The Amazing Benefits of Traveling Solo
If you’ve read our post on eating alone, you know we’re fans of putting on our brave girl pants and doing things solo. Traveling solo can and will change your life – maybe even Eat, Pray, Love style. If you’ve been debating a trip sans-companion, the answer is Yes. DO IT. It can be empowering, refreshing & liberating.
Now is the time! According to a 2015 study by Visa, 1 in 5 adults journeyed on their own on their most recent leisure trip, and you can too.
Tips for Traveling Solo
You’ll enjoy your trip more if you are prepared, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind as you set out for your awesome adventure.
Make a plan
Driving cross country, flying out of state, riding a train or biking – the method of transportation that’s best for you depends on time and money. Neither are easy to come by. Create a schedule and book places to stay (so you don’t end up in a sketchy Norman Bates motel), things to do during pit stops or layovers, ways to entertain yourself during travel, and any other logistics. When traveling alone, sometimes it’s nice to break up the trip with anchors of other people. Maybe extend a business trip to Florida, so that you’ve had work and colleagues for part of it. Or plan part of your trip around seeing your aunt who lives in Atlanta, then take a few days to explore the South on your own.
Especially when traveling solo, it’s wise to pack minimal items regardless of transportation. You’ll be lugging your baggage all over, and you’ll want to save your energy for vacation enjoyment, not burning yourself out toting your stuff around. Besides, smart girls know how to travel & pack light. Build your wardrobe around a few key pieces and 1-2 colors (black, grey, white) with 1 accent color (a shock of red, perhaps?). When it comes to shoes, try to limit yourself to three pairs or less. Yes, we know that’s a challenge, but shoes take up a lot of valuable real estate. Save some space for vacation shopping finds, and remember that you can almost always buy anything you forgot.
It would be pretty cool and rom-com to meet someone interesting right away and have someone to spend your whole trip with. Just in case your Lindsay-Lohan-circa-2004 day dreams don’t pan out, bring a good book along for times when you need it. Goodreads has lots of great suggestions for vacation reading, and it’s a great time to learn something new or catch up with the latest faves. Download some TV shows and movies, so you’ll have great stuff to watch in airports and hotels. It’s great to push yourself into a new genre and explore not only literally on the trip but through the mediums of books and film.
Keep an open mind
Keeping an open mind and sense of humor is key when traveling solo (or with others, for that matter). You’re going to experience delays, flat tires, and grumpy, smelly passengers. You’re also going to experience different cultures, foods, attitudes, scenery, and weather. If you set an intention to stay open and curious, you’re much more likely to enjoy your time – even if it’s not exactly what you envisioned. It’s often the things that don’t go according to plan that make for the best memories – and stories!
Consider safety issues
The one downside of traveling solo is that you don’t have someone who’s watching out for you. The reality is that women have more to be concerned about than men do, particularly when they’re alone, so it’s a good idea to take some sensible precautions. Don’t announce your room number or show your key to anyone. Dress and act appropriately for where you are. Many foreign countries (and even areas of the U.S.) may be more conservative than you may be used to. Read up on the conventions so you don’t get harassed and aren’t doing something disrespectful without even knowing it. Pay attention to your surroundings, and consider keeping your valuables under your clothes or in a cross-body purse. When traveling alone, opt for earlier nights and save getting loaded at raves for when you have your posse with you. Don’t get us wrong: we’re all for women being empowered to do what they want – AND we want you to be safe while you’re out there.
Whenever I travel solo, I always have my camera with me. Even in the most foreign of countries, where I share neither culture nor language, a camera is a social lubricant. If I’m feeling out of place there alone, I take photos – then I’m a photographer, not a weirdo. When I take photos of people, I can show them in my camera, sparking connection and conversation. (Always ask people for permission to take their photo, unless it’s a general crowd or something like that. In some cultures, it’s very disrespectful or even forbidden to take photos of people.)
Take this opportunity to enjoy yourself. Reflect and learn from your past, think about all
of the possibilities of the future. Many people gain powerful insights when they travel because they allow themselves the time and space to open up their thinking. Soak up every moment, and be present for it all. Let your stress go, and appreciate this great opportunity.
Let us know how your solo travels go – we’d love to hear where you were and how it went.