What on earth were you thinking woman? My mind was running overtime, while I waited to board the plane from Australia to the United States for my first solo travel experience.
Booking a solo trip had seemed like a good idea at the time, I had done all my research, organised my passport and arranged my visa waiver, booked my accommodation and checked out all the places I was going to see. But as I looked out of the airport window to the large bird that was just about to take me on my very first overseas solo travel experience at 46, my heart and stomach suddenly seemed to be sitting in the back of my throat. Please, don’t be sick, I thought, that would be your worst nightmare.
Are you having a mid life crisis? Have you suddenly gone mad?
Nothing it seemed would calm my anxiety and my mind kept going over and over what had been a whirlwind year for me. A divorce, a new job, a new city, and I was in love. After what seemed like an eternity, I was buckled into my seat and the last doors were closed on the plane, I finally felt a sense of relief. No turning back now girl.
I had managed to score a full empty row on the plane and found it easy to fall asleep when the lights on the plane were finally dimmed. My 11 hour flight went quicker than expected but I was happy to hear them announce our expected arrival time into LAX.
Looking back now I guess that I had chosen the United States for my first overseas solo travel experience because I had considered it a place that was similar in a lot of ways to my home country.
What I hadn’t expected was how different from Australia the United States really is.
As my plane made its way across the tarmac to its gate, I realised that I had landed in a foreign country, it seemed as though I had stepped back in time. Even the colour of the sky was different, a much lighter blue than I was used to seeing. Those pesky butterflies started their bursts of flurry in my stomach again.
It was surprisingly easy to find my way to my hotel and once again I found myself stepping back in time about 20 years.
My first day in Los Angeles was something of a blur.
I had never experienced jet lag before and not knowing how to overcome it, I spent the day in a somewhat fuzzy world. I only had a day in Los Angeles and I was determined to make the most of it. I managed to secure a private driver for the day for $50 and set off in luxury for a day exploring the main sites. The United States was in the grips of the Global Financial Crisis and for Australians it was a cheap destination at the time. I had seen a lot of the places I was off to see on the television and yet, it seemed surreal to be there in real life. My driver was really cool and he would drop me off at the major sites I wanted to see and return to collect me right on time.
I giggled to myself when people kept asking to take my photo. Sure why not but why? Standing on Rodeo Drive I was soon surrounded by a large group of tourists taking my photo. With others pointing and starring at me, I made my escape into a restaurant to grab a bite to eat, yes the United States is definitely different from home. The plate of food I was served held more food than I’d ever seen on one plate and was smothered in dressing. I couldn’t wait for my driver to return.
Finally back in my hotel, I poured myself a long bath. The next day I would be up early and back to the airport to catch a plane to my next destination, Portland Oregon. It finally hit me that this adventure would be the start of a new love affair with solo travel. One that would last the rest of my life.