The Solo Traveler
Photographed By Ann Wilson
Dear Advice Town,
Traveling alone freaks me out! When I was younger, the world was my oyster! I stumbled down streets, into bars, and crazy situations. Now, I break into a nervous sweat just thinking about dining out by myself.
Desperate but Never Alone
Fear has visited me on several occasions as I grow older, and more often than not he decides to stay the weekend and rearrange my furniture.
Of course you are scared! Age can have that affect on anyone! It instills fear in you because now you are much more aware of your frightful surroundings. The invincibility of your youth has faded and you are left wondering if you really are Wonder Woman or simply just a girl in costume. Rest easy, you will always be a superhero.
So let's whip around to the positive side of traveling solo for a moment. Shall we? No one is screaming at you for taking the wrong train, or impatientely breathing behind you as you try to find the right travel sized toothpaste. You can wonder the streets without mindless chatter. You don’t have to feel guilty about succumbing to the invisible force of persuasion into yet another Urban Outfitter while in route to the Art Museum. You can hear your own thoughts, tune into your intuition, and follow your heart without someone inadvertently telling you they have to pee, eat, find a bank, or change clothes before you take one more undetermined step.
Tips for traveling solo:
- If you are the type that likes to dip your toes into chaos before diving in head first. Pick a destination that is a comfortable distance from home, and choose a short duration of stay. Think of it as a travel sample. This will build your confidence for more daredevil destinations in your future.
- Stay in a safe place. Spend those extra funds on a nice quiet private room in a classy hotel. If you can’t afford this type of luxury for the entire trip, book a lavish room for the first night or two.Then you can venture out and look for some less expensive options in fun and trendy, and/or safer neighborhoods. In time, you may build up enough blind faith to share bunk beds in a hostel downtown or Airbnb it.
- Plan your trip. This sounds like a no brainer, but there is a delicate balance to planning. Sometimes you can over plan and sometimes you can under plan, and sometimes you just don't have the time to plan. You don’t have to fill your days to the brim with brain tingling activities, but one or two exciting pursuits can keep you focused, lift your spirits, and keep you engaged in your adventure.
- Tours are your best friend! This will allow you to absorb the sights, sounds, and story of your new city without being nose deep in a Google map. Try to place your tour early in your travels. This way your vacation basically plans itself. You can venture back to the attractions that peaked your interest on the tour. Not to mention, you might find yourself chatting up a new travel buddy!
- If you find yourself paralyzed by fear, take a walk around the block. Maybe visit the nearest Whole Foods, or a familiar store from home to comfort you.
- Don’t beat yourself up while comparing the current self afflicted fearful you, to the romanticized courageous a.k.a. blissfully ignorant you. I’m sure life was not all puppies, rainbows, and free beer when you were in your mid-twenties. Your beautiful brain has simply erased the drama filled, crazy making, and tissue trashing days of endless Netflix reruns, and lonely nights. So pat yourself on the back for buying the ticket!
- Pick a time to do absolutely nothing. Just nap and veg. Embrace that lazy beast! You deserve it for dominating some of your most recent challenges, and when you come out the victor of your vacay you will be itching for another trip!
Now, go. Go. Book your ticket! Don’t wait. Don’t wait for anything or anyone! It may never happen if you wait!
Signed with utter confidence in the traveling new you,