Disney is Still Magical: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas

It was magical. Thats how I felt watching the fireworks burst over Disney’s Castle at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Magic is what Disney and in this case, Mickey does best at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas.

I took a trip with my sister’s family to Walt Disney World to get in the Christmas spirit. It was my first time at Magic Kingdom as an adult and it was quite the experience.

We were only there for one night – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I had no expectations about lines or food or kids running around. Usually, the world is my amusement park – I love visiting cities like Seattle and LA. So trading in hiking and skyscrapers for Mickey ears and roller coasters is new to me.

Dressing Up for Mickey:

But it’s not new to everyone. From the moment we were in the parking lot – we saw the outfits and the Mickey ears and the t-shirts. This was a costume party and everyone couldn’t wait to meet their host – Mickey.

Even some of my favorite Chicago bloggers were going to Disney for the holidays.

But let me tell you, it took parking, a transit corral, and from there a train or a boat, and then a finger scan – yes they scanned our finger – to get into this party. Writing this makes me think the experience was similar to a James Bond film in slow motion. Que Trey Songz.

I think the Magic began on the boat when I saw the Disney castle. I don’t know if it was seeing Beauty and The Beast this year but I became a little girl inside seeing the iconic castle.

If You’re Going to Wing It – Here’s a ProTip:

From the moment you scan your finger, you enter into this magical space.

The first thing we did was read an article to with tons of tips. One of those tips was to make sure we had a plan. We had no plan unlike this guy. The other was to get the Disney Parks app. It tells you vital information like wait time for rides and for people like me who walk in the wrong direction, it’s the Google Maps for Disney.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party started at 7 pm but you could enter as early as 4 pm.

When we got to the theme park, we started with an easy ride – Swiss Family Treehouse – which is like walking in a well-built tree house. There was no wait and we got to see a great view of the Disney Castle. If you haven’t read the book, The Swiss Family Robinson about the shipwrecked family – it’s kind of fascinating. It goes in depth in how they used their resources on the island to survive.

Next, was dinner time! You could tell the theme park was probably at half the capacity because we could grab a table and eat with little commotion. They shutdown the park early for regular guests so that there were less crowds. Pro tip: you can bring your own food into Disney and I highly reccomend it, but also the Lobster Roll was on point.

Waiting in Line:

We then walked to our first ride – the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – where you drop and turn through a haunted gold mining town. I was with my 5 year old nephew and we were so close to being next in line when he had to go to the bathroom. This is the part where I emphasize with parents taking kids to Disney. The wait time during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas was fantastic. We literally only waited 10 minutes to go on rides. I cants imagine having to wait for an hour and then your kid had a bathroom emergency.

So, this is the part where I go on my first roller coaster this year and I’m so glad my nephew wasn’t there to hear me scream (some obscenities). Honestly, right turns, dark tunnels and the fear of the unknown had me dropping more f*bombs.

My nephew and his dad came back and we were ready for round two. Well, this was my nephew’s first roller coaster and he didn’t like it.

So, after that, we had to think of something besides rides. We tried to get him on the Magic Carpet ride but it was too soon. I personally loved the Magic Carpet ride. We got to fly pretty high but the speed was slower so it was like a horizontal Ferris Wheel. It was low key and nice.

The Mickey Parade:

Up next, we went back to the Disney castle and saw the end of the Mickey show. One of the biggest events of the night was the Mickey parade. We waited with tired kids and rows of strollers and then it began. There were flips. There was the muffin man and Snow White. There was Aladdin and the Beast. And last but not least, there was Santa reading off names of boys and girls. Everyone was happy – all the performers had an extra bounce in their step and a forever smile on their face.

Fireworks Over The Disney Castle:

We finished the night in Tomorrowland at an underwhelming car ride. Our lips were blue from the free blue snow cones and we caught a second wave of energy from the dancing polar beers. We walked past the spinning tea cups and met back at the Disney Castle with a fireworks finale. The streets were lined and the iPhones we’re up as the Disney Castle lit up with shooting fireworks. My nephew was tired and so were a lot of kids at 10 pm. As we headed towards the exit and I saw the last firework fade, snow started falling from the sky. I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment. Thinking about how perfect and magical it felt.

We followed the parents who were walking with their kids fast asleep and hanging onto them. We took the ferry and then as we went on the trolley back to our car my nephew out his hands up in the air like we were on a rollercoaster.

We finished the night at the 24 hour drive thru Starbucks for some hot cocoa and then fell asleep too fast.

