A couple of years ago, I took my first solo trip, and on the first day, I was petrified. I kept thinking I had gone crazy and made the wrong decision, but it quickly proved me wrong; this solo vacation turned out to be, in the end, one of the best vacations of my life. Back then, I was dealing with one of the most challenging times in my life, and I needed a place where I couldn’t pretend to play superwoman. So I decided to go on a one-week solo vacation to my haven – The Caribbean. The idea was to go to a place without a familiar face, which sounded cool until I arrived. When I picked up my luggage at the airport, I saw people excited and happy traveling together in groups of families, friends, or couples; a big contrast to how I was feeling at that moment, definitely out of my comfort zone.
To my surprise, this solo trip quickly became the best vacation. Before traveling, I considered inviting a friend or a family member for a moment, but the truth was I didn’t want company. I needed time on my own to figure things out. Thankfully, a solo trip was the right decision to become friends with ME again. I tend to be too passionate when making decisions and needed to envision what type of life I wanted to build and in what areas I required personal growth.
Back in my hotel room, I went straight to the balcony doors, facing what I call my “blue medicine,” which magically heals all troubles: The beach. I undressed quickly, changing into a swimsuit and shorts, and with my hair down, I walked a couple of steps and got my feet in the water. I stood there for the longest I could remember. So blessed to be there, absorbing the colors, sounds, and smells of something magical as the ocean. I gave the beach all the old worries, and in exchange, the beach gave me an afternoon of peace, tranquility, and calm. After that great solo afternoon, I started feeling that everything was going to be okay. As the saying goes, it was just a bad moment, not a bad life. I don’t remember how many hours I spent walking on that beach with my feet tired. This solo trip gave me strength and self-love and made me discover new things about myself. We all claim to be strong, but how strong are we when we need to stand alone during our saddest moments? I consider this solo trip one of the best vacations because it wasn’t just a vacation but a lesson in rediscovering myself.
The main discovery was that I rarely felt lonely. On the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised to find happy moments on my own. I felt peacefully relieved not to have any company around me or follow an itinerary, and this was a beautiful surprise. If allowed to wish, I would love to travel on my own every year for a few days, regardless of my relationship status. More women are traveling the world after retirement. I’m guessing I’ll be one of them one day. Traveling (on my own or with someone I love) is one of those things that make me ridiculously happy. I blame New York City and my long walks exploring this diverse and beautiful place. New York City taught me to be at peace with my thoughts while appreciating my surroundings, a rare lesson coming from an extremely loud, chaotic, and fast-moving city.
I had dinner on my own at the hotel’s main restaurant; the option of ordering room service was available, but the nights were too beautiful to go to my room early. Also, sitting alone for dinner at a themed restaurant made me feel shy and out of place; these restaurants are smaller, private, and full of romantic couples. Instead, it was easy to be unnoticed after dinner at a big restaurant surrounded by families with loud screaming kids. My favorite was the bonfire nights at the beach. On one of those nights, I became friends with exuberant retired grandmas traveling together; they were just beautiful ladies with well-spoken Spanish and full of jokes, dancing, and laughter. I was curious about their lives traveling as friends, and they told me beautiful stories about their lives and friendships. The magic of traveling is that it makes people share their stories with others more easily.
I used to end my nights by going early into my room and sleeping like a baby for eight straight hours after so much daily walking. It was interesting. Solo traveling showed me how we tend to be more honest while on vacation; it was a fun observation and liberating to realize we were all escaping something from our daily schedules. Families were fleeing daily routines and chores; a workaholic guy was leaving behind the overtime hours and desks for a paradise of umbrella drinks; grandmas acting again as teenage girls who want fun and laughter, and the girl with the broken heart? She was not counting calories and eating too many ice creams while ignoring the whole male species during that trip. Solo traveling forced me out of my comfort zone. Everyone was a stranger, not a familiar face around for days, forcing me to have conversations with people of all ages. But, on the other hand, it was easy. Humans are funny sometimes; we open up and listen with more attention when we know we’ll never see that stranger again.
