End of the year lessons on traveling alone by Krishna De La Cruz

As 2019 comes to a close I am reminiscing on my favorite accomplishments this year. One of the scariest yet most rewarding things I did was travel alone for the first time.

About two years ago I felt like everything had fallen into place for me after a lot of work, and I couldn’t see how anything could go wrong. Then, of course, life happened. I got some earth-shattering news that turned life as I knew it completely upside-down. Though things are better now, it’s taken me a lot of work to deal with the aftermath and  get to where I am today. Having had the rug swept from under me really forced me to look within myself and desperately want to grow as a person and be better to everyone around me, especially those I love. As part of my growth, I decided to create new personal challenges by doing things I wanted to do, but was afraid of doing. Traveling alone sounded so daunting, but it was something I really wanted. I’d grown up traveling with my family every year and it was something that meant a lot to me and that I saw as a bonding experience. Because I’d traveled a lot, I thought traveling alone was doable for me and I really wanted to know what it felt like to just be completely alone in a completely different place and survive.

On turning an idea into a reality

The idea of traveling alone came to me at the end of 2018 and I decided to write it down in my journal, in which I’m also writing this, and I’ve written a shit-ton this past year (highly recommend). I was absolutely terrified of actually doing it on my own, but wrote the idea down with hopes that putting it out into the universe would somehow make it more real. A couple of months later, I picked the place—Portland, Maine—the original yet lesser-known of the Portlands. It seemed like a small enough place that I could get around without much transportation, and feel safe. And I’d seen pictures of its autumn on socials, and it looked beautiful. I’d never seen a New England fall, which I’d wanted to do ever since I was little and saw pictures of deciduous forests in geography textbooks.

Once I’d written it down, I started talking to people about going on this trip. I acted as if I was going even though I was still scared and had no intention of actually booking the flight any time soon. Again, I figured that putting the words out into the world would make it more real, make it actually happen eventually. And it did.

It took me about 8 months to actually do it, but one day in August, a whole eight months after first writing it down, I woke up one morning and I booked the flight for September, around my birthday. A gift to myself. I have no idea when the fear left me or when I started to feel ready to do it, but it just happened.

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Portland

All I can say about Portland is it’s beautiful, quiet, peaceful, quaint, oh so cool, and it changed me, like any new experience does.

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I journaled a lot while there, I hiked, I walked the ins and outs of town until my feet hurt, I laid on the grass in the sun, I sat on a bench by the seaport and listened to a man play saxophone, I read, I ate lobster, I stayed at a BnB of my dreams, I cried, I laughed, I stood at the top of a lighthouse and looked out into the ocean. I also firmly believe I brought the Texas heat with me because it was an unusual 80 degrees for the time of the year. I promptly watched the sunset every night and went to bed early. My favorite two experiences though were getting stranded at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and sitting on the Western Promenade every evening to watch the sunset.

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On getting stranded and surviving

Yes, one of my worst nightmares came true on this trip. I got stranded at a state park with no phone or car. But it was one of my favorite things because I learned I can survive. I’d wanted to do some hiking, but had not rented a car since I didn’t really need one, so I took a 30 minute Lyft to this park. There were plenty of people hiking and even a school bus with kids that were on a field trip. I felt pretty safe but somewhat on alert. I had overestimated my phone which now had low battery and I didn’t have a charger. My phone died about a mile into my hike, but not before I got to sit on some rocks by the ocean and get to truly admire the park’s beauty. I knew I had to get back to the main entrance and start figuring out how I was going to get back into town. My goal was to find a park employee. The walk back to the main entrance was only a mile and a straight shot. I retraced my steps on high alert the entire time. What if I don’t find help? I was truly alone. There was no one I trusted. But yet this is what I’d wanted for myself. I wanted to be truly alone somewhere I’d never been before and I wanted to survive it. Eventually I did find a park ranger named Andy—an older gentleman who had worked at the park for almost 30 years. He helped me get back into town where I was able to charge my phone and get a Lyft back to my BnB. The lesson I learned from this experience was—you’ll survive. Just stay focused, stay calm, think logically, and buy a phone case that doubles as a charger (I have one now!).

