Finding Freedom on a Costa Rican Bus: My First Solo Adventure
I got my first taste of solo travel in January of 2014. I was finishing up my last internship for school while living in San Jose, Costa Rica, and volunteering at an orphanage on the outskirts of the city. I went on one excursion with the entire program; two entire busloads of college students, mostly girls. We swarmed a mountain resort, and though it was a beautiful place and a good time, it felt more like spring break Miami brought to the mountains than any sort of authentic experience. So I decided to break out on my own.
The next weekend I found my way to the bus terminal to travel to a town in Costa Rica I had only read about. As the bus pulled away from the station and I coasted off into the unknown, I was suddenly filled with an intoxicating sense of freedom and a confidence that I had never felt before. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the moment I fell in love with traveling.
I have a return ticket out of Lima, Peru in early May, and until then, nothing but possibility.
When that trip ended, three short months later, I knew I would be back. I graduated university in June, worked my bartending job all summer, and here I am, writing from a lakeside hostel in Bacalar, Mexico. I have a return ticket out of Lima, Peru in early May, and until then, nothing but possibility.
When I tell people my plans (or lack thereof), I tend to get quite a few raised eyebrows, particularly back in the States. Yes, I’ll be traveling for six months, in Central and South America, by myself. “How do your parents feel about that?” is a common response.
The fact of the matter is, however, that while I am technically not traveling with anyone, I am very rarely alone. One of the reasons I so enjoy traveling alone is because of the ease it brings when it comes to meeting other people. When traveling with one or two other people, we tend to act and be seen as a unit, not socializing much outside of the group. I have especially found that, as someone who does not tend to be very outgoing, I’ll reach out to new people much more when I don’t have friends around to fall back on.
Another thing I love, which is what hit me on that bus last winter, is the ultimate freedom and independence, knowing that I can essentially go anywhere I want. That contentment, of being en route to somewhere new, has stuck with me. It’s as simple as a gut feeling that this is what I’m meant to be doing, at this time in my life.
As the bus pulled away from the station and I coasted off into the unknown, I was suddenly filled with an intoxicating sense of freedom and a confidence that I had never felt before.
I’m 24, recently graduated, uncommitted, and uncertain of the path I want my life to take. While traveling, I live one day at a time, rarely making plans more than a few days in advance. What plans I do have are constantly changing and evolving, much like life plans in general. I find that the spontaneity of travel is one of the things I love most about it. What could be more liberating after 21 years of school and planning for the next step?