I took my first leap at solo travel in 2021, at the age of 33. The idea of solo travel terrified me. What would I be doing with all that time alone? What if someone kidnapped me. What if I get [Trigger Warning:] drugged and raped?
Considering today’s headlines, these are very valid fears. But I decided in 2020 that fear was not something I had any interest in running my life. And after being forced into isolation from the pandemic for nearly a year straight, I quickly got over that fear of having too much alone time.
To the contrary, I discovered I thoroughly enjoyed being alone. I discovered there is not enough time in the world to listen to all the songs on repeat that I want to listen to while making imaginary music videos. There is not enough time to listen to all the books and podcasts I want to listen to. And there is not enough time to think all of the thoughts I want to think. So being alone wasn’t so bad, because it allowed me to do all of these things free of interruption. Doing them alone in another country became less of a fear and more of a dream.
SO, I did it! I took the leap and booked my first solo travel experience to Costa Rica. My friends and family thought I was crazy. Did I mention, I only booked a one-way? My intention was to feel it out and see how long I felt I could endure without racing to book a flight back. If I liked it, I would pick another country and visit there next.
What started out as an absolute no for me, quickly became my whole lifestyle. In the last year, I’ve taken 20+ solo flights and booked 20+ solo stays in unfamiliar cities, in 6 countries.
If you’re new to traveling solo, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
- Pack lightly. Minimalism is the way to go when traveling solo. You make yourself vulnerable to theft, loss or physical and mental burnout when you have too much to manage or keep in mind.
It’s best to stick to the essentials.
When packing, start early. And then, revisit your luggage two or three times before your departure date, asking yourself each time, does this really have to go with me? The more you siphon down what you’re taking, the more room you’ll have for accumulating things along the journey. And the more energy you’ll have because you’re not dragging your life’s inheritance around with you.
You’ll feel lighter and more energized and present to the adventure, trust me.
- Opt for belted bagging. Consider the use of bags that you hold close to your body with little effort such as, backpacks, fanny packs, satchels, when venturing outdoors. These forms of bagging free up your hands and mind, and reduce the chances of theft or loss when escaping dangerous situations, should they arise. Plus they won’t weigh on you as much as shoulder bags which cause tension and stress and fall easily. They're just a great way to enjoy your travels, worry-free.
- Stick close to the crowd. If you’re a woman traveling alone, try not to ever be completely alone, unless you are indoors where it’s safe and the doors are locked. When out in public, I like to make sure that there is at least one other woman within eye or ear shot of me, should danger arise. It is a scary world out here, especially with human-trafficking on the rise.
For women in particular, having another woman’s presence, even if it's a complete stranger, adds another layer of protection because we tend to be concerned for one another and look out. I’ve been in bars alone and felt the alertness of a woman peak when she sensed my danger or noticed a creep approaching me. We just have that sense for one another. So it’s a good idea to know that there is another woman somewhere close by, before completely assuming safety. This is by no means a full-proof protection plan. I’ve heard stories of women who were used to bait and trap other women. So be careful, generally and do not assume everyone is safe. But do use your intuition and instincts to feel it out in any setting, before getting too comfortable and letting your guard down.
- Stay vigilant. I know I mentioned letting your guard down just a sentence ago. But really, you shouldn’t. Always have an eye out. Theft is high in touristy and non-touristy regions alike. There will be some people looking for who to take advantage of. Don’t fall victim to their ploys. Leave your high valuables at home or locked-up indoors. Keep your phone and backup battery charged every chance you get access to electricity (do not neglect this). Relax and breathe, but stay alert. You never know who is lurking and looking for an opportunity. Keep the conversations short when on the go, if you don’t feel completely secure. And certainly do not go off with anyone you don’t know, without having ALL of the details.
The world can be a scary place. But that shouldn’t keep us from experiencing the joys of solo travel. Solo travel can be so fun and rewarding. But without the necessary precautions and forward thinking, it can quickly become a disaster you won’t easily forget. Follow these 4 tips to keep the risk low and the fun vibes high!