All my life, I was just terrified of traveling.  It was a combination of fear of flying, lack of finances, busy schedule, and fear of my parents being upset at me for not travelling with them on family trips because of my schedule.  Whatever the reason was, I spent my entire 20’s and early 30’s missing out on the opportunity to see the epic sights that those who were ambitious enough to do so created to make our planet the majestic place it is. Forget taking a solo trip…I didn’t even take group trips! On June 29th 2018, I finally cleared my first major hurdle and began my travel journey.  I traveled solo to Pittsburgh and the stayed the weekend. Granted, it’s only about 200 miles from where I live (in South Central PA) and I took the train rather than flew.  Still, it was a solo trip that I planned by myself. **I am not discounting my group bus trips to various sporting events by any means.  Those were in my comfort zone for a long time. A completely solo trip was not.** Perceive it as you wish, but this was a momentous weekend for me.  It boosted my confidence tenfold and set me to go forward with this passion of mine.   Of course, when you’re a novice traveler like myself, you learn a lot from your early excursions.   Here are some of the things I learned from my trip to Pittsburgh.

Traveling, even if it’s just a few hours away, is still traveling.

It doesn’t take a long distance or big methods of travel to consider an excursion an actual travel experience.  You can drive an hour to spend the day at a place and still consider it travel. If you feel the need to start small, by all means, go down that path.  We are all meant to go down a particular path. Each person’s path is different in every area of life. This includes travel. Just because others wouldn’t call it a big deal doesn’t mean it isn’t to you.  

Explore what you want to do and plan accordingly.

Get on Google, YouTube, Facebook, whatever source you want to look at.  Look up your destination(s) and get the rundown of what’s available for entertainment, food, sightseeing, and anything else you can think of.  Obviously, if you are going on a trip, you want to get the most out of it. I didn’t do that.  As a result, I really didn’t get to do anything outside the seminar other than hangout in my hotel room and work on stuff.  (and take a nap, which was beneficial for me, hahaha—we need it sometimes) What should you take in account when planning what you want to do?  Anything that matters to you. Some factors include the weather, interests, when places are open, and length of trip.  Don’t put yourself out trying to do absolutely everything. Do what feels right and gives you the most fulfilling and least stressful experience. There’s one other factor that really affected me.  You’ll have to read below to find out.

That being said……….everything will not go as planned

In other words, don’t set your itinerary for every minute of every day of your trip.  You don’t know what is going to happen. For me, both the trains I took (to and from Pittsburgh) both ended up arriving later than the scheduled time.  On the way, it was engine problems. On the way back, the one stop was longer than anticipated. This is not to blame the train company.  In fact, they handled all the issues in awesome form.  This is to show that things will happen that will affect your schedule.   Whether it is bad weather, transportation blunders, event cancellations, anything—don’t handcuff yourself to a strict schedule.  Have some flexibility so that you can still get the most out of your trip even if something goes wrong. Oh, and when something goes wrong, be grateful for it anyway.  Remember, you are still creating your epic adventure.

Know where everything is that you want to do and how far everything is from each other.  (My biggest mistake from the trip.)

The main factor that burned me when I didn’t plan accordingly was the distance from other places, especially the hotel.   This is a big aspect to factor in when you’re planning a trip.  How far away is everything you want to do in relation to everything else?  Can you walk to places or do you need transportation? I spent about $120 including tips on Uber rides—and I only went to and from the train station and to and from the seminar.  I didn’t realize the hotel I was staying at was about 15 miles from the train station and the hotel the seminar was held was about 6 miles away from where I was staying.  I could’ve saved a good amount of that money if I would’ve booked myself better, but I was looking at other advantages. I’ll know for next time.

Make sure you remember to bring everything you need.

I thought I had everything I needed.  I had enough clothes. I took plenty of books to read (even though I only read one of them).  I had my electronic devices. I thought I had all my bathroom essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)   Then, I realized………………   I forgot q-tips. Now, this wouldn’t seem like a dire emergency to most people, and it wasn’t for me.  But, there was a lesson to be had, here. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING!!! My tip to you for your first trip:  go through your day in your mind and make a list of everything that you will need to get you through the excursion.  You will want to take into account how long you are staying and how much you will be allowed to take on the train, plane, etc before you are charged any fees.   No matter what, make sure you have the things you need—clothes, bathroom essentials, etc.  It’ll be different for each person. I am capable of the travel life.  Which means……….ANYONE IS!!!!! Did I mention I was terrified to travel?  Did I mention I never traveled solo or planned a trip until this one?  My travel journey was blocked by fear. Can I tell you something?  Fear isn’t real. It’s all in our heads.   You have two choices when you find yourself face-to-face with fear.  You can………… Forget Everything And Run Or Face Everything And Rise I’ve finally decided to take the latter option, and I know that it is open so many doors for me.  I know it will do the same for you if you decide to face your fears head-on and just do it. Remember, your path will be your own.  Don’t try to mimic anyone else’s.

 

 

The journey has only started.

Hopefully, next time I go to Pittsburgh, I’ll have more to tell about the city itself.  In the meantime, I call this a huge win. Overall, I’m thrilled with taking this trip and beginning my journey to becoming a regular traveller.  Okay, I made some mistakes. Hey, I’m human. It’s going to happen. You’ll make some as well when you start your journey (or even if you’ve travelled before).  Make sure you’re still gentle with yourself and know that mistakes are not failures; they are learning moments. Oh, and everything you do is moving you forward in the direction you desire.  Go get started!!!! Not sure if you want to start a travel journey.  Check out my first travel blog, “I’m Not a Traveler, so Why Am I Blogging About It?”. If that doesn’t get you interested in travel, you can figure out what you do want to do by downloading and filling out this free Create Your Own Epic Adventure” Thinking Guide.