It’s my senior year winter break – this is my last month off of life before entering the real world (this was before I decided to attend grad school). I was not about to spend my last month at home doing nothing. I tried recruiting any and all of my friends and family to travel with me. At first, they seemed super excited for an adventure. But, they never made actual plans per usual, and they flaked out at the last minute. I’m used to it, which is why I’m also used to traveling on my own. After Christmas, I decided to take a trip to New Orleans.
It wasn’t a completely random trip. My original plan was to visit my best friend at Mississippi State. I was still able to visit her, but I was not going to drive 8 hours alone to just visit her (no offense, Meg – you know I would, but I prefer more).
The day after Christmas, I drove to Memphis and stayed with a friend for the night to split up the driving. I was able to see Memphis nightlife and feel like a real Southerner. Mainly, I was able to enjoy the warm weather and hospitality of my friend Mary Evelyn.
The next day, I drove to New Orleans and checked into my Airbnb. Whenever I first mentioned Airbnb to all of my friends and family, they were appalled and upset that I would do something so dangerous and risky. Disclaimer: I was able to fully review my entire home before requesting to book, and I read hundreds of reviews of the place. I was texting my host, who began renting out her place to provide young, solo, female travelers like myself a safe lodging space. We texted throughout my entire stay to make sure I was safe and comfortable. I would have never had this experience at a hotel.
I began my first night by trying an alligator sausage Po’ Boy, because why not start off my trip strong? I’m not a huge fan of sausage, but this was amazing. Also, the Saints won that night.
On Monday, I began my day by running. I ran several miles around the Audubon Park. I also passed Loyola University New Orleans. It was such a beautiful view with great weather, and it was the best way to spend my morning.
In the afternoon, I headed downtown on the streetcar to explore. I walked most of the French Quarter and fell in love. New Orleans has such a unique flair, that is almost seems like a foreign city. It was a blast. I had lots of good food, including my beloved beignets. I don’t discriminate against any sweets, but beignets are probably one of my favorite foods.
After sightseeing all day, I decided to go on a ghost tour. I wanted to explore the city at night, but I didn’t want to alone because that’s dumb and I’m not dumb (I know you’ve been judging as you’re reading). I have a feeling most of the stories were absolute bullshit, but it was still so interesting and fun, as my tour guide received her Master’s in history and talked a lot about the history of the city.
The next morning, I went on a run in the City Park. While it was a trek to get to the City Park from Uptown, it was totally worth the journey. The landscaping was beautiful and so uniquely Nola, while still offering lots of space to run. Pictures don’t do it justice.
That afternoon, I returned to the French Quarter to explore more. I also got some retail therapy at the outlet stores because #TreatYoSelf. This trip was a Christmas gift to myself, and who says I can’t buy more gifts for myself while on the said trip?
My favorite part of this day was eating dinner above Bourbon Street. I probably looked crazy asking to sit at the far corner of the balcony, alone on a “chilly” night, and then asking my waiter to take my picture, but clearly I don’t care at this point. I ate delicious crawfish and beignets while watching all of the hooligans on Bourbon Street. What more could I ask for?
When I returned to the Airbnb for the night, new guests had checked into the apartment for New Year’s Eve, and I loved being able to talk with them. One girl my age was from Canada and spent her winter break volunteering in New Orleans. Another couple was from Germany – actually the same small town where I have hosted German students in high school and almost studied abroad. small world, right?
The next morning, I was able to head to Starkville, Mississippi to finally stay with my best friend Meg. We have been best friends for 10 years, but I swear we only get closer each time we see each other, despite living hundreds of miles apart. We got properly shitfaced at Karaoke Night and had a great night together.
The next morning, I was off already to Illinois for New Year’s Eve. It was a short trip, but much necessary. It’s not about the places you go or the things you do, but about the feelings you experience. Being all alone, far away from anyone else, is the most liberating feelings. Not only do you realize your true space in the world, you also realize how important everyone back home is to you. It provides appreciation for the world surrounding you, but also appreciation for having the ability to explore, to travel, to experience, and to feel. I can’t wait for my next adventure in 2016.