Disney: Why It’s The Happiest Place:

When I woke up the next morning, I hoped into the jacuzzi and thought about this experience – Disney is magical because your smile is met with a smile and everyone’s nice. Imagine a world where everyone is nice. Nice is nice.

I hope you spread the Magic this year where ever you are. To wear that velvet blue dress or red skirt and to wear it with arms that reach out and help someone with their bags and lips that smile back at a passerby, and patience in a time when there’s too many parties, too many gifts and not enough alone time and sanity.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I’m thankful for all of you – my loyal readers and inspiration and party goers. Let me know if there’s something I can do to make your spirits bright!

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Why Summertime Chi is Magical: Chicago Bucketlist

We wait – through the cold and wind and as we thaw out, our ray of light is summertime Chi. I always question why people love this time of year. People are quick to talk about the festivals or movies in the park or Lollapollza and I’m here to tell you while those all sound great, And I have some tips about them, there’s more to living in Chicago than that. I’m here to show you the magical aspects of summertime in Chicago. 

This is a list of everything I’ve loved doing in Chicago this summer. There is so much more to do, but it’s a good taste of Chicago’s summer from outdoor sports to beach days, to patios and Chicago’s rooftops.

1. Yoga (or any sport) in the park

Every summer in Chicago there are endless Meetup groups and also free Pilates and boot camps in parks throughout Chicago. The last series in Millennium Park is Labor Day Weekend!

2. Go to a wedding. If you don’t have an invite, you’re sure to see beautiful brides taking pictures on streeet corners or near Navy Pier. I went to one of the most beautiful weddings at the Ivy Room in State and Ohio St. this August. There were flowers hanging from the ceiling with tea lights and a live band. Going to a Chicago wedding is an honor.

3. Have a girl’s night in the city at museums with al fresco martinis. While summer is a great time to be outside, you might want to mix it up. One of the most amazing nights was having a girls night at the Chicago History Museum where we learned about fashion and then went a mile south to the Waldorf Astoria for cocktails al fresco and makeovers from Dior. Chicago has so many fun mixers like this and pulling off a multi-destination event could only be done when it’s still warm outside.

4. Go to a Chicago rooftop. One of the most memorable day parties I went to this summer was at Gino East’s rooftop where we had our hair done by The LISA app and ate delicious pizza with out vodka lemonade’s for the Chicago Instagram Influencers group, Chicagogrammers’ first birthday. The patio is so nice and has beautiful furniture for epic photoshoots.

5. Enjoy shopping on State Street or Michigan Ave. Summertime is amazing because you can actually start your shopping spree on State Street, then walk along the Chicago Riverwalk and all along the Magnificent Mile. Stores are always hosting events and having blowout sales. For instance Nike had a curvy girl fitness event on August 31, 2017 where they had a braid bar, martinis, wraps and a runway. 

For my shopping adventures. I went to Nordstrom Rack a few times and bought too many BCBG heels,  and then fell in love with a white blazer at Express. I walked all the way to Water Tower Place where I found my favorite party dress at Akira for $10. 

6. Get that mani and pedi. During the winter, your feet always are covered up with socks on them and your hands always have gloves. Summertime is that one opportunity to enjoy a fresh manicure. You don’t have to go with the nude polish if you don’t want to! This summer, I tried Groupon’s new beauty booking app, Beauty Now. In less than 5 minutes, I could book an appointment for the same afternoon without waiting. And that, my love, is nice.

7. Go to the movies. It wouldn’t be summertime without a summer movie. I had so many amazing movie experiences. If you haven’t been go to the VIP room at the movie theatre, the Showplace Icon Theatre in The Roosevelt Collection. They had red recliners and you can get dinner and cocktails there. It’s truly one of the best date nights I have had. Very comfy. The other spot to check out is The Music Box Theater. A little secret is that they have a bar and a game room and a gorgeous patio with twinkle lights. 

8. Enjoy the parks. Whether it’s Lincoln Park or Millenium Park or Museum Campus. Don’t miss the opportunity to sit and read in the park and soak up the sun. Talenti partnered with the summer in the park series and handed out thousands of free Talenti gelato on multiple occasions. So, free ice cream and sunshine. You can’t go wrong. Another favorite activity is seeing people tightrope in Oz Park – if you’re lucky, they’ll let you try it but you might need someone to hold on to as you walk across from tree to tree.

9. Work out. This summer I challenged myself and signed up for The Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2017. It’s a big commitment and I’ve ran everywhere from the 606 trail to 31st beach. Almost have 200 miles logged.