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On watching the sunset

Watching a sunset in Portland is an event. Every evening, people walk outside their homes toward a grassy area by the bay called the Western Promenade. They sit on the grass, alone or with others, and just look at it in silence. So I did it, too. It’s hard not to compare this event to the city life that I’m used to—where the sunset is always just in the background of whatever else you’re doing that evening. In Portland, the sunset is the thing to do. It made me want to be more mindful of it here in Texas. Texas has such beautiful sunsets and I think I have to stop and enjoy them more. Portland is a quiet town but its message couldn’t be louder: stop, slow down, and be present.

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As I sat on the grass watching the sunset, I put my earphones in and I started writing in my journal. I wrote was I was seeing, what I was feeling, what I was thinking because the moment was so beautiful and I was alone and I didn’t want to forget it. I cried because in that moment I felt so accomplished and all I had was the sunset and that was enough. The lesson I learned from this experience was appreciate the world’s beauty and recognize your own milestones. Despite how hard life gets, the world is here for you and life is so beautiful.

 

MEET THE AUTHOR

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Krishna de la Cruz is currently an attorney living in Austin, Texas. She grew up on the Texas-Mexico border in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Minor in Spanish from Texas State University in 2014 and Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2017. While in law school, she was an Executive Editor on the The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review for Race and Social Justice where she wrote an article focused on the issue of violence against women, particularly women of color. The article is titled “Exploring the Conflicts within Carceral Feminism: A Call to Revocalize the Women Who Continue to Suffer.” During law school, she traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was certified in Mexican Legal Studies at Universidad de Guadalajara.

In her spare time, Krishna enjoys reading, journaling, and hiking Austin trails. Krishna is a big enthusiast of mental health, mindfulness, physical wellness, and her Mexican heritage.

An Adventure Guide to Bali

Bali is not for the faint of heart. Let it be known that while there are heart-achingly beautiful locations in Bali, these places also qualify as treacherous. But if you’re up for an adventure, Bali is the place to go.

I recently traveled to Bali with a couple of my friends. We were there for about a week. Here are all the details on booking, flying, swinging (you’ll see what I mean) and everything in between. A little note about this post – I will be as honest as possible concerning our experience in Bali, including the not-so-fun and scary stuff. This is because as my friends and I were researching Bali before and during our travel, every internet article or blog post only mildly described the situations we were going through. I hope you’ll find the extra details helpful!

Flights

For those of you who do not know, (myself included before I booked this trip), Bali, Indonesia is far as f*#$! It takes two days by plane to get there. Maybe one and a half, but it still feels like an eternity to arrive. With that in mind, make sure you’re traveling for a good amount of days so the traveling part is worth it. Take into consideration that if you’re going to be there for three days, it’s going to take four days of just getting there and back.

We booked our trip through the Hopper app, and because we aren’t rich, we booked a cheaper flight that included long layovers and multiple stops. In my experience, booking the flight was the most expensive part of the entire trip. We each paid about $1,500 for our round trip tickets.

The flights themselves were pretty brutal. The longest one was a thirteen hour flight from California to China. We had flights before and after, as well as layovers in different airports in different countries. So now I can say I’ve been to China because I spent like 6 hours chillin’ at their Guangzhou airport, and none of you can contradict me.

Again, because I’m not rich, our seats were normal airplane seats – not those awesome sleeping pods you see in the movies. So yes, we were sitting down for what felt like forever. The planes with the longer flights did have a personal screen where you could watch free movies, play games, or listen to music. However, be aware that no amount of free movies will prevent your feet from swelling up like balloons because you’re sitting down for so long. I’m not going to humiliate myself by posting a picture of my swollen ankles on this post, but I recommend compression socks (even though they did not work for me). My friends were a little puffy as well, but neither got it as bad as I did.

Where We Stayed

We found and booked the three places we stayed at through Booking.Com. It was so easy and convenient! Most of the places are villas or resorts, although there are a ton of home-stays as well. I’ve also heard AirBnb is a great option.

