By Richard Levy
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However, it can be intimidating to go alone, perhaps even more so for women. If you’ve thought about but have never dared take a solo vacation, perhaps I can help convince you.
First, you must overcome the “solo stigma” of friends, family and office colleagues who might say, “You’re going on vacation alone?” or “If I were you I wouldn’t go alone. These these days it’s not safe.”
Don’t be intimidated into avoiding a spectacular vacation because you don’t have someone to travel with. Women, particularly, find that traveling alone offers them an incredible sense of liberation from their daily routine, allowing them to do exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it.
When going solo you don’t have to forgo your preferences in deference to those of your traveling mate whose thoughts you must respect and consider. You can be you. The advantage of traveling alone is the ability to change your plans. You’re free to wander aimlessly or get lost on purpose in an interesting city. Collapse in an outdoor café and linger over a glass of wine, and when nobody’s looking, toast yourself for having the nerve to go solo. You never have to make plans for lunch or dinner, you eat when you get hungry.
But take heed, when going solo always walk confidently with your head up, look as if you know where you’re going. Blend in with local folks, which will keep you anonymous. Leave designer fashions, flashy jewelry and expensive handbags at home. Take a small backpack so your arms are always free. Don’t walk around with your face stuck in a guide book or map.
Where to go on your first solo adventure? The safest destinations include Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Iceland, Lisbon, Budapest. Choose hotels in busy downtown areas. Let the night person at your hotel desk know where you’re going. Take a hotel card to give your taxi driver. Keep a copy of your passport and credit cards in your suitcase as back up.
Always take your cell phone, and make sure it’s charged. Eat in restaurants in busy parts of town. For women, how to deal with badgering men? Pick up an inexpensive wedding band and wear it on your trip. (It always works!) Never put yourself in a compromising situation. Even when approached by someone who appears charming with a sexy foreign accent, discourage his advances. He could be a predator on the prowl for women traveling alone. Wear sunglasses to avoid making eye contact; guys can misinterpret your look.
If things ever get out of hand, be affirmative, raise your voice and look threatening. This will attract attention and discourage further badgering. When local folks see a woman alone in duress, they rise to the occasion. But if you would welcome an evening of romance, there are safe venues: At breakfast in your hotel’s dining room, in an upscale restaurant if there’s an attractive guy at a nearby table who’s also alone or by someone on your city bus tour.
Always trust your instincts. If you feel comfortable, “Carpe Diem.” You might end up spending a very memorable, romantic evening. Just think what a titillating story you’ll have to share at the office. So, just do it.
- Enjoy a home-made, delicious dinner with a European family, at EatWith.com.
- I love my Ghurka Weekender carry-on leather and twill bag. It has enough room for any length trip, no checking or lost luggage.
- Make sure your passport doesn’t expire within six months of departing or returning from a trip or your ticket won’t be accepted.
Hastings-on-Hudson resident Richard Levy is a former advertising “Mad Man” creative director and now prolific travel writer. He’s also an inventor of innovative new products and is writing and illustrating a new children’s book. You can contact him at [email protected]