At the outset of this April Escape series, I mentioned that this trip ended up being about more than traveling for travel’s sake. It presented an opportunity to shake up various travel ruts I’ve unexpectedly found myself in. My cache of travel skills and tools had shrunk in spite of all of the places I’ve been over the past few years. I was traveling on autopilot. Turning routine on its head is a powerful way to see your world through new eyes and I desperately needed it.
One of the changes that has snuck up on me over the last few years is the shift from mostly solo travel to mostly couple adventures. There’s not a problem with that necessarily but it is a very different way of traveling and requires different skills. It also means the layers of travel experience are different. Both have value in their own ways, of course. To be a well-rounded traveler and to have a broad travel experience, both are necessary. Putting a little solo travel in this trip was really the most important piece of my travel revival puzzle.
Solo travel requires unique skills and decisions. You have only yourself to count on. Self reliance is an often-overlooked skill, especially in a risk-averse society. Solo travel builds empowerment and capability you simply can’t get any other way. You have to answer only to yourself. You also have to solve problems on your own—without the safety net of home, friends, or family nearby. And for better or worse, your choices are completely yours. That’s fabulous freedom everyone needs from time to time.
I love my travels with my dear man. We’re really good at it and we have a fabulous time together. But realizing how much my solo travel skills had atrophied was startling. I wasn’t fearful setting out but I did have to hesitate and ask myself if I still knew how to do it well on my own. Along with my solo travel savvy, my comfort zone had shriveled without me noticing.
There was a time I camped constantly. By car or motorcycle, I took every opportunity to go somewhere and sleep in a tent . Over the course of the last few years, as my life shifted from Georgia to Nevada, my camping trips somehow evaporated. Right out from under me without me even noticing.
Once I saw what had happened dusting off my camping skills became a non-negotiable piece of the trip. My dear man was suffering from the same camping skills atrophy. It didn’t even sound fun to him anymore. But he embraced my desire to camp on this trip, partly out of trusting my judgment and partly for knowing how important it was to me.
Getting our gear together was another story. In my transition to Nevada, my well-refined camping gear management system had also evaporated. The situation now is pure chaos and an exercise in frustration. Of course, you have to be home for more than a hot minute to take on a big organizational project so that will be a challenge to fix.
On the road, I was able to camp solo and with a partner. Both were crucial to see what we need to refine in our moto camping systems. And there will be more camping. The camping nights on this trip were fantastic. I felt completely and utterly me again. And that is a very good feeling.
Our first time trying to meet up mid-trip showed me how important that skill can be. It gives us more options in our travel plans rather than ditching or shortening a trip because we can’t both be gone at the same time. But it takes orchestration when your plans are not tied to exact times and places. Add in that your ability to get to a particular place is tied to the whims of weather and it’s a complex travel puzzle. Motorcycle travel and strict timelines simply do not mix well so it requires flexing our adaptability muscles.
Having said all of this, I’ve had some great adventures in the last few years. I love all of my travels. But they’ve been different. And change is fine as long as it’s thoughtful. That’s where I had gone astray. I was missing things I still wanted and wasn’t making happen for myself. My April Escape went a long way towards defining what I need to do and what I still want.
Travel is awesome. But like anything, you have to mix it up to keep it fresh.
Adventure on, friends!