How to Take an Incredible Trip—Alone
Photo: Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis
Imagine this: window-shopping in Paris or people-watching in Rome—without having to stress over your restless companion. It's not just a fantasy: a 2014 survey from Booking.com reports that American women are the number one solo travelers, and 63 percent feel more refreshed after a me-time trip. Here, our guide to venturing out on your town.
Photo: Martin Cvetkovic/iStock/Getty Images
1. "Print directions ahead of time. It sounds simple, but we're so used to cell phones that it's easy to forget we might not have Internet access abroad. I also love Pacsafe's small, portable safe. If you're in a hostel or a B&B, you need a secure place to lock up your passport and cash." — Alexandra Baackes, blogger, AlexInWanderland.com.
2. "I carry extra cash in my shoe or a hidden pocket, enough to take a cab or get to a safe place if I find myself in trouble. And if I need assistance, I approach women and families, who I've found are more likely to help." —Marybeth Bond, National Geographic author and founder of GutsyTraveler.com.
3. "I don't drink too much. If I'm somewhere unfamiliar, I want to be sharp and aware. But of course, in Italy, I'm having wine with my pasta." —Cat Clifford, a writer who spent her last five birthdays in a different country—alone!
Photo: Maxim Kostenko/iStock/Getty Images
Resources for booking, scheduling and meeting other explorers
Routehappy: A booking site that filters flight options by your "happiness factors," like nicer planes, roomier seats, Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment.
Hostelworld: Budget-friendly room rentals (often with shared bathrooms and common areas) in 180 countries, with prices starting under $5 per night. (Budapest, here we come!)
Geosure: An app that provides up-to-date crime statistics, from theft to women's safety for the area you're visiting.
Eat. Pray. Move: A roundup of relaxing retreats around the world—from Dubrownik, Croatia, to Goa, India—many of which donate 10 percent of their profits to charity.
Illustration: Gillian MacLeod
The first rule of traveling alone: Don't check a bag, says Wendy Perrin, travel advocate for TripAdvisor. "The last thing you need to worry about is tracking down a bag lost by an airline," she says. Perrin's five carry-on essentials:
1. Lightweight parka: Something compressible that can be used for weather protection and as a plane pillow.
2. Backpack-style handbag: To hold necessities and your laptop—and keep your hands free to pull your suitcase.
3. Zip-top bags: For storage, toiletries, electronics and personal items you want to protect from rain or snow.
4. Pashmina shawl: Does double duty: It's an airplane blanket and an extra layer for evening outfits.
5. Gaffer's tape: Found at office supply stores, this adhesive is great for repairs to shoes, bags and hems.
Photo: Eskemar/iStock/Getty Images
Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone by Mary Morris: "Morris's vivid stories of exploring Guatemalan highlands and Honduran jungles inspired me to take a trip to Mexico in my 20s—and sparked my love affair with Latin America."
West with the Night by Beryl Markham: "Markham, a glamorous pioneer who grew up in East Africa, dreamily chronicles her journey to become the first woman to successfully fly a plane solo across the Atlantic."
Wild by Cheryl Strayed: "Struggling with addiction and the death of her mother, Strayed hiked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to rediscover herself. I wish I had just a tenth of her resilience!"