Going Solo: A Photographer’s Change of Perspective

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I drove 10,000 miles in two months, alone. I wanted to use solo travel as a vehicle to inspire others to set out on their own adventures because there is so much to be gained from taking trips like this: self-empowerment, the acquisition of new life skills, and a learned responsibility for your actions.

This was my first time traveling while towing a trailer — an Airstream Nest — and it opened up a new world for me. I found a new sense of freedom knowing I wasn’t tethered to hotel reservations. I could drive as long as I liked, and when I got tired, I could simply pull over and find a place to settle in for the night. I was worried I would get homesick spending two months on the road on my own, but I was pulling a familiar place with me wherever I went, one that felt like home. I could also cook myself healthy meals instead of being forced to consume fast food on the road.

As I crept my way across 19 different states, my Nest in tow, what I began to notice was how welcoming and friendly people are in every part of the country, dispelling any assumptions I may have held onto about people outside of my own bubble. I found an entirely new community on this trip that I never knew existed. By traveling with a trailer, I developed this unspoken kinship with anyone else who was doing the same. I suddenly had a commonality with people from all different backgrounds (and an amazing ice breaker).

There are plenty of excuses one can make to avoid a solo road trip: I’m not brave enough. It’s not safe. I’m afraid of being lonely. But you don’t need to be an adrenaline junkie to travel alone. Start by exploring places that are familiar and comfortable, then slowly branch out from there.

You tend to be more aware of your surroundings when you’re alone, so if a situation feels sketchy, you have more wherewithal to get yourself out of it. And I find that when I’m alone, I’m more available to meet new people — if anything, you may end up with more friends than you left with. And you’ll learn to enjoy your own company. Read a book. Write in a journal.

This whole experience was life changing for me. I realized both my affinity for the nomadic lifestyle and a new appreciation for home and the privileges I have there. Strangers I met along the way are turning into lifelong friends, and I have a harder time judging a book by its cover after visiting places I’d had preconceptions about and learning their nuances. After spending so much time alone, I became very observant of my surroundings and learned to find beauty in everything — and perhaps, a new perspective.

XX Laura Austin