What We Did

Because the journey to Bali is long and exhausting, we wanted to strive for a few days of rest and relaxation along with our planned adventures. We found a pretty good balance of hanging out by the pool, reading, eating, and resting at our villas one day and doing ALL OF THE THINGS the next day. Seriously, we woke up at 4 a.m. because our tour started at 5 a.m.

Here’s the breakdown:

Day 1: When we arrived at the airport, we called a driver to take us from Densapar (the city in Bali where the airport is) to Ubud where our Villa was located. Ubud is about an hour and a half from the airport, and it is one of the most popular places to visit. There are a ton of places to stay at, eat, shop, drink, and everything in between. Also, it’s pretty common to have a personal driver to take you around Bali. We had a few options from friends who had been to Bali before and kept their driver’s cards for us to use.

We arrived at our extremely spacious villa that day and spent the rest of the day hanging out at the pool. I knocked out by 4:30 p.m. This is probably the best decision I made the entire trip because I would not have survived the rest of the week with jet lag.

Day 2: My very dear friend lives in Bali, so on the second day we were there, we spent the day exploring with her. The driver who had picked us up from the airport drove us around the second day as well. He recommended places to eat and pick up coffee, which we did. He also took us to Bakas Levi Rafting & Elephant Tour. But This is where we were able to ride the elephants.

Riding elephants is an absolutely insane, unsafe idea. There are no safety belts or safety ANYTHING. You are quite literally just jumping onto an elephant’s back and there is nothing to hold on to. It’s a lot of fun, but you know, you could also fall off and die. So beware.

When we rode the elephants, one of the employees sat on the elephant behind us. So, technically, we could fall back onto this person or this person could hold onto us if we so happened to be slipping off. However, there is still nothing to hold on to and it’s a scary once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At the same place, we met Joni the Orangutan. He was the cutest! We were each able to take pictures with him, as well as group pictures. It was ridiculously fun.

Day 3: We booked a tour through Booking.com and did all of the following in one day. We began at five in the morning (yes, five!) and ended around 7:30 p.m. Through the booking, a tour guide/driver is sent to your hotel and ready to take you out for the day!

Lempuyang Temple: This is also known as The Gates of Heaven. There is a temple here and men and women are required to wear sarongs and cover their shoulders. Through the tour we booked, we were provided with sarongs. The line to take a picture at the Gates can last anywhere from one to three hours. We arrived around 7 a.m. and waited in line until 9:30 a.m. to get our coveted picture. The picture they take is absolutely gorgeous, but it’s up to you whether a picture is worth the wait!

Tirta Gangga the Water Palace, Karangasem: This place is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a koi pond with gigantic koi fish. You can feed them and jump around their pond. This place almost seems unreal because everything is insanely beautiful.

Tegenungan Waterfall: For this place, I would recommend wearing a bathing suit under your clothing, or bring a bathing suit with you since there are dressing rooms to change in. There’s about a mile hike down to the waterfall, but it is worth it! The walk back up is a little hard, but nothing too complicated. Just make sure to hydrate!

Luwak Coffee Plantation: This was one of my favorite experiences in Bali. We got a tour of the plantation before we sat down for a coffee, tea, and chocolate tasting. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it was a dream. Plus, the view was gorgeous! Fun fact: If you don’t know what a luwak is, I have a little story for you. A luwak is a small rodent-like animal that eats coffee beans. The coffee beans then ferment in their stomachs and, well, nature takes its course. Those pooped out coffee beans are then cleaned up and luwak coffee is created! It is the most expensive coffee in the world, but since luwaks roam free on the plantation, it’s only three American dollars per cup. Yes, I tried it and I totally recommend it. Live a little!

Bali Swing and Rice Terrace: OH. MY. GOSH. Have you ever seen videos of the Bali swing? You essentially just swing out onto the open rice terraces. It’s the scariest and the most fun thing imaginable. And the rice terraces are breathtaking!

