Whether it’s to celebrate a new job, get over a break-up, or just use your vacation days up, there comes a point when every woman needs to step out on her own and take a solo vacation.
Taking yourself out of your element and traveling on your own is exhilarating and freeing, not to mention an incredible way to heal, unwind, and treat yourself like the amazing woman you are.
Ready to go? Or a little scared? Here are six steps to help you make the most out of your inaugural solo adventure:
Avoid Romantic and Family-Oriented Destinations
Before you settle on a destination, find out if it’s perfect for either honeymooners or families with children. If it is, spin the globe again—unless you want to share your experience with a bunch of gushing couples or screaming children. Hit the beach in the off-season or rent a secluded mountain cabin—it’s easier to go out and find people when you want company than to get away from them when you don’t.
Wine & Dine Yourself
Explore cozy cafés, quaint bistros, or local pubs—this is the time you can really pick whatever food and vibe you’re in the mood for. And there’s still plenty to do when you’re dining alone: sit at the counter to watch your food being prepared, take along reading material or a journal, or enjoy people-watching and the fine art of eavesdropping. Use your smile to reach out and make contact with others if you so desire—you never know, your conversations with them may be the highlight of your evening. Then again, just sitting back and watching others can be pretty entertaining, too.
Talk To Strangers
Break the rules and chat strangers up! For those times when you’d like some company or a chance to gain some local insight, talk to people who seem approachable (use your common sense here!). Some of the most meaningful travel experiences come from spontaneous invitations to join a conversation or activity. And even if you don’t speak the language, a smile can go a long way.
Avoid Unwanted Attention
For those times when you want solitude or just don’t want to be pestered by someone, avoid eye contact and quickly move away from sources of irritation. And trust your instincts. If you are really bothered or scared, go into a store or hotel and explain that you are a tourist and that someone is annoying you.
When flying solo, you’ll also want to take extra safety precautions. Carry an international cell phone or satellite phone preprogrammed with emergency phone numbers, including the embassy. Avoid traveling to areas of political instability, and skip protests or demonstrations. (They might sound exciting, but things can get ugly really fast.)
While you’re traveling alone, be extra careful with your wallet—there’s no one to foot the hotel bill if you lose it. For added security and ease of mind, it is a good idea to travel with traveler’s checks instead of cash. And when it comes to credit cards, carry only one or two cards with you, have international phone numbers for the credit card companies and your banks, and keep copies of your credit card information in a secure location.
Traveling alone is a liberating experience. If it seems overwhelming or scary, keep in mind that there are plenty of women who vacation by themselves without a problem. Just be sure to be prepared for anything, keep your eyes and ears open, and most importantly, relax and have fun. We’re often made to feel like we need to be scared of that big, bad world out there, but I say: Laugh in the face of that fear and go conquer that world. And enjoy your newfound liberation!