It’s been over 40 years but I remember the first few trips I took alone like they were yesterday. I was so excited and nervous. At the same time, I knew it was something I had to try.
I would read stories about all of the wonderful places in the world and fantasize about going on those trips, never really believing I would actually go. Finally, I let my desire overcome my fear and I booked a short solo trip, not far from where I lived.
Now, four decades later, I am barely home from one adventure before I am planning the next.
Everywhere I go, women ask me how I do it, so, I thought I’d share some of my tips on how to plan your first solo travel adventure. Just a word of caution – it can be very addictive and can change your life forever!
Planning for Your Solo Travel Adventure
The first step is to think of something you enjoy doing. Do you like visiting gardens or parks, museums, outdoor activities or sporting events?
Whatever you like to do at home you will enjoy even more when you are away. I love to hike in the mountains so that is what I decided to do for my first trip. Having a sense of purpose helped to calm my nerves.
I recommend staying close to home at first; this will ease the stress of feeling like you are too far away. My first trip was only an hour from home and I knew if I didn’t like it or if anything happened I could easily leave; it was very reassuring.
Next, decide where you want to go, how far away and for how long. I began with just a weekend – drive on Saturday morning, go hiking, stay overnight and drive home on Sunday. It seems so easy now but at the time this was a very big deal for me.
Managing Your Bookings
Whether you are driving, flying or taking a bus, you will need to make arrangements for how you will get there and where you will stay. The Internet has made this process so much easier so you can research and book everything online.
I always check multiple sites before I make any travel arrangements. I start with Expedia and Travelocity and then check the specific hotel or airline website for more detailed information and the best rates.
Many airlines offer vacation packages that include airfare, hotel and car so it is easy to book all of them together. Before I book anything I check Tripadvisor.com to see the reviews from other solo travelers. I am very careful to make sure that where I am going is safe and that I will be comfortable.
Also, I make refundable arrangements. It can cost a bit more but I want to make sure that I can cancel without penalty.
Depending on where I am going and what the costs are sometimes I purchase travel insurance. Also, I always have a contingency plan, just in case.
Looking for Tours and Excursions
Depending on what you plan to do, you can either book organized tours or go independently. Many of my early trips were to visit lovely botanic gardens in various states so I would check into my hotel and then go from there.
I very often take walks in the park or gardens here at home so it did not feel uncomfortable to do this on my own in a new city. The one thing I always do is plan my transportation before I leave the hotel – directions, bus schedule, taxi etc.
Getting the Most from Dining Out
For some women traveling alone this can be a big concern. It is one of the reasons that I always book a hotel with a restaurant onsite. If I am feeling uncomfortable for any reason or perhaps just don’t want to go out I can order room service and stay in.
Early on, when I went out, I took a book or my journal to occupy myself if I felt bored or uneasy. Now, with phones and tablets, most of us have something available all the time.
Try not to be too distracted. A lot of people will talk to you when they see you are on your own but won’t interrupt you if you seem too engrossed in your phone.
Honestly, it has become one of my greatest pleasures. I always plan at least one night when I dress up and treat myself to a nice dinner out. I’ve met wonderful people all over the world and always look forward to this part of any trip.
Embrace a Little Self-indulgence
For me, this has become one of the best things about traveling on my own. I get to do what I want, when I want and always do something special for myself. It doesn’t have to be expensive just anything that makes me happy.
It might be a nice meal, massage, cute pair of earrings or just a nice warm bath with a glass of wine at the end of a great day. No matter what it is, it helps me remember that I deserve to treat myself with love and kindness.
Wishing you safe and happy travels!
Have you ever traveled on your own? If not, would you like to? What solo travel advice would you like to offer the other women in our community? Join the conversation and share your stories below.