Day 4: On day four, we headed out to Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida is another island, and it takes about an hour and a half by speedboat to get there. Getting up into the boat was quite an experience. There is no dock to get onto the boat, so you basically have to climb over giant rocks with your suitcase down into the water… with your suitcase. If you’re lucky, the waves won’t be strong and the crew will take your luggage onto the boat so you don’t have to carry it into the water yourself. If you’re unlucky (like us), the waves are going to be crazy and it’s going to be hard to get onto the boat. You will also get soaked. You will also ride the hour and a half trip into the island soaking wet. Wear clothes that dry quickly!

Day 5: Through the resort we stayed at, we booked an all day tour to the following:

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida: THIS. PLACE. DEAR. LORD. This is honestly the most beautiful view, the most beautiful water, and the most beautiful sky in all of Indonesia (at least in my opinion). But, BEWARE! If you plan on climbing down to the beach, it is dangerous. The walk down starts okay enough, with stairs and rails guiding your way down. About three quarters of the way through, the stairs disappear and all that’s left is rocky mountain climbing. The rails disappear and reappear only sporadically. There are even ropes to help you climb up or down. If you do decide to climb down, you will be covered in dirt. You will need to be hydrated, and you will be exhausted by the time you climb both down and then back up. It’s scary and there are no signs or people standing by to help. The beach and the water is absolutely gorgeous, but the current and the waves are crazy strong so we didn’t get into the water. We climbed down and admired from the edge.

Angel Billabong: Another beautiful view, but no swimming allowed. This place is a great photo op and there are several small restaurants to dine at.

Crystal Bay Nusa Penida: And finally, a beach you get to swim in and chill at. This is the place where tourists hang out. You can rent beach towels there if you don’t have one with you. There’s also beer, coconuts, and snack foods for sale. The water isn’t as beautiful as Kelingking Beach, but it also means the current isn’t as strong and you can actually swim in this water.

Day 6: And that’s it, folks! We hung out at our resort pool, had some drinks, read some books and then traveled back home. It was exhausting, but so worth it.

A 20-Something Girl Guide to Portland by Krishna de la Cruz

I just got back from Portland, Oregon and can’t stop raving about it to all my friends. I loved it and I think it’s mostly because I live in Austin, I love Austin, and Portland very much feels like a sister city to Austin.

I stayed at a a cute boutique hotel called Jupiter Hotel, on east Burnside Street. I loved it because it was affordable and walking distance to the hip bars and shops on the east side of Portland, and to the Burnside Bridge. The hotel concierges were all super knowledgeable about what the cool walking distance spots were in the area, and one of them even grabbed a pen and paper and mapped out the ideal bar hopping day.

My trip started on Thursday of Memorial Day weekend, but unlike other well-known cities, Portland was not packed with crowds of vacationers. That was perfect for me because I tend to run away from large crowds of people. Thursday was spent bar hopping and I have to say my favorite bar was Roadside Attraction in the southeast quadrant of Portland.

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If you love the movie Practical Magic, or are into witchy vibes, period, you will love this place. Something cool about Portland is that roses there grow like weeds, so the outdoor patio of this bar reminded me so much of the garden/greenhouse in Practical Magic, with roses and other unique looking plants growing everywhere. The indoor area is dark, red, smoky, and feels very mystical. A dive-y speakeasy. Roadside Attraction is not immediately apparent if you are just walking down the street. It is in the middle of a mostly residential neighborhood and it looks like a closed up secret garden that could be part of any other home, so be on the lookout!

 

Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies so a majority of my trip was spent hiking. On Friday, I started a hike at Macleay Park, not really knowing where I would end up, and I ended up hiking up a forest-y mountain for about a mile or two, and stumbling upon the Pittock Mansion with a breathtaking garden and viewpoint. You can take a tour of the interior of the mansion for $12 and explore the gardens and viewpoint for free.

 

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Saturday was one of my favorite days because–POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS. If you are a fellow book-lover, let it be known, you will probably spend three hours at this bookstore. This is one of the only places that I felt was affected by Memorial Day weekend in terms of the amount of people inside the store. But obviously, that didn’t stop me from browsing my life away. This bookstore is HUGE and has a ton of color-coded rooms with different literary themes. My favorite genre is contemporary fiction so I spent most of my time in that room. I bought The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. I follow several book club Instagram pages and that’s usually how I find books to read and how I decided to buy this book in particular. Recently I’ve noticed that my favorite subtopic seems to be women coming-of-age stories.

