#LiveAvantur Guest Editor: Simi Odugbesan

Have passport, will travel... reflections of my solo journey.

When I went on my first solo trip, I felt a swirling mix of emotions. Excitement, fear, nervousness...oh and a healthy dose of anxiety as well. I kept thinking "this isn't me; what am I doing?" Even worse, I had internalized so many of the negative feelings my friends and especially my family had about the trip. They worried that I wouldn't be safe as a single woman traveling in a foreign country, and it definitely didn't help my confidence that the in-flight movie on the plane was Taken!  Sure, I had picked up and moved to a completely different country at age 16 for college, but even then I had my sister as a chaperone and family waiting for me on the other side. 

I resented the notion that I couldn't take care of myself, that I needed the security blanket of traveling in a group. More than anything I hated constantly trying to coordinate schedules that never meshed and trying to compromise on destinations and budgets. I wanted the freedom and spontaneity of choosing my own travel time and destinations. So I did a lot of research... 'stay in the safest parts of town, be aware of your surroundings, be street smart.' 

What I discovered while on my trip is that hitting the road completely on your own can leave you with a particular sense of vulnerability. Almost akin to swimming in the open sea without a life jacket. But guess what? Taking my first solo trip was probably one of the greatest and most affirming experiences of my life. Why? Because I learned so much about myself and even found my world view changing along the way. 

Since that first trip to Paris, I’ve also gone solo to Cambodia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul. Of course, I still enjoy traveling in a group now and then, and I love the bonding that happens and the inside jokes that no one else understands. That said, when I'm feeling spontaneous or just need to get away I have the confidence to do it. I have learned that I can be just as happy staying at The Ritz-Carlton as staying in a non-descript Cambodian guesthouse. I’ve learned that even though I am naturally introverted and a little reserved, I can break out of my comfort zone and make lasting friendships while on the road. I've learned that I am extraordinarily resilient--like when I found myself with an extra couple of days in Shanghai after missing my flight and scrambling to get on a flight back home. Sure, it would have been nice to have someone else figure out the details, but I learned that I can do it all by myself. And that? It’s priceless.