It seems that everyone is working on their summer bodies. It’s a good time to challenge yourself and try a new workout. One of the coolest workout experiences I had was at a new virtual cycling experience, Cycmode. The bikes literally swerved left to right with you and as you stare at the big screen it takes you on a journey going uphill and downhill. You no longer have to visualize hills.

If cycling isn’t your thing, there’s a place on the south side called Razzmatazz which has indoor bubble soccer and an adult obstacle course. You get to be a kid again but it’s also difficult to keep a bubble around you while playing soccer. Seriously, though, it was a fun way to workout. 

10. Go to a conference. Chicago has so many amazing conferences. One of my favorites is Techweek Chi – it’s a week long of multi-location parties all around Chicago’s tech scene. Check out my interview with the CEO here. 

11. Volunteer. I joined the Chicago Cares group for their volunteer day, where 5k people came together to connect and build relationships for a stronger, more unified city. Today we are painting murals and classrooms with positive messages at Burnside Scholastic Academy. Our collective work will save CPS $3 million in facility impacts! Love making a difference? Sign up for Chicago Cares 200 monthly volunteer projects at chicagocares.org.

12. Take a weekend trip to another Midwest city. While it’s hard to leave Chicago, it’s also nice to explore other cities.  This summer, I experienced St. Louis for the first time and it was amazing. They had a music festival going on and I got to try their famous BBQ and art scene. 

Sunday strolls. #stlouis #art

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13. Ride Divvy bikes. There’s nothing more exciting than riding a bike. I would suggest riding a bike on the Lakefront path but you can also ride down Michigan Ave. They did raise the price a bit (it’s about $10 to rent a bike for the day). I still think you should experience seeing Chicago by bike. 

14. Go to a baseball game. This summer I went to my first White Sox game and then I went to a Cubs game. Baseball games are exciting to go to – the city comes alive and I must say there is nothing quite like singing baseball games with excited fans in Wrigley. 

15. Eat ice cream. My favorite summertime treat is ice cream! I tried Bombobar for the first time and found out their shakes are actually frozen hot chocolate, which I tried and honestly doesn’t taste good. It’s very rich. Their gelato however is amazing and even better than Eataly’s gelato.

16. Go on a boat. This is always the mission. Chicago has a beautiful river and lake and it’s really nice to experience them while on a boat. I did the Architecture Tour for the first time and it was a great experience to not only look at Chicago’s architecture, but also learn the stories behind the skyline and how Chicago’s skyline will continue to change.

17. Go to the beach. Okay well the beach was actually amazing because I found a Pier at 31st beach where it was safe to jump off. Turns out you don’t have to go to Europe to jump off a pier. It was a pretty steep jump, but it was also one of my favorite moments of this summer. All of the beaches have a bit of charm to them. North Ave. Beach tends to be the most active with volleyball nets and the infamous, Castaways.

18. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. I have to say that one of the scariest moments of this summer was prepping myself to the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. I hate heights, so I almost didn’t do it. But the staff showed me the panic button in the Ferris Wheel. One thing you have to note is that this is an enclosed Ferris Wheel. So it doesn’t feel like you are as high up as you are. With your purchase, you get to see Chicago’s skyline three times before getting off. 

19. Try something new with your hair. I don’t know about you, but while summertime in Chicago is nice, my hair is not. So rather than putting it on my bucket list for another summer, I decided to do something about my hair and try Keratin treatment. I got in July 2017 and was sad to hear that you can’t go into a pool or the ocean with Keratin treated hair. Luckily, you can still go to the lake. I’m glad I did the treatment because now I just have to straighten my hair and I don’t need product. If I lived near the ocean, though, I wouldn’t have had the treatment done.

20. Go to a Foodie event or festival. I would be remiss if I didn’t add this to list. The best festivals of summer are honestly Taste of Chicago or Greek Fest (you can ride a camel downtown). But if you want a smaller scale foodie events, there’s Culinary Fight Club. I went to the BBQ edition where they had some of the top regional chefs make BBQ creations that you could vote on. They also had a Black Jack table and had ring pops in their goodie bags. The Thrillest also had a BBQ cookout for restaurants in Chicago. They made it into a country theme with a love band, string lights and Jenga. 