 

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On Sunday funday, my last full day there, Oregon blessed my soul with its nature. I walked along the pedestrian walkway under the Burnside Bridge. Then drove out with friends to Multonomah Falls and to Mosier, Oregon for my favorite hike yet.

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Being outside, taking walks, and hikes, are all so essential for me. I try to go for walks at least three times per week. It is my time for self-reflection and ENDORPHINS! The mountains of Mosier were everything.  Geographically, this trail felt like a prarie – not really any trees, just the open skies, and flowers, and grass. We did not hike the entire trail, but made it to the top of one hill, and hiked a total of about 600 feet uphill. Mosier is a tiny town with a population of 400 people and it is about an hour and a half east of Portland.

 

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Monday morning was short before heading out to the airport, but not too short to leave without eating my favorite meal of the entire trip–Blue Star Donuts, “Donuts for Grownups.” The location I visited was downtown and the line was nearly out the door, but it moved very quickly. I didn’t care about the line at all because I was a kid at a candy store. Some of the donuts are alcohol-infused, but my favorite donuts were the Mexican Hot Chocolate and Blueberry Cake.  If all else fails, please don’t leave Portland without trying these.
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All in all, Portland reminded me very much of Austin in terms of the friendliness of the people, the emphasis on local businesses, and quirky everything, just with a lot less people and a lot more nature. I’ll be back.

MEET THE AUTHOR

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Krishna de la Cruz is currently an attorney living in Austin, Texas. She grew up on the Texas-Mexico border in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Minor in Spanish from Texas State University in 2014 and Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2017. While in law school, she was an Executive Editor on the The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review for Race and Social Justice where she wrote an article focused on the issue of violence against women, particularly women of color. The article is titled “Exploring the Conflicts within Carceral Feminism: A Call to Revocalize the Women Who Continue to Suffer.” During law school, she traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was certified in Mexican Legal Studies at Universidad de Guadalajara.

In her spare time, Krishna enjoys reading, journaling, and hiking Austin trails. Krishna is a big enthusiast of mental health, mindfulness, physical wellness, and her Mexican heritage. Currently Krishna is planning her first trip to Southeast Asia.

I Booked an Impulsive Solo Trip to Seattle and This Is How It Went

I love to travel as much as the next person, but it gets pretty complicated trying to coordinate schedules with friends or family to book trips together. That’s precisely the reason why I decided to finally book a trip and travel alone. Well, that and because it’s been on my bucket list for some time. I just never thought I’d actually have the courage to go through with it. If you’ve ever thought about traveling and exploring on your own, I highly recommend it! I’m no expert and I’m still afraid to travel out of the country alone, but we all have to start somewhere. I started in Seattle because it’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and here is how my little solo trip went.

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Booking the Flight

This spontaneous trip started because of a flash sale. I can’t turn down sales. It’s a problem. In this case, it turned out to be an adventure. A friend of mine sent me a screenshot of a flash sale on flights to Seattle. Because Seattle is one of my bucket list cities, I took about 5 minutes to decide and then booked my flight for under $200.

I recommend following this account and similar ones on Instagram: @flightsfromaustin and “Life of the Pilots Wife.” This site is only for flights out of Texas. I highly advise booking ASAP since the deals change quickly and/or could disappear.

Where I Stayed

I am a big fan or Airbnb. In 2017, I traveled to five countries in Europe and stayed in Airbnbs the whole trip. My Airbnb was located south of Capitol Hill in the Atlantic/Central District neighborhood. It was also west of Downtown and Pioneer Square. The location was perfect for me! I was able to take a Lyft everywhere, and almost all of my rides were about $10-$12.

One of the advantages of travelling alone is that you do not need a whole lot of room. Be conscious of this as you’re booking a place to stay. My Airbnb was a one bedroom apartment and it was great!

One thing I learned when searching for a place to stay in Seattle was to avoid staying in the Bellevue area. There were a lot of available Airbnbs in this location, but it just seemed too far from downtown Seattle. Airbnb is pretty precise about location descriptions when booking a place to stay, so compare the area with a map of Seattle to ensure that you’re close to the places you want to visit.

