my first *real* solo travel experience (south dakota)
As I’ve stated before, I have a love-hate relationship with the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. A couple days ago, Facebook reminded me, not only of the trip that jump started my love of solo travel but also of what was going on in my mind during that time. I wrote about this trip once before in my second blog post ever. This post still exists, you can read it here if you want.
I was actually met with this reminder because of a post my sweet friend shared 3 years ago while I was on this trip. I suddenly remembered that time in my life vividly and wanted to write about it.
In 2016, my mental health was the worst it had ever been after struggling with depression entire life (this personal record of mine was later broken in 2018 hahah) and I finally decided to seek professional help. Shortly after I began seeing a therapist regularly for the first time, my grandfather passed away. About a year prior to losing him, I had also lost a close friend to suicide.
I wanted my life back. Depression had taken so much from me for so many years and I just wanted my life back. I needed a new challenge. I remembered that I had enjoyed running half marathons and decided to sign up for one. Not just any half marathon though. The Sioux Falls Half Marathon. For whatever reason, I had wanted to visit Sioux Falls for such a long time. So there I was, out of shape -physically and mentally- 7 weeks out from this half marathon, booking a plane ticket to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I had traveled solo once before, a short *work-ish related* road trip in 2013 -I was 19 years old. I want to write about that trip sometime, if I can even remember enough about it to construct a worthwhile post. But this was the first time I had ever made the decision to go somewhere, booked my own accommodations on my own dime and just went. I believe that this was when I fully began to understand that the only thing stopping me from doing what I love -traveling- was me and my depression. I was an adult. I could go *anywhere* I wanted.
For the first time, I boarded a plane completely alone. I navigated a very large airport (MSP) on a very short layover and arrived in Sioux Falls. I struggled to find transportation to my hotel. Got injured walking to packet pickup for the race. Completed the race the next day, injured. Chatted with locals during the race. Played tourist in the most adorable, artsy city. And above all, remembered to be myself.
I’d like to thank this trip for giving me my life back. For jumpstarting my solo travel career. For being a memory I can feel nothing but joy when I look back on. Thank you, Sioux Falls. See you soon.