What’s the first thing I did a week after I turned 25? Why I rented a car legally of course. Okay well to be more exact I took a trip to San Diego by myself and I needed to rent a car so that I could get around while I was there. This trip was about a year and a half ago but I learned a lot traveling by myself and I also adore and miss the city so much so I wanted to write about it.
Unconditional Surrender Statue
I never really gave much thought about traveling alone before this trip but I got it in my head that I really wanted to go to San Diego a couple weeks before I went. Then it turned out that my favorite baseball team was going to be in town a week after my birthday so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I also got it in my head that I actually wanted to go on this trip by myself. Call it a right of passage or what have you but I just wanted to do it my way. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of course. I thought this is either going to be great or backfire completely. Turns out it was the former and I had an amazing time. I pretty much only watched baseball and went to the beach but who could ask for anything more?
Torrey Pines Golf Course
I also learned that you are more inclined to meet and talk to people that you otherwise wouldn’t if you are with a group. At one of the games I went to I was sitting next to a nice lady and her teenage son. I ended up chatting with the lady the entire game. She was super nice (she thought that I was dating one of the players which was quite flattering if I’m honest) and it was nice to talk to someone I otherwise wouldn’t have payed any mind to. My last night that I was there I went to Sunset Cliffs and ended up having a nice conversation with an older couple who were there visiting their daughter. There were just all kinds of nice interactions with people that ended up being comforting when you’re in a place by yourself. Obviously because of that you have to be smart and use your judgment but you really do find how kind and friendly people can be.
Cardiff State Beach
My advice for traveling by yourself for the first time is to pick a place that is relatively easy to get around. I also had spent a lot of time looking at San Diego on google maps figuring out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go before I got there so that helped as well. I had no problem getting around at all which alleviated some stress I’m sure. I stayed downtown a couple blocks away from Petco Park so that I could just walk to the game and from there everywhere else I went was probably no more than a 15 minute drive. The only time it was farther was when I actually left San Diego proper and went to the beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea which is located in Encinitas. That ended up being my favorite beach.
Coronado Island was another on my list that I knew I had to make it back over there. The first time I went to Coronado Island I was maybe 13 years old and I don’t know why but it sort of gave me the heebie jeebies. There are stories about the hotel being haunted and things like that so I always chalked it up to that. It is an absolutely beautiful place though so I was so excited to go back and see if it was just like I remember it. This time though it was a hot sunny day (it was gray and cool the first time I was there) and it was fairly crowded so whatever it was that gave me the heebie jeebies the first time was completely gone this time around. I figured it would be though but I was still curious. Parking was a mess and I was way far down on the beach so I didn’t bother much with doing anything else there other than bumming on the beach.
I went to two games at Petco Park and I absolutely fell in love with the park. It’s a stunning park and there’s so many fun quirks and sites in the stadium alone. There’s the Western Metal Supply Co building and the sandbox of course that anyone would recognize from watching games on TV. Walking through the park though you can see them honoring San Diego’s history with the military and players who served our country. There’s also the Park at the Park which is such a neat feature. It’s located inside the park just behind the outfield concourse where you can lounge in the grass and watch the game on a giant screen. It’s the perfect place for a picnic while you’re at the ballpark. Overall, if you’re a baseball fan Petco Park should be a must on your list!
My favorite place over all was absolutely Sunset Cliffs though. I went there three of the four days I was there including right before I left for the airport. It was just a beautiful place to sit and marvel at the ocean, contemplate life, think about why whales are so cool, you know, just whatever takes your fancy. Obviously it is the best place to watch a sunset, hence the name. I only got to see the sunset there once because the other nights I was at baseball games. It happened to be the one day that was cloudy all day but the clouds broke just enough to actually see as the sun set. It does get crowded for that obviously so you do have to get there early enough to get good parking.
You learn a lot about yourself when you’re alone in a strange city. You learn where your comfort zone is and you can either push past it or just stick in your lane. I’d say it’s worth doing both within reason. You have to play it safe but you’re also going to see far more and have a better time if you do things you think you can’t. I promise you might enjoy your own company more than you think. You’ll enjoy getting to do what you want, when you want it and just being spontaneous when it comes to certain parts of your trip. I got a lot of people who were shocked that I went alone and they were nervous for me or thought I was crazy. Trust me, I’m a worrier and I suffer from anxiety. I thought all those things myself so it’s understandable but I’ll always be thankful for that trip because it taught me that I could do it. And if I can do it then anybody can.