It's 7:00 am and I literally just got off a twelve hour shift. I've already got my bag and outfit for the airplane in my car. I go change into my perfect airport outfit. Simple shirt with no zippers or pockets, yoga pants, fake engagement ring, compression socks, and easy to lace up shoes. This is the outfit that makes it so easy to get through airport security. In fact, I didn't even get padded down. Compression socks to prevent a blood clot on a plane. Fake engagement ring to prevent unwanted attention.
I change into my clothes and leave my work stuff in my car. I leave my car at my work. I take an Uber to the airport and get through security. This is my first solo trip. I decided to go for a couple days in LA. With my anxiety, this was a huge step for me. I almost had a panic attack in the airport but I ended up just reminding myself that I paid a lot of money for this trip, so I just need to get on the stupid plane. I was hoping to take a nap on the plane but my emotions were running high, so I didn't sleep. The countdown in my head dwindles down to the days before I leave for the airport and the initial panic begins to settle in. “Why am I doing this?”, “Will I be safe?”, “What if all the warnings people told me were true?“, are a couple of the questions that will run through my mind. But by the time my plane landed, I was more excited than nervous and I reassured myself that if I hate it that much, I can take the red eye home first thing in the morning.
I landed in LAX 20 minutes early which was really nice. LAX no longer allows Uber and Lyft drivers to park at the curbside. I guess it's because traffic is already terrible there. Now, you take about a five minute walk to a lot filled with Uber and Lyft drivers. I got to my hotel pretty early. I was hoping to just drop my stuff off but they allowed me to check in early. They also upgraded my room for free!
I was hoping to see some stuff in LA but I was so tired that I walked around until I found a taco truck and then I crashed at the hotel. That's what I think solo traveling is all about! Relaxing and doing what you want because you don't have to entertain other people. I promised to check in with my friends and I did. I called them and let them know I was okay and got to the hotel safely. I think when you travel solo or go anywhere solo, you find that familiar route back to your guesthouse, meet the owner of the cafe down the road, and see the first iconic spot on your itinerary and then everything sort of just falls into place. You begin to fall in love with this place that is soon beginning to feel like home even though you’re thousands of miles away from it. Once that routines settles in and you find that familiar feeling, you wonder why you were ever overwhelmed in the first place.
Me tipsy in my Uber after one (strong) drink
The next day I spent the morning in Little Tokyo. I loved Little Tokyo. It's a lot smaller than I envisioned it. (About two blocks) I wandered into a shop and I got tea and a croissant. A majority of the shops open later than I thought so I wandered around Little Tokyo for a little while. I splurged on an outfit and I went to the Japanese American National museum. Which brought tears to my eyes. My grandpa and his best friend at the time were both 6 years old when my grandpa's best friend was taken to an internment camp. They never saw each other again.
I grabbed lunch and a nap at the hotel. I got changed and went to Griffith Observatory. I absolutely loved Griffith Observatory! Afterwards I went to a fancy as hell bar. I had one strong drink, spent the rest of the night feeling very nauseous, stumbling as I tried to walk, and I grabbed McDonald's. I drank lots of water and felt fine the next day.
This was my last full day in LA. I slept in. After I got up, I spent literally hours at Huntington Library. Huntington Library isn't just a library. It has beautiful botanical gardens, a museum, and a library filled with very, very, old books. I spent hours at Huntington Library just walking the grounds, going to the library, and the museum. Afterwards, I went out to dinner. I have always wanted to try Middle Eastern food so I booked a reservation at The Bowery Bungalow. This had the absolute best food I have had in a long time. Which is what I love about traveling to new places. There is so much diversity.
On my last day in LA, I checked out of my hotel early and left my stuff with the front desk. I then went to the Museum of Death. If you love true crime, you'll love this place. It's the coolest thing I've ever seen! They have John Wayne Gacy's clown shoes, Richard Ramirez's sweatshirt, a section on cults like Heaven's gate and Jonestown, lots of death masks of famous people, section on embalming, serial killer artwork, crime scene photographs, Manson Family, and taxidermy. I could go on and on but it's seriously the coolest museum I've ever seen!
I then went back to the hotel to pick up my stuff and went to make my flight. My flight was delayed twice because my plane was still getting to the airport from a previous flight. LAX really isn't that bad of an airport. My advice is to get there really early and be patient.
Uber and Lyft in LA is awesome. I think a lot of the drivers do this all day, every day because it shows. I am so glad I decided to not rent a car.
I really didn't feel unsafe in LA. Although I never walked around at night. The only time I was creeped out was when I was walking up and down the street looking at the shops and restaurants. I was kind of convinced a guy was following me but he left me alone as soon as I made it obvious I was wearing an engagement ring.
Personally, what I found out about myself is that I am much more spontaneous than I thought. Self travel at its best is deliciously self-indulgent. You eat whatever and whenever you want, spend as long or as little as you like in a place. You can skip famous sights and sign up for the super cheesy. Or vice versa. The only compromises you have to make are with yourself.
Spain for my first international travel trip? I've always wanted to see flamenco dancers and I want to see an opera that no one wants to see.
My safety tips:
Fake engagement ring. A lot of times, I didn't have to reference a fake fiancé. People simply saw it and it worked.
Carry money in a dummy wallet.
You don't need to tell anyone that you're traveling alone. I don't think I told anyone that I was traveling alone. When people tried to make conversation, I always said I was meeting friends or a fiancé.
When people made conversation with me, I gave them very general answers.
Keep extra photocopies of travel documents
Never ask the Uber or Lyft drivers name!! Instead always ask, "who are you here to pick up?" Anyone can easily say their name is Shawn or whatever and that they're your Uber or Lyft driver. A woman actually got murdered because of this.
Also in an Uber or Lyft, always check to see if the child lock on the door is on.
Tactical defense pen. Make sure it looks like a pen! I actually got one through TSA security.
Share your itinerary and travel plans with family and friends.
Research the area, what the locals are like, and how they dress. That way, you can blend in and dress like the locals.
Or maybe Iceland? I already pitched my idea for Iceland with family and friends, no one else wants to go.