For this week’s Stamped, Ire Aderinokun, a 30-year-old Nigerian, walks us through her solo road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She talks about how fulfilling it was, having a brief LA fling and documenting the entire experience.
This is her story, as told to Daniel Orubo, Content Lead at Backdrop.
Before the pandemic, I travelled every other year — maybe a bit more than that.
I would primarily go to a new city for a tech conference, but then I’d extend the trip so I could do more and experience the city beyond the event. Some of the most memorable places I’ve visited this way are San Francisco, Sweden, Paris and Agadir, a city in Morocco. I remember stopping off at Marrakech from Agadir and going on a hot air balloon ride; it was scary but fun.
I usually go on these trips alone, not because I particularly prefer it, but because it’s hard to find people who can just drop everything they are doing and travel to a different country with you.
That’s why for my birthday I try to plan a trip to a place with no visa restrictions, so my friends and I can go together. I couldn’t do that last year because of the pandemic, but the year before, I went to Barbados with some of my closest friends. Outside of moments like that, it’s hard to find time to travel with people. Thankfully, I’ve travelled alone so much that I’ve now grown to enjoy it.
My most memorable solo trip was in 2019, when I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I hadn’t been to LA as an adult, and I really wanted to experience that. I also rented a Tesla and figured a road trip would be a perfect way to test it out, especially the self-driving feature.
The driving experience was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I’m really good at planning, so I planned out all the stops I’d need to make to charge the Tesla. I also listened to Beyonce's Homecoming album and true crime podcasts for most of the trip. Funnily enough, one of the podcasts I listened to was about how they’d kidnap women who were alone in the middle of nowhere (and I was a woman alone in the middle of nowhere). Thankfully, my trip didn't end with me becoming an episode.
I did a lot of research on places I could check out during the drive. The first stop was the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, where there were rides, games and stuff like that. I won a Pickle Rick plushie, which was great. Then the next day I stopped at a notable bridge. It wasn’t exactly memorable, but I decided to check it out because it seemed like the touristy thing to do.
My next interesting stop was Solvang, a Danish-inspired city in California. This was one part of the trip I wish I had planned better because I arrived there on a Sunday, when most of the places were closed. But it was still cool to see this place that felt like a chunk of the Netherlands in the middle of California. From there, I stopped at a pier in Santa Barbara, drove through Malibu and, after three days on the road, I finally arrived in LA.
I was in LA for about three days. I went hiking to the Hollywood sign and did a dance class at a popular dance studio I’d been a fan of for a while. I also went on a few Tinder dates and ended up meeting this really cool guy. We had a little LA fling, which was nice, because he took me to some really cool places. We went to an art gallery; The Last Bookstore, which was really stunning; the art district, which had a lot of really great art; and a party in a warehouse. It was so fun.
The trip back wasn’t as eventful because I had already seen all the places I wanted to see on my way there; I did it in like two days. I think I should have spread it out a bit better — some stops on the way there and some stops on the way back.
I felt very accomplished once the trip was over. I was really proud of myself for doing it alone. I also loved that I made a vlog of the entire experience; it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. And editing the video was both fulfilling and frustrating. I hope I can make more travel vlogs in the future.
For my next road trip, I’d like to drive across Europe, but I know it will be more stressful. Still, I hope I get to do it.
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