A SOLO ADVENTURE IS EMPOWERING, EXCITING AND CONFIDENCE-BOOSTING. START PLANNING YOUR TRIP!
Photo Corey Jenkins
There’s the obvious beauty of travelling alone: waking up when you feel like it, eating wherever you want, seeing every major sight – or none at all. Which is why solo voyages are more popular these days than ever. Women are more likely to vacation alone than they were five years ago, according to a poll by www.booking.com. Besides freedom, travelling on your own adds a sense of adventure to your trip. “Conquering something by yourself is exhilarating, empowering, and extremely fulfilling,” says Sonia Gil, the host of Sonia’s Travels on Youtube. Here’s how to sort through the endless solo trip possibilities and pick your best getaway.
The major hesitation women have about travelling alone is the fear they’ll be bored or lonely, Sonia says. And while that’s largely unfounded – a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that people actually find solo activities as fun as group endeavours – it’s why she recommends that first-timers head to a big city. In urban hotspots, you can always find something to do or someone to talk to, Sonia explains. Bars, coffee houses, and restaurants with communal tables are her favourite places to meet strangers. Her most successful conversation starter is a simple “It’s such a beautiful day”. Then ask for suggestions about what to see in the area.
If urban jungles aren’t your thing, plan a trip around an organised activity. If you’re a beach lover, for instance, sign up for sailing school. If you’re dreaming of Italy, look into cooking classes. You’ll learn a new skill, connect with people who share your passion, and add structure to your days. Or book a group tour that caters to active solo travellers. Two good companies: Contiki, which caters to the 18- to 35-year-old set (www.contiki.com), and Intrepid Travel, an adventure-focused company (www. intrepidtravel.com).
Always bring backup
No matter what type of trip you decide on, carry a plan B list with the names and addresses of good restaurants, sights, museums and walking or biking trails that didn’t make your final itinerary. These are activities you can fall back on in case of bad weather or if you have extra time on your hands. And if things don’t go as planned? Embrace the moment; it’s all part of the story you’ll tell on your return.
GO SOLO AT HOME
When you travel alone, you’re forced to decide exactly what your heart is telling you to do, without having to compromise with anyone else. This can instil a sense of boldness that endures even after you’ve returned home. So try these activities after your holiday.
Go rock climbing On a hike, you enjoy nature. When you climb a mountain, you conquer it. Once you’re at the summit, bask in the accomplishment – and the happy knowledge that you’ve just burnt at least 700 calories an hour.
Change your hair colour Go for a completely new shade or try a few streaks of colour. The thrilling jolt you’ll feel whenever you catch sight of yourself in the mirror will put an extra bounce in your step for weeks.
Go off the grid for a weekend No e-mail or Internet – at all. Without distractions, you’ll be compelled to turn outwards and really connect with others and what’s going on around you. Come Monday, your stress levels will be lower.
Ask an acquaintance out on a “date” Spending time with new pals strengthens your heart, research in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found. It feels good too.
Try improv It will help you think on your feet, work well with others, and communicate better – skills so valuable that the US-based MIT Sloan School of Management offers an improv leadership class to its MBA students.
Try a full-contact fitness class Think boxing or muay thai. The pure physicality of the punching, jabbing and kicking off ers a rare opportunity to release your aggression. After the hour is up, you’ll feel powerful, confident, and more than ready to take on your next challenge.
Sign up for a race Training for a specific goal gives your sweat sessions a purpose that goes beyond burning calories. You’ll stop thinking of yourself as an amateur runner (or biker, swimmer or Crossfitter) and start thinking of yourself as an athlete, which will motivate you to pursue other milestones, like a triathlon, long after you reach the finish line.
YOUR GAME PLAN
BEFORE YOU SET OFF, GET TRAVEL INSPIRATION AND ADVICE FROM THESE RESOURCES.
● TO GET PUMPED
Read Party of One by Jaimee Ratliff In this inspirational new book, Jaimee shares the story of her first solo adventure and tells you how to banish any travel fears .
● TO SAVE ON AIRFARE
Hitlist (free, App Store and Google Play) Plug in your dream destination and get alerts on your phone when ticket prices drop. Last-minute trips are easy to coordinate when it’s just you.
● TO CONNECT WITH FOODIES
Go to www.eatwith.com This site hosts pop-up eating events in more than 150 cities. Bond with locals and visitors over a shared dinner hosted at a chef’s home.
● TO FIND A FITNESS BUDDY
Check out Jaha (free, App Store) Track down a partner for hiking or tennis when you’re away from home with this fitness-friendfinder app.
● TO SEE HIDDEN GEMS
Go to www.vayable.com Never get stuck in a tourist trap again. Search for themed tours hosted by local guides who can show you out-of-the-way spots and neighbourhood faves.