In terms of “big birthdays” I reached a milestone by turning 25. A few weeks leading up to my birthday I bought a random ticket to California. It was cheap and I thought “why not treat yourself.”
Turning 25 is the initiation age to adult hood because once you turn 26 you’re an actual adult (hint: having to buy your own medical insurance). You’re teetering between still being young and becoming an adult. It’s an awkward age. Being a quarter to one hundred. Instead of having anxiety over the fact that I am almost 30 and I don’t have a career or a significant other; I chose to relax and reflect on the big day.
Traveling is an addiction. People dream and set goals to travel more in their lifetime but often never do it. The thought of leaving your routine life is liberating yet frightening at the same time. There are many missed opportunities to get outside the norm and be adventurous. I encourage everyone to travel more than once throughout the year, especially solo travel. Being alone while traveling is one of the best therapeutic solutions to free your mind. It truly tests your will power to be open and vulnerable.
On my birthday, I decided to take a day trip to Catalina. I put my phone on airplane mode. The best idea ever. The ultimate digital detox. There comes a time when silencing the noise of social media, text messages, phone calls, emails and everything that has been nagging your mind is the greatest escape. At first I was hesitant I even going to Catalina by myself. There’s a lot that could go wrong and being alone on your birthday doesn’t seem the happiest way to spend it but I am thankful I did.
The hour long boat ride seemed a lot shorter than I thought. There were a bunch of couples on board taking trips for a romantic weekend getaway. I was snuggled on an end seat with a book in my lap surrounded by a group of Asian tourists. At times, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself because the tourists were sometimes louder than the boat engine. After walking off the boat I was amazed how beautiful Catalina is. It’s a mixture of Mexico and Hawaii, well in my opinion. The town of Avalon was so quaint. I asked a few store owners about hikes and maps in which I was directed to the Nature Center. I got a hiking permit and a map in hopes I wouldn’t get lost on a trail after all I was flying solo. I waited for about 40 minutes for the town trolley to pick me up which I didn’t mind the long wait. I mean I lived in Hawaii for fours years ya kind of get used to waiting around for public transportation. Basically, I learned patience.
I didn’t plan which hiking trail I would venture off to so the trolley lady dropped me off at some area and said “here is a place to hike. Good luck.” Quite encouraging as there were about five signs at the beginning of the hike saying “Caution: Rattlesnake area.” I passed a few families along the way. It was a gorgeous day of perfectly sunny skies in the high 70’s. Once I reached the “top” of the trail I met some amazing people. It was a father and daughter. The dad was a fireman and the daughter was about 21 years old. Small world because it turns out she went to University of Hawaii but ended up leaving after a year because she didn’t get into the nursing program and she might move to Breckenridge, CO.
After a bit of chatting and exchanging of water bottles, the dad asked if I wanted to go on an adventure to see buffalo. Normally, you would need to buy a permit to go inland but since he’s a firefighter we could do it for free. How could anyone pass that up? Of course I said yes and we hiked down the other side of the trail. We talked about Hawaii, life goals, travel experiences, my life etc. I think that’s my favorite part about going someplace new. Meeting new people and being able to be yourself. As some might feel intimidated or self-conscious about traveling alone and having to meet new people I become more confident.
It’s a fresh start. As they say you’re a “fresher.” It’s as if people can tell that you’re new and flock to you. But no worries I’m not that naive I go off of vibes I get from people. The two people I met on Catalina were friendly and welcoming. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my birthday. It made my day even more when the dad said he is glad to have met me because I was a good role model for his daughter. Despite our 20-something age similarity he said it was good for his daughter to see that other 20 year old’s are struggling to make a living. It was the highlight of the day (besides the beautiful views) but it’s nice to get recognition from complete strangers for the hard work that you do.
This trip was important to me because I needed to know that if I ended up moving out to California by myself (without my friend) I would be able to explore social boundaries and California in general. It definitely made me more confident and a little more secure in my decision.
As a solo traveler, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the world and people. We like to think about traveling or we travel because it’s a form of motion. Even if we don’t end up going on that expensive trip to an exotic island it’s still a type of motion in our minds. We often associate motion with change in that if one stays in the same place there will be nothing new to learn. Everything will remain the same including yourself.
Being a 20-something is no longer a burden. We have the flexibility to get up and move (as long as one does not hold a permanent job). Our futures are yet to be concrete so why no go on the vacation you’ve been planning for a month. My parents and bosses always say “if you move and it doesn’t work out you can always go back home.” Obviously they are not rooting for me to fail but they’re right. If I don’t make it in California I can go back. And almost everything will be the same. People often fear that if they take a vacation they will miss too much aka fomo (also I cannot believe I just used that acronym). To be honest, things will be the same when you get back. Your family, friends, job etc. will always be there. Whenever you decide to come back from your trip things won’t be different unless you make them out to be. People stay in your life as long as the amount of time you want to invest in the relationships. Think about it.
“You are still alive. So act like it” – Rudy Francisco. This exert from one of his poems has always stuck with me. As humans we often get stuck in ruts like we’re robots. Waking up at the same time every day and going to work is all too familiar. But when was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? We put traveling off because we’re too “busy.” But are we? We all have expiration dates but it’s not knowing if it’ll be sooner or later to leave this life so why not get out and start living. Enjoy the fact that you can sit in your car jamming out to your favorite tunes after work. In other words, travel travel travel TRAVEL! You get one life, make it good one with great memories.
With traveling you learn a great deal about yourself and the world around you. It helps broaden your horizons to new lessons, new experiences, new perspectives. I often feel rejuvenated after a nice vacation no matter how long it is. Unplugging your battery and recharging yourself with the activities you are naturally drawn to is probably the best thing you’ll ever do. Traveling is the metaphor for life. It’s about personal growth, inspiration, motivation and knowledge. Get your travel bug on.