21. Date. Chicago, oh Chicago is known for its dating scene. Cuffing season happens right about the time when football comes back and Labor Day ends because everyone needs a cuddle buddy for the cold Chicago months ahead. But rather than dating and swiping this summer, I had more of a Grease Lightning experience – only dating one guy. And it was pretty magical going on date nights to steakhouses and The Grand Lux Cafe and having beach days and taking him to launch parties with me. I think everyone should experience a summer with a guy they like. Dating in the summer is so much better than any other season because you actually get to do things and explore the city together. Also, if you missed my segment on WGN radio – you can listen to my dating stories here.


1,000+ US Workers Share Their Thoughts on Taking PTO

Vacation is good for you, but does it look good on you?

With summer officially upon us, many employees are looking forward to their vacations, but paid time off (PTO) restrictions, lack of managerial support and stress upon returning can all affect that well-planned trip, according to a survey released today by leadership development and conversation experts at Fierce, Inc. Fierce surveyed over a thousand full-time employees across the U.S. and found some surprising variances in employee experiences around PTO.

While a third of respondents receive 20 or more vacation days each year, one in every five employees receives less than 10 days. Age, tenure and company size all play a large role—the lower the ranks, the less PTO granted.

And let’s discuss what PTO is for a minute – PTO can be vacation, but it can also be used for dealing with family matters, taking sick days, and volunteering of going to conferences. PTO is more fluid, but it’s still PTO – time away from work. So, in today’s digital age, is that a good thing because you can easily fix things in case of emergency or because you can travel and work for a company?

Let’s look at some of the survey’s key findings:

·      Post Vacation is Stressful: Two-thirds of responds noted they are either more stressed or have the same level of stress upon returning to the office than they did before vacation.

·      Co-workers are less-than supportive: Only 40% of respondents said their co-workers are supportive and encourage them to take time off

·       Time off varies widely:  Nearly a third of those surveyed (28%) have taken 3 days or less off consecutively over the past year, with another third taking off a full 5 days. Just 1 in 10 take 10 or more consecutive days off.

Post-PTO Stress: Stop Checking Your Email

For those that do take time off, however, the stress of work doesn’t stay away long, as returning to the office appears to offset any relaxation that may have occurred. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed are either more stressed or have the same level of stress once they return to the office. The main reported cause of this stress is catching up on missed work, followed by having to readjust to a work mindset and needing to resolve major issues that arose while away. 

While on vacation, half of all employees check in with the office, with 13 percent checking in daily.

Job Satisfaction and Post-Vacation:

There has been no change in the reported stress level upon returning from PTO since Fierce asked this same question of employees five years ago, indicating that post-vacation stress continues to be a concern. These numbers vary, however, when taking into consideration an employee’s current level of job satisfaction. Thirty-eight percent of those unsatisfied with work feel more stressed returning from vacation; just 14 percent of those very satisfied feel the same.

“PTO is a key benefit for any full-time employee, and one that most individuals take to heart as it is an essential component to striking a healthy work-life balance,” said Stacey Engle, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Fierce. “The fact that returning to work is a stressful situation speaks volumes to the lack of support many employees feel both leading up to, and upon returning from vacation. This is an issue all organizations should address to ensure employees are getting the most out of their time outside of the office and returning refreshed and ready to tackle what’s ahead.”

Company Support

Having PTO days is one thing, but receiving the support and encouragement to take those days is something else entirely. Over half of all respondents believe their managers support and encourage them to take time off, however, just 40 percent of employees believe the same of their co-workers.

This discrepancy is even more apparent when breaking down employees by job satisfaction and current income levels. Of those unsatisfied with their current job, 57 percent say no one encourages them or supports them taking PTO; just 18 percent of those very satisfied feel the same. Those in lower pay brackets have a similar experience: 45 percent of individuals in households making $50,000 or less a year say no one encourages them to take vacation, while less than 30 percent of those making $100,000 or more say the same.

 Impact of PTO on Loyalty

As a key benefit for many employees, just over half (56%) of respondents state that additional PTO would make them more loyal to an organization, with the other half not seeing it as a factor. This shifts, however, when taking age, position and tenure into account. The majority of those who are younger, in entry-level positions or are less tenured are receiving less PTO and claim additional PTO would increase their sense of loyalty to their organization.

“While offering a high number of vacation days isn’t possible for every organization, these results show that for those receiving fewer days, upping this number could make a big difference in overall satisfaction,” continued Engle. “This is a key area where open and honest conversations are key; employees need to feel empowered to ask for what they need, and managers must be open to hearing concerns of these employees. While it may not end in an extra week of vacation, the dialogue and mutual understanding will be beneficial in the long run for the individuals, and the company at large.”



