Obviously, the point of this blog is to encourage you all to live your travel dreams in spite of your fluff. Sometimes that means doing it alone. I’ve actually written the following sentence in the ‘notes’ section on Opentable.com: “Please don’t put me right on the kitchen door or in a busy path way, sometimes when I dine alone, I get the bad table, and I’d really love to not get the bad table, please.” Well, when I checked in at Ringside Steakhouse for a very extravagant treat for myself, I got the nicest waitress on earth, who’d read my message and gave me the best seat in the house next to the fireplace and treated me like a queen all night long.
I overcame that taboo on eating solo while going through Junior College in San Diego. I liked doing my homework at lunch in between classes and after a week of nervously scanning the room for who may be judging me as a solo diner, and absolutely nobody was paying attention to me – I was over it. Boom. And then the dining solo became the gateway drug to me actually traveling solo.
My first solo vacation was a two day trip to Disneyland, complete with my first solo hotel room! I’d been to Disneyland dozens of times and wanted to see what going alone was like, plus I’d had a little pocket money from working two jobs and figured, “why not?”. Who knew that “why not” would become my traveling mantra for the rest of my life? It turns out Disneyland alone was freaking amazing. I went where I wanted, when I wanted and it was so blissful not adhering to other peoples demands or compromising for the good of the group. Heck no! I rode Autopia six times that first day alone and even relived my childhood by watching penny and nickel old movies on Main Street.
Since then, I’ve embarked on many solo journeys. Specifically for two reasons: firstly, there isn’t always going to be someone willing to go where you want to go when you’re available. I was a freelancer for the majority of my work life and had very small windows within which to travel. Also, that meant spur of the moment trips that friends with kids, etc., weren’t able to drop all and travel.
Second, some places belong to just you, and sharing them with someone without the same passion can drain the joy from the destination. You could be a history buff with no friends quite into the Civil War like you are. Does that mean you should drag someone kicking and screaming on your Civil War history pilgrimage? Heck no, they’ll be bored and annoying and take some of your joy away! Leave them at home, go alone, and don’t you worry – you’ll find ‘your people’ while on this trip and even make friends.
Specifically for me, this meant a solo week spent on Prince Edward Island, Canada, home to Anne of Green Gables land and all things author L. M. Montgomery. Green fields as far as the eye can see, spooky forests, lakes of shining waters and white ways of delight! Certainly not for everyone – I’ll be the first to admit that. So why would I want someone pointing and laughing when I’m succumbing to tears every 5 minutes being unable to contain a bursting heart overflowing with delight!?! I wanted to go slowly, and drink in every inch of my vacation – and not worry about anything but soaking in Prince Edward Island until my fingers got all prune-y. So, I did it alone – and I made friends while on vacation some of whom I’m still in contact with! (By the way, in the near future I’ll be covering my Prince Edward Island tour in detail, if you happen to be a Kindred Sprit, keep an eye out!)
My top tips for traveling as a solo fluff ball:
If you’re worried about the flight, make sure to check out my post on flying as a fluffy person!
- Don’t worry your gorgeous little heads about being judged for traveling solo. As I’ve said before, people only care about themselves and probably aren’t going to notice if you’re solo.
- When booking your hotel rooms online, in the section that says “how many rooms, how many people” make sure you change the amount of people to 1 – as it defaults automatically to 2 people sometimes. When you put in 1, *single rooms* become available which are hidden if you have 2 people listed. A single room can save big bucks and are all one person would need.
- Try going during “shoulder months” if you can – thus avoiding super busy planes, trains and busses. More specifically March – May (avoiding Easter/spring break) and September – November (avoiding Thanksgiving and Labor Day). I like avoiding locations close to the equator in summer anyway, just for heat purposes.
- On bus tours as a solo, you’ll likely be seated next to another solo if they’re low on space. For me, I always opt to take the aisle side of that seat so I can lean out into the empty aisle space. Keep in mind, a lot of new busses on multi day tours have aisle chairs that slide a few more inches into the aisle for extra space while the bus is moving. Just remember to move those seats back for loading and unloading of the bus.
- Try not to armor yourselves with too much “leave me alone” gear, such as headphones, tablets and books. In the short term, it may make you feel more comfortable to travel solo, however, it’ll close you off not just to people but the experience you’re paying so much to have. Not to mention, meeting locals and travelers alike will make your travels much richer.
- Some cruise ships have recently added in solo rooms, like Holland America and Norwegian. If you cannot score the solo room, you’ll likely be forced into paying a single supplement. This fee can be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times the price since you’ll be occupying a room large enough for two. If you keep your eyes out for cruise sales, you can score a room for two as low as a double occupancy room. For instance, my Mom is sailing New Zealand and Australia next month for $2200 which, if she were to sail just two weeks later, it’d cost $4500 as a single!
- Don’t pack more than you can carry – duh!
- Practice general safe travels for solo folks, period. Don’t go walking around after dark by yourself or in strange areas. Keep your eyes open, keep one hand on your valuables at all times when approached by strangers and stay with the crowds. If in doubt, call a taxi or uber before walking or taking public transportation. Think about carrying pepper spray or at the very least a whistle. Let someone back home know your itinerary and expect a text, email or call from you once every couple of days.
- If you live alone, don’t post on social media that your leaving. It opens up a can of worms for theft. That might also mean keeping your travel photos off social media until you get home, too.
- Last but not least… as you can see from my feet photo above and the cheesy mirror selfie – you need to invest in a selfie stick. Just do it. Get over the stigma and practice responsible selfie stick etiquette. Buy an easily collapsible one that opens and closes very quickly and never leave it open for longer than the photo op.