My Hatteras Atlantic Mornings..
Good Morning and Welcome to my Atlantic Life😊
....and to "Pam's Soloventures"
You may remember a while ago I mentioned that I was working on a post about "solo travel" - well, what started as a short blog has morphed into a much larger piece….and even then, it’s much shorter than it could be….there’s easily enough on this topic swirling around in my head for a book…To say I’m enthusiastic about travelling alone is very much an understatement…..I love it💕💕💕
So as not to overwhelm you though, I've divided "Pam's Soloventures" into a series of three blog posts😊
Part (I) Finding Your Feet....One Trip at a Time
Part (II) Solo Sojourns....conquering overnight stays
Part (III) Adventures Await.....The World is now Your Oyster!
I have to say, for me, there's just something special about solo travel that's simply good for my soul…and my sanity 😉
From an afternoon trip to the museum, to a year-long sabbatical in a foreign land - travelling adventures can take a multitude of forms. Over the years, I've been super fortunate to have travelled extensively, not only in Europe and the US, but all over the world....and although some of these trips have been vacations with JB, family and friends, the majority of my travels for a long time were business related......and therefore, most of those were done on my own.
Now as anyone who reads my blogs regularly knows, I'm not a naturally confident person (I know quite a few people that don't believe that, especially those that may have worked with me on leadership teams😉, but it's completely true ), for me it's a learned behavior........To be successful in my healthcare and clinical research career, I had to be able to project confidence, particularly when leading large groups of 500 people (as an aside, coincidentally my self-confidence is always one of the first things to go when I'm feeling low). In fact, solo trips are often what I use to help me get my confidence back when it's a little lost....which, I know sounds a tad counterintuitive, but it works for me - and you never know, it may work for you too.
Initially, solo travel can take a bit of planning until you get into the flow...... and then quite simply, the world is your oyster....there will be no stopping you!
There are so many benefits to Solo Travel, here are just a few:
Freedom and Flexibility - It's your trip, you can do exactly what you want to do, including changing places, times and activities at any point. You have only your schedule to plan around, your likes/dislikes to consider.... go wherever you want, and explore at your own pace without compromising with others. You can change your itinerary on a whim, stay longer in a place you love, or move on quickly if you're not enjoying a particular destination, it really is all about you....and that is completely okay, you deserve this 😉
Self-Discovery - Solo travels offer a unique opportunity for self-reflection and self-discovery (you can build in lots of journaling/writing time😊). Being alone in a new environment can help you gain insights into your own strengths, weaknesses, and passions. And of course, there is always all that Guilt free "me time" that you can have...
Personal Growth - It allows you to step out of your comfort zone at your own pace, face challenges in your own time, and build confidence in your abilities
Increased Awareness and Appreciation - Traveling alone allows you to be more present and attentive to your surroundings. It enhances your awareness of different cultures, traditions, and environments, fostering a deeper appreciation for the world around you
Meet New People - When you travel alone, you're more likely to engage with local people and fellow travelers. This can lead to meaningful connections, new friendships, and a deeper cultural understanding....it's absolutely amazing how many super interesting and wonderful people I have met through my years of travel (and yes, a few not so, and these have provided me with some great life lessons!!!)
Empowerment - Traveling alone boosts your self-confidence, as you navigate through unfamiliar territories, make decisions, and solve problems on your own. It helps you become more independent and self-reliant 💪(and as an added bonus, there is no one with you to see you make mistakes, you can just adjust your plans😁)
I would be remiss if I didn't also mention some of the challenges that you may face whilst Solo Travelling:
Higher Costs - Depending on the type of trip, solo adventures may be a bit more expensive in terms of accommodation. Most accommodations charge per room, which means solo travelers won't benefit from cost-sharing
Possible mitigation strategies:
Check out smaller private hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts that may have smaller rooms for a more reasonable price
Look for deals or discounts on solo traveler packages or activities (check travel websites that are specifically designed for solo travelers)
Plan your meals by exploring local markets or affordable local eateries (often awesome food at better prices, whereas I check Tripadvisor for accommodation, I love Yelp for locating local restaurants...and always read the reviews) I've found so many incredible eating places that weren't well advertised - except on Yelp or by asking where "locals" eat?
