I’m bemused, but no longer surprised, by the reaction to my solo travels from the Momosphere: “That looks awesome but I could never do it” or some variation thereof. Taking out those who are just being polite (IE those for whom it DOESN’T look awesome), the solo travel “I could never do it” usually comes down to one of three things: money, time, or fear of traveling alone.
Most of my blog is about the creative things I do to make the finances work and an entire trip can be completed in 48 hours, so today I’m going to talk about #3: facing the fear of solo travel and doing it anyway.
The case for Mom to get out of town
Moms, why am I so passionate about you traveling by yourself? Because Girlfriend’s getaways are great, for what they are. But I don’t want you to be limited by others…and why should you be? You have your own must-see list, don’t you? Also, it’s hard enough for YOU to get childcare, budget, and a plan. If you wait around for a girlfriend, sister, or whoever else, you may never get off the ground!
Now I get it: fear is irrational. Telling you, for example, that plane travel is statistically safer than driving to the airport does nothing for you if you’re afraid of flying. And telling you that most hotels have wifi (and many cell plans include free international data and texting) so your family can skype you in real time does nothing to calm you if you’re afraid your kids will befall some calamity requiring Mommy at the exact moment you decide to leave the country for the 1st time. But you’re a good parent who chooses good proxies, right?
So now on to some real-life tips to help you rip off the band-aid for that first solo weekend. Readers who have traveled solo, please share your tips in the comments:
Tips for your first try at solo travel
- When you’re keeping it short, destination choice is essential. Fly non-stop if at all possible. Use this checklist to help you decide where to go. I know many moms don’t have extended amounts of time either to plan or to take off so you need a workable idea. For instance, I took a last minute weekend to Mexico City in the dead of winter. I needed sun and non-stop, and it fit the checklist.
- Overschedule. Sleep when you get home. Go ahead and book two tours in one day. It may look nuts on paper, but chances are at least one of them will not run (one of my 2 booked tours in Mexico City didn’t run and the other started an hour late). Worse comes to worse, you can cancel on them. At least then you have the power. (By the way, this is NOT advice I give or take on longer trips, but when it’s an “ambush” type trip, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!)
- Expect your body to fail you. Happens to me Every. Single. Trip. In Mexico City a cough and cold hit me and made my laughably border Mexican accent pretty much incomprehensible. Just suck it up and take a shot of local medicine: it makes for a better story!
- Yes, Wine is cheaper than water. Still stick to 2 glasses. I abstained in Tenerife and reaped the rewards: the most amazing whale tour. Half the boat missed the tour due to hangovers.
- Same goes for shady cabs, after-clubs, handsome strangers. Nuff Said.
- Keep your wits about you even with “safe” forms of transportation. I let my guard down in a marked cab in Rome and almost paid dearly.
- Beware GCS. Gilded Cage Syndrome, the dreaded disease that strikes every five star traveler at one point, will put the kibosh on all of your grand plans to explore unless you nip it in the bud.To fight it in Mexico City, I bypassed the Hyatt and St. Regis on purpose in favor of a Holiday Inn in a great location. On the other hand, you NEED 48 hours locked in a hotel suite, ignore this advice, cancel the flight, and just drive yourself to the nearest FHR hotel.
- Sunscreen (I have missed this one and paid for it!)
- Ankle wallet
- Photocopy of passport (scan it into Google Drive as well)
- Credit card and ATM Card (withdraw foreign currency at Bank ATM at airport, spend what’s left at duty free)
- Carry-on (DO NOT check a bag!)
- Cross-shoulder day bag
- Kindle or i-pad loaded with city map and phrasebook,
- Camera (if not on ipad).
You CAN do this! Where are you going to go first?
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