I’ve been asked recently, by a reader, about “Traveling Alone.”
My mother always hated when I traveled alone, while my dad always told me to “be careful”. But that’s because my mother’s archaic Korean about most things, and my father was not. And I am not. Safety concerns aside, traveling alone is in and of itself a huge learning experience. But momz just imagined me being kidnapped action movie style and hated it, every time I traveled alone.
Men do it all the time and it’s perfectly acceptable, but there is more concern raised when women do it. Bad things happen to people all the time, but traveling alone shouldn’t be a fear. It’s ironic, because it’s one of the most liberating things you can do. If you’re fond of travel, try doing it alone. And:
~ Decide what kind of traveler you’re going to be. What kind of trip is this for you? Are you treating yourself or are you working shit out? Are you on a tight budget or not? Backpacking or living in luxury? I’ve done both hostels and resorts and apartment rentals and lots of other in between. It just depends on where you are in your life so do what works for you.
~ Plan far ahead. Give yourself 6 to 9 months. Monitor travel deals online and get down on paper a very rough outline of what you want to do and where you want to be on each day, or phase, of your solo travel. Make adjustments to it while booking details and don’t over-plan. Leave yourself room to nap or explore or whore. Or mourn. Traveling alone is good for lots of different souls.
~ Research. You can do a lot of research and learn the most basic language of wherever you’re traveling to, in 6 to 9 months. If it’s domestic travel then no language worries. Print out local maps so you have an idea of where you’re staying in relation to shops, and access to transportation, etc. This is for safety and for your traveling convenience.
~ Start a folder. I know this sounds dorky, but it does help to put all your print travel related stuff in a folder. I’m not talking hoarding for something that’s never going to happen, but if you do go abroad, it’s best you print out your paid confirmations paper trail and bring it with you all in one folder when you set off on your trip. You don’t want to be “that” bungling rookie traveler target, so be organized!
~ Keep in constant contact. Be sure to check in with those who care about your well-being, even if you’ve given them a copy of your itinerary. Even better if you can meet up with people you know along the way somehow. But you should always get your bearings as soon as you get to your destination(s) and figure out how to stay in touch with people back at home. If you’re feeling spontaneous or extra slutty and you have a sudden change of plans, make sure you let someone know. Unless your dad is Liam Neeson.
Besides the obvious freedom of doing what you want on your watch, traveling alone is about you and who you are when it’s just you. While traveling in Venice, alone, I stole a kiss from a gondolier walking his dog. I just asked a passerby to take the photo and then I was off, for more exploring. Just me.
Sometimes just you is all you need.