Solo traveling. If there’s one thing that I’m getting known for among my readers, as well as friends and family, it would be is my hobby of traveling everywhere I possibly can. However, unlike the usual traveler you may talk to (excluding mandatory travel for business; for leisure only), I very much prefer traveling by myself as to with a party. Don’t get me wrong traveling in a group is fun, but going by yourself presents more challenges, and 100% forces you to get out of your shell… at least a little bit.
If you were to always keep away to yourself whilst solo traveling, you’re not going to get a truly life changing experience. Frequently it will force you to think outside the box; it’s not like there’s that group or friend with you to help watch your back the entire time. It’s only you, but this is what makes it so wonderful! You get to truly figure out what type of person you are and can be.
For instance, something I love doing… although may sound a bit foolish (and can be) is to frequently not book hotels in advance. This does many things for you, though it can go awry of course. The advantage it gives you is a chance to walk or drive around the city, town, etc; you’re visiting to really explore it. This way you’re not picking a hotel in one area and saying, ” I think I’ll mainly check out this area, and possibly a few surrounding sites.”
I did this in Europe and ended up finding a few sweet hotels and hostels to stay the night in. Not to mention places that are generally trekked through less often than a majority of main sites. Hell, a couple nights I slept on the train and would go to the next destination staying up a couple days straight. Traveling solo can get a little rough and isn’t for everyone, but it builds character and brings great experiences to share and learn from. It’s more expensive and you have to budget carefully, but in the end it’s something to be proud of with each new destination you go to.
The first real trip that immensely got me into this hobby was back in April 2014. I embarked on a completely spontaneous 3.5 day adventure to the Pacific North West and explored around downtown Portland, Seaside Or., a bit of Astoria Or., and Long Beach in Washington State. I fully decided to go on this trip literally 3-4 days before the date I left which was a rare 3 day weekend that was given to me. Visiting the ocean once more was determined mere hours before I left work early on that Friday afternoon to get on the road.
So much detail to go into with that trip… oh, but wait… I already have! (link posted at bottom of article in case you missed that tale).Anyways, essentially upon getting back to Utah I felt changed. I had entered a state in which I’ve never been to before, drove around 1900 miles solo which had been the most I’d ever driven period. Something clicked inside my head and show me all sorts of new possibilities. I’ve always loved traveling, but honestly thought that I couldn’t afford to except with the military, or years down the road. That trip proved to me otherwise.
With articulate budgeting I decided to not concede to any thoughts of not being able to travel, or thinking that this trip had been a one time deal. Not even 5 months later I was at it again! I took on an even bigger challenge by going for around 6 or 7 days and adding a few hundred miles to the trip. I went back to the Pacific North West and made my first stop in Portland. This trip, I was a bit better prepared for and found a few campgrounds that I could stay at in my car a month in advance as I wanted this trip to be a bit more relaxing.
Leaving Portland, I made my way back into Washington State and explored the southern part of the state around the infamous Mt. St. Helens and surrounding forest. Later that day I made my way north to Seattle, onward to my next campground. First off, because something looks good on paper, doesn’t mean that it’ll always work out perfectly. The campground ended up being around 40-45 miles north of Seattle. Ouch! With the crowded traffic that took me aback just a bit. Nonetheless, I sucked it up and made it work. Sure, I may have taken 60-90 minutes out of my sightseeing each day, but I still managed to hit many popular sights in the city by car and much on foot.
I saw the Woodland Zoo, Space Needle (didn’t go to the top), Columbia Center (tallest building in Seattle; I did go to the top here). I went to the Seahawks Stadium as well as the Mariner’s stadium. I saw the old town, Pike’s Market place, the disgusting and interesting gum wall. I wandered around the downtown until late in the AM. The whole visit was great, and one thing was more certain than ever: it helped cement solo traveling into a main focus and hobby of mine. I passed this second test and hence forth would set out for more exciting destinations that I craved to visit.
One tremendous way that I found easiest to fund my trips is to donate plasma. I highly recommend doing so, if you qualify of course, as it’s a great source of income for vacations and it creates medicine for sick people. I’ve said it already many times and I stand by it. The next major road trip I did was an 8.5 day trip down through Southern Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona where I hit 4 national parks, 4 corners, Albuquerque and various other sites.
In the next editions of this article you’ll get to hear more about the trip mentioned above as well as a minor trip through part of Nevada, and my 2 weeks in Guatemala (although this one wasn’t solo, and was military travel, it’ll still have it’s place). Also, not forget my return to Yellowstone National Park after a 5 years of not visiting; and topping it off with an entire article dedicated solely to my 22 day European adventure back in November.
As mentioned above, here is a link to the article that describes my first solo trip in more detail:
***I would like to leave a side note, the method of not getting hotel reservations isn’t recommended at all if you drive to a large and expensive city and can’t sleep in your car. Likely due to limited places to park, not having seats that can fold, or having simply to much stuff with you. It’s recommended for those who are flying in and traveling light, or going by train. Obviously if you got a lot of money, then you would be covered bringing a car without reservations. It may sound fun, but I don’t want to give anyone ideas in doing something that could end up being quite stupid.***
If you’re interested in more info on solo traveling, feel free to message me or comment and I’d be happy to share some additional tips I find useful. As always thanks for reading! Also, enjoy a small photo gallery with shots from various trips below!
~J. A. Ross
Close up of a Medieval cathedral in Tubingen, Germany. I took this November, 2016.
© RossJ781.com 01/22/2017