On Friday, the last day of my spring break, I decided to not work. Instead, I planned to go on a trip out of state and overnight. Now, I'm not yet 21, so it would take some planning and research to find a good hotel that would allow me to check-in. I knew that I would need to check because I've nearly been turned away at a hotel that I had made reservations for in advance. (Luckily, they let me stay since I was only in the state for a wedding- in Georgia, instead of Indiana.) This time, I chose to go over to Ohio, to visit some places in Dayton and Columbus.
1. Choosing where to travel to
There are many steps to successfully traveling alone, and choosing where to go is the first one. When you decide to go and travel, you want to go somewhere that you find interesting or that you know would be fun. Most families will choose to go to a park or a zoo or somewhere that it kid-friendly, but as adults or college students who are free to travel on their own or with friends, places like Kings Island or Six Flags are some options besides bars or clubs or the beach. Places like amusement parks or museums are popular places to go in other cities, but museums are definitely the cheaper option. Once you choose a city or activity to do, you have to find out how long you'll be there and where you will stay.
2. Finding a place to stay (if its overnight)
This is where you choose a hotel or inn to sleep in, especially if you're going alone and can't drive the whole night long or sleep in your car. Websites like TripAdvisor or Expedia are good places to go to find a hotel or things to do in the city of your choosing. Expedia, my personal choice, is easy to use, and makes booking a hotel room easy. I can choose a room based on price, customer reviews, and the hotel's own website. Some hotels only accept check-ins from people over the age of 21, while others don't care as long as you are over 18. (As someone who is almost 21, this is one of the most annoying things about traveling, since they won't rent you a car until you're 21 as well.)
3. Smart budgeting for the trip
While booking is easy, the cost of the trip adds up, and making sure that you have the funds to go is important. If you don't already have an accurate idea of the amount of money in your account, figuring out exactly how much you have is important. Then comes the task of figuring out how much it will cost to travel: the hotel, the gas, the food, and of course, how much you'll spend at the places you're going-whether that's the park or a concert.
4. Time management
Once you have all the money figured out, and a hotel room reserved, if you need one, it's a good idea to figure out how long you'll be driving, how long you want to spend at every place you go to and maybe even when you'll eat. When you know how long it's going to take you to get to the museum, you can plan when you need to get up, get breakfast, and leave to get there when it's open. If you know how long you'll be driving, you can figure out a playlist on your phone to play as you drive without worrying about finding a good radio station. Maybe I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, okay more than a little bit, but I like to know what I'm going to do and how long it'll take to get things done. I like to have a plan for how long it will take me to get through the National Air Force Museum and when I'll start heading home.
5. Don't forget to download Maps and Waze
The freeing, or terrifying (depending on your view of it), thing about going alone, is that you only have your phone to guide you. Siri becomes your best friend and you pray that you don't run out of data or go out of range of your cell tower. when you don't know which exit to take or whether to turn right or left, your phone becomes your best friend, and keeping it charged is a priority. Just make sure you packed a charger for all of the electronics you take with you- the one time you don't bring your Kindle charger is the one time it dies after three pages of a good book.
6. Bring only the necessities
Speaking of packing, when you go on a trip and actually remember all of the things you need, you feel like an accomplished adult. If the fact that you made it to where you were going didn't make you feel grown up, knowing that you didn't actually forget anything important helps. When you can make it to a fun place, have a great time, and come back with great memories and some good stories to tell your friends, you can finally say that you've started to become independent in a way that doesn't include paying your own bills (although that's good to do as well).
Now that I've gone on this trip, made it to places and made plans on my own, it makes me want to go more places, to travel more, and it makes me more confident about my ability to do things on my own. As I head back to college this week, hopefully, these feelings will stay with me. I know that this summer will most likely be filled with more trips like this to places I want to go see, even if I go alone. If you want to go see something or to go do a certain activity, on't hold back because you don't have someone to go with you, find a way to go on your own. It's a small step to being more confident in who you are, if not who you want to be.