The desire to see the world is in my blood. I did my fair share of traveling before settling down with our kids but now I'm desperately itching to get back in the game. With Little Pea becoming so much more manageable on the road, we plan to start more family trips in the coming year and I couldn't be more thrilled.
As a seasoned solo traveller, I forget that hopping on a plane at the last minute can be a bit intimidating for the less frequent fliers out there. I realized just how much I took for granted when I was lucky enough to travel with my friend Zina to BlogHer in August. It was Zina's first flight in 10+ years and I was honored to serve as her travel buddy. That quick weekend boosted her confidence enough she was brave enough to try her own solo trip just a few short weeks later.
When she offered to share her own insights on single lady travels with us, I jumped at the chance. I'm amazed at how quickly she adapted to her new interest in traveling. It is so inspiring to me to watch her jump at opportunities that put her out of her comfort zone.
Her tips are fantastic but do you have any more you could add to the list? Share with us in the comments, I'm certain this is just the beginning!
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My cheeks started to burn and I could feel the tears begin to well up. "Do not cry in public," I told myself. I held my breath. I stood motionless in the airport, afraid that if I moved the waterworks would begin. Over the last year, I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone. Traveling solo for the first time? Mission accomplished!
Below are 10 Tips for Traveling Solo:
1. Find a travel mentor. Do you have a sister-in-law who travels regularly? Ask questions. Does your co-worker fly home for the holidays? Ask for tips about your local airport. For example, Tiffany has a secret parking spot at General Mitchell Airport that is always available. Read how having her as a travel mentor helped me hold it together during my recent trip to Sevierville Tennessee.
2. Leave a little leeway in your suitcase. Even if you don't plan on doing shopping, dirty clothes seem to just be bulkier. Leave a bit of room for trinkets and jumbled clothing.
3. Be early. The experience as a whole will be stressful, don't add any additional panic by cutting it close. As a general rule be at your airport 2 hours before your flight leaves. This will leave room for unexpected emergencies. The time needed can vary greatly depending on the size of your local airport. Ask your travel mentor for advice!
4. Eat real food and drink fluids. Gummy Bears do not count. Don't skip breakfast because you are in a hurry. Drinking coffee does not count as breakfast, my friends. Traveling is somehow physically exhausting. You'll need the energy. Be sure to stay hydrated as well. The pressure change will feel twice as annoying if you already have a dehydration headache.
5. Bring something trashy to read. Use this as an excuse to buy some gossip magazines or a sultry romance novel. The goal is to find something that entertains you without requiring a lot of brain power. You'll be distracted by boarding calls, people watching, clock watching and an overactive mind.
6. Go classic, bring a paper book. An iPad is a girl's best friend, but it has downfalls when traveling. I had downloaded a book onto the Kindle app for the trip, but was frustrated that I didn't have my novel on paper. When taking off and descending passengers are required to power down electronics. My neighbor enjoyed her paper book while I sat green with envy. I also would not recommend reading on a backlit screen before bed. Studies show it can be disruptive to sleep patterns. In both scenarios I sat wishing I'd spent the time to get a printed book.
7. Choose to enjoy the wait. You'll wait in line for a parking ticket, to get checked in, to drop off your luggage, for security checks, for your flight to board, you may even have a long layover... Suck it up and enjoy the wait. You can choose to be annoyed or smile and accept the moment. I recommend you: start a conversation, play with your smart phone, carry a book, or have a pen and notepad handy.
8. Look for a crowded parking lot and eat local. Make a vow to not eat fast food on your adventure. Ask for restaurant recommendations. Great resources include: the concierge, local store or attraction employees, and fellow hotel guests. If you are driving around, use the parking lot as a way to gauge the quality of food.
9. Try something new. This could be a local food delicacy, tradition or adventure. On my recent trip to Sevierville Tennessee I tried fried green tomatoes and zip lined through the Smokie Mountains. Both were amazing.
10. Be prepared for insomnia. If you have an iPhone download a few short podcasts for your trip. My recommendations are: RadioLab, The Moth and This American Life. Having podcasts on your phone allow you to rest quietly in the dark, but not be bored. You are more likely to fall asleep if you are not staring into a backlit gadget like the tv, iPad or iPhone.
While my adventure started off bumpy, the trip ended up being a blast.
Do you have any additional tips to share? Let's chat in the comments.
Zina Harrington is the author of Let's Lasso the Moon, where she inspires parents and children to interact creatively and enjoy the beauty of an ordinary day. She brings together modern families searching for balance in our chaotic world. Let's Lasso the Moon helps parents by sharing simple activities that elevate everyday moments into family traditions and memorable adventures.