Solo Travel... As a single woman!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver
My first solo trip was taken in the winter of 2017. I was leaving my 25th year around the sun in the dust, and going out with a bang!
I had a travel credit through Southwest. The only thing I had to pay for was my stay. Where would I go?
When I told my parents I was going to go to Mexico alone, I certainly got interesting reactions from each of them.
Mom: I could go with you, give you your space, but be there just in case.
Dad: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MEXICO ALONE!
Both my parents know that I RARELY listen to them.
2016 was a rough year for me. Again, a story for another day! I needed some time alone to reflect and refresh. I found a small boutique-style resort that was relatively close to the airport. I negotiated with my dad about how many times I would connect with him while I was gone. Once in the morning and once at night... but that was it! To his surprise, he got more than that.
I left bright and early out of Boston with a connecting flight in Orlando. I landed in Cancun midday. Just in time to enjoy some tropical beverages, catch the sunset, and take in the beautiful surroundings. The next few days were filled with delicious food, gorgeous sunrises, and hours spent on the beach doing nothing but reading. I was truly living a dream.
Now, I traveled A LOT as a kid. I've been to 45 of the 50 states. The majority of those were by the age of 10. I'd like to think that both my parents and brothers, did a great job of teaching me to be aware of my surroundings. What to say and what not to say. How to give the impression that you're not alone, even if you are. What to do if you're ever in an uncomfortable situation.
My hotel room door did not have a security chain and the sliding glass door did not lock. This was alarming to me. I needed both of these things to be fixed, for my own peace of mind and safety. When I called the front desk, they were incredibly nonchalant about my issues. When I threatened to leave and go to another hotel, they caved and came to fix the doors. I got completely scammed by the drivers at the airport. I was told by my hotel that someone would be there to get me. When I called to ask where the shuttle was, they said there would be another one at 7:00 am the next morning. 12 hours from now? No. I had to pay for a private taxi which cost me $60. For a ten-minute drive. When I was brought back to the airport for my departure, it cost me $10.
I did not do my research on the hotel, or on transportation accommodations when I was there. As a single woman who was traveling alone, this put me in a pretty vulnerable spot. Now I know what I would do differently.
The following year, I decided I was going to do a middle-of-the-night road trip to Virginia to see my brother and his family. I'd leave at 5:00 pm so I could be there before my niece and nephew woke up.
It would take roughly 11-12hrs to get there. I packed road trip-worthy snacks and loaded myself with caffeine. One of my good friends recommended a new podcast to me, My Favorite Murder. I love true crime. However, I did not anticipate the fear that would set in as I listen to episode after episode about murder and kidnapping! When 2:00 am rolled around, I was fighting to stay awake. I was in Pennsylvania and didn't have that much further to go, but I knew I needed to nap. If I parked in a truck stop parking lot that was well lit, I was safer than anywhere else. I pulled off the highway just north of Harrisburg (I was familiar with the area) and parked at a Sheetz. I left my car running, tucked an unidentified weapon under my leg (ya know, just in case), and literally (somehow) slept with one eye open. 15-minute cap nap done. I was back on the road.
Traveling alone can make you a pretty good target for assault, sex trafficking, theft, and more. This will never stop me from traveling. Here are a few things I do before a trip like this:
Share my location with a loved one
If I am sightseeing, I make sure there are always plenty of people around when I get out of my car
I carry something to protect myself. Bring whatever makes you feel comfortable
I check in regularly with someone
My gas tank never comes close to empty
I never stop somewhere where I don't have service
I (now) research where I am going and any stops I will make on the way
There is so much to learn when you travel alone. I swear I left Cancun that year feeling like I could accomplish nearly anything by myself. I definitely did not need a significant other to do that.
Don't let your fear of the unknown hold you back. Don't let other people deter you from doing something that makes your heart happy. Lastly, there is so much to see in our own country. Get out there and visit the 50 states. We are a melting pot of different cultures, landscapes, and history. Go explore it!
Let your sun shine ☀️