How is it the airport is the only public place it seems to be socially acceptable to drink at any moment of the day without being judged? These are the somewhat alcoholic thoughts that are currently going through my head at 10am on a Thursday morning while staring out a window, wondering why I thought travelling alone was a good idea. Bar tender, more wine please.
I’ve been here since 8am. I’ve walked through every store near me, tested a whole lot of unnecessary perfumes and makeup, bought some useless junk I probably wont need and I still have SO much free time. This is about the time the bars opened and the drinking began.
Traveling on your own can be extremely exhilarating and freeing. It can also be really boring and anxious when you’re trapped at the airport, alone, 3 hours before your flight with nothing fun to do or a person to talk to.
Post breakup my life has seemed very fight or flight. I tried my best to fight my way through the emotions; to deal with the stress of this new life – finding a new job, finding a new condo, being alone. It was a lot all at once and the weight I felt on my shoulders was becoming to much to bare in silence. I felt like I was becoming a burden to my friends with my Debby-downer mood and I hated it.
So in my attempt to snap out of this self induced funk and deal with my new life – I chose to stop fighting how I felt and what I was going through and start resorting to flight mode. It may not be the most mature way to deal, or most recommended by anyone trying to help you cope with reality. But I’m tired, I’m stressed, and I am so over feeling unsatisfied with myself. So, Goodbye Life, Goodbye Responsibilities, Goodbye city and restaurants and cars and air that reminded me way to much of my past life. This lady needs a breath of fresh air from a new city, a new country, a new version of my life.
The only problem that I saw in this new run away from life philosophy of mine was: I’ve never traveled alone, and I was terrified to start. Independence was never my strong suit. I hated sitting alone at a table for meals, waiting alone in a crowd; I always went straight to my phone so I wouldn’t have to make direct eye contact with someone else.
With this serious lack of independence and zero desire to be alone with my own thoughts – the concept of travelling alone never even crossed my mind. It wasn’t a possibility, because what would I possibly do alone in another country where I don’t know anyone or anything?
This was the problem I needed to change with myself. It’s one thing to love who you are, and I can truly say I do love the woman I am becoming everyday. But, it’s a completely different story to be so comfortable with yourself that you are actually okay being alone. I’ve never been okay being alone and this made me cling to relationships that weren’t right for me. This needed to change. Now.
So I needed a fix and I needed it quick… My cousin recently moved to Miami and she was alone with her daughter for the weekend. I figured this to be the best first step to get me in the groove of things. I’d get through the flying alone thing first – and then I had her around so I wasn’t alone the entire trip, but in increments. This way I had the freedom to explore and do my own thing, but had someone to eat those awkward meals with.
Start small. Grow from there.
By my next trip – I’d be ready to do more on my own. Maybe even try eating dinner at a bar too. Talking crazy, but I’m ambitious like that. It’s all about being brave enough to take that first step. Knowing you were capable of it.
My first rule of traveling whether alone or with someone is make sure to stay safe. When in a city you don’t know, always research ahead of time. What are the best areas to visit and to avoid? Emergency contact numbers? Itineraries and time tables.
When you’re alone you don’t have that person there to look out for you, so you need to be smart enough to pay attention to your surroundings on your own.
Don’t wear anything flashy, and try to fit in.
Distractions are key.
It’s not easy being alone all day whether traveling or staying home. Especially your first time out when you don’t know anyone in the city. Until you are comfortable making friends, keep yourself distracted so you don’t feel lonely.
When you’re out for dinners, always have a book handy, or a tablet to keep you looped into the social world you already know.
Make your itinerary before hand so you have a plan to look forward to, and always have something coming new to try and do.
Sign up for some classes, do a tour, or rent a form of transportation and do it yourself.
Making friends with strangers isn’t always easy. I know first hand how awkward it can be to just go up to a group of people and start talking. My best tip is to sign yourself up for classes and tours when travelling as you’ll always meet someone with the same interests as you there. You can then go with your new friends for dinners and drinks for the remainder of your time there.
When out for meals, try sitting at the bar. You’ll meet a lot more solo travelers there who are also looking for someone to talk to.
The best part about travelling alone, is you get to see everything you want without anyone getting in the way. You no longer have to compromise or worry about keeping up with someones time or ideas. You do things at your own speed, and see whatever you truly want to without having to cater to someone else.
Make an itinerary, figure out everything you want to see before hand, buy entrance tickets or city passes. Do things the way you want and explore as much as you can.
The point of traveling alone is to find yourself. So do it while getting lost in a beautiful new city.