It’s a New Year, again and I’m coming up on another birthday. The past year has been a major transition time in my life. I’ve moved, ended relationships and forged some new ones. This year is shaping up in a similar way and I’m anticipating more big changes. This has me thinking about taking a big vacation before some of them set in. I’m planning a trip to Indonesia or Palau for a couple of weeks. I want to do some SCUBA diving and both of these are supposed to be stunning locations.
I love going on dive vacations with Jen (LBDC Co-founder), but I may be on my own this year. This will be the third trip I’ve taken alone. The first was to Africa. No, that was not intentional. I decided to go away over spring break - a week before! There wasn’t much time to think or solicit a traveling partner. Africa was really calling me, so I did something I never do - I called a travel agent and let her make all of the arrangements. She found a flight with a 12 hour layover in Paris. I was ecstatic. I worked in Paris for a number of months, so going back to my favorite patisserie and walking around my favorite neighborhoods was really appealing.
On the ride to the airport, I said to my sister-in-law, “What am I doing?” She laughed and said, “I don’t know, but you’re going to have a GREAT TIME!” And, I did. I visited three safari camps and was adopted by travelers from other countries in each one. It was nice to meet new friends and share meals and travel experiences. I even met a woman who went on a helicopter ride with me over Victoria Falls! Traveling alone is a great way to meet others - I've been an adopter and an adoptee on many adventures.
I know what you are thinking - "I won't even go to a movie alone, let alone leave the country!" So, I've compiled a few thoughts about how to get over any reluctance you have about going somewhere alone. The first one is - take the first step! The first step for you may be dinner alone (I suggest taking a magazine or a book along) or going to a movie by yourself (it's dark, no one knows you're alone, and if you are a good movie watcher, you don't talk during the film, anyway!). Once you've gotten past the basics, move on to step two which could be a night in a hotel in a neighboring town (you don't even need to leave the hotel - order room service, watch a movie, or hit the gym or the spa). The important thing is that you start slow and set up a situation in which you will feel challenged and safe. Once you're ready to really pull the trigger, here's what I suggest:
1) Make a list of your fears about traveling alone. Talk yourself off the ledge. If your fears have real merit - decide on a game plan in case they actually manifest. Most likely, you will discover that your fears are probably not worth NOT going.
2) Decide what will make you comfortable - Is a tour right for you since everything will already be planned? Are you comfortable going someplace where people don't speak English? Are you comfortable renting a car?
3) I know many people fear getting sick - take meds you can't live without, check your insurance coverage overseas. Unless you are planning something risky, it is unlikely that anything major will happen to you. If you do get sick, you can be comforted in knowing that there will likely be someone happy to help you with medical assistance where you are lodging. I have never been in a place where there weren't people available and any time to help me with whatever I needed.
Looking back on my experiences in Africa and Hawaii (my second solo adventure), I was nervous - BOTH TIMES! When I think about why, I struggle to come up with anything that doesn't sound silly. I worried I might get lost, miss a flight, end up sitting in the hotel room because I was afraid to leave. The first two could happen while traveling with a friend. And, if I did end up sitting in the hotel, so what? At least I'd be on an adventure!
I'd love to hear your experiences with solo dining, traveling, etc! Please help us inspire women to get out and broaden their horizons by sharing your tips!
In addition to my passion for travel, I also enjoy reading about it! Here are a few of my faves, which will hopefully inspire you, as well!
Eat, Pray, Love
Tales of a Female Nomad