What I Learned from Solo Travel
January 19, 2024

Amid the pandemic in June 2021, I went to Maui, Hawaii, for a week. One might think this is not the best place for solo travel, amidst all those newlyweds (which I did meet in an evening hot tub visit). But I want to share why going to a romantic location can be a good thing. In fact, it was a great experience because I learned some valuable lessons!


The first issue for me on any trip is packing – what to take, how to meet the airline weight limit and still be able to tow that sucker around. This was a little easier because, hey, bathing suits don’t take up that much room. All those personal toiletries are another issue, but I decided I could leave a few items behind because I would be at the beach most of the time anyway! Traveling solo meant I didn’t have to impress a significant other with my stylish outfits and fake eyelashes. Step one accomplished.


As COVID was still an issue, I dealt with all the pre-testing, uploading of test results on various sites, and the huge check-in line upon arrival. I felt like a cow being herded between the guideposts. Finally, step two – freedom attained!


Next was getting the rental car and finding the condo. Somewhere in there, I had to upload my covid results to another app so I could obtain the code to get into the condo. This was a challenge because I was at the wrong condo complex and Wi-Fi was spotty and my cell phone was nearly depleted. After a long flight, I wasn’t sure how many more ‘tests’ I could survive. Eventually I secured the right code and the right condo and viola’ – a beautiful place with breathtaking views awaited me. Step three – checking in to paradise!


The aforementioned events showed me what a great deal of patience and perseverance could get me. Perseverance is one of my strong suits, but it was severely tested this time, and the patience – I didn’t know I had it in me to stay that calm. I showed myself that I could do it and do it alone with no one but my own wits to help me.


The next day I ventured to the tour office to set up some tours. Because restrictions were starting to lift and there was an exodus of state-side folks wanting to break out of prison (er, the mainland) most events were booked, except for the ones I hadn’t really considered: hiking in the rainforest and zip-lining.  The ladies at the tour office convinced me these were great substitutes for the luau evening I had envisioned. (Since I get terribly motion sick, the idea of a helicopter or boat ride were totally out of the question!)


The rainforest hike was lovely, and I was afforded the opportunity to jump off a waterfall. I pondered the feat for about 15 minutes until even the 9 year old jumped. I figured if they could, then I certainly could. Comfort zone expanded for sure! It wasn’t nearly as scary as I imagined as the guide gave helpful tips and honestly, how long would he keep his job if the guests died?


Another day was zip lining and that was really scary to me. Luckily, we started small – on lower and shorter lines, working our way up to jumping off the platform backwards and going for a longer, bumpier ride at a higher altitude. My comfort zone was shattered once again! (Note: I did a lot of screaming!)


Since I usually prepare my own meals on a day to day basis, eating out wasn’t a big deal, but I did want to go out for a few really nice meals in upscale restaurants. Reservations were difficult to come by, but I came up with some solutions: sit at the bar, go early at 5:00 pm, or sit at a table for one. Due to covid, one restaurant had a table for one because the second person would be too close to a nearby table! So it all worked out. Of course, after all this careful “distancing,” the next stop was an ice cream specialty shop where we all crowded together in the line that went out the door! Now that was a real treat! Being persistent has it’s perks.


Some of the benefits of solo travel are sleeping in, doing whatever you want, not doing anything, eating when and whatever you want, and not having to carry on a conversation with anyone else. If you figure out the tv you can watch whatever you want too! That wasn’t worth the effort to me.


One day I was able to have lunch about 30-40 minutes away with my neighbor from home who happened to be at the island at the same time. This was a real treat, not just because she paid, but because at home we are too busy to ever have lunch together. Imagine that! Being on vacation afforded us the opportunity to spend a few hours together! Plus I was able to venture out on the island and explore some other places on my way back to my little slice of paradise.


Hanging around the condo complex and beach, there was plenty of opportunity to engage in conversations with other folks. Many were from my home state, California, but others came from the Midwest or even Alaska. It made me realize how lucky I am to live withing a few hours drive from an ocean! I could see the excitement in the eyes of the other guests, especially the children. This was a big deal and for some – a trip of a lifetime. I was definitely grateful that I was able to go on this trip and take some time off to soak up the sun!


There were a few obstacles or “challenges” as I like to call them, mostly driving-related. But I managed to just refer to them as excursions or think of it as exploring my way around. Eventually I found my way back with the help of MapQuest on my phone where I had carefully entered the address of my condo (and the entry code).

The most challenging aspect was driving to the ziplining event because I miscalculated the time to drive there, and it was difficult to follow the guidance system because it refused to give oral instructions and I was limited to reading the directions which was a bit difficult because of the windy roads and multiple turns. I made 9 of the 10 turns on roads with unrecognizable names before

I made a wrong turn! I was nervous about missing the course and finally resorted to telling myself to let go of the outcome! If I missed the event, then it wasn’t meant to be. If I was able to go, fine. I just gave up worrying about it! As it was, the tour guides didn’t even realize I was late.

My trip gave me a reminder that I am stronger than I thought. I can manage on my own, despite complications. I have tons of perseverance and I can be patient if I have to. I used my positive attitude to figure out what I could do in various situations and embraced the outcomes. I learned to turn a scary and somewhat uncomfortable situation into an ‘adventure.’

All in all, it was a great trip, and I am glad I was able to go alone. There will always be naysayers telling you that you can’t do something like travel alone. Don’t listen to them. Travel anyway. Life is an adventure, so get out there and live it!

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