When I was in High School I had a little after school ritual. When the weather allowed, I would Make a glass of Lipton ice tea and go sit on the back porch step. There I would sit and let the worries of high school life melt away. I would admire mom’s roses and Crab- apple trees and listen to the hum of nearby traffic from the highway. There in the late afternoon sun I would dream. Dream of a life of adventure and travel. All the places I would see and all the things I would experience.
For many years travel and adventure was only a dream. The reality of my life in the early years did not afford me the luxury of traveling the world. Still, I dreamed. Finally, I have a reached a point in my life where I have been able to start making my life long dream of traveling the world a reality. Last spring I went to Italy for my maiden voyage outside the US. Seeing another country, and such a beautiful and historic one at that, left me feeling richer in my soul. This past week I spent several days in Cancun experiencing Mayan ruins as well as some adventures like zip lining in the jungle, repelling, and snorkeling. This June I will be heading to Athens, Greece and the surrounding islands. In my mid 50’s I am becoming a world traveler at long last. Should I have ever had any doubts?
One thing that does come up in casual discussion is the fact that I do travel alone. Well, not really alone. My trip to Italy was with a tour group. In Mexico, I signed up for guided tours. In Greece, will be with a tour group as well. So far I have enjoyed meeting the people in my groups and have never felt lonely. Even so, it is interesting and sometimes a bit of a concern, to some people that I do not make plans with family or friends to take these trips.
Reality check, I am not 23 with a whole bunch off BFF’s ready to travel at a moments notice. Nor is it probable that I am going to meet someone in the next several months who is going to sweep me off my feet and show me the world. No, if this girl is going to see the world in the time she has left in this life, she is going to have to make it happen on her own terms. So far it has been worth it.
I am writing this to encourage others to follow their dreams and if this includes travel, not to put it off until you can convince someone to travel with you. As we age it becomes more difficult to match schedules and interests. Maybe you are single like me. Maybe your significant other has no interest in seeing the world or even the country. Either way, this is your life and if you want to experience something only you can make it happen.
Travel can be dangerous. I don’t even want to mention what had been going on in the Cancun area right before my trip. But then again, I am a school teacher in the US. I’m done with the false feeling of being safe. Heck, there are places in my hometown of Greeley of which I know to stay clear. Bad stuff happens. Life is dangerous. Just like we avoid bad neighborhoods and rough towns at home, we can be smart about our decisions when we travel so that the odds of keeping safe and having a good time are in our favor.
Things I believe help ensure safe travel:
- Leave an itinerary with someone. Flights, hotel name, tours. Anything that can trace your steps. I have read it is good to leave a copy of your passport with someone as well.
- Be aware of your surroundings, always.
- Do research on your vacation. Find out as much as possible about the area to which you are traveling , the hotel you are staying at, tours that you are interested in taking. Trip Adviser is a great resource to read about other people’s experiences. Expedia is good for finding hotels and reliable companies for outings. They also provide customer ratings.
- Consider investing in backpacks, purses, and jackets made for travel and discouraging thieves. Pacsafe at https://www.pacsafe.com has lots of purses, backpacks etc. designed for anti theft travel and Scottevest at https://www.scottevest.com/ has clothing designed for carrying everything from wallets and cellphones to water bottles in hidden pockets undetected.
- Don’t wear flashy, designer items that make you a target for pick pockets, con artists or other predators. You will always stand out to some degree as a tourist but you can keep the bull’s eye on your back as small as possible.
- Be friendly ( It is fun to meet new people) but trust no one. Watch how your drinks are made and do not leave them unattended.
- Sign up for guided tours. It is the job of the tour guide to ensure you have a good time and arrive to and leave from your hotel safely.
- Stick with your travel group. There is safety in numbers.
- When alone in a hotel lobby or restaurant, look confident and self-assured. My friend, Tracey, suggested to look like you are walking with a group of near by people if you are feeling a little unsure of your surroundings.
- Don’t get drunk, stoned, or do anything stupid that compromises your ability to stay alert or defend yourself.
If I am honest, there are times I get nervous doing things alone. It is hard to coordinate with people to go on hikes, bike rides, and yes, travel. I try to let people know my plans for hiking or a day trip to a mountain town, as well as big vacations. No system is full proof but at the end of the day I want to say I lived the life I wanted to live to the fullest.
One final thought. There is a really big perk to traveling alone. You don’t have to worry about the comfort or interests of anyone else. You get to do exactly what you want to do without compromise. I know that a vacation with your loved one is pretty wonderful but if that isn’t in the cards, some quality “me” time is pretty awesome too!
As always, I would love to hear from you. Have you ever traveled alone? Would you ever consider it?
Until next time,