As you saw from my last travel recap post, I went to Cuba! One of the biggest differences from my previous travel experiences is that I didn’t go with my Significant Other (S.O.), but with two girl friends. I’d never done that before. It was somewhat of a radical experience given the aforementioned, and that it’s been 3 years since graduating college that I’ve had to share a living space with “roommates.” But I’m so grateful for having had this girls-only travel experience.
I’m proud of us for having conquered a foreign country on our own. From getting there with no issues, creating our own itinerary, navigating unknown streets, food (and let’s not forget the men), to returning back to the States in one piece, WE DID THAT! (I think that deserves a piña colada toast).
As you’ve probably come to know by now, I’m extremely self-reflective, so here’s some of the things I learned about myself and about traveling in general.
I am protective by nature.
“Tonight we will stick together, watch out for each other, and be safe, right, girls?” I said this as we walked down the stairs at midnight on our way to a night of clubbing. I needed to hear their verbal affirmation that safety was adjacent to having fun on our list of priorities. It was my top priority, for sure. It felt like my personal responsibility to get these ladies home to our AirBnB (and back to the US) in one piece. I got us out of a cab shortly after driving off because the look in the driver’s eyes rubbed me the wrong way. I yanked touchy-feely hands off one friend because “I dunno sis, he’s getting a little too touchy-feely, no?” It was reconfirmed again in this trip that I am naturally motherly, and I had to do a few self-checks to quell this habit because these women are adults with their own autonomy, too.
Be true to who you are.
I’ve never really been a fan of the taste of alcohol and God chose to make me allergic to the substance via itchiness and hives the morning after downing some “liquid courage.” When you see your friends drinking a bit more than you are and their inhibitions loosening, you can feel the pressure to catch up and join in the merriness. But knowing myself, I didn’t want to take the chance of not being in a state of mind to be the protector of the group and potentially ruining the next day being an itchy mess. So I had fun my way – dancing, lip-synching, and sipping on Bailey’s for the optics (and let’s be honest, because it tastes like yummier chocolate milk). That’s until my social battery died, of course. Oy vey!
It’s OK to lower your guards.
I’ve probably sounded like a prudish killjoy so far! Cautious and reserved is what I am. And while I’ve accepted this of myself, I’ve also realized that sometimes this leaning makes me opt out of certain experiences that could actually be enjoyable. I tried to quiet down this urge during the trip. The idea of snorkeling kinda sorta freaked me out, but eff it, let’s do it. I was tired and wanted to go home after the club, but screw it, let’s spend an hour and a half extra outside the club listening to two guys sing and play the drums for us. We don’t know these men from Adams just that they’re playing dominoes outside our apartment (and we’ve had a loooong day already), but they invited us to play, so why not join them for awhile? A guy at the club wants to buy us drinks? I guess… (It turned out he wasn’t a creep and we had a pleasant conversation). I’m happy for the moments I didn’t let my lowered energy and cautious personality get in the way of doing some interesting stuff. Those were some of the best memories, honestly.
Girl Talk is fun!
This was my first only-girls gathering in a looooong time (and I live by myself) so I forgot what speaking to women in an informal setting felt like and that I needed it. When relationships and sex came up in discussion it was a flurry of “Girl… let me tell you” and “Me too!” It was nice being able to share similar experiences as women and having our emotions immediately validated.
I can travel alone
While I really missed my Significant Other (S.O.) while I was away – especially considering travel is an “us” thing – I am grateful for having had this experience of a girls trip. His not being there and my being in a completely foreign country created in me a heightened sense of independence. While it felt unusual (and not as fun sometimes), it gave me increased confidence that I could travel completely solo one day. (That one day I had by myself before my friends got there had me feeling extra “I am woman, hear me roar!)”
1. Sharing is caring: Extra tampons and hair products are for the sisterhood. You can’t be stingy.
2. Patience is key: I had to exercise the kind of patience I presume my S.O. has with me when I’m being indecisive or forgetful when my friends acted similarly. No one’s perfect out here! Let’s just not miss our flight, though.