibly excited at this opportunity to go on another solo trip. Last year, I’d gone on a solo trip to Chicago and absolutely fell in love with the freedom to make my own choices and move at my own pace. After that, I was hooked. But Chicago was bigger and more familiar to me. I knew people there and I had a flight out, to Europe nonetheless, to bank on if I found myself experiencing unnerving boredom. Everything about Kansas City would be foreign to me.
I only had a day and half set aside for this trip, so I decided to start my drive early that first morning in order to maximize my time there. I’d planned a handful of activities for the weekend—a run/hike, brunch, a few museums, and even a jazz club. But even with an outline of the day, I knew I wanted to find some spontaneity in this trip. And I have to say some of my favorite moments were the ones where I just happened to wander into a bookstore with funky art and writing on the shelves. Or a store that sold Kansas City-stamped merch and profanity-driven household items. Or even just strolling through the heart of downtown. These experiences gave way to some of my best photo opportunities.
I also loved the moments where I somehow happened to make a connection with a random stranger, no matter how small. People like my Airbnb host or the barista at my last Coffee Crawl who I’d asked for ideas of places I needed to see in the city. We didn’t get past much more than tourist tips, but it was definitely a positive step forward in my becoming more comfortable making conversation with strangers.
I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t experience any awkward moments during this trip. There were times when taking photos or videos of myself attracted some unwanted attention or when I wanted to experience the nightlife of the city but didn’t have anyone to go out with. These were the moments when I found myself wishing I wasn’t alone and when I really had to fight against loneliness. I realized there’s a lot more to mastering the art of being alone than just putting yourself in a situation where you have to be alone. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.
I know this wasn’t my best shot at being alone and I know I’ll have many more opportunities to get it right in the months to come. For those of you who are curious about planning a solo trip that will be both relaxing and fun, here are some tips to maybe get you started.
- Start small—pick a city you can drive to so you don’t have to deal with the extra stress of flying.
- Tourist towns aren’t bad—try and go somewhere with a lot to do so you don’t run out of options.
- Just do it—eat at a public restaurant, take a bunch of selfies, try the public transportation. You might get a couple of odd looks, but they’ll pass. Do what you want to do for you and don’t let the fear of judgment stop you.
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Is traveling alone something you’re interested in? What are some things you like to do alone or would like to be better at doing alone?
This post mainly addressed a specific trip alone, but if you’d like to read about how I tackle other more day-to-day activities on my own, let me know in the comments section down below! Also, if you’d like more of a broad take on traveling alone—best places to go alone, how to stay safe—I can do a post like that too!
The second Lifestyle post is coming out next week and lines right up with this theme of travel. I promise this one will come out one time! See you guys next week!
UPDATE: For a month now, my debut poetry collection, SPACES, has been running wild and free for people to purchase and read across the world. For those of you following the blog, you’ve gotten to read some of the content in the book for free here. In a couple of weeks I’m going to be taking all SPACES-related poetry off of the site so that the book will have the opportunity to thrive in a full retail market. But don’t worry, there will be plenty more where those came from!