14 Apr How I ended up in the Dominican Republic, alone…
If you’ve never taken a girls trip out of the country, you should definitely consider it. A few of my girlfriends and I were talking about taking a trip out of the country for years and finally, we decided on Jamaica and booked the trip. We did almost everything we wanted to do (I still want to ride a horse in the ocean) and others things we didn’t plan – like stopping on the side of the street to purchase fresh exotic fruit and stopping at a local restaurant to purchase some authentic Jamaican food. It was such a successful trip, that we thought maybe we should make this a yearly trip.
We spoke too soon…
When planning started for our trip to the DR, I was beyond excited. I stalked the airline’s website, anxiously waiting for flights to post. Once they posted, I immediately booked my flight using the miles I’d earned on my credit card. If you know me, then you know that this wasn’t out of the ordinary; I love to plan and do things in advance. My friends were supposed to make their reservations at a later time – when we could all make a deposit with our travel agent. A month later, no one had booked the trip and almost everyone’s circumstances changed, dramatically. One friend was still seeking alternative employment, another was expecting her first child, another was undecided because of school obligations, and the other was planning to go to DR for a wedding a few months after our scheduled date. Our plan was unraveling, and I needed to make a decision, quickly.
Almost immediately, I recounted a conversation that I had nearly a year prior with a close friend, Bourgogne, who is also like a big sister to me. We spoke about one of her friends who had traveled out of the country alone, and she called it “the ultimate freedom.” I was intrigued and was convinced, almost immediately, that this was something that I would love to experience; at that point, I had moved across the country alone on two occasions. One year, I rented a car with three strangers and drove from San Diego to Los Angeles; we all missed our flights and were desperate to get back home. My parents are not aware of this. I’m a risk-taker, so it was either cancel the trip or simply make the best of my time on the island, and imagining the sparkling blue water was undoubtedly convincing, so I booked it.
Now that the easy part was over, I had to think of a way to break the news to my parents. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a longer pause from either of them. My father said, “Can you cancel it?” On the other hand, my mother said, “Oh, well I’m not surprised; you’ve done stuff like this before.” Whew, I thought it would be worse. After convincing my father that I could manage on my own and that I’d make sure to check in daily, he reluctantly obliged. I’ve always been a daddy’s girl and my father, well he’s always been very protective of me. If he had responded any other way, I would’ve been appalled.
Now that the hard part was over, I started to research the resort and planned all of my activities. Initially, I told very few friends and after receiving mostly pessimistic responses, I stopped telling people. It hard to be so excited about something and 70% of the people around you want you to make sure you have a last will. I’m not saying they were wrong for their responses; I’m saying they had more fear than faith aka they were killing my vibe! One day while training a new employee, I told her about my trip. Surprisingly, she was very excited for me and even offered to connect me with one of her old high school friends who lived in DR. Yes, please. Hook ya girl up with the connect! She connected us on facebook and after a few overly excited messages, we agreed to meet up.
I waited until the week of my trip to post the news on my social media. A lot of people said that I was brave, and others simply said be safe. Either way, there was no turning back and at that point, I wasn’t concerned about the public’s perspective; I was going regardless. From the moment I stepped onto the plane, I knew I was covered. Did I mention that the trip overlapped with my birthday? The flight attendant inquired about my trip and was wondering where my friends were. After finding out I was traveling alone and that it was also my birthday, he announced it to everyone over the load speaker, and they immediately started to sing happy birthday to me. I blushed. After sleeping for what seemed like half of the flight, I woke up to the flight attendant asking me what I wanted to drink, “Your drinks are on the house. Get whatever you want.” Did I mention that I don’t drink, but when someone offers me free drinks, suddenly I feel like I have to drink? Yup, I did it, “Can I have some white wine, please?” After about two cups of wine, we landed and before exiting the flight, the attendant slide me a note with his name and resort. I said, “Oh, I’m staying there too. Let’s meet up.” I bet you’re thinking don’t talk to strangers. Well, what else was I supposed to do alone in a foreign country, talk to myself?
I broke all the rules. I spoke to everyone and even let two men dine with me at the steak house. They turned out to be cool. After spending an evening out with them and later posting updates on my social media pages, one of my friends back in LA posted that she knew one of the men in the picture. Small world. It’s odd, but the more I spoke to and interacted with people, the more comfortable I felt. I never felt like I was in danger, never had a sense of fear or anxiety; I was living. The last two nights were the best. I finally met up with the local friend that my coworker connected me with. He took me off-site to view the island. I know what you’re thinking. You got in a car with a strange man? Yes, I just told you I’ve done this before; I survived both times. I even managed to invite the other two young men that I met earlier that day to go with us. So suddenly, I went from being alone to having a crew of four. We went to Coco Bongo and on a mini tour of the island. I was going to sleep past my bedtime, I was eating all the foods that I’d been avoiding for months in an attempt to get to a six-pack, I was breaking all the rules I learned as a child, and I was enjoying every minute of it.
Another thing that I like to do when traveling is to conquer fears; I’m afraid of heights and I can’t swim. While in Jamaica I zip lined, so I knew I had to conquer water in DR. I scuba dived, drove a speed boat, and snorkeled – all for the first time – and courtesy of the flight attendant. I was excited to scuba dive, but a part of me was afraid because I’m not a trained swimmer (I can swim like a frog). I spent $60 for an ATV excursion and a maybe $30 for the photo and video packages and that was because I negotiated down to a lower price. Overall, I spent less than $100.
The final night, I didn’t make it back to my resort until nearly 4:00 a.m. An hour later, the guys and I walked to the beach to see the sunrise. I sat on a beach chair that was partially wet and had sprinkles of sand all over it; My eyes were slightly closed, but I was determined to stay awake for the sunrise. There was a cool calming wind and the waves were subtle, making soft splashes every few seconds. I never thought I would be sharing this moment with a stranger – someone that I may never see again. In that moment, I just melted, I embraced it, and then I thanked God for protecting me. Don’t be shocked if I do this again.
Will you take a trip out of the country alone?
Tips for traveling out of the country alone:
Tell everyone – you want everyone to know you’re out of the country
Research the area – look at reviews and suggested activities: days, times, and cost are every important for planning your activities.
Turn on the location services on your phone or download the find my friends app – share your location with loved ones.
Ask friends and family if they know someone in the area – seeing the island outside of the typical excursions is the best part.
Talk to everyone – you never know who’s also traveling alone.
Talking to other people also gives you the opportunity to join their group throughout your vacation.
Purchase wifi at your resort – you can text and update your family without adding the international plan to your wireless plan.
Do not be afraid – Fear will limit your ability to interact with other people as well as try new things.
Do everything that you want to do. Don’t second guess it.