Why Solo Travel Has Been the Best Experience of My Life

Kristen Laino
October 1, 2019

A common theme for me in 2016 for me was change. 

I learned change can be a very good thing, even if at the time it seems like the opposite.

This year, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone completely. Here's what happened.

It all started with a phone call with one of my best friends. 

He had traveled with the group tour company Under30Experiences and felt that I would really connect with their mission and other like-minded travelers that go on the trips.

He has always identified me as a bit of a lost soul--so I appreciated him reaching out--but I’m proud to say that I no longer fit that moniker.

After looking into the trip and calling the company, I booked a trip to Iceland. It was so incredible that after Iceland, I booked Tulum, Mexico. Now, I’m off to Peru in June.

This is the part of the story I like the best. 

Traveling solo in a group is one of the best experiences I have ever had. 

Not only do you see amazing places and have amazing experiences, you open yourself up to meeting amazing people. You learn quickly not to hold yourself back. You push forward, no matter how uncomfortable or uncertain you are.

I like to trace my life events back and say, “If X never happened, than I would have never found Y,” especially when life seems rough and I can’t find up from down. 

My current life event chain looks like this.

If I hadn’t gone to the Philippines with my brother and taken time to do things solo while there, I would have never known that I was able to spend time completely alone in a country extremely different than my own. Doing that led me to book the trip to Iceland completely solo. 

If I had never booked the trip to Iceland, I would have never known just how far I could push my own boundaries. I didn’t have the safety net of my brother. It was just me. I would have also never met U30X Community manager, Jennifer DeSimone, and would never have had someone so much on my side helping me wade through the deep ends of life.

If I hadn’t lost my job in December, I wouldn’t have been forced to make moves so quickly. Losing my job was the best blessing in disguise. I was extremely unhappy and it probably showed. I had been forming an idea of what I wanted to do if I could do anything I wanted, but I wasn’t really sure where to go from there. Without Jen’s support (and my mom’s), I would have never applied to all of the graduate programs that I did.

Last week I was accepted into an Early Childhood Master in Education program. This week I started my program.

I have a new level of confidence and a feeling of team support. 

I am now a part of a community that supports me.

Once you go on a trip with U30X, you gain a group of the most supportive people I’ve ever met - and people I have yet to meet in person. 

I have a network of alumni who live all over the world and have all kinds of different life experiences. Everyone is always willing to jump in and help others, whether it be a travel question or a job opportunity, among other things. It’s an incredible feeling being part of such a wonderful community.

As part of that community, I was pointed in the direction The Life Project Fellowship in Costa Rica based on heart-centered learning. Because someone in the community had taken the time to learn about me, my interests, and my journey, I was able to be set up with some awesome connections. 

Twenty essay questions later, and a stellar U30X recommendation, I will be on my way to Costa Rica this summer for four weeks to learn more about holistic education and myself.

Twelve months ago, I would have never thought of even applying to such a program-let alone preparing for a fellowship in Costa Rica!

I have grown in ways that can’t be measured. 

Once you are brave enough to open yourself up to possibilities, the universe takes over and leads you on your way. 

My life had been one big question mark for months, maybe even years. But, I am no longer scared of the unknown.

I haven’t felt this sure and positive about something in a long time. For once in my life, I am letting the universe and my heart guide me. I don’t have a concrete plan, and I’m okay with that. 

I’m excited about where my journey has taken me and where it will take me, knowing that I have an entire community behind me.

Read more from Kristen on her blog, Perfectly Extraordinary.

[P.S.] Want to join the U30X Community?

Take a trip or connect through one of our local communities across the US & join us at an event near you!

Kristen Laino
Kristen Laino moonlights as a blogger and is currently pursuing a masters in early childhood education. She is a women's and mental health advocate and believes in sharing her story to help others feel comfortable sharing theirs. She loves to go on adventures with her dog, Penny, around the Philadelphia area and never turns down a cover band or costume party. Travel is one of her passions and is at 23 countries and counting.


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