While traveling alone is not everyone’s cup of tea, it can be an excellent path toward self-discovery. For evidence of this, you need to look no further than two bestselling books: “Eat Pray Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. In these two memoirs, the authors embarked on and then chronicled solo journeys that helped them learn more about who they were, who they want to be and also about their own strengths as well as their weaknesses. These books have inspired many women—maybe even you?—to spread their wings and take off on journeys by themselves.
Be Safe, Not Sorry
Journeying solo has many rewards. More often than not, without anyone else to lean on, you learn that you are much more capable than you realized. Being alone also gives you time to contemplate your life’s path and to consider possibly striking out in new directions once you return from your solo travel. However, solo journeying does require you to take extra steps to ensure your safety.
Share Your Itinerary
USA Today suggests providing a family member or someone you know and trust with your itinerary. Also remember to inform them if you deviate from your planned route. If you are not in the habit of calling someone on a regular basis, make sure you set certain dates or times when you will check in. That way, if you don’t check in at the assigned time, someone will know to go searching for you in case of trouble, such as a broken down car on a road trip in a remote area. In addition, you can sign up for a VoIP provider like Rebtel that will help you save money on international calls. Rebtel’s apps are free and can be used with iPhone, Android and Windows phones.
Photo by ozmafan via Flickr
Keep Your Lips Sealed
Avoid mentioning to people you meet while you’re out that you’re traveling alone. If a stranger is making you nervous by asking you too many questions about whether or not you are alone, resort to telling them that you have a companion waiting for you at your hotel room.
Test the Waters
Do your homework before you head off on your journey. In Strayed’s book, she hits the trail without testing some of her essential gear, trying on her fully loaded backpack or breaking in her hiking shoes. Fortunately for Strayed, she survives, but there were several points during her travels where she could have died.
Sign up for identity fraud protection. While on the road, you are going to encounter some possibly shady characters, say, at hostels or bars. You may also have to use a computer at some less-than-secure Internet cafe. An identity fraud protection company will alert you if your credit cards have been compromised. While on the road, you can also check for the latest scams involving identity theft on Lifelock’s Facebook page.
Photo by Pretoria Travel via Wikimedia Commons
Keep an Eye Out
Always stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. And heed Forbe’s warning to avoid getting drunk or putting yourself in a position where someone could spike your drink.
Invest in Proper Travel Gear
Make life easier for yourself by purchasing a TSA-friendly backpack, such as the Timbuk2. With these type of backpacks, you won’t have to take out your computer when you pass through the screening area, which means you have one less thing to worry about.
Keep it in Writing
Document your travels in a journal. Remember this is a voyage of self-discovery, so writing about your journey is important. In addition, if you have, or are planning to have, children, they could be inspired by your writings to take their own journeys someday.
Photo by Ellen Munro via Flickr
Make New Friends
If you aren’t completely comfortable with traveling by yourself, but don’t have a companion to travel with, you could always sign up with a tour group. Make sure to look for groups that don’t charge single supplements, which in some cases can add significantly to the cost of your itinerary.
This post is brought to you by Pauline Lanier – writer, traveler, animal welfare advocate.