Hello from PEI! I’m wrapping up my solo stay in Charlottetown where I’ve been for the month of August for some writing and relaxation. When I told peeps that I was travelling here alone for an entire month, I received a number of responses, including many incredulous ones: “Really? For a WHOLE month? ALONE?”
Personally, I love being alone. I’m an introvert and an only child, so being alone is basically all I know (and love), but I realize that for many people, the idea of travelling solo seems majorly daunting. However, solo traveling is a rite of passage that, for many, can be nearly religious in its liberating power.
Having made a few solo jaunts in my lifetime, I thought I would share some of my tips for travelling alone. For a list of safety precautions for travelling solo, I advise women to check out this website from the Government of Canada. Otherwise, check out my tips for a fun and empowering solo vacay below.
You Won’t Wear That Fancy Dress. Seriously.
When you’re travelling for an extensive amount of time, you might think you can get away with packing more than a weekender. “Oh, I’ll for sure need these heels…and this cardigan…oh, and this blouse…” STOP THE INSANITY!
The reality: You totally do not need more than a few shirts – both short and long-sleeved – and you sure as shit don’t need to bring your strapless dress, girl! TRUST. Once you’ve been travelling solo for a while you realize that you give zero fucks about wearing the same outfit a few days in a row. Wearing one pair of jeans and your Birks over and over again without regrets or shame is a goddamn LUXURY. Savour it.
No One’s Paying Attention To You, I Swear.
I can’t get over how many people have a fear of doing things, anything, completely alone. Whether it’s eating alone or going to the movies alone, people can’t stand the thought of being by themselves and/or other people knowing that, yes, they are eating a cup of seafood chowder at this pub completely by their lonesome. Well, I am glad to break it to you: no one honestly gives a shit. No one is saying, “Oh my god, what a loser! Why is she here alone? What is wrong with her?” No one is paying THAT much attention to you, I swear to the Universe, so, like, really, get over yourself. Because once you realize the truth of this notion, the freedom you feel is INSANE and beautiful and then the world, including your vacation, truly becomes your oyster.
Go To That Local Tourist Trap…Or Not
One of the biggest perks of travelling alone? You are no longer a slave to a compromised itinerary. Meaning if you don’t want to visit that overpacked, overhyped tourist destination…you simply don’t have to go! So if hanging out in a local park with a book and a beverage of your choices sounds like the better time, the good news is that you can do so without carrying the guilt of, “Well, my BF/BFF/GF wants to visit [insert historical church/monument], so I guess I HAVE to…” The freedom of living by your whims and wants is GLORIOUS!
Tell Someone Where You’re Going to Be At
Though one of the luxuries of travelling alone is doing what you want to do, it’s a good idea to let someone – your mom, your brother, your roommate – know of your plans for the day. Even if it’s a quick WhatsApp message of the general time you’re expected to arrive back at your Airbnb, having someone keeping tabs on you is a great safety precaution to keep in place.
Find A Local Fitness Stop
Like Fergie, I like to be up in the gym just working on my fitness, especially when I’m travelling for more than a couple of weeks. Depending on where you’re travelling, some fitness classes offer drop-in rates, like the boxing club I found in Charlottetown ($5 a class is hard to beat!). Other gyms might offer a trial membership. When visiting NYC for a few weeks, a Crunch gym offered me ten free gym sessions. Like most things in life, all you gotta do is ask, and you shall receive. Not only is finding a local exercise class awesome for keeping fit, but it’s also a great way to meet people so you can enjoy that human-to-human connection that is sometimes difficult to maintain when travelling solo.
Raise Your Standards
If you’re at a restaurant with a crappy menu, guess what? GET THE EFF OUT OF DODGE. A few days ago I spied a gorgeous patio overlooking Charlottetown’s marina. “Score!” I thought. But when I sat down and opened the menu, well, let’s just say the, uh, overpriced dingy carpet did not match the beautiful drapes.
Your vacation is too short to waste on settling for substandard, overly fried fare. Move onto greener, tastier pastures, my friend.
Discover Your “Go-To Place”
It’s also a good idea to scope out a “go to place,” like a café or pub, especially when you’re staying in one locale for a long period of time. It might not ever reach a Cheers level where everyone knows your name (or it totally could if you’re more a Norm than a Cliff), but soon enough the staff will recognize your face, chat you up more and start giving you free shit, which makes you feel more like a local than a tourist. Plus, when you find that special spot of yours, it will give you that sense of homey, familiarity that you may be craving.
This is YOUR vacation. Your time away from whatever you’re leaving behind. So be like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love and make love to a pizza if you want! Or make (safe) love to a stranger if that’s what your bod and soul is seeking. Travelling solo is a special time that is worth celebrating in every sense of the word. The worst thing is returning home from your vacay and being like, “Oh, man. I wish I ate more! I wish I drank more! I wish I fucked that hot bartender! I WISH I HAD MORE FUN!” Your vacation, and life, is too short for such fixable regrets.
Take (Reasonable) Risks
Travelling solo is one of the most empowering things you’ll ever experience, hands down. Take this opportunity to try new things that may be out of your comfort zone. It could be skydiving, or it could be dining alone for the first time. Set a goal for yourself and set out to accomplish it by the end of your journey. At the end of your solo trip, no matter what, you will discover you’re so much more confident, brave and powerful, than you ever imagined. Safe travels, my friends!