Last month, at almost thirty years old, I took a trip by myself for the first time. I was a bit nervous, because I had never done things like eat at a restaurant by myself or be alone in an unknown environment.
It wasn’t so much that I was worried about my safety. I fly alone frequently and I have traveled quite a bit. It was more that I was uncomfortable appearing alone in public places, or being alone with my thoughts for days! When I told some of my friends about it, I received very mixed reactions. Some of them said that they could never do it, while others seemed surprised and even made me feel silly for feeling weird about it at all. Only my friend Christine told me that while she dreaded it at first, she ended up loving it. She was right. Traveling alone was exhilarating. Here are some tips that definitely made my life easier.
- Plan ahead
This seems like a no-brainer, but when you are alone, you want to avoid getting lost or ending up in potentially dangerous situations. I recommend mapping your itinerary and doing some research on places to visit and where to go. I asked my friends who knew DC for recommendations and used Google Maps to chart everything before heading out of the hotel. I also made sure I researched the restaurants I went to, to ensure I could sit at a bar, since I didn’t want to be alone at a table. I hate waiting so this was definitely one of the perks of the trip: when you are alone, you can do things you want at your own pace.
- Bring books (or magazines, or your tablet)
I used to love reading and would spend most of my vacations as a kid going through books. Unfortunately as a gown-up, I often don’t have time to read and I waste too much time on social media to be able to pick-up a book at night. This was a welcome opportunity to catch up on some books I had been meaning to read and I loved being alone in my bubble enjoying a story.
This is also great if you feel anxious at the idea of being alone and awkward in public, and so much more refined than being sucked into your phone! If you don’t like to read, you can always get a magazine, play games or watch movies on your tablet.
- Get ready to talk to strangers
I am a fairly sociable person, and decided that the best way to not feel awkward, when being alone in places like bars, was to strike up a conversation. (In this case, you should probably drop the book). Usually, people tend to talk to you more if you look like you are alone anyways. As long as you seem open to it, you can end up meeting really interesting people along the way. Some of them are also be traveling by themselves. As grown-ups we don’t really get many chances to randomly meet new people, so why not enjoy it?
- Prepare a playlist
Since you do not have anybody to talk to, I recommend making a playlist, which will set the mood of your trip. I personally was into my Big Little Lies phase (seriously, if you haven’t watched the series, you should!) so I played this. It kept me company as I walked, and I know this is silly, but I almost felt like I was starring in my own movie! So pick something you like that makes you feel good and get going!
- Treat yourself!
Although I mentioned it briefly in some parts of this blog, I think this last point is worth having its own paragraph: since you are alone, you can do whatever you want! So pick the type of food you love, take long walks if you love to walk, or take a taxi if you hate walking. Have your favorite drink, watch a sunset, sit out in the sun or go for a run. Just do things for you. You don’t have to compromise with a friend, significant other, work schedule, or a family request. You made it alone all the way here, so enjoy yourself!