Continued: Solo Travel is a Gateway Drug (an Autobiography)


After returning from Greece and Turkey, it was a while until my next international trip: Costa Rica.

I booked my flight about a month out as sort of a last-minute decision. It had been too long; I was itching to go somewhere. There was a good flight deal; I had vacation days. I’d heard great things about Costa Rica. I downloaded the Lonely Planet to my Kindle and read it in one night. Volcanoes ✔️ Whitewater rapids ✔️ Wildlife ✔️ Jungle ✔️ Beach ✔️Exactly the kind of trip I needed ✔️ 

It also would be my first trip ENTIRELY ALONE… and pretty last minute (although I spent all Christmas break planning it to a T).

The below is my actual post-trip journal entry.

Wow. It’s been a whirlwind — just now getting the chance to reflect and write about my trip to Costa Rica (and I thought I’d have free time to journal…). Well, it was everything I dreamed of and more. First, whoever said I’d be lonely to travel by myself was completely, utterly wrong. Ever since I woke up in Costa Rica I was surrounded by new friends. I was such a social butterfly, I surprised myself. It was a new, startling experiment in becoming an extrovert… startling in that I liked it as much as I did!

The simple act of connection is really underrated. There’s something so heartening about sharing experiences and conversations with other people. Who cares if you’ll never see someone again, or that they’ll only be a fleeting memory in your life… why not step out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation? And the more I did it, the easier it got. Who cares if someone says or does the “wrong” thing. If you don’t see a future with them past this conversation. Whether you’re at the corner Starbucks or halfway across the world, chatting with man, woman, young or old, that interaction can serve many purposes.

It makes me regret the pedestal I’ve put myself on in the past, and how wrong that is. It’s so easy for people, myself included, to look inside (or at your phone) and disengage.

So I pledge: to embrace the moment, the experience, and someone’s possible contribution to my understanding of others and the world. To open my eyes, ears, and mind to the moment, and appreciate it for what it is. To strike up a conversation with no ulterior motive besides “to talk.” A connection is a beautiful thing.” ~

Costa Rica opened the floodgates to my new wave of solo travel, and allowed me to acquire more solo travel wisdom (practical and philosophical). Now fully convinced, when I was laid off the following year, there was no debate in how I would spend my new freedom. By now, it had been several long years since I had crossed the Atlantic, and I was long overdue. I cashed in my frequent flier miles (knew I was saving them for something!) and booked a flight in to southern Europe and a flight out of northern Europe 27 days later. And it was the best 27 days of my life.

Since then, I went to Ecuador, and next up… Paris.

P.S. I no longer consider myself an introvert, but more of a blend 😘

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