Loneliness - One of the potential downsides of solo travel is feeling lonely, especially if you are not naturally inclined towards being alone...you should most definitely practice being comfortable and happy in your own company before embarking on longer journeys
Possible mitigation strategies:
Participate in group activities or tours to interact with other travelers
Again, stay in smaller privately owned accommodation like Guest Houses, Bed and Breakfasts and Inns. Some like ours, have designed their space specifically so there are places you can be on your own if that's what you want, but also places where people naturally gather, where you can enjoy some great conversation with other guests
Safety Concerns - Traveling alone can raise safety concerns, particularly in unfamiliar or remote areas. It's important to stay vigilant, take precautions, and research about the destination's safety measures before your trip
Possible mitigation strategies:
Research your destinations beforehand to be aware of any potential safety concerns, specifically choose places that you know you'll feel comfortable in. This is where some time spent planning in advance is important
Share your itinerary and important details with someone you trust
Stay in well-reviewed accommodations in safe neighborhoods. Read reviews on a reputable travel guide like TripAdvisor
Trust your instincts and avoid risky situations
Decision-making Responsibility - While having the freedom to make your own decisions is a pro, it can also be challenging for some individuals. The responsibility of planning, organizing, and deciding everything can be a tad overwhelming at times
Possible mitigation strategies:
If you feel that this may be challenging for you, definitely take the time to research and plan an itinerary. I would suggest not jam-packing it full of activities, as this can be a tad overwhelming on your own. Also, keep your itinerary flexible, as your confidence grows, you will want to be able to add new activities, sightseeing or just some additional lazing in the sun...
And lastly....the one I've often been guilty of - when traveling with others (for me it was at airports with JB and Lloyd), you get so used to traveling on your own that you "forget" there are others with you. Often during family vacations, JB and Lloyd would be left behind, as I went into "autopilot" quickly negotiating check-in, passport control, security etc. that I was all too familiar with. Only when JB would call me back and remind me that we were all together, did I slow down 😁
Possible mitigation strategies:
Ensure everyone has a phone too so you can locate them....it's the only thing that worked for me!!!
But, don't worry you won't need to jump headlong into a solo trip to Europe just yet…. On the contrary, you can start super small, let's call them "micro solo travels" - a trip that may only be a few miles from your home, and last only a couple of hours. So here goes...
Finding Your Feet....One Trip at a Time
What about a trip to a neighboring town?
A local museum or art gallery?
A nearby beach or park?
You can be as creative...(or not😊) as you like, because it's your trip!!!! And, consequently is one of the great bonuses of solo travel........your adventure is Wherever, Whenever, Whatever you want to do - it's Your itinerary, the only person you need to please is You.....it's one of the ultimate treats to give to yourself 💕
NB. (Nota Bene....Latin for "note well" - sorry, I love Latin words)
If you're already comfortable travelling on your own, feel free to skip the rest of this post and wait for my next installment to be published, where I continue to regale about the awesomeness of solo travel, and highlight some ideas for longer adventures....
Jake packed and ready for another of my "Soloventures"
For beginners to solo travel, planning is most definitely key - knowing Where you're going? How you're going to get there?.... (and back home again!!!) What you're going to do when you get there? Where you can eat if your trip lasts longer than a couple of hours?
If you have these types of details figured out ahead of your trip, it takes much of the stress and worry out of your adventure….and remember, don't be tempted to invite someone else, for then, it wouldn't be solo travel 🤪. But no worries, the more solo trips you do, the easier it becomes, the longer more complex and spontaneous your journeys can be.
So, if we start super small - let's treat a shopping trip as a solo experience. For example, next time you want a new book, instead of automatically ordering it from Amazon, find a bookstore.....yes, you know the kind of store that actually has shelves and shelves of books that you can peruse.....and, if you're really lucky, they may have coffee too!
Once you have your destination decided, a little planning will help your trip go smoothly (it's super important that your tiny adventure goes smoothly as this type of trip can be used as a basis for planning longer and larger adventures and gaining that self-confidence that greatly helps)
Details such as:
When to go?
- Would you rather the store be quiet?
- or prefer people around you?
How will you get there?
- Can you drive yourself?
- Get a bus?
- Walk or cycle there?
Will you need to eat/drink while on your trip?
- Is there a coffee shop or restaurant close by?
- Is there somewhere you can eat a packed lunch?
Next - Pack appropriately......I know this sounds a little extreme, but if you're anxious about going places on your own this really does help. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, I keep a "Go Bag" in my car or in the reception at the inn. This little lightweight rucksack contains everything I may need for a few hours:
Pen (and a couple of spare pens)
Pencil for doodling ( I would never call my scribbles sketching, I'm hopeless at drawing, but like to try nevertheless as I enjoy it)
Lightweight travel blanket
A few $$
A couple of painkillers (just in case I get a headache)
Brush and scrunchie for my hair
My "Go Bag" always ready...