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How I Got Around

As I mentioned, I took a Lyft almost everywhere unless I could walk to my next destination. I would typically just use my Maps app to gauge that. However, I would be wary of this method. Learn from my mistakes. I decided to walk from the Seattle Space Needle to Kerry Park. I’m happy to report that I did indeed make it, but it was a struggle! The walk is uphill and I was a sweaty mess by the time I finally arrived.

I also used the Seattle Link Light Rail to get between Capitol Hill and Downtown. If you’ve never used a public transportation system before, fear not! It’s easy! The map they have down at the station is simple and you can buy tickets in the machines in the same station. The best part is that it’s super cheap. You can check for fares here.

What I Did In Seattle

Okay, now for the fun stuff! Luckily for me, my colleague and close friend is from Seattle and she was so helpful in the “Fun Things To Do” department. I know, I lucked out with my own personal tour guide. I also used Pinterest to research places to go and found several helpful blog posts.

Here is an outline of what I did each day:

Thursday:

I was on a red eye flight that was delayed several hours so I was TIRED when I finally arrived at my Airbnb in Seattle. The first thing I did was grab a cup of coffee at a nearby shop called Broadcast Coffee. After this, I explored Capitol Hill for a few hours. Capitol Hill is an area filled with restaurants and bars. There were a lot of bars I wanted to check out, and I did so during the day. As a female travelling solo, I just didn’t want to be bar hopping alone at night or be so busy guarding my drinks that I couldn’t actually enjoy being there. You know, just fun extra precautions you have to take as a woman. These are the places I checked out and recommend:

  1. Bimbo’s Cantina – for burritos and drinks.
  2. Unicorn – the coolest! It felt like an adult carnival. I think that’s definitely the point.
  3. Canon – drinks on drinks in cool glasses/bottles/all sorts of containers. 
  4. The Elliott Bay Book Company – I’m a sucker for bookstores, and this one is a must.
  5. Lots of cute little shops in the area!

After this, I took a Lyft down to Pike Place Market. By this time, most of the shops were closed, but the views were still fun to check out.

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Friday:

I started my day at the same coffee shop (Broadcast), then headed to Pike Place Market. Pike Place was so busy and bustling and fun! You can easily spend a whole day here exploring. There are restaurants, book stores, shops, and farmer’s market pop-ups. After I explored for a while, I went down for more coffee to Seattle Coffee Works

Yes, I do love coffee with all my heart and soul, but I also went here to meet a photographer. Yes, that’s right. I had a photoshoot down at Pike Place Market and no, it was not as awkward as it sounds. Here’s how it went down:

Airbnb now specializes in “Experiences” as well. These are just fun things they recommend in the city you’re visiting hosted by locals. One of these experiences was a photoshoot at Pike Place Market with a group. It took me a couple of weeks to actually convince myself to do this. This may be a surprise to some, but I don’t feel particularly comfortable in front of a camera. I feel much less comfortable in a busy area and with a group of people. However, the pricing was great and since I was travelling alone, I thought who else is going to take cool pictures of me? Plus, I figured if it was a group and I was flying solo, I could meet a few people.

I booked my experience with Cameron Thomsen Photography. You can check out his Instagram page here. Cameron had the group meet at Seattle Coffee Works. Our group had about eight people, all friendly and one other was travelling solo (Yay! We bonded!) Cameron gave us a one-hour tour of Pike Place Market, throwing in some fun facts and history. His guidance for taking photos was easy and quick. Nothing awkward about it! He even sent edited pictures the very same day! This was such a fun and different experience, and I am so happy I got over my shyness to actually go through with it.

These are some of the places I visited and recommend:

  1. Golden Age Collectables – for the nerd in you. 
  2. BLMF Literary Saloon – still a nerd. 
  3. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – best mac and cheese I’ve ever had!
  4. The first Starbucks ever. Enough said. 
  5. Gum Wall – Gross but also really cool. 

