11 Women Share How They Prepared For Their First Solo Trip

Twenty20 / freemanlafleur
Twenty20 / freemanlafleur

Have you always wanted to take a solo trip but can’t seem to find the guts? It can be nerve-wracking, for sure, to do it alone. But it’s doable and you don’t have to be a helpless damsel out there. Here is how 11 women prepared for their first solo foray.

Dinner + Movie

“I was really nervous about being alone, yet my whole life I’d wanted to try a solo trip. So I started small, taking myself out to my favorite local restaurant and then a film. At first, I was sure everyone was staring at me, wondering if I was lonely or stood up by my date. I half-hid behind my menu. But then I realized the people around me were immersed in their own story. Slowly, I emerged into my experience. It was an amazing feeling, actually.” –Meredith


Car Mechanics 101

“I had a weekend road trip planned, just me and my SUV. But aside from infrequently checking my oil, I really knew nothing about my car. I did an online search and found that a local auto shop offers classes tailored for women. The only thing I can say is that I wish I’d done that class years ago. I’m still no master mechanic, but at least now I know how to change a flat!” –Shannon


Finding That Sweet Spot

“For my first solo trip, I wanted to go somewhere where I was alone, but not remote, you know what I mean? So I searched online for retreat centers that specifically offer self-directed experiences. There are actually a lot of these around the country. I picked one that made me feel calm just looking at the website, and when I got there, it felt great to have comforts provided, like a cozy room and healthy food. This allowed me to focus on what I wanted to get out of my time away—rejuvenation.” —Maya


A Talk With My Partner

“My boyfriend is the type who likes to spend every free moment with me, which is awesome, but it also makes me feel guilty, and maybe even misunderstood, about wanting to do stuff alone. I’d been needing to finish some poems and required space to do that, so I found a cabin I could go to alone for a week. At first when I told him about my plans, his face dropped, but then I was just really honest, telling him that this is an important part of who I am. Because it’s not who he is, he didn’t get it completely. But he did say he’d support me. That was kind of a big deal for not only my trip, but our relationship.”–Natasha


Straight Up, Self Defense

“It’s hard to ignore the media with their stories of women being kidnapped and hurt when traveling solo. It actually totally freaks me out. The thing that made me feel more confident was taking a Krav Maga class, although I’m sure any self defense class would be useful. It was helpful in ways I didn’t even expect, like teaching me to be aware of my surroundings and making me practice techniques so many times that I began to believe I’d be able to react in a tough situation. I also got physically stronger. I took this confidence with me on my first solo trip to Europe, and it was invaluable.” –Sarah


Entering The Right Head Space

“I’m a mom of two little kids, and leaving was really hard for me, even though I knew my children would be completely fine at home with my partner. But man, the guilt! Before I even left (and it was only for two nights), I acknowledged the tidal wave of emotions that was sitting at the surface of my mind. And I committed to not letting this get in the way of my experience. I decided that if I felt lonely, fine, I’d accept that and let it pass. Same thing with sadness, guilt, fear. It really helped me get focused, so that I could make the most of my rare time away.” –Beth


Planning Versus Spontaneity

“I’m a last- minute type, so when I travel with my friends, we usually don’t have an agenda. But solo, I felt like I needed a plan. I normally wouldn’t carefully book my lodging and transportation well in advance, but when I went to Antigua, Guatemala, I did. And honestly, it was so freeing, to arrive at the airport in Guatemala City and know that I didn’t have to hassle with shuttles and hotels, all in my limited Spanish. There was already enough to think about, and having the basics covered was a great feeling. It was definitely the smart thing to do.” —Devi


Hallo, Hola, Ciao

“I decided on Germany for my first solo trip, but I didn’t speak any German, so I decided to take a language class. My trip was planned five months in advance, and I’m glad about that, because this allowed me to take both an in-person class, and then continue learning online. I used Rosetta Stone, but I’ve also heard good things about Duolingo. When finally I got to Germany, I felt a lot more confident traveling alone because I could communicate my basic needs, and I think locals also appreciated that I at least tried to speak their language.” –Kat


A Safety Tool Belt

“My biggest concern, honestly, about traveling alone, was safety. So I bought some things that boosted my confidence. Like a money belt and a cross-body purse. Since I was heading out of the country, I also put my phone on an international plan, and I bought travel insurance, which was so inexpensive, considering the coverage.” –Christy


Simple Things, Like Sleep

“I’ve now done more than 10 solo trips, but I still remember that first one so clearly. I was going to NYC (from my little town in the Midwest) for the weekend to visit some art museums. I was so excited, because I wouldn’t be obligated to anyone else’s agenda. But deep down, I knew I needed to bring my A-game. I made lot of preparations, but honestly, some of the simple things, like getting good sleep in advance so that I’d be alert, and making sure my mom knew where I’d be at all times, and getting to know the neighborhood where I’d be staying by looking at a map, were some of the best ways to prep.” —Lisa


Explaining To My Children

“I’m not the type who wanted to backpack alone across Southeast Asia when I was 22, and I’d never thought much about traveling solo, but then, at the age of 33 with two kids (ages 4 and 2), I saw an ad for a retreat center in Mexico, and I really wanted to go. The hardest thing about leaving was hearing my kids ask, over and over, “Mommy why do you have to go?” It broke my heart open every time. And then finally, I decided to be totally honest with them and tell them that I needed a break, and that this would be good for all of us, because I’d come back full of energy. I used some examples that made sense to them. On a little-kid-level, I think they got it. It was like their first lesson in self care.” —Bridget Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Check out some of Carrie’s adventures in the wild in her new book available here.



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