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Planning Your First Solo Vacation

7 little things that make solo travel simpler, safer and more fun

The truth about traveling alone is: first, it’s not as scary (or as lonely) as some people think and second, it can be incredibly empowering.

solo travel can be simple, safe and funWhen I started travelling alone ten years ago, it wasn’t by choice. My job required travel and with four kids at home, my husband couldn’t travel with me. Because my travel was for business, bringing a friend along wasn’t appropriate. I had two choices: change careers or travel alone. That first trip took every ounce of courage I could muster, but I did it. And then I did it again. And before I knew it, I had left fear behind and had embraced solo travel.

What's so great traveling by yourself? Women who travel alone enjoy freedom to make their own decisions and experience the world through their own lens. We meet people more easily and understand that being alone does not mean being lonely.

If you’re considering a solo vacation, learn how to make the most of your trip with these 7 little tips. I wish someone had shared them with me when I was just starting out.

1. Plan smart

Even if you want to be adventurous and not schedule your trip to the minute, book your accommodations before leaving home – at least the first few days. Knowing where you’re going to sleep will let you get your bearings without worrying about your safety. These resources will help you sort and narrow accommodation choices:

  • enjoy the sightsTripAdvisor – A favorite of GoGirlfriend because you can read through a multitude of reviews and see trends and overall ratings of the hotels and resorts you’re considering.
  • Booking.com – Great for comparing hotels and resorts based on price, proximity and review scores. Many properties allow penalty-free cancellations as well.

2. Begin with short trips

If you’ve never traveled by yourself before, start with an overnight or weekend jaunt close to home. Eating in a restaurant by yourself takes time to get used to so bring something to read to help you relax. Be aware of your solitude, of the steady stream of thoughts and the peace to sort through it all without interruption.

On the flip side, if you want to meet people this is the perfect opportunity. Women who travel alone are perceived as more approachable and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make new friends. Instead of isolating yourself in your room or a rental car, use public transportation and take tours. You might meet so many people you find yourself longing for solitude.

3. Explore what wanderlust means to you personally

your first adventure can seem overwhelmingWhether it’s a weekend spa in Niagara on the Lake, glamping on Vancouver Island or strolling the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec City, find the experience that fits you personally. Don’t be shy.

Take advantage of your solo status while you’re traveling and change your plans whenever you want. An impromptu trip to the beach or staying bed until noon – it’s your choice. Take time to discover what kind of travel excites you and then go do that.

4. Treat yourself

Traveling alone might seem like an indulgent luxury – and it is. Seize opportunities to enjoy what makes you happy. Because I travel so much for business, I take time after hours to visit the spa or a great restaurant I read about online. That time to myself, enjoying a soothing massage or a delish meal, reminds me why I travel.

5. Trust your gut

Travel has fine-tuned my ability to size up situations (and people) and make more accurate judgments. Safety while traveling has nothing to do with luck but it does have a lot to do with the kindness and generosity of other people. If your guts says it’s time to leave or don’t get in that taxi, listen to it. If you need help, ask for it.

6. Treat your life with care

You may not be able to prevent a random accident on the road any more than you can at home but you can respect your safety.

  • take time to relaxDouble lock and chain your hotel room at night. Some women travelers also carry a rubber doorstop (to wedge from the inside of your door at night), just in case.
  • Ask for a room near the elevators so you don’t have to walk down hotel corridors at night
  • When you’re at the bar, keep your eyes on your drink. And drinking to the point of intoxication when you’re traveling alone is just stupid, but you knew that already…
  • Make yourself memorable to hotel and restaurant staff. If you need assistance, being seen as a generous, thoughtful guest will come in handy.

7. Connect with other travelers

Just because you've chosen to travel alone doesn't mean you have to spend your vacation lonely. But for many of us, it can be daunting to consider approaching complete strangers. Jody Nabuurs, GoGirlfriend contributor offers some a creative guide for making friends while on vacation. Read more: The Art of Meeting People on Vacation.

Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!

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