5 Tips for Traveling Alone

Adventure. You want it, but should you go on a trip alone?

Let’s start with the fact that you can do anything alone. But when you are traveling alone, here are 5 tips to consider during your solo travel.

Choosing Your Destination

I’ve traveled solo both internationally to Paris and domestically to Seattle. I think that if you are traveling to any major metropolitan area, you should travel alone. But, I also have friends that take solo trips to the forest with their toddler or bike from Florida to California by themselves.


Pick an adventure that excites you.

Choosing a Place to Stay

When I travel alone, I like to stay in a hostel or in an Airbnb. With Airbnb, you not only get to stay with someone who might take you out for drinks or have dinner with you, but they also have great tips for getting around and secret spots to explore.

Airbnb also helps you plan for your trip ahead of time. Past travelers leave reviews and will let you know how they got around (i.e. we took $8 Ubers) and places nearby.

Lastly, a lot of people open their homes through Airbnb and you get to stay in unique places. I recently stayed in a mansion in Seattle.

In Chicago, I volunteer at Hostelling International, and hostels will put together outings and tours and have great guides to help you navigate the city. I stayed in a hostel in Paris and the same week I was there another guy was there for the week. While I was at fashion shows during the day and he was trying to become a chef in Paris, at night we did check-in on each other and share a few meals.

Of course, if you are traveling alone to get away and be pampered, I won’t judge you for staying in a hotel room and enjoying a Jacuzzi. On my first business trip, there was a Jacuzzi in my room. And, I’m not complaining about the experience.

Travel Light

It took awhile for me to perfect packing. And though I understand the value of always being prepared, I realized that I didn’t need to pack heels.

When you are traveling alone, you are also carrying your suitcase alone. So, travel light. Roll your clothes. Bring one less pair of shoes. You find that when you travel, you don’t need to bring your entire skincare system  or excess outfits. The only thing you really need is a phone and a charger and your wallet. Beyond that, try not to pack too many valuables. Travel light.

Read Travel Magazines to Plan Your Trip

Planning  what you do on vacation is probably the hardest part. If you are traveling and working, you want to find hotspots or cafes for Internet access. But beyond that, when you travel there are parks to see, museums, and then restaurants. So, how do you know what to see?

When I went to Seattle, I picked up a travel guide and discovered a lot about the city. But then it also had great recommendations for restaurants and insider tips like when to go there and a bit of depth into the ambiance. Travel magazines are great tools to find a local’s perspective and learn about travel apps and cheap flights.

But also, reach out to friends and see if anyone else has traveled where you are going.

Share Your Adventure

One of the most important things about traveling alone abroad or domestically, is to let someone know that you are going. When you travel alone, you may meet strangers and be staying in their homes, you may get hurt and you may lose your ID. It’s always a good idea to let a close friend of relative ave a copy of your passport or ID and then also know where you are going.

But beyond that, share your story. There are some great Snapchat travel bloggers who share their adventures.

My friend’s solo bike trip across country was one of the most inspiring trips to read about. He started a Facebook page and updated it so it felt like we were traveling with him.

“I was a boy who spontaneously grabbed a bike and although not touching one since my days in middle school, set out to cross the united states on it, sleeping in stranger’s homes and camping in five different states. I have swam with wild dolphins, sprinted up lighthouses, greeted the founder and owner of Chick-Fil-A, walked around the Kennedy Space Center, visited the gulf coast on the fateful day of Katrina’s landfall and still being able to observe Katrina’s aftermath five years later, explored a battleship, rolled through a handful of colleges, hiked up half a dozen mountains … and will soon see the west coast for the first time, after inexperiencedly biking close to 3,000 miles to get there,” – Kevin Willaman from his Facebook Page, Follow My Bike Adventure Across America.

You learn a lot about the world, about yourself, and about what you value when you travel alone. So, whether it’s a weekend getaway, a semester in Europe, or a year alone, I encourage you to share your travel story and connect with other travelers.








Why Traveling Alone Was The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

Traveling alone as a woman sounds scary. I recently took my second solo trip. This time, instead of internationally traveling alone, I took a domestic trip to the Pacific Northwest to Seattle. I ate by myself. I went to the club by myself. I walked 29 miles uphill and down by myself.

And you know what, traveling alone was the best experience I’ve ever had. Partially because Seattle was one of the best places to travel alone and partially because it helped me discover a lot about myself.

