Dusting off the ol' passport

In our first post of of the “How did she do it?” series, we talked to Erin Hendley about how she went from a busy professional life of no travel, to suddenly feeling inspired to explore the world and ultimately embrace solo travel:

"I've been very fortunate to have my own successful small business as a Makeup Artist. There were times I felt somewhat bitter because I essentially never had a social life on weekends. The demand for makeup usually always fell (and still does fall) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More and more, I am learning to appreciate my job revolving around such specific days of the week, because I can successfully plan my life to do whatever I want multiple days in a row on the other days. 

About a year and a half ago, I was cleaning my house and located my passport. I hadn't seen this thing for nine years! The last time I used it, I was on a family road trip to Niagara Falls and needed it to cross over the Canadian border. In fact, that was the only time in my life I had ever used my passport. Looking at the date on the booklet reminded me I had one year left before it needed to be renewed. Doing that very basic mental math, I thought to myself: "Here is this gateway tool to see the entire world, and I haven't used it in nine years!" That's when the "travel bug" began.

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Since then I have: Traveled to California to celebrate my birthday | Traveled to Europe to celebrate extreme love as a Valentine's Day trip with my boyfriend at the time | Traveled to Japan with that same guy to celebrate our Anniversary, but we were actually freshly broken up by then (I got creative and used the hashtags #ExesAbroad #BreakupTour for that one) | Traveled with my 3 best friends to get away in Salem, MA for Halloween and Miami, FL "just because" | Traveled to Paris with an organized solo traveler meet-up group called Contiki | Traveled with a surprise company called "Pack Up + Go" where I didn't know my destination until the day I left | And most importantly and recently, I've traveled 100% solo to Iceland.

When I mentioned the plan of my solo trip to Iceland, I received comments such as "Why are you going alone?" "Why is this such a short trip?" "Aren't you scared?" "Don't you want company?"

I had 4 back-to-back days I didn't have makeup work lined up yet. Wow Airlines had amazing flight prices. Most people in Iceland know English and they drive on the same side of the road as we do in the USA. Why wouldn't I take the opportunity to see this amazing country on a whim? I knew if I waited around for someone else to be available to go with me, I would be waiting forever.

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In my 4 days of Iceland I felt the mist from Gullfoss Waterfall, held shiny ice chunks on Diamond Beach, walked along the mossy aftermath of the Eldraun lava fields, swam in the hidden historic pool "Seljavallalaug" embedded in the side of a mountain, bathed in the milky water of the Blue Lagoon geothermal pool, hiked 4 miles to see the United States DC plan crash site, snorkeled between two continents at Silfra, and walked the Black Sand beach at Reynisfjara. 

You can do a lot when the only schedule you're tending to is your own.

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Erin is a Makeup Artist based in Paducah, Kentucky. You can follow her travel adventures on Instagram @erinstop

Want to share your solo travel stories with Wanderher? Submit it to marketing@wanderher.co