One is definitely not the loneliest number when you travel solo. Solo travel is one of the most enriching and adventurous ways to explore the world. You discover new places and amazing culture and have a great time in your own company. Solo travel is not just about what you see and the experiences but those very special “me moments”. Why and how?
Women who know how to have fun when travelling solo do so because they know they’re the boss. Don’t want loll on the beach instead of taking the museum tour? Totally up to you. And it’s totally up to you to design the vacation of your dreams instead of having to consider everyone else’s wants. Are you a foodie? Go places that are on the cutting edge of the culinary scene. Like history? Explore ancient ruins of Europe, Mexico, or Asia. It’s your choice!
Women traveling solo don’t depend on others if they can help it. You can have fun and still be self-reliant and safe. Carry cash, a map, a phrase book, a guide book, and anything else you might need. You take precautions because even though you are an independent woman, you know your vulnerabilities - if you need help, seek out another women or a family, or duck into a restaurant to ask for directions or study your map instead of appearing vulnerable. Withdraw money from cash machines in the daylight on a busy street instead of after dark.
You may have planned a hundred destinations to visit, but you’ll want to rest and recharge when you get back to your temporary home-away-from-home. Don’t forget to consider hotel amenities that you don’t need a partner to utilize - such as Wifi or TV in your room; or a gym, pool or spa. Even better if there is a lounge with live music or a terrace where you can go to unwind but not necessarily be stuck in your room.
While it seems very brave and romantic just to drop yourself in the middle of an area and learn everything about it, most trips will require some advance planning. Most popular destinations require advance booking or preparation, or may require specific gear or clothing to participate. You can often book certain tours in advance, or arrange for transportation ahead of time.
Touring a city alone can lead you to some of the non-touristy areas where you can uncover local secrets, like that tiny restaurant with the scrumptious lasagna or that little museum that specializes in shoes. However, sometimes when you’re in a place for the first time, joining up with tour groups helps you see the local landmarks but also learn about the history and culture of the area. You’ll be with like-minded people who equally as amazed by their experience, and you can compare notes about what you’ve learned so far.
If you aren’t taking a vacation specifically to look for men, you’ll need to understand what the destination’s culture reads as cues. I know, I know, you should be able to do and wear and act the way you want but to be safe, you need to be aware of the messages you’re sending. In some countries, looking a man in the eyes and smiling is an invitation. Don’t be overly polite, and if propositioned, say “No” firmly and loudly. Take cues from how the local women dress and behave. If you ARE meeting a guy, choose a public and well lit place, and take the cab home, alone.
It’s easy these days to find out if you might be even remotely connected with someone headed in the general direction of your vacation spot. If you feel comfortable posting on a site like Facebook, ask who might be headed to your location; if not, use a group email. If you find someone, meet up for a friendly drink or lunch and share your impressions of your vacation spot. You may even be able to connect with a local using websites set up for just that purpose, and get a completely different perspective on the culture.
Some women travelers have trouble finding things to keep them occupied in the evenings when they aren’t touring or exploring the city. Going to the bar alone as a female can sometimes turn out to be stressful instead of relaxing. However, look around to see if there are any live performances happening, or go see a movie in a theater somewhere. Depending on where you are, street fairs or night markets can also be fun. And don’t be afraid to dine out solo; it may seem awkward at first but it’s a great way to people-watch.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to be a good photographer, or there’s a book you’ve been dying to read but can never find the time - do it now! Learn the language of the area you’re in, or learn to cook authentic foods from the area. Never rode on a scooter? Try it! Never ate squid? Give it a try! Make a list of the things you did on this trip that you’ve never done before for some great memories later on.
You see – no companion needed! What are your experiences of solo travel or haven’t you tried it yet?
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