1. You Find Our What Makes You Sad, Happy and Awkward

When you are always around the same group of people and the same environment, you don’t always take a moment to realize what makes you really happy or sad.

When I first got to Seattle, I was happy at the airport – taking in the advertising of “best coffee” and seeing the faux fur embellishments on women’s jackets.

But then when I started exploring on my own, I noticed how everything surprised me. The anthropological side of me came out as I took in the scent of the forest, the drunk and high people climbing up the streets, the cream cheese that they put on their hot dogs and the wild beasts getting into a fight on the street.

While I liked exploring a new city, I realized that I felt uncomfortable and awkward. I acted like I didn’t belong. Like I was someone time traveling. So, after going into various bars and leaving, I went to a waffle bar at 11:30 pm and sat and read my book. I felt like myself again.

I also learned that I liked getting up early and going on an adventure all day and coming home tired at night. I stopped and found what gave me joy like getting my nails done, being on a ferry, or climbing up a hill and sitting in the forest overlooking the city.

2. You Take The Time To Enjoy The Moment

When you are traveling, especially for two days, you want to experience everything. So, you rush. But on this solo trip, I did everything I wanted to do and I stopped and enjoyed the moment.

I was walking to Oriental Park because I love modern art. But then, I saw the sunshine coming thru and followed it to a gorgeous park. And it was there that i discovered one of the most amazing views of Seattle. I didn’t realize how much feeling the sun on my skin would make me so happy.

3. You Discover What You Like To Eat

Whenever you travel, you have the opportunity to try new foods. Though I was in Seattle and I couldn’t wait to have a good cup of coffee, I discovered that I don’t like macchiatos, I like hot apple cider. But, I’ve always been one to be indecisive about coffee. 

And then I wanted sea food. My friend had traveled to Seattle and she mentioned the amazing seafood. So, I went and found a good restaurant on an island because there were no ferries to West Seattle. So, my seafood hunt ended when I sat and ate crab risotto. While it was fancy and well-prepared, I didn’t really like crab risotto.

My favorite meal of the entire trip was hot apple cider and butternut squash and kale quiche in a Seattle coffee shop.

4. You Become Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

One of the best parts about traveling alone is that you become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It took a lot for me to sit at a restaurant and eat. I found it boring. I felt like I had to be super interested in a book or my phone.  And then I realized that it was okay to eat alone. Mostly I found that sitting all by myself in a restaurant is not fun and it’s not something I like to do. I’m okay with drinking alone, but for the most part, I like sharing my life with others – which is why I love dinner parties so much.

But it was other things. Like I love taking photographs, but I’m always embarrassed that I take so many and that they are out of focus. It took an entire day, but the next day, I felt not only comfortable traveling alone, but comfortable with myself. I didn’t feel judged for playing in the water fountain or helping a man hang Christmas lights, or listening to rap music as I contoured and highlighted my face. 

Not only did I find out what I love doing but I actually enjoyed doing it because I stopped giving people power over me to judge me. Yes, I’m alone. Yes, I’m walking. Yes, I’m excited about this cup of coffee. And for the first time, I didn’t hide my emotion or become self-conscious. I just let myself live and enjoy.

5. You Do What You’ve Always Wanted

When you are in a new city by yourself, you get to be impulsive. You get to stop and take the tour and learn some history about the city. You get to stop for a cup of coffee or a danish. You get to stop at the book store and explore all of those books you never thought you would enjoy.

When you are traveling alone, it’s okay if you wake up at 6 am to read The New York Times. It’s okay to go home when you’re tired even if it’s 9 pm.

6. You Feel Empowered and Inspired

But most importantly, you realize that your life is inspiring and amazing. When I’m with other people, I always think they are doing things better than me and I’m doing everything wrong. I know it’s crazy to walk everywhere, but that’s what I felt like doing.

I haven’t been inspired to write in a long time, and this trip helped me realize that it’s okay to have passions and pursue them even though you may not be perfect or may not know how things might turn out. So, I’ve started writing again and being published again. 

So, it’s not that I couldn’t do any of these things in Chicago, where I live. Because I live alone and go to events alone all of the time, but it’s that when I was traveling alone, I was put in a new environment, that helped me discover different aspects about myself.

That’s what traveling does – it helps you find your place. It helps you find out who you are and do it on purpose. Of course travel with friends – I love traveling with friends, but I’m really glad that I took this trip to Seattle alone.

I do think it’s important to take some time for yourself to find out things about yourself when you travel alone.

Don’t forget these traveling tips for your first or next solo adventure.