When I was travelling lots (at the peak of my travel I was flying several times a month mainly international) - I got into a routine whereby I knew exactly what I needed to pack and was super comfortable traveling on my own, this is when I discovered that I actually enjoyed solo travels and the perks that go with it (for example one person is much more likely to get upgraded when flying than two as I've often found out 😉).
Back to the trip to the bookstore - you don't need to pack much, just make sure you have some dollars, credit/debit card (as you may find a book you just can't live without), your phone and your purse (handbag in the UK). You'll already know where you're going, how you're traveling there, and what you're going to do there so..... it's time to go😊
As you initially spent a little time planning this trip, there should be no need to worry about your travel there or back, you can just relax and enjoy the liberating feeling of a micro solo trip. If, for whatever reason, there is a problem with your journey - roadworks, change in bus schedule, you were planning to walk and there's torrential rain....don't panic, there are always other options. You shouldn't be in a hurry (remember this is Your Time to do with as you please), so you should be able to adjust your plans to overcome whatever travel challenge came up.....As it's Your trip, you can make whatever changes you like, you don't have to consult with anyone else to see if it works for them.
As an aside, I always travel with a book, if I'm stuck waiting anywhere, or feel awkward at being on my own, I just get my book out and begin reading. I think it's so much better than looking like I'm surgically attached to my cellphone. It doesn't seem to matter where I go, some people spend their entire time when traveling, looking at their phone.....missing everything that is going on around them! If you're not driving, when obviously you need to watch the road, please, please notice the world around you. Take the time to truly see the beauty (and unfortunately sometimes the cruelty) that is going on. Make every moment of your trip count, you'll be surprised at how much more you notice when you're on your own.
I've spent many a blissful morning at a local bookstore or a convenient Barnes and Nobles....in the winter escaping the cold, or in summer avoiding the extreme heat of the day. Whatever the weather, I can be in my happy place surrounded by books, and if I'm lucky I can have a mug of coffee!
If you need to eat whilst you're out, this should also be an awesome experience....choose a cafe or restaurant in advance, especially if you have any specific dietary needs. I always try to get a table by a window, so I can while away my time just "people watching". As in traveling, I'll have a book just in case I do feel out of place being on my own, which you'll definitely find that, the more you solo travel, the more comfortable you will be in your own company. If you're not used to taking a trip on your own, just think how accomplished you'll feel when you're back home having taken your first steps to conquering solo traveling 🏆
The great thing about micro solo travels is that you can easily build on these short journeys.......so try a few. Next why not spend an afternoon, or even a day, visiting a museum that interests you. Now, I know for some a day completely on your own can seem a little intimidating, but by this stage you may already have done a few short trips (practice runs), so adding a few more hours to a trip should be a relatively easy step.
Museums or galleries are a wonderful outing for solo travelers.... you can choose what type of exhibition interests you, do a little research on the topic if you like, for example if you're going to an art exhibition read up on the featured artists, you'll find some super interesting information, and it will also provide some great context for their artwork.
Similarly, if you're visiting a museum specializing in a particular period in history, the experience will be much more fulfilling if you know a little (or a lot 😉) about the subject in advance of your trip.
One of the most wonderful parts of solo travel is the ability to suit yourself - You are in charge (awesome for a little control freak like me!)..... you can travel when you want, how you want, you can spend as much or as little time as you like - in the bookstore example you can browse whatever subject you like lingering over some books for as long as you want, or completely skip sections that don't interest you…..it's all about you.
In the art gallery example, you can stop and, and lose yourself in a particular piece of artwork just looking at it for as long as you like….it's all on your terms.
As time goes on, you'll begin to build your travel routine - planning the details of your day trips in advance......... there are so many places to go and see just for the day. Here are just a few ideas:
Shopping in another town
Take a class
Go for a long drive
Explore your hometown or a city close by.
So, now you've mastered solo day trips....you're feeling confident and comfortable, it's time to step up your game and take it to the next level - an overnight stay/weekend 🧳Join me next time for some ideas on how to take the leap to a solo sleepover 🥰
Until Next Time...Why not plan a solo trip just for You!
Take care, Stay Safe and....
Love and Hugs,
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