What are your comfort zones alone? I can do anything alone….except travel!
Personally I love to be alone. After a while though I want to be an extrovert again which is a fear of traveling alone. It is one of my 2018 goals…..I thought I could do anything alone since I thrive doing things alone such as movies, dinners, even a drink or two at a local bar! I absolutely love shopping alone I mean I despise it with other people actually lol. But I was recently faced with the opportunity to travel to Cuba alone and I froze. There is no way I can go to Cuba alone with all of their rules right? But it’s one of the safest places for an American to travel abroad, yet I just couldn’t. I can literally travel to Los Angeles for a weekend alone and have the time of my life though! My comfort zone was not having it.
I believe the paranoia came from my US Navy port visits and the unlimited trafficking/customs training we received. Our number one priority was to remain in a group of at least two. Sometimes you would pair up with someone you didn’t even know just for the sake of getting off of the ship. I’ll start a checklist for traveling solo:
- Research the place! You can “fly by the wind”, but have a plan! At least a loose one that includes where to go in an emergency, lists of things you want to do, and “touristy” places.
- Let someone know where you are! Self explanatory. Close friends/family should have a copy of your itinerary.
- Know the customs before you go! That way if you are in a situation like my Cuba one, you will know that it is best to at least meet up with an online travel buddy than to go alone. Some customs are as simple as women covering up. For me, I would rather go with a group to a country with strict women rules to ensure I don’t overstep with my Western first world entitlement.
- Meeting new people. Specifically love interests, let someone know what and where you will be doing whatever it is you plan on doing. Judgment aside, sex trafficking is real. It is good to meet up with travel partners from travel groups you are apart of that have similar interests. I’ve read a lot of success from those and some even turn into lifelong friendships you would not have made otherwise because of distance.
- Popularity. Ensure when booking your lodging that it has multiple high reviews! Air b-n-b will provide you with ratings of the hosts along with honest travelers reviews, even detailing the location, amenities and availability of the host. Hotels websites obviously sell a dream but their stars don’t lie! And neither do the travel agent sites such as hotels.com/Priceline/Orbitz etc. They allow the actual paid customers to review honestly. RESEARCH! Also, some lodging is a shared residency/room (Air-bnb or cruises) Read the fine print and call ahead to request single occupancy, or book a different air b-n-b.
- Free Wi-fi. Self explanatory, especially overseas. Or at least plan on overage and data roaming added to your phone bill.
- Plan to set your alarm early. Yes you are on vacation but you can sleep in on your day off at home! Enjoy every second of your hard earned vacation.
- Plan some tours. A lot of them are on Groupon and affordable, just don’t overload yourself because some tours are draining! Research the tour because they will tell you what’s involved such as hiking or swimming and what you will need.
- Plan some “Me time”. Blog, beach, Snapchat, spa. Whatever floats your boat but make sure its what you needed.
- Do something different. When traveling with others it is hard to do the things you want to do because of the compromise so when traveling alone, fit that thing you wanted to do last trip in.
- Take pictures. You ever hear the phrase “If it’s not on FB then it didn’t happen”? Well you don’t have to post every picture but I will tell you from experience you WILL regret not taking any pictures at all, especially if it is out of pride because “that’s what everyone else does” or “I don’t want to miss the moment”. My first couple of years in the Navy I went to some bomb places, particularly Rio and I only have my memories, one of my only regrets. Don’t be like young me lol take plenty of pictures! Old you will thank you later!
- Keep it short and sweet. Now this one is my preference. Take as long as you need but keep in mind that vacations can turn into the twilight zone after a while, and you can run out of money and it can turn upside down. I like to keep some trips short to keep the memory fresh and fun!
- Stay safe! Remain positive and as long as your trip is researched and planned you will have the time of your life!
You can do it! Please email/tag me in any of your solo vacations I would love to feature them. Include a short description or journal entry.