“I have wandered all my life, and I also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” -Hilaire Belloc
Venturing out on one’s own offers many wonderful gifts to the traveler. Last week in the first part of the series, reasons were shared for choosing to travel alone, and this week I’d like to share how once you’ve made the decision to go wherever your heart wants to take you, to do it successfully. Let’s get started.
1. Plan Ahead
Before stepping out the door, do your homework. Just as luck is not something that magically occurs unless you prepare for it, neither is a wonderful, relaxing and fulfilling vacation. While you can always tweak, change and edit as you go, you will save yourself unnecessary stress, frustration and panic by coming to understand the language and customs of your destination, as well as how to get around, what to wear and what is available to do, eat and enjoy. Organize all maps (hard copy and/or digital) for easy access while you are traveling. Lastly, prior to packing, have a look at the weather to determine what clothing will be necessary in order to free up space in your luggage.
2. Sign up for Day Tours
Schedule in advance day tours that focus on your curiosities or interests. Enjoying a tour is a great way to meet fellow travelers with the same interests as well as become more knowledgeable about your passions.
As I’ve been planning my trip to Paris recently and have been wanting to take a day trip into the French wine country. I recently discovered two great websites that organize day tours (here and here). Maybe you’re more interested in food than wine, seek out a food tour – these are becoming more and more popular. Don’t need to entertain your tummy? Try a walking history tour, bike tour or boat tour. What amazed me is all of the many options available. Seek and you shall find!
3. Enjoy Great Seating
This past March I traveled to New York City and saw my first Broadway play, and what I discovered is that even if you buy last minute tickets, you still can find a great seat. Understandably, the earlier you can reserve the better, but don’t think you are too late even the night before if all you need is one ticket. Situated in the orchestra section not far from the stage, I couldn’t believe what was available.
4. Incorporate Enjoyable Routines
If you’ve just begun to travel alone, you may have pangs of loneliness simply because it’s something new. Understand that this feeling will pass quickly especially if you have places to go and things to do. Another failsafe way to ensure that such feelings pass more quickly or do not occur at all is to continue to enjoy daily routines that bring you pleasure, sanity and calm.
For some, it may be cooking your own breakfast in order to feel satiated, but not too full. If this rings true for you, take an afternoon and shop the local markets, pick up the basic supplies and stock your fridge for the duration of your stay. For others, no matter how much walking you do, you may still need the rhythm of your daily run. Be sure to pack your trainers and savor a new historic and memorable route. Whatever routine calms your mind, welcome it into your travel itinerary.
5. Limit Travel at Night
As a woman while traveling alone, be smart about when you travel and where. Limit traveling at night, and if you do find yourself finishing dinner at a fabulous restaurant and the moon is out as you begin to head home, hail a cab. For a bit more money, you are safe and securely returned to your accommodations. Cheap insurance.
6. Take a Taxi from the Airport/Train Station at Night
A similar piece of advice to #5. Upon arriving at night into a large city where public transportation is available, opt for the cab, not the subway. Especially if it is some place you’ve never been and you will most likely stand out as a tourist.
7. Dine Alone, Without Feeling Alone
Earlier this year I shared a handful of reasons for choosing to dine alone, and this certainly includes while you are traveling. I’ve often found it to be easier to dine alone while at a foreign locale because everyone is a stranger, and it’s easier to let go and just relax. What is a treat about dining alone, for me most recently, in New York City, Portland and Paris, is that you don’t feel alone. Many others dine alone as well during the day, and I thoroughly enjoy watching the street traffic, conversing with the waiter or losing myself in my reading and the beautiful atmosphere.
8. Dress to Fit In
If you love fashion, you’ll see this piece of advice as a challenge or an opportunity to expand your wardrobe. Kidding aside, depending upon where you are traveling, be cogniscent of the social norms, don’t wear clothing that invites trouble and do your best to be respectful of the culture you are visiting. After all, you’re there to see, learn and discover what makes their culture unique, not impart your values on them.
9. Do Not Disclose Travel Status
Rick Steves and many other travel gurus recommend keeping your solo traveling status to yourself. If asked, mention that you are meeting your boyfriend/husband/family in a few minutes, or even wear a pseudo wedding ring if it will make you feel more comfortable.
10. Know Who You Can Trust
If at any point you get lost or have a question you can’t answer on your own, seek out information from fellow women, mothers, families or a person in a position of security – police officer, etc. If you are needing significant help, know the contact number of the local US Embassy (click here to see the entire list).
11. Leave a Copy of Itinerary Behind
While you are choosing to travel alone, the people that you love and support you should be given a list of contact numbers of your accommodations, flight #s, dates, etc. An easy way to create this is to use the app Tripit, which simply sends the itinerary you’ve created for yourself via email to your desired contacts.
12. Relax and Enjoy
There are two general types of travelers, those who travel to relax and those who travel to explore. Perhaps you are a bit of both. Regardless of why you are choosing to travel, trust your that you’ve done the necessary planning and allow yourself to let your trip take you where it wants to lead you. No matter where it leads you geographically, if you allow it, your solo travels will always lead you to uncover your most authentic self.
What a wonderful, priceless gift we can give ourselves.
To all my readers last week who shared their experience having traveled solo, thank you so much. And please do share again today either in the comments below or on The Simply Luxurious Life Facebook page tips you’ve discovered to travel solo safely and enjoyably.
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