I’m blessed to have grown up in a family that traveled a lot. My parents both grew up in Saskatchewan and moved to Ontario for their occupations. All of their family stayed out west. Every other summer my family would pack up to drive out west. I have a lot of fond memories of those trips. My Dad was a University Mathematics professor and had to attend annual conventions. My siblings and I knew from the start that these family road trips ended when we got to the upper grades of high school. Some of the destinations I got to see were Disneyland, the Indy 500, and The Grand Ole Opry. The first time I ever went on a plane ride was an unforgettable experience. I was with a singing group that summer. We’d already traveled from British Columbia to Ontario by bus. They saved the best for the last week and a half of the summer in Brazil. My first flight was from Calgary to Brazil. Although I was a nervous wreck for my first flight, in time it became an adrenaline rush. Now when I plan a trip to a destination that I’m flying to, I count the number of days until I get to depart.
Many people spend their lives searching for their Jerusalem or their Mecca. A place that all roads seem to lead back to. A destination that makes the journey of life worthwhile. I began a similar search a year ago, but rather than searching for my Mecca, I was searching for my Edinburgh. Edinburgh, Scotland hardly has the same cultural significance that Mecca or Jerusalem have, but its importance in the life of author J.K. Rowling was like a pilgrimage in some ways. Rowling has said before that the majority of the Harry Potter series was written in the city of Edinburgh. A place that, for her, yielded inspiration in a way that she had never experienced previously. As a writer, this is what I long for. A place where a masterpiece can almost be written just from the sights and sounds itself.
I’ve been traveling sola since I was eighteen and started college in 2015. My vacations were frequently filled with trips driving around the United States and several trips to various countries in Central America and one glorious trip to Senegal which were funded by my schools grant money. Some of my favorite travel experiences were in Costa Rica & Nicaragua. I loved Costa Rica so much I went back four times, one of those times was to live there by myself for a year. A trip I had to cancel due to a lack of funding while in college was to Cali, Colombia. I was heartbroken and ever since I had to cancel I have been awaiting a time in my life to return. My original plan was to stay for eight months to immerse myself in social dance culture and work for a dance school. I always travel teaching TESOL on the side, so I was connecting with a not for profit English school there too, but in the end was not able to go.
A year ago, I developed pain, warmth, and swelling in my right arm after a heart cath. For 3 days I attempted to treat the pain with a cool compress and pain medication. I figured it was just pain from the heart cath. I had them before, never through the artery in my wrist. I didn’t want to miss my granddaughter's 1st birthday party so planned on contacting my doctor the next day if it didn’t get better. During the party, my arm began to swell even more and turn red. My mother-in-law advised me to go have it checked just to make sure nothing was wrong. When I arrived at the Emergency room the nurse told me it looked like I had a blood clot. An ultrasound was performed on my arm and my artery was blocked from my wrist to my shoulder. One more day and I may not be here, writing this story about where I would go on a Solo trip. Before my hospitalization my answer would have been Walt Disney World in Florida which had been a dream of mine. But my daughter and son-in-law made that dream a reality. After the close call they didn’t want me to wait to fulfill my dream. After 47 years I finally got to see Disney World and meet Mickey Mouse.
I took my first solo trip when I was 21. It was during the summer break between my second and third year at university. I went to Dublin, Barcelona, and Rome. I’m British, so these places are a £10 Ryanair flight away.
First things first, 2020 has really put a damper on my traveling plans. I have not gotten the opportunities in life to travel a great deal. In fact, I have never even been on a plane! In the fall of 2020, a trip to New York City was all I dreamed about, but COVID had other plans. I have never been to New York and really wanted to go. So, looking forward to 2021, I have 3 very real and 3 very fictional places I would love to go on a solo trip to.
It starts with me walking away from my family for a few hours. It finishes with us walking together on a journey that – hopefully – lasts much longer.
Sometimes you find yourself believing you already know everything, right? You’re young, you’ve survived this long getting into trouble without your parents finding out. Doing all kinds of “ungodly” activities you will absolutely not be telling your grand children one day. And every now and then, you just do something do impeccably bold that you are suddenly the topic of all of your friends and family for weeks. This time, instilling the fear of yourself being kidnapped to all of your friends, coworkers and loved ones. The first person you would tell, is your favorite coworker, they’re your safe space at work right? There shouldn’t be too much cold hard judgement there. But then you tell them, and they look at you with this blank expression you’re dying to try and read before they squeal at you “What? Are you CRAZY?”. You just told them you’re going to Alaska on your own to meet some guy you met online all by yourself, essentially flying across the country through various airports and cities. Alright, okay, cool now you are afraid to tell anyone else but you of course, still are determined to go. You see that you have about 13 days left until your flight that you booked. You even opened a credit card to be sure you could go. Smart right? We’ll determine that later.
We all gathered around my brother for his going away party at my house. He had spent the last five years as a wanderlust. He worked and lived in Colorado at a camp, Utah at a ski resort, Alaska working with sled dogs and Montana as a river rafting guide. Along the way he found a beautiful woman to join him. She was a wanderlust too. I was so proud of them. I even went and bought him a cake! After being home for a few months he was leaving the sunny skies of California and jetting off to Portland, Maine to build a life with his dream girl.