Sitting 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere between Toronto and Los Angeles, crushed between the window and a man with a clear lack of spatial awareness, there was a brief moment where had I been given an ejector button I may have pressed it. Distraught from airport goodbyes and zooming blindly into the foggy unknown, with my life packed into 23kg on wheels, was undoubtedly my most terrifying, overwhelming, apprehensive, yet exciting and exhilarating moment of 2013, and one I will remember for the rest of my life.
When I look back over an eventful year, there are several personal achievements I am proud of. Of these, travelling alone was the greatest feat. Until now there are few things I’ve ever had to do completely by myself; usually I’ve had the comfort of someone who will be there should something go wrong. This time was different.
This time it was all on me – booking, packing, organizing travel documents, getting on the RIGHT plane etc. I planned to travel for three weeks on the West Coast USA en route home from Canada to Ireland. It had been my dream to visit San Francisco, and California in general, since I was a little girl singing along to Otis Redding in the car (thanks for the musical education, Mum). The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas also featured on my bucketlist so after purchasing a beautiful new notebook to keep everything together I started saving and set about planning my adventure.
I discovered Trek America through a friend and instantly knew it was the perfect option for me. The company offer organized road trips for small groups of 10-13 people from all over the world to help them make the most out of their travels. There are a variety of routes and accommodation types to choose from and each expedition is led by a knowledgeable trek leader, there to advise and try to make sure each person’s personal agenda is realized. I chose the Westerner 2 which incorporated all my POIs and a mix of 9 days camping, and 4 in hotels. As I hopped off the plane at LAX (with my dream and my cardigan, obviously) and prepared to meet my new comrades, adrenaline armoured me with the courage to take what life would throw at me. This is what happened next:
They say that happiness is only real when shared, and hand on heart, the trip would not have been the same without the wonderful people who were with me at every step of the journey. We hiked, we swam, we flew, we partied, we sailed, we sang, and we laughed, a lot. Ironically, I discovered that travelling alone can be one of the most sociable decisions you will ever make, and I urge any one reading this to do it, at least once in your life.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people I met for their interesting stories, their positive attitude, and their role in making my holiday the trip of a lifetime. Leaving my life in Toronto was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but despite my initial anxieties, I did get the on the right plane, physically and metaphorically. My travels across America left me re-energized, buoyant, ambitious and more confident than I have ever been; excited for a fresh start. And coming home to hugs from family and friends who I hadn’t seen in two years? Well, that was just the icing on top.Much Love, K.
p.s. Thank God they don’t put ejection seats on commercial airlines.