I absolutely love traveling to other countries far and near, experiencing new cultures and soaking it all up. If you’re like me than you probably jump right to international destinations, while bypassing the hidden gems in your own country. Too often we bypass these wonders to go see the wonders in another country. We should, however, be taking advantage of the gems in our own country, while also exploring other countries. Solo domestic travel can also be a great gateway into solo international travel. Waiting for your travel buddies to see the world, can mean you never get to see the world. So what better way to get comfortable with traveling alone, than to start small, familiarize yourself with solo travel and be a tourist at “home”.

Living in New York, it’s easy to forget the cities that aren’t New York or Los Angeles (which I’ve been to), but I am challenging myself to see more states from here to California and not just the popular ones or those that are close and easy like New Jersey.This is not to say that I haven't travel in the states before, but, very rarely, was it for exploratory purposes. To date, I’ve been to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Carolina, Texas, California, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Florida and passed through Delaware. Most of these trips were to see family or were taken with family, excluding Florida, California & Connecticut and I surely didn’t get to be a full fledge tourist and see all that these places have to offer, but visiting was a good experience, nonetheless. So I’m, now, on a mission to go to at least 5 states that I haven’t been to before and actually explore them, before next summer 2019. I hope this gives you some inspiration to start your own list.

1. French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is absolutely first on my list of places to visit, simply because of the energy that comes from the French Quarter also known as Vieux Carré or Vieux Carré Historic District. It is the oldest district in New Orleans, and is so rich in culture. It’s so authentic to its history and French Creole culture that you can’t help but love it. Witnessing a glimpse of that, for myself, would make my whole entire year. You always see New Orleans on T.V. and it’s like this magical place, with beads, dancing, drinking and fun, but what I always hear from people who actually visit is that is was truly a memorable experience. Something you can’t find elsewhere. I also really really really want to participate in a second line parade. I think I’d do phenomenal. But most importantly, as a black woman, something about French Quarter looks like it’ll make you feel connected and witness real black culture and history. If I can get all these vibes from witnessing other people visit New Orleans, I can only imagine what vibes I’ll get being there myself.

2. San Francisco, California

Even though I’ve already been to California, I’ve only visited Los Angeles, so San Francisco would be a completely different experience for me. I’ve had a fascination with the Golden Gate bridge, ever since I saw it in the theme song of Full House. The Golden Gate Bridge, while beautiful, isn’t the main reason why I want to visit San Fran. Alcatraz prison is the MAIN reason why I’m so intrigued to visit San Fran. I’ve always been obsessed with reading about the mob and old time criminals, many of whom ended up on Alcatraz, like Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, Alvin Karpis, Bumpy Johnson, Whitey Bulgar, etc. This resulted in San Francisco being number 2 on my list. What fascinated me even more was reading about the escape from Alcatraz orchestrated by Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin. There is even an Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, that draws competitors, in part, because of the mystique of Alcatraz Island. Aside from that, San Francisco is similar to New York, in many ways, but from what I hear San Francisco has a unique vibe to it. I’m not sure if it’s a hippie vibe, tech city vibe, young people living carefree vibe, or tolerance to everyone vibe, but it definitely makes me what to find out.

3. Grand Canyon & Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I’ve always wanted to visit Arizona, just to see the Grand Canyon and experience the heat...I’m weird like that. It always interested me, because it was so different from New York, but similar to the Caribbean, temperature wise, other than it is a lot of open space, rock and peaceful skies. The complete opposite to the sky scrapes and lit skies I’m used to seeing in NYC. I heard about my friends going on family trips to the Grand Canyon or I’ve seen it on T.V and in movies, but never with my own eyes. My parents would typically take us to the caribbean, so we didn’t get to go on cross country roadtrips in the family RV. Some of my readers, may be thinking I’d rather be going to the caribbean than the Grand Canyon, but I’d personally want to have both experiences. But now, I’m making it a priority to see these places. While doing research on Arizona, I also found Antelope Canyon, located on Navajo Land. I read that they also have tour guides that educate you on not just the Canyon, but Native American history. For someone who doesn't know much about Native American history, learning about it while standing on the land that holds this history would be an enlightening experience I need to have. It’s a perspective that it’s entirely foreign to me and to learn about an ancient culture is everything that I love about traveling to new places.