“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


For the millionth time that week, I felt lost, hopeless, and uneasy. I had moved to a new city with no friends or family, and was beginning to feel the chills of February. Just before Valentine’s Day, me and the guy I was dating ended up “calling it quits” . So, I was ready to get the f*ck ASAP after that sh*t. And So, I did, and told no one until I hit the road that morning.

Thankfully, I had found a new job that past August so I could afford my quick and cheap Getaway to Cleveland, OH. 

Before I went on this road trip, I did some research on my destination and made sure my car was road ready. The most important things to me were: 

  • Safety
  • Hotel Reviews 
  • Restaurants 
  • Events 

Keep reading to learn more about my first solo travel experience…

Monday

I had plans to hit I-75 S at 10 a.m., but last minute packing had me on the road at 12:00 p.m. instead. I got to my hotel, Comfort Inn Cleveland Airport,  Middleburg Heights, OH about 2hr 30mins later. Good parking and a relatively smooth check-in process let me know my trip would be a good one, despite the overwhelming amount of snow on the ground and coldness in the air.

My king bed came with a microwave, mini-fridge, flat screen TV, Free Wi-Fi, and Free continental breakfast. I booked my room either on the site or through Expedia.com for about $52 USD Per night. Even better, there was shopping, food, and easy access to major highways right across the street. So, I decided to hit up the Kmart that was right across the street for disinfecting wipes, shower shoes, and since I had just turned 21, a gallon of Pink Moscato by Barefoot. 

Tip: When traveling to new places, keep in mind what’s in the area when booking your stay. Think about things like:

  • Do you want familiarity, where there may be a Meijer or Walmart nearby? 
  • How close do you want to be to the city? 
  • Who predominantly lives in that area? 
  • Are there any black owned businesses you can shop with nearby?

I headed back to my hotel to clean up, pre-game, and get dressed for a Valentine’s Day event I had found on eventbrite. Paid about $20.00 for my ticket, so a pep talk was absolutely necessary before going…and I didn’t know anybody at this function? Whew chile. 

Tip: Pep talks before going to new places and meeting new people can be sooo helpful. I suggest setting your intentions, being mindful of parking, and knowing when to leave.

Let’s just say that…next time, I know to be mindful of going to events that aren’t really for singles, especially when it has a theme like Valentine’s day. 

After I left the event, I was craving cajun, so I found a highly recommended restaurant called The Bourbon Street Barrel Room. Initially, I wasn’t going to dine in, but the ambiance and hosts were pleasant and inviting. A definite notch up from my experience at the V-day event. So, I decided to stay for a while and enjoy myself.  I ordered Johnny’s Famous Gumbo Bowl which was $6.90 before tax.

The gumbo slapped soo hard, I had to get some tuh-go!  (y’all see what I’m doing? lol) Now my only issue was the parking. Although they had valet, the restaurant is in a residential area so most of the parking spots were already taken by folks who lived on the block. 

Tip: Plan ahead where you want to go when visiting new places. I know there are many places to choose from, but it may be better to get a real feel of new places if you take the first day or two to do some slower activities. Especially when traveling solo and if it’s a quick trip.  

Tuesday

Usually I wouldn’t eat hotel continental breakfast. It gives me very much truck driver pit stop, only serving coffee, donuts, and dry a** cereal vibes. But if my memory serves me right, I had a blueberry bagel w/ some sausage patties and OJ. I also don’t remember eating around any truck drivers lol, but I do remember there were a few couples and families enjoying the breakfast too! 

Afterwards, I went to check out the Cleveland Art Museum Exhibition on Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. The beautiful thing about taking this road trip in February was that it was Black History Month. So, I knew I’d find something to get into. Also, the museum admission is FREE to the public, but since this was a special showing, I ended up paying about $10.00 for my ticket (I don’t remember how much the coat check was though sis). 

I truly enjoyed learning about not only the history of Michael Jean, but the mind that created the timeless art. I feel like I knew him in a past life and I remember running in the same social circles as him… (just thinking about the dreams I’ve had that pieced my conclusion together bring up sad feelings. It’s so deep ya’ll…I just can’t even get into here.)

Tip: For quick trips on a budget look for FREE exciting things to do. Libraries, Colleges and Universities, and Museums usually have FREE things to do that are open to the public. 

Since it began snowing, I decided to cut my downtown visit short and head back to my hotel. What better time than to try a restaurant dedicated to soups than in the winter time? I had never had Zoup! Before and there was one located across the street from my hotel. I think I got the chicken and rice and chili turkey? Don’t quote me, but whatever I ate, it was good.

Wednesday, check out day 🙁

Since I knew I was going to dread going back home, I made sure I gave myself something to look forward to on the last day. When I found out Siobhan Sudberry, founder of the BeFreeProject, was hosting a BeFree Meetup at the Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio, I had to pull up. If I remember correctly she’d introduce herself to us, telling us more about her purpose, and then we all introduced ourselves and shared a little bit about being business owners or aspiring to be. 

I remember buying a signed copy of siobhan’s BeFree Journal, and talking a little bit more with her about her mission. In the end, we took a picture and I had a brief interview with the social media coordinator of WBC. 

Tip: Don’t let your last day of your trip be a waste. Plan ahead for a lasting memory. Whether you take a picture at a historical site or a sculpture of the name of the city, or actually go to an event before leaving. 

Since it was early afternoon when the event ended I decided to check out another cajun spot in Downtown Cleveland called J’s Gumbo. I’m smiling as I type this because when I walked in the “workers” greeted me as if they hadn’t seen me in along time. I told them who I was, where I was from, and that I was actually preparing to end my trip. (For some reason when people hear you’re from Detroit, MI they like automatically respect you *Kanye Shrugg*)

They had me sample every.single.variation of their gumbo and cornbread before I even placed my order. That said, I can’t even tell ya’ll what my entree was. I know I had sweet bread with it though. 

When I recently googled the business it says it’s permanently closed. But they do have other locations around the country. My only issue with that location is or was…parking. Parking downtown was HE double hockey stick! Buttt, with love of my spirit guides I was able to get a spot right in front of the restaurant, only after stopping traffic for a good minute waiting for a car to leave that spot. 🙂

My final stop was Colossal Cupcakes. I had to get my fingers wrapped around a Red Velvet Cupcake Milkshake before leaving for good. Oh.my.gosh, it tastes like rich b-tch juice! Like you’re at a mansion sitting on someone’s backyard patio overlooking hundreds of acres of flowers and shrubbery. Lolol, ok I play all day, but it is good and worth the $6.00 (may cost more or less now)


I was soo not ready for my quick trip to be oveerrr! But I was soo proud of myself for even trying something different. Once I got to this point of the story, I realized I actually have traveled solo before to Washington, D.C. (Which now will be Black Girl Solo Travel Part Two: Women’s History Month at The White House) But my trip to Cleveland was a trip I planned on my own and paid for with my own money.  While in Cleveland, I even saw a few angel numbers during my travels: 313 (which is the main area code for Detroit and surrounding cities) and one that stuck out in particular as I was heading the BeFree Meetup was 7777. 

Since my first time going to Cleveland with my bestfriend (who is no longer that) around September 2016, I’ve been several times. 

Although it’s not the ideal vacation spot, I can say it’s vibrant year-round and I’m honestly ready to go back for a Red Velvet Cupcake Milkshake from Colossal Cupcakes 🙂 

Where is your favorite place to travel solo? If you haven’t done it, would you try it? #BeUnspoken in the comments!