If you're a reader of my blog, subscriber of my YouTube channel, or just a follower of mine on social media, you know that I recently embarked on my first solo trip to Italy. In fact, I feel like a broken record right now even bringing this trip up yet again, but because a lot of you had so many questions about solo travel, I had to write up a post explaining it a bit further. Plus it's freaking INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY. How could we not talk about being a kick-ass, independent, traveling woman?!
This is about to be a lot of information that I'm going to pour into your brain, so pour yourself some wine and just fucking bare with me.
Why should you travel solo? That's easy. Traveling solo opens up every corner of your mind, body, and soul. You are forced to take care of things on your own, building up your self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and overall pride that you have in yourself. If you've ever struggled with self love, you must take a solo trip. Any doubt you've ever had about yourself will go flying straight out the fucking window. For real. "Liberating" doesn't even begin to describe the feeling that you will feel while you're on your first solo trip. You'll sweat like a bag of d's , you'll run into a few challenges along the way, and you may even question your decision to embark on such a journey. BUT DON'T LET ANY OF THAT GET IN THE WAY.
My nerves were getting to me, and I couldn't wrap my head around how the hell I was going to survive overseas in a foreign country where I didn't know a single soul and could barely put together a sentence in Italian. The truth is, I couldn't have made this decision for myself at a better time in my life. The month of February was kind of a mess for me, and I was going through a pretty dreadful personal issue. My life seemed to turning upside down, and needless to say, I just had to get away.
I needed to go somewhere far, and prove to myself that I can do it. That I, alone, can take care of myself. I needed to rebuild my strength and take back my power, because it had been stripped away from me. I started relying on people and things, and leaving it all behind for a week was the perfect antidote for that. I was served up some serious worldly medicine, and a good dose of worldly medicine is the best medicine of all.
I preach about the universe a lot on here, and I truly do believe that the universe sent me all of that turmoil to jumpstart a new chapter in my life. A chapter of traveling to the places that I have always wanted to see, and not having to wait for anybody to see them with. Without the heartache and troubles, I probably wouldn't be writing this post right now.
So how do you start planning your first solo trip?!
JUST DO IT. Seriously. Just do it. Look at your calendar right now and find a week or two where you have some wiggle room to travel. Cancel on brunch with Ashley next week. Check your funds and figure out how much you can spend. Are you doing this right now? You should be. This is how it starts. Life's never going to wait for you and the sooner you figure that out, the sooner you'll stop waiting for it to.
Once you narrow down when you can go and what your budget is looking like, scan the internet for the best possible deal to ANY location. If you already have a destination in mind (I knew I wanted to go to Italy), check every website that you can until you find a place/price that you're comfortable with. If you don't have a destination in mind, BE OPEN! If you find a great deal for Thailand, go for it. Some of my favorite sites browse are Skyscanner, Skiplagged, and Expedia. I used Expedia for this particular trip, but I've had great success with the other two in the past.
In terms of accommodations, please don't hate me for saying this, but as WOMEN, it's vital that we try and stay somewhere that we feel as safe as possible. I know, I know - you're an amazing/strong/bad ass #betch. I get it.. me too. BUT, while traveling alone and to a foreign place, it's better to put our inner Leslie Knope aside and play it safe. RESEARCH the hotel you're interested in as much as possible. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Check Yelp, Trip Advisory, and go 10+ pages deep into the Google search. Find other options and compare each one on every front. What time is check in vs. what time your flight gets in. Do they offer free breakfast? You're going to want all of that extra money to go explore your destination.
Also, do not be afraid of hostels. I have personally never stayed in one before, but the trip I'm currently planning will be chock full of em'. I have heard more stories than I can count from friends about the amazing experiences they had while staying at hostels, so seriously take this option into consideration. It's a great way to meet people from around the world, and possibly make new lifelong friends along the way. Even though I have yet to stay at one, in my opinion, this seems like the best option for solo traveling. Staying in a dorm with other travelers takes the lonely factor out the equation. Even though I purposely traveled alone to find myself, there were definitely times when I felt a little lonely. Having other folks around to swap stories with might have helped a bit. A great source to find a hostel is Hostel World, but I still recommend checking out Trip Advisory for further reviews of the place you choose. Their "traveler photos" feature is a great way to see the spot point blank, and not what the establishment wants you to see with their website photos. Also - silk bed sheet. It weighs all of nothing and you'll be happy you brought one incase your hostel is equipped with some questionable linens.
When you're out and about exploring, don't be paranoid, but also don't play stupid. Cross body purses are your friend, and only take out enough money with you that you'll be needing for the day. If your hotel/hostel has a safe or locker, USE IT. Lock up your passport and extra cash. Oh, and speaking of passports, I don't think you can ever be too safe with protecting that little book. Make copies, keep a digital version of it in Google Drive, anything you need to do to make sure your ability to leave/enter the country isn't jeopardized. A lot of people think traveling solo isn't safe, but honestly, if you use common sense, you'll be fine. Don't stray into dark alleyways at midnight, or go off with locals you just met 5 minutes ago. However, do explore every corner, and do meet people. Just listen to your gut.
Financially, I recommend bringing a little more than you think you'll be needing. Shit happens. Injuries, lost or stolen goods, late-night munchies, whatever. Being prepared is key to being alone, so maybe bring along a little extra cash for those unpredictable moments. OH, and don't forget to call your bank and give them the heads up that you'll be traveling if you plan to be using a credit/debit card. I've made this mistake one too many times, and one too many times have I been left in an airport or cafe with a declined card since the bank assumed it was fraud. I recommend doing this even for domestic getaways, but that's probably just my trauma speaking.
Scanning back over this article, it almost seems like I'm just giving tips on how to travel in general. Because, really, that's just what traveling solo as a woman is. It's just traveling. People may want to talk you out of it, or email you every horror story in the book (shout out to my friends for thinking I'd be the next Amanda Knox), but don't let their fears and personal restrictions talk you down from what it is that you want. This world is way too big for you to settle your soul in a cage.
K, love you mean it.