Lifestyle Travel

My First Solo Experience in Portland, OR

A little less than two weeks ago, I finally decided I was going to commit to going on my first solo trip ever to the city I’ve been dying to visit–Portland, Oregon. The truth about why I booked my plans so late in the game is because I simply kept waiting to feel “ready” to book, while I would talk for months how I was going to do it. And I’ll be honest, I am NOT the type of person that says one thing and does another. I like to stay true to my word or better yet, walk the talk. So truthfully, I felt like a fraud for saying I was going to travel to xyz in the Fall but never committed to it. Until two weeks before my trip.

I arrived in Portland on Thursday in the afternoon and checked in to my hotel by 1:30pm. I stayed at The Society Hotel, which is a quaint little boutique hotel located downtown, more specifically near Old Town/Chinatown. This is the first time ever that I stayed in a non-chain hotel, so I was a little concerned with my whole experience with the stay. But to be honest, I ended up loving the vibe here and the European-style rooms (mine specifically was a private room with a shared bathroom). For someone who has never shared a bathroom with multiple people, I was new to this kind of experience and it was slightly out of my comfort zone, but that was part of my goal for this solo trip–get out of my comfort zone.


The room was cleaned each day and the bathrooms were always maintained properly as well, which I was slightly surprised by (tbh). So I have to say, this is a really great place to stay at, especially when on a budget because this hotel offers cheaper options as well with their hostel style bunkbeds.

I spent most of my first day just exploring the city and going off of my itinerary I made days before on a Google doc…lol yes, I do like to prepare well in advance. Most of it was just roaming through NW 23rd street, which is well-known for its thrift and boutique shops. I also stopped by Blue Star Donut and Barista for a nice bite and drink of coffee. And of course, I couldn’t resist taking all the Fall aesthetic photos when I passed by these gorgeous streets filled with beautiful Fall colored leaves. I ended my day with a (long) stop at the infamous Powell’s Bookstore, which felt like heaven to me, as a crazy bookworm. I ended up buying three books (pro tip: always ask for a used copy, because they are significantly cheaper and most are in excellent condition) and spent the rest of my night reading one of them.


Friday was another pure solo day for me and this time, I did slightly more adventurous and relaxing activities. I started my morning off with getting some work done at the cafe in my hotel and headed to Heart Coffee Roasters for some coffee and reading as well. I couldn’t resist grabbing more donuts from Blue Star, because hey–they are damn delicious and it was down the street from the coffee shop…so couldn’t resist! The one that I went to this day was just up the street from Heart Coffee, I believe in SW? My favorite part of the day was most definitely taking a walk through Forest Park and lucky enough, a stranger took a great photo of me with the fall leaves surrounding the walk.

With the social and digital world exploding, it has served as a great platform for me to network and connect with other creatives around the world. I was able to reach out to another creative before my trip to plan a full day of content creation on my last full day in Portland. If I’m being honest, this was probably my favorite day because I went to so many different locations AND didn’t feel tired by the end of the day compared to my other days. Julia and I started with some coffee at Good Coffee in Pearl District and took a Bird (my first time ever) back to her apartment, which was soooo liberating because I rode the scooter on the main street along with the cars since scooters are considered part of street traffic. We eventually explored Washington Park, which was literally in her backyard and then we headed to Forest Park for some more fall aesthetic photos. The dreamiest location by far was our last spot at Mt. Tabor Park on the other side of town, but only a 15 minute drive. The views from the top of the mountain were insanely gorgeous, just capturing the most beautiful aspects of Portland, Oregon.

Taking this solo trip was honestly kind of nerve-wrecking for me. It was something I had never done before but ALWAYS talked about doing. Which is part of why I truly ended up committing to this trip. But, the overall outcome and experience from this solo trip was so fulfilling and one that I will reflect on for awhile. I learned a lot about my abilities to get shit done, I created new relationships, and I saw a new side of the U.S. culture and way of thinking, which is very important to me. If you are ever considering taking a solo trip yourself, here are a few recommendations I have…

  • Create a full itinerary from morning to evening on what you plan to do or the places you will visit. I created one on a google doc so that I could always access from my phone or computer and could easily share with anyone just in case as well. I even marked the time I would be waking up and etc (yes, I’m that OCD lol). But having an itinerary prepared will help you waste less time and really know what your plan is for the day, especially when you are solely making all the decisions on the trip.
  • Share your location with a close friend or a few friends. I naturally have my location always shared with a select few, so for those friends I ensured that they knew I was going on this trip and if anything happened unexpectedly, I would let them know and they would be able to see where I am. This is important especially if you are traveling to a really far or foreign city. I call this having my “bases covered”.
  • Do research on the environment in the city/location and what to expect from the types of people there. For example, Portland is considered a more “open” type of city, with it being 420 friendly, which made me assume people were considerably more “laidback” here, which was quite true. It’s just important to know what to expect on how people act/talk in order to not be surprised by anything that may be typically unusual to you.
  • Know the locations to avoid! Ironically, my boutique hotel was located in a “bad”, slightly dangerous area, which was essentially my biggest concern, but it ended up working out fine. The specific part of downtown I was in had a lot of the homeless population, with many of them usually on drugs. I was advised not to walk around that area, especially at night and I took that into account to make sure I Ubered everywhere.

As always, I love going out of my comfort zone and doing things most wouldn’t usually do. But solo traveling teaches (or forces) you to be independent, make good decisions, and be a better planner + action taker in life. So next time you second guess on it, maybe consider the useful benefits that can result from it.


Emily Duong

Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, but currently residing in Orange County, California. Emily Elizabeth is an entrepreneur, athlete, and lifestyle blogger sharing her everyday lifestyle and healthy mindset.




  • aylaboswell

    I love how you edit your photos and design your blog 😍

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