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Solo Travel

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Woman Embarks on 8700-Mile Solo Cross-Country Road Trip and Nothing Bad Happens

Woman Embarks on 8700-Mile Solo Cross-Country Road Trip and Nothing Bad Happens

"You're what?! Why would you do that?"

"So, you're going with your husband, right?"

"How scary! Wait—aren't you scared?"

"What if something bad happens?"

"Did you hear about that one girl who did something similar and was stalked and raped halfway through her trip?"

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We live in an interesting world, my friends. When I first started telling people about my plans for the CYOP Road Trip, I was somewhat shocked at the response. Both men and women, alike, bombarded me with questions that really got me thinking. 

Now, when a friend, coworker or family member is concerned for your safety, you hug them and reassure them and let them know how you plan to stay safe. However, I had strangers, journalists (Yes, I received a reply—from a female journalist—to a press release linking to this article as a "heads up" about traveling alone and using social media to share. Hence the cheeky title of this piece.) and acquaintances sharing horrific stories and general discomfort about a woman embarking on a trip like mine.

Conclusions were jumped to, assumptions were made and, unfortunately, fear-based stereotypes were perpetuated. So, to the questions above, I'd answer:

"You're what?! Why would you do that?"

Option 1: Because I can. Option 2: Why would I not take a trip like this?

"So, you're going with your husband, right?"

Nope. He's holding down the fort here at home!

"How scary! Wait—aren't you scared?"

Not really. Anxious for the journey (and huge work load) ahead of me? Yes. Scared? No.

"What if something bad happens?"

Something bad could happen to me at home. If something bad happens on the road I'll deal with it in the same way I'd deal with it at home.

"Did you hear about that one girl who did something similar and was stalked and raped halfway through her trip?"

I've heard countless stories like this, but plenty of people take trips like mine without incident—we simply don't hear about it (Hello, mainstream media. Can we do something about this, please?). Also: I'm smart, cautious and come from a family of law enforcement officers. I'm the most optimistic, yet paranoid person you know. Trust me.

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Now I've returned from the trip and guess what? 

I didn't get into any car accidents, avoided getting tickets by driving safely, didn't find myself in any scary situations, kept my head on a swivel while driving to watch for wildlife at dawn and dusk (I did have a few close calls with a very active herd of elk), skipped hiking trails that looked a bit dicey and came with a long list of warnings (I'm looking at you, Grand Canyon), crossed the street if I felt at all unsafe about what I saw in front of me, didn't use social media to broadcast my current location (and shared in a smart way, instead), packed a paper atlas just in case I didn't have cell coverage, reminded myself of everything I've ever learned about self defense and kept loved ones apprised of my whereabouts pretty much every day.

Basically, I spent six weeks on the road driving 8700+ miles through 27 states to interview people I met on the internet and nothing bad happened

But you know what did happen?

  • I learned more about our amazing country in six weeks than I ever gleaned from history books.
  • I met incredible people, many of whom will likely become life-long colleagues and friends. 
  • I reconnected with old friends over wine and food and life stories (and, in Nashville, live music). 
  • I talked to people about all of the amazing work they're doing and how they've chosen to build their lives and careers. 
  • I learned a great deal about business, life, creativity and community from everyone I met along the way.
  • I became comfortable with working odd hours and creating from the road.
  • I took notes about what I might do differently for my next road trip (blog post to come!).
  • I saw parts of this country that have been on my very long to-see list for years and years.
  • I also realized that I cannot wait to get back to all of those places over and over again. This giant slice of earth is so vast, fascinating and diverse. I fully intend to continue soaking it all up.

So, you see: traveling alone as a woman (or, to be fair, as a man) isn't a terrifying concept. I only wish I hadn't heard so much negativity associated with it as I prepared for my journey. I'm fairly confident in my ability to stay safe, handle tough situations and avoid trouble, but it saddens me to think that the same questions and overall shock I endured might dissuade someone else from setting out on a trip like mine.

I'm still overwhelmed with the trip and have to pinch myself to remember that it wasn't all a dream. I'm sorting through photos and scrolling through my Instagram feed to revel in the fact that I did it—I friggin' DID IT. Can I tell you a secret? If you set your mind to it and do the work, you can do it too.

Please, friends: for the love of all things sacred, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.



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A Day Date with Myself to the Marin Headlands

I absolutely love exploring places with other people. More often than not, I'll convince my husband or call upon friends to come with me when I get the urge to just go and see and do.Not long ago, however, I discovered the complete joy of exploring places alone. As in, by myself. With no one else. Just me, myself and I. It's lovely.

That's not to say I'll ever stop exploring and traveling with others. I love that too much. Yet, I find myself drawn to the convenience of the occasional solo journey, where I can move at my own pace, have little need for compromise and can listen to whatever music I choose on the way there (and back).

Several weeks ago, I ventured out on a solo date -- a day date with myself, if you will -- to the Marin Headlands located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just north of San Francisco.

This was the same trip during which I was able to spend time admiring the Golden Gate Bridge and the day was filled with all of the things I wanted to experience.

I started at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, which I highly recommend if you've never been to the park before:

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The helpful docents told me about a few short trails and I opted for the Rodeo Lagoon Trail, which starts at the parking lot and ends at the ocean. It's a fairly easy trail and since I had my sights set on the Point Bonita Lighthouse (which I'll get to shortly) and the Golden Gate Bridge, it sounded like the perfect way to start the day.

The trail takes you through wetland areas and under fantastic tree canopies like this:

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There is also a giant tree along the trail that creaks and cracks in the breeze:

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Once you're out from under the trees, you'll start getting a glimpse of the trails' namesake lagoon and Fort Cronkhite beyond.

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Then you'll catch a breathtaking (at least to me) view of Rodeo Beach:

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I sat for a bit at the edge of the lagoon:

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Again, lovely. I took in the sites:

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Perfect. And decided to explore the beach a bit:

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The beach was blustery at best, but the sights and sounds were just what I needed.

I knew that I wanted to have plenty of time to explore the lighthouse and the bridge, so I headed back along the trail to the parking lot. Once in the car, the trail head for Point Bonita Lighthouse was a short drive up the hill. If I'm not mistaken, you can hike from Rodeo Beach to Point Bonita Lighthouse, but that wasn't in the cards during this visit.

When I reached the trail head, my first thought was, "what lighthouse?"

The tricky headlands have her hidden from view:

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You'll head down the short, steep trail and end up at the entrance to a tunnel:

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The tunnel is open only part of the day, so be sure to check the schedule at the visitor center before you head toward the lighthouse.

Once you exit the tunnel, you'll walk a skinny path that hugs a cliff. After a few bends and curves, the small lighthouse will come into view:

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While it's not a grand structure, Point Bonita Lighthouse is the only known lighthouse reachable just by suspension bridge. We all know how much I love a cool bridge, so naturally, I was impressed.

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Because of where the lighthouse is situated, it offers great views from the platform toward the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Can you imagine being a docent? Talk about a corner office!

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Back on solid ground (yes, my friends, the bridge sways in the breeze wind), you can catch a glimpse of just how amazing this structure really is. It's perched on the very last bit of land and has been in that spot since 1877.

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Amazing.

As I mentioned, I wrapped up my perfect little solo excursion with a healthy dose of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can read more about that here.

Anyone else enjoy the occasional solo adventure? What do you find rewarding about traveling, exploring or sight seeing alone?

Link up in the comment section if you'd care to share!

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Happy Tuesday, all!

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