The freedom and flexibility of traveling alone can be a rewarding experience and has been a way of life for me for years.
One of my most memorable solo trips was a five-day getaway to Cozumel. I had just put in a staggering amount of extra time and energy transitioning into a new high-profile promotion. Feeling like a ticking time bomb, I needed to get away for a long weekend, even if that meant going it alone. When I came up with the idea of taking a mini vacation, my husband couldn’t get away due to prior commitments. We agreed that I should go away to recharge my batteries, even if he couldn’t. The best choice at the time was an all inclusive resort in Cozumel, Mexico. All inclusive meaning; everything – food, lodging and entertainment were on site in a safe vacation community. The plan: read a couple of trashy novels, sleep, and chill out on the beach. For the majority of the trip I was completely quiet. Practicing silent meditation for several days helped me get back to center. On the last day of my sojourn I was ready to socialize and met some lovely German women poolside.
As long as you have a keen sense of awareness and stick to destinations that are safe, vacationing alone does not have to be daunting. When I traveled to Mexico, the only time I left the gated community was for a snorkeling trip at the Palancar Reef. Admittedly, I would have ventured off site more had I traveled with my husband. BUT, the intention of this particular trip was to travel to a safe destination and allow for pure, unbridled peace and relaxation.
When you travel on your own it doesn’t really matter whether you are an introvert or extrovert. An extrovert can meet many new people, and the introvert can simply mind their own business. If you are already comfortable dining and exercising on your own, traveling solo may be a natural next step for you.
Another notable solo adventure consisted of a long weekend in San Francisco exploring China Town, writing poetry while sprawled out on the lawn at the Palace of Fine Arts, sampling delicious clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl at Fisherman’s Wharf and touring the beautiful grounds and eerie facility of Alcatraz prison. Then there was the time I flew to New York City about eight months after 9/11. Allowing for extra time to visit and pray at the devastating site of Ground Zero was a priority. This solemn heart-wrenching experience led me to a walk through Battery Park to catch a Ferry to Ellis Island and marvel in the beauty of the Statue of Liberty. I am still moved by the memory of the experience. Deep sorrow followed by an awareness of intense hope and liberation.
Acting on an innate sense of adventure is nourishing to your soul.
Women are estimated to comprise 50 percent of frequent fliers, according Laura Begley of Travel & Leisure magazine. If a woman has a family, she may make 70 percent of all her family’s personal travel decisions. Forty percent of business travelers today are women, while just thirty years ago female executives comprised only one percent. A glance around any airport or train station confirms things have changed.
Among the leisure-travel crowd, “We find that women solo travelers take comfort from going in a group,” said Begley. “Women want to go to exotic places, they want to have exotic experiences, but they feel much more comfortable when there’s a guide or an experienced person there to make them feel safe in a foreign country.”
While writing this article, I interviewed several women to get a better sense of why some women are uncomfortable traveling on their own. I posed the question, “When you consider all of your travel options, why wouldn’t you go away on your own?” The top three reasons were: vulnerability to theft, harassment, and loneliness.
Here are some recommendations to overcome travel anxiety and leap headlong into solo wanderlust:
Do your homework in advance
-Learn as much as you can about your destination as possible, especially when traveling to a foreign country. Your travel agent can help you make the best choices for your solo journey.
Reserve a hotel in a safe area or book an all inclusive resort
-Ask the concierge about where – and, more importantly, where not – to go.
Make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you will be away
-It’s a good practice to leave your itinerary and a copy of your passport with a close friend or relative.
Always travel with heightened awareness to avoid harassment
-Awareness is the key to safety whether at home or abroad. If you are on your own, stay out of nightclubs and plan to wear conservative clothing. The key is to not draw extra attention to yourself.
-Set up your rental car or shuttles in advance. Make sure you have a good map and bring along your cellular phone. If you are don’t have a rental car, use taxi service to get to and from your destinations at night.
– Carry a limited amount of cash when you travel. Buy travelers checks, carry one credit card and keep the rest of your cash and valuables in a hotel safe. I recommend carrying or wearing a knapsack instead of a purse. Investing in a money belt is also a smart way to keep your money safe.
A little bit of research and planning will allow you to set off on your journey with confidence.
Some of the perks of traveling alone include, making decisions without a committee, embracing a new found independence, meeting interesting new friends, and experiencing new and delightful adventures.
If you think you don’t have the courage to honor your adventurous spirit, start with a solo day trip. Then you can graduate to a weekend away. After a few excursions on your own, you will be a seasoned traveler ready for an independent holiday wherever you choose.
Recommended travel websites and blogs to fire up your imagination and help you plan your sojourn:
Experiencing new and exciting frontiers, whatever your interests may be, is a woman’s rite of passage. Every woman owes it to herself to meet and embrace wanderlust.