Alone. By myself. Going solo.
Do those words cause you to silently shudder? They shouldn’t! This post is all about how facing your fear of solitude may be the exact thing you never knew you needed.
And the Wanderlust Begins
Needing an escape from the corporate world, I spent most of my 20s planning trips to exotic locales. And I went on those trips. Alone.
I had several friends get upset with me for not inviting them along. But there was something inside of me that craved an experience all to myself. I also figured if I was going to spend a decent amount of money and arduously plan out everything I wanted to see (Type A For Life), I had the right to be a little selfish with my time and who I spent it with.
And let’s be honest, too — we love our friends but 5 or more days together and you might need an extra martini or three to get through the trip.
If there was anything I did right in my 20s, and something I can actually say I’m proud of (unlike my dating history), it was taking a risk and traveling. Greece, Egypt, Thailand, Turkey. Being able to hear yourself think and not be on anyone else’s agenda is priceless. Those trips will forever be special to me because I discovered pieces of myself on each one. And that is the gift of traveling alone.
Before my traveling spree, I studied in London during college, was an exchange student to Nice and Paris in high school for a few weeks, and studied painting in Florence for a summer after high school. I credit my parents for igniting my wanderlust. They dragged three kids all over Europe and although it was straight out of National Lampoon’s European Vacation, it was an experience I’ll always look back on fondly.
When you’re bitten by the travel bug, it’s an infection you hope never goes away.
Tips on Going Solo
I had plans to meet up with a friend in New York a few weekends ago but her plans changed at the last minute. My husband still encouraged me to get away (thank you, hubs) so I did what I’ve always done when I’m presented with a few days of freedom — I drafted a list of all the spots I’ve wanted to see in NY, mapped them out, and listed out the order I’d see them, keeping opening and closing times in mind.
If that sounds extreme, become a mother. We are all about efficiency and not letting one moment go to waste.
Here are my three biggest tips if you’re traveling solo (and you should!).
1 // Plan out at least 3 sights you want to see.
You’ll notice these tips are centered around safety. You are fabulous. You are fun. You are fearless. But you are NOT stupid. It’s sad that women still have to be more mindful than men when traveling but that’s the age we live in.
Before you go anywhere, list out 3 sights or things you’d like to see. You don’t have to get as crazy as I do but here’s the secret — when you know where you’re going, you look like you have somewhere to go and that presence of mind does not draw unnecessary attention.
If you are aimlessly wandering down a street, glancing at your GPS every two minutes, you might as well have “TOURIST” tattooed on your head. You want to blend in. Planning a few things in advance will give you peace of mind and will also help you relax and enjoy once you get there.
2 // Leave extra cash, a credit card and an ID in the hotel room before heading out.
When you’re traveling alone, you must have back-up’s. I always bring another form of ID besides my driver’s license or passport, an extra credit card and cash to leave in the hotel room before I leave for the day. Pickpockets are common and the thought of not having any means to get back home is the last thing you need to think about when you’re on a trip.
Hide cash in a pair of socks in your suitcase. Bring a box of tampons and stuff an ID or passport there. An extra credit card can be hidden in a book you leave in your carry-on. Get creative but always have back-up’s. You can still be spontaneous and smart.
3 // Lose the heels.
This was painful for me to write but it’s been said to me before — if you’re traveling alone, it’s not a fashion show. Now, keeping Tip #1 in mind, there’s no need to full-on tourist it with fanny packs and clear ponchos. Just give yourself a break and taste the freedom of being in a place where no one knows your name and dress like you’re exploring. Because you will be!
I traipsed around New York in black Nike’s because I knew I was going to do a ton of walking and did not want to be slowed down. I have never been more grateful for a pair of shoes. My entire trip was made more pleasant because of them.
Throw that hair in a ponytail, swipe on the gloss and get out there!
I’ll be sharing more travel stories, tips and tricks in the coming year. Is it obvious I’m kind of passionate about it?? I hope you carpe that diem and plan a little getaway for yourself. You won’t regret it!