When I'm not working in entertainment, I like to take gigs in the event marketing industry. I had this amazing opportunity to take an entire month and travel to a few states around the US.
I have always hesitated traveling alone. I felt like I wouldn't have nearly as much fun as I would if I had someone to share my trip with. I was also overly concerned with my safety. I felt like women shouldn't travel alone. The world is too scary out there. But this was a work trip, and a really cool opportunity, so off I went!
One of the more important things for traveling alone is the planning process. When you're in a group and you forget something, its likely that someone else on your trip will be able to help you out. When you're alone, its all on you so planning is KEY.
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POINTS PROGRAMS AND MEMBERSHIPS:
I'm talking about the hotel and flight membership points that are available through companies. I'm a Marriot Bonvoy member, so whenever possible, I try to stay in a Marriot or an affiliate hotel. They have a points program that allows you to earn status. With 10 nights, you've already earned your way up a level. Each level comes with different perks, like priority late check out, discounted rates, concierge lounge access, and small gifts from the hotel.
For flights, I fly American Airlines. My company usually books me on American flights. I like to stick to one airline, so that I can earn as many miles as possible. I think American does a consistently good job, and I've never had any issues with this airline. Its worth getting the credit card and earning points with your purchases. You get double the miles when you use your card to make flight purchases and you also get your first checked bag free.
2. PACK LIGHTLY
I always choose to pack lightly, but especially when I am traveling alone. You have to carry everything you bring by yourself everywhere you go. Truthfully, I don't think you need more than a carry-on suitcase for a week of travel. I highly recommend implementing the Kon Marie method or checking out outfit planning posts by bloggers to learn more about how you can maximize just a few items for a longer trip (more on this later). Women's wallets are needlessly enormous, so when traveling I usually use a Vera Bradley ID Wallet to minimize what I bring with me. Truthfully, all you need are your ID, credit cards, insurance cards, and your roomkey. Everything else is taking up precious space. Many times, on American or United flights, they book the planes so full that they will offer to check your carry on bag at the gate complimentary or you can check your bag for free with the American Airlines credit card.
I highly recommend Genius Pack Improved Carry-On G4 Spinner. I've used this bag on over 25 trips now and I absolutely love it. It comes with an umbrella built-in (that has come in handy a few times), organized packing cube pockets that are labeled for essentials like underwear, socks, and chargers. There is a comprehensive packing list inside. It also has a space for your books and magazines on the back that is easy to access in the airport. There is a pocket for your water bottle to sit outside of the bag. On the front, there is an easy access pocket for tickets and your wallet. You can fit at least 5 full outfits, and two pairs of shoes. It is one of the best travel items I've ever used.
I love using the SOLO NY Peak Backpack. The folded down clip is a great place to keep my travel pillow while I walk through the airport. It has a small pocket that sits at the small of your back that is great for a small wallet and pens. If you need extra space, you can unflip the front and the bag expands
I would also highly recommend the PurseN travel pillow. This pillow has a memory foam core that is extremely comfortable, but sturdy enough to actually hold your neck up while you sleep on a flight. It has a plush fabric covering that is removable and washable. Two pockets fold down to give you a place to keep your phone so that you don't have to put it in the seat back pocket. My favorite feature are the pockets for your hands. I always keep an eye mask and a pair of headphones in this pillow. It is my must have travel companion for long flights.
I always wear a blanket scarf on flights regardless of my destination. The planes are freezing. The blanket scarf is easy to wear around until you're in your seat and ready to go. Then you have a blanket for your flight!
3. TRAVELING ALONE FORCES YOU TO TUNE IN TO WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
This was by far my biggest take away from my month of travel. When you travel in a group, you are always collaborating with everyone to come to decisions on what you're going to do. When you are by yourself, you are the only person who matters. For me, this situation was REALLY weird at first.
Let me explain, when I first came across free time in Orlando, Florida, I had the option to go eat wherever I wanted... by myself. I had to get over the weird feeling of eating alone AND face the fact that 90% of my decisions are based on what other people want. Getting over eating alone in restaraunts happened pretty quickly for me. I was in Disney Springs with so many options and for the first time, I had to choose the restaurant based soley on what I wanted to experience. When decisions have to be made with regard to ONLY your own interests, you learn pretty quickly what those are. I learned some cool things about myself. I like to eat in places with live music (bonus points for Irish Pubs) and live dancers (not strip clubs y'all I'm talkin' 1920s Flappers or Irish Dancers). I prefer to sit right by the water whenever possible. I dislike eating at the bar in crowded spaces (mainly because people constantly reach over you to order drinks and thats really annoying, don't be that guy). Now even when I'm not alone, I've learned to take my own preferences into consideration much more often.
In Orlando, I was left with an entire afternoon and evening off of work. What did I do? WENT TO DISNEY WORLD MAGIC KINGDOM OF COURSE! This wasn't as easy of a decision as I'm making it seem. Going to a theme park alone made me feel super strange and I needed a lot of encouragement from my boyfriend and his roommate to actually shut up and go have fun already. I bought the ticket and off I went. I had a BLAST. I was in the park for six hours and went on 10 rides because you can cover SO much more ground alone than you can in a group in a theme park. If I ever wanted photos, there are photographers all over the place who will take pictures with your phone if you ask them to. Strangers are also really willing to help you out. I made friends with people in line, and sometimes I even read a book while waiting in line. The point is, you can have a buttload of fun in a theme park by yourself! If you want to ride the teacups four times in a row, no one is there to tell you not to! If you want to eat only Mickey Mouse shaped ice creams, you can! If you want to spend 45 minutes waiting in line for a photo, knock yourself out! The point is, you get to do whatever the heck you want and no one is there to say anything about it!
4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, DUMMY!
There are literally people all around you all the time. It took me a few days to realize this, but I made friends everywhere I went once I got there. A happy surprise was that a lot of the friends I met in Orlando were women my age who were also traveling and three out of four were from the same part of California as me. The universe has your back; don't be afraid of venturing out alone.