How to Be Alone: Travel

I may be sitting in my kitchen in my Toile de Jouy apron, noticing a bouquet of kale that is begging to be made into something delightful, while feeling very Julie & Julia… but I won’t be writing about that (foodie) passion today.  This HTBA post is about another fantastic love of mine: travel.

Many twentysomethings friends enjoy traveling. We have been told repeatedly to “go now”, “seize the moment”, because “you never have both the time and the money to travel”. Translation: before you have kids, a mortgage or a management level job, see what you wish of the world.

Vast African plains

One friend, colleague, and faithful reader of this blog, travels alone yearly to celebrate her birthday. I’m still in awe of her commitment to herself and her creativity in the places she visits! In wanting to fuse these aspirations together, I present:

How to {Travel} Alone:

  1. Share your itinerary with a few key people.  Parents, partner, best friend, your rent-a-cop…(have you seen Taken?!?) It behooves you to have someone on Earth know where you are and where you should be on a given day. Remember to check in with them over the course of your journey.
  2. Do not (overly) publicize your whereabouts on social media. Let’s be honest: it may stink that this applies, but  I don’t think this is being overly cautious. If you have listed your address in public places on the web and shared that you are out of town… you get the idea. Hey, if Nick Kristof follows this rule in the interest of his safety, so can you!
  3. Take copies of key documents with you. In case of any stolen items, it is best if you can have at least a photocopy with you, safely stored in a locked room, safe, or piece of luggage.
  4. Have the local Embassy’s information. If you are a US citizen, register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

    What a Blue Hawaiian!

  5. Have a plan (then a back-up and a back-up to the back-up).  You never know what changes may occur and I find myself more peaceful when I have a few options prepared. “Hotels A, B, AND C are all full? Ok, let’s check out these B&B’s”. Etc.
  6. Be careful with what you eat. Research local diet and diseases before traveling so you are best prepared. Realize that your body may need to adapt and be gentle and careful. Also, know where the local hospital and clinics are located.
  7. Carry the local currency. This isn’t always easy/possible to secure before traveling. However, after a recent experience, I doubt I will poo-poo the idea of transferring some money at an airport kiosk. Yes, you won’t get the best rate, and my beloved Suze is potentially rolling her eyes at me. However, when on a 7 hour bus ride with no phone, no money, and no acquaintances, I would like to have a few bucks. Or euros, or rands or whatever. Because if nothing else, at least I could use the coin operated bathrooms!
  8. Buy or rent a local phone. Before traveling to Africa recently, I went to my local carrier to rent a phone. I was so excited at how easy this was and how affordable. However, it didn’t work in my traveling region. In hindsight, I would have bought a local phone and donated it later, even given my concerns about conflict minerals. Again, safety and other priories have to be weighed.

Those last three were lessons learned a la my Zambia trip. It was completely out of my comfort zone. I was traveling with terms that normally don’t apply to me: last minute, hectic, and unknown. While good to push past some boundaries, I don’t feel that I should do that at the cost of safety. Lesson learned.

May not like John Denver...but like this Rocky Mountain high!

So fearless friends, recognize that there are mountains to be climbed, rivers to be forged, and even rays to be basked in…alone. For if you can learn to travel with just yourself, and relish it, imagine what other wonders await.

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6 responses

  1. Love! ;) great ideas here! though the only thing I do on this list is copies of my docs (which I’ve uploaded to Dropbox for easy download anywhere in the world!) and give a copy of my iten to my parents and a cousin who knows how to access an embassy just in case lol

    Ive learned that a sense of humor is also critical.

    • An ode to you! Yes, I myself am not 100% compliance with all of these tips, but still good to strive for.

      Thanks for sharing about Dropbox, and yes to a sense of humor. That is always a great traveling companion!

  2. Pingback: How to Be Alone: Let Yourself Be | Say Yes! Change Things.

  3. Pingback: How to Be Alone: Dance | Say Yes! Change Things.

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