Everyday, we cheer folks on to squash the mundane and seek out everyday adventures... to satiate your wanderlust in-between those big trips afar. The best way for us to follow along and for you to be inspired by other global neighbors, is through our #LiveLikeYoureTraveling tag via Instagram. We couldn't help but notice Amy, full of curiosity, taking us through the colorful details of her surroundings in New Jersey and New York and a willingness to step out of her comfort zone. So we asked her to stop by to share her discoveries from these recent solo adventures, where she embraces two of our challenges: (1) Go Waterfall Hunting and (2) Shop Like You're Traveling, plus tips on how to have one ourselves...
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Some of my most successful adventures in which I really felt like I was able to live like I’m traveling have been where I was by myself. I am actually a big fan of going out and exploring the world alone - whether it’s a big trip to another country or just a local walk in your own town. Traveling with a companion / friends / family can also be extremely rewarding, but there is something so gratifying about being able to experience something for yourself and only for yourself without the presence or opinions of others potentially influencing your decisions. I’m here to share with you some of my experiences and tips for adventuring alone, and by the end - maybe you will feel inspired to go out on a solo adventure of your own!
One of the biggest benefits of solo adventuring is that you are able to connect on a completely different and elevated level - which applies to more things than one. In early September, I ventured by myself to a local park (approximately 30 minutes from home). Despite living in New Jersey for my entire life, I had never been to Schooley’s Mountain Park before. Of everyone in my family, I am probably the most adventurous one - always lusting for new people / places / things. I was determined to experience Schooley’s by myself - as I heard that there were two waterfalls and an overlook to be found.
I woke up early and packed a lunch (as I didn’t want to have to go back home just for food) and drove to the park. On the drive there, I rolled down my windows, turned up the radio, and sang loudly (something I don’t enjoy as much when other people are in the car… mostly because I’m 1000% tone deaf and fear for their ear drums). I also passed a lot of scenic farmland on the way there, which was really nice. I found the waterfalls myself - where I ate my lunch and dipped my feet in the water. I also made my way to the overlook, where I saw a family of hawks. I had never been that close to a hawk in the wild before. I ended up spending the whole day there, and to this day it was one of the best days of my life...
By myself, I was able to wholly connect with my surroundings.
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Another time where I was able to connect more with my surroundings while traveling on my own - was when I went to the historic town of Chester (NJ) by myself for the first time. I went the week before Christmas, and it was such a fun small-scale adventure around the holidays. I took my time in every shop that I entered looking at all the trinkets and objects. One of my favorite parts was that I had conversations with many of the shop owners. It was really fascinating to learn about the products they sold and the stories behind their businesses. It’s not one of the easier things to do - as our society has become one ridden by social anxiety. Trust me, some encounters were slightly awkward too. For the most part though, it was an extremely rewarding experience. I don’t know if I would have taken the time to talk to as many people as I did had I not been alone - nor would I have probably spent an hour at the large antiques shop there.
PLANNING TIPS FOR GOING SOLO
Get ideas where to go via Instagram. It's actually one of my main sources for travel ideas. To some people it’s just a silly little app, but to me it is a wealth of inspiration. I follow many locals in my area - who often share places that they go. One of my favorite accounts for NY escapades is @hiddengemofnyc because they tend to post ideas that aren’t your typical NY tourist ideas. Sometimes I find out about events / exhibitions / places via Instagram and then go to Google afterwards to find out more details.
Keep a local bucketlist. I keep a list of local places that I want to go / things I want to see on my phone in my notes app. It’s like a short-term bucket list ;). I try to prioritize the items on the list by things I want to see from most to least, and then try to plan a day based on that. Some places require their own full day, while others can sometimes be combined into the same day. I always try to have some sort of “loose” plan - but am always open to straying from the plan too.
Go without a plan. Planning is great and all, but sometimes the most amazing adventures happen when you stumble upon the unexpected. When I'm in New York, I often like to explore by foot, instead of taking the subway (destination & weather permitting). I've discovered a lot of awesome things that can't be found on a map this way. (ex. street art, cool doors, sidewalk shops, food trucks, etc). If you’re really feeling adventurous: just get in your car and drive (with no particular place in mind)...the ultimate road trip!
Many people have told me that I am crazy to go out wandering by myself - mostly for “safety” reasons. To some extent, this is probably true. I have been “cat-called” one too many times while walking the streets of New York (which is ten times more awkward / uncomfortable when you’re alone). I’ve come across multiple snakes on a path while hiking alone. I’ve gotten lost while driving alone, but would find my way back eventually. Life isn't meant to be lived on the terms of “what ifs” and the rewards of adventuring solo outweigh those potential negative what ifs. I know that I for one always feel refreshed and revived after having a good adventure by myself.
A good solo adventure to me is like pushing a reset button.
When I return to my home / my workspace - I come back more motivated than ever with a passion to be productive. While it may seem that initially I went out to procrastinate from getting things done, I find that getting away and experiencing new things often helps me get more done in the end.
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Get everyday adventure ideas @LiveLikeYoureTraveling