Study Abroad: Alone in Florence

During the four months I spent studying in Rome, I was able to visit Florence (Firenze in Italian) twice. Both experiences were completely different and signified different points in my personal development process. Although my first time visiting was a great experience, it was also...

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My First Solo Trip

 
Kealia Beach - Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach - Kauai, Hawaii

“Are you crazy?! Weren’t you scared?! Didn’t you get bored?”, are the questions I’m asked when I tell people that I traveled to Hawaii by myself. Mami and our Dominican family were even more confused, they couldn’t understand why I felt the need to do such a thing. Truthfully, I wasn’t so sure myself. Traveling alone was not something I had given much thought to. Still I booked the flight on a whim, and had no idea this would turn into a solo trip. I’m grateful that it did, as it turned out to be the most soul-enriching experience of my life.

Here’s how it went down: I met a fabulous and down-to-earth gay man at work. He seemed cool, and we vibed over our shared love of travel. Then one day, he invited me to go to Hawaii with him and his cousins for New Year’s.

That same night, I went home and searched for flights, as I looked for a sign that I should go. It turns out the flight cost the exact amount that I had in my travel savings, $894--an angel number. I personally believe that numerology is one of the ways in which the universe communicates with us. I remember reading something that said, “Angel Number 894 is a message to stop procrastinating and get on with serving your soul’s mission, without further delay.” I was working through a difficult time in my life, and desperately needed to learn to love myself, and take responsibility for my own happiness. I booked that flight immediately.

When I told him I was going, he was both excited and shocked. At the time, I was that person that always said no to drinks after work, but lo and behold, I said yes to traveling with someone I had only known for a month. A few weeks later, he started showing signs of being a pretentious, pathological liar. One time, I heard him say to a busser, “I don’t have to know your name, you’re beneath me.”

I was like, “Oh, NAH, it’s a dub, I don’t want to travel with someone like that." Right as I went to tell him that I changed my mind about the trip, he told me he was moving back home--wherever that was. Two weeks later, he was gone, and this was now my trip.

I contemplated asking a friend to come with me, or even cancelling the flight. But the universe had presented me with the opportunity to rise up to the challenge, and push the boundaries of my comfort zone--so I took it.

 
Kalapaki Beach - Kauai, Hawaii

Kalapaki Beach - Kauai, Hawaii

 

I chose to go to Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian island, which is great to visit if you’re looking to be adventurous, and spend time interacting with nature. This was also my first time staying at an Airbnb. It was a cute, and cozy house a block away from the beach, which also happened to be a Spiritual Wellness Center.

The next seven days were amazing! I spent hours bike-riding by the beach, meditating, writing, boogie-boarding, and eating Lau Lau, a traditional Hawaiian dish. I remember wrapping the boogie board around my body by its cord like a cross-body bag, as I rode to the beach. I saw a few locals laugh, but I didn't care--I was in pure bliss. I spent New Year’s day kayaking on the Wailua River, then hiked through the rainforest to get to Uluwehi Falls, a.k.a Secret Falls. Not only was the waterfall beautiful and majestic, it had a strong healing energy that seemed to rid me of my past pain and regrets.

 
Getty Images - Secret Falls - Kauai, Hawaii

Getty Images - Secret Falls - Kauai, Hawaii

 

The next day, was one of the top-five best days of my life. I went on a five-hour boat tour of Na Pali Coast, went snorkeling for the first time, saw a pod of dolphins swimming right in front of the boat, and even saw two whales breaching. It was such a surreal experience. This is probably a moment when most would wish they had a friend, or significant other traveling with them, but I did not feel alone. I felt full of love and positive energy, and even met a bunch of amazing people. Besides, food and liquor were included in the boat tour, so life couldn’t get any better.

 
Na Pali Coast - Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast - Kauai, Hawaii

 

One of the best things about solo travel, is the fact that you can do whatever it is you want. I took this opportunity to try some spiritual healing services through the Airbnb I stayed at--something my friends might not have wanted to do. I got a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, which has been done for centuries as a renewal ritual. I also had a shockingly accurate intuitive reading, and had a healing session in the waters of Kauai called Dolphin Energetics, with Jeanne, my incredibly kind Airbnb host.  I’ll be honest, I was skeptical at first, but the cleansing experience I had, and how connected I felt to my higher self, and nature, was life changing and unforgettable. 

When we travel alone, we give ourselves the opportunity to meet new people. Jeanne introduced me to a 59 year old lady from Wisconsin named Bonnie. What can I say? I’m an old soul, I love hanging out with people decades older than me. Bonnie was one of the sweetest people I've ever met, and like me, she was traveling by herself. Bonnie and I went to a New Year’s Eve party on Poipu Beach, the place most people in Kauai go on NYE. The party was not really a party, and it definitely wasn’t lit. We  stood on a burger-truck line for an hour, and by the time the firework show ended, so did the burgers. It was still a pretty cool night; Bonnie and I made friends with a group of strangers from all over the country. Eventually I was able to go somewhere else and get a mediocre sandwich and a nice cold beer; it’s the little things in life. A few days later, Bonnie took me on a helicopter ride that took us all over the island. I got to see Na Pali Coast again, as well as the center of the island, which you can only see by air.

 
Helicopter tour with Bonnie

Helicopter tour with Bonnie

 

These were just some of the amazing things that I did while I was in Kauai. I took a chance on discovering the unknown, and it was so worth it. Not only did I get to see one of the most beautiful places in the world, vibe with great people, and do new things, I also learned how to enjoy my own company. I learned that I am never alone, I am with myself--a powerful realization in the journey of self-love.

If traveling solo is something you’ve thought about, I encourage you to go for it. There may be a lot of questions and fears holding you back from doing so, but the fact that you are even considering it, means that you are ready.

What are some of the places you would like to visit solo? What are some of the things holding you back from solo travel? Let’s talk; comment below.