People of the World is a chance for you to share your stories of traveling, the people you meet and the lessons you learn. It is published every Wednesday. To submit your story, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Sarah, USA
At age 28, I decided to create a “Before-30 Bucket List”. Among other menu items such as “Fly a Plane” and “See as many Broadway Shows as Possible”, I also wanted to have the rare experience of traveling completely independently.
I planned and booked the trip by myself (not easy, since my husband is the vacation planning expert in our family.) It was important to me to choose a location that was safe, had great weather, and was already on my travel wishlist. Then it occurred to me: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
As an outspoken advocate for people with developmental disabilities, I see myself as a Hufflepuff/Gryffindor hybrid. The Hufflepuff side of me was dying to bring a friend along with me – ideally a fellow Harry Potter fan. But remember Dumbledore’s wise words: “It is our choices that show us what we really are, far more than our abilities.” As I get older, I find myself stepping more into the Brave New World of the Gryffindors, and seeking new and challenging experiences.
So in March 2017, I booked my overpriced tickets to Universal Studios, Epcot, Discovery Cove, and Sea World, and off I went into the great unknown!
I thought it would be fun, but it turned out to be so much more than that. What I got was a once in a lifetime experience of self discovery.
I learned to enjoy my own company and keep myself engaged with an inner dialogue. As it turns out, I am my own best friend! I also discovered my own potential of self-sufficiency and independent problem solving. (Pro-tip – never drive in Florida without a roll of quarters, I learned that the hard way!). I also learned that some things are actually more enjoyable when you’re alone! I was able to observe and experience the theme parks in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to with the distraction of a constant companion. Then, the discovery that is most difficult to explain to others: The spiritual experience of being surrounded by people yet being very much on your own, while feeling supported and comforted by your one and only travel companion – God.
In our busy lives, we never have a chance to truly be alone. Some of us are even afraid to be alone. When I tell people about this vacation, I urge them to give themselves the gift of a solo trip. Even it’s it’s just a weekend in the next town over, the experience of being without a companion to talk to can be truly awakening. As suggested in my favorite poem, The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, “I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” Can you?