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After Pike Place Market, I walked down to Starbucks Reserve Roastery. It was about a 15-20 minute walk, and well worth it to check out downtown Seattle. I do love Starbucks, so this experience was also worth checking out. Across the street from Starbucks Reserve was a tattoo shop so obviously I had to get one. I know tattoos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re open to it make sure to check out Black Sparrow Tattoo

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From here, I took a Lyft down to the Seattle Space Needle and checked out the MoPOP. I walked down the street to a dive bar/diner complete with a jukebox called The 5 Point Cafe. After this is where I made my first mistake. I decided to walk to Kerry Park to check out the views. The walk is uphill for a little more than twenty minutes in muggy Seattle weather. TAKE A LYFT, unless you’re really fit or about that life. I am neither.

Saturday:

One of the things I really wanted to do on my trip to Seattle was to drive out to one of the parks and go on a solo hike. Because I am a procrastinator, I waited until Friday night to attempt to rent a car to drive myself out to a park in the morning. This was a mistake. Most of the car rental places were closed on Saturdays or only open for a few hours.

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Airbnb Experiences offered really cool group hikes with a guide, including transportation. However, these were a little too pricey for me. In a desperate attempt, I checked Airbnb Experiences one more time to see if I could find a reasonably priced group hike. Lo and behold, the Universe wanted me to experience Snoqualmie Falls  because I found the perfect trip out there!

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I booked my hike the night before on Airbnb with hosts Daniel and Matt called Seattle Wine and Waterfall and they were so quick to respond! This is how it went:

Daniel picked me up at my Airbnb, along with the other guests who had booked. Everyone was picked up at their respective hotels. How freaking cool and convenient is that? Daniel drove us out to Snoqualmie Falls and stopped for a little exploring of the town before we began our hike. The waterfall and the hike were beautiful! I had never seen anything like that. I walked the hike alone while Daniel waited at the end. He let all the guests explore at their leisure. It was so relaxing. Everything was taken care of and I didn’t have a worry in the world.

We also went to a nearby restaurant for a delicious brunch and then hit up three or four wineries (I can’t remember now because the wine was flowing and it was great). Then at the end of the day, Daniel dropped me off at Capitol Hill (at my request) so I could grab some dinner before heading back to my Airbnb and calling it a night. To say that this experience was a beautiful success is an understatement.

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Mindset: What It Really Feels Like to Travel Alone

As I’ve stated, I am no expert and this was an impulsive decision to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Before my trip, I was worried about a few things. Part of me was worried that I would be bored. I do quite a bit of things alone, and yes it’s cool, but sometimes it’s boring. I can only entertain myself for so long. Being an introvert for the most part, I love kicking it with myself but even introverts need a tiny bit of socialization. Anyway, I had nothing to fear because there was so much to do and see in Seattle that there was no time for boredom. I wanted to take in as much as possible because everything was so exciting, and when I wanted to slow down and take it in I was free to do that as well. There was nobody to check in with or collaborate plans with. Just me, myself, and I and we had a lot of fun discovering Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls.

public market

I had also been afraid of feeling awkward while travelling alone. Sitting at an airport is one thing because everyone is in their own little world or travelling alone anyway, but sitting at restaurants and bars alone? Weird, right? Like, that girl is a total loner and it’s creepy that she’s eating alone. And then there were the group activities. How weird was it going to be when everyone was paired or grouped off and I’m standing there friend-less?! Again, my mind was just giving me things to panic about because I didn’t end up feeling awkward nor lonely. When I sat at bars – whether to eat or have a drink – nobody gave me weird looks or asked if I was waiting for someone. Most of the time, there was someone next to me who was also eating or drinking alone. When I went on the group activities, I met others who were travelling solo or who were extremely friendly to me. Just remember: the world is big and wide and you are so not the first person to travel alone. Nobody cares what you’re up to, so make the most of it.

It felt so good to sit with myself at coffee shops and slow the day down or open up my journal and write in the moment. It felt good to come back each night exhausted and happy. I can honestly say it helped me to know myself a little better and to overcome my social anxiety. I was just doing my thing and nobody minded! If you’re thinking about doing the same, Seattle could be the place to start.