I started traveling alone back in 2010 when I was 25 years old. It’s hard for me to believe that just 6 years ago I was nervous to even eat alone at a restaurant, let alone travel to a different country. I come from a family with very traditional and conservative values, so saying they weren’t thrilled about the idea of me traveling all by my lonesome is an understatement. To ease their minds, and my own, I started small. If you’re nervous about spending a lot of time with yourself, this is a great way to start.
My first “trip,” and I use that word loosely, was in my hometown – a “staycation,” if you will. I packed up a bag and drove myself over to The Ritz-Carlton Naples Beach Resort in Naples, Florida. A big part of being comfortable traveling alone is being comfortable spending that much time by yourself. Of course you will always meet people in your travels, but you need to be comfortable operating by yourself too.
Staying at this resort alone for 4 days was when I first picked up the travel bug. Even though I was in my hometown, I experienced it like a tourist. I never had been to the beach that this hotel is on. I’d never even seen the grounds of this hotel before. It didn’t feel like home. It felt new. I loved having the freedom to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I loved being able to eat wherever I wanted to eat and to drink a Mimosa for breakfast without getting the side eye. It was very freeing and somehow empowering.
Before traveling to other countries, I did one more 4-day “staycation” in Miami, Florida followed by a week-long trip to New York City. As you can see, the trips progressed in distance from home and length. I continued this pattern, traveling to California, followed by Puerto Rico, and then Montreal, Canada. Each trip gave me new confidence to go even further away from home.
In 2014 I left my family in Florida and moved to New York City. Since moving here I’ve started saving my money to travel abroad, so I can finally venture out of North America. Though I’ve been overseas traveling with family, the furthest I’ve gone alone is Cancun, Mexico for a quick weekend getaway in 2015. It let me scratch that travel itch without putting too big of a dent in my long-term travel fund.
I took baby steps to gain the confidence I have today, and I’m still nervous about my upcoming long-term travel in 2017. If I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone back in 2010 I never would have been to California, Puerto Rico, Canada, or Mexico. I also wouldn’t be living in New York City. My family still isn’t crazy about my solo-traveling, but as long as I stay in touch it eases their minds. I’m the only one that has to live my life, and I want that life to be filled with more cultures than just my own.
If you are already comfortable traveling solo, but you’re worried about safety, keep an eye out for my upcoming post on Solo-Female Travel Tips!