Some of us grew up following all the proper protocols in life: good daughter, good sister, good friend, good girlfriend, good student, politically correct employee. On the other hand, under that pedestal, we placed ourselves on this whole list of limitations in the name of social safety and well-behaved norms. As a result, we went through life missing the discovery of new places and people, lacking the courage to change a career while also sabotaging our wishes and dreams because we chose our comfort zone, even if that meant not living a rich life. After my first solo trip, I discovered that when it came to travel in the past years, I always waited for other people’s plans and was subjected to other people’s itineraries and calendars. As a result, the vacations I always wanted never happened. Solo traveling gave me a new freedom of living under my own curiosity with a growing sense of adventure. So let’s not wait for the right person or moment to take our dream vacation. In my opinion, solo traveling is an experience that increases your happiness and personal growth.
My Favorite Books On Solo Traveling
Solo Traveling – Safety Tips For Women
Not everything was a good solo traveling experience; the problem with women traveling alone is that we are traveling alone. In parts of the world, men see a woman traveling alone as an easy target. My tactic is usually to ignore men who think like that, which works out most of the time. But women also need to be extra careful, connect with our intuitions, and read body language and vibes while never sharing with a stranger we are traveling alone. The New York Times recently published how more women feel motivated to travel alone each year and still how dangerous it is for us because some men still don’t respect women traveling on their own.
Solo Female Traveling Safety Tips
Sometimes, during the day or after dinner with a friend, I take public transportation on my way home. My favorite thing is to explore the city on foot, discovering architectural corners and places by myself. As a woman, I need to be extra careful while walking in the city but at the same time, avoiding living life because of fear is not an option for me. Therefore, I have always been extra cautious of the places and people in my surroundings, and I must say I never found myself in real danger; I attribute this to the fact that I watch my back and don’t trust strangers easily.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Stay away from your cell phone while walking, avoid wearing your headphones in unfamiliar locations and be aware of your surroundings. Some situations could be avoided and prevented with extra observation and alertness; keep your cell phone handy in your purse or pocket if you need to make a phone call quickly. Research in Google Maps before stepping out on unknown streets, constantly research the route or place you’ll visit first, and avoid asking for directions from a stranger.
While on vacation, ask for a tour of your hotel upon arrival and become familiar with the area and nearby locations. Find the nearest public transportation or taxi stops if you are exploring big cities, and share your Uber location and trip routes with someone familiar. Track your path and be vigilant if the driver deviates from the road. Memorize the name of one hotel personnel; this person could share local news and alert you on which streets to avoid.
Keep Your Location Away From Social Media
Never disclose the name of the hotel where you are staying on social media in the present; always do that after checkout or when you come back from your trip. Or never!
Stay Away From Drinking
This advice is the most important. While having a great time on vacation, drinking becomes part of having fun; if you are a woman traveling alone and would like to enjoy your favorite glass, then order the drink in your hotel room and enjoy the safety of your room environment behind closed doors. The risk of drinking in public places is that drinking reduces your alertness; for example, you might have trouble noticing if someone is watching or following. I rarely drink because I’m a light-headed drinker, and I must say that not drinking has been a blessing when it comes to solo traveling. Do you want the recipe for disaster and danger? Here it is: alcohol + solo traveling as a woman. Avoiding alcohol while traveling solo is important for many safety reasons.
Share Your Itinerary
I share my itinerary with my family before traveling. A courtesy call to a friend/family member on the first day, saying that you have arrived well, is a good idea; they will be at peace knowing that you are okay, and you will also confirm your arrival and location.
Never share your hotel room number. If someone asks you if you are traveling alone, tell them you are waiting for the rest of the family members to arrive. Solo traveling at an all-inclusive resort is tricky because most guests are families, but these hotels provide their guests with all-inclusive free drinks. And free drinks make people drink above normal alcohol limits. As a result, there might be more drunk people around at night than usual; always be aware before entering or leaving your room.
While researching affordable Airbnbs, I discovered an alarming increase of Airbnb owners keeping cameras inside Airbnb rental properties without telling the guests about these cameras. [This is just me and how I think] As a woman traveling alone, if I can’t afford to pay for a good hotel where I might feel safer, I won’t travel. Unfortunately, cheap can become expensive pretty fast when we find ourselves in dangerous surroundings; safety always comes first.