ITCHING TO travel but don’t have someone to go with? Does the mere thought of flying solo send you running into the attic? I have never been one for group travel, unless you count that semester abroad in college before I knew any better — and even then I often ventured away from my pack of nervous London dormmates. You see, flying solo is empowering for anyone, but it’s especially empowering for women.
As a career journalist, packing an overnight go-kit was just part of the gig. Lipstick, panties and passport in tow, just in case; you never knew where a wild assignment could take you. And while my foundation in solo travel is not the norm for most, the experience has changed dramatically for everyone since 9/11, especially for American women.
Back in the good old days, I would get on a train in a foreign country and escape to parts unknown, or venture into a stranger’s car to drive “for tea” with nary a thought about what could happen to me in the British countryside or Tuscan hills. (Oops!) And then there was the time I was sitting on a train platform in a desolate part of England, when it dawned on me: not a soul on Earth knew where I was. It was shortly after 9/11 and sleeper cells were sprouting all over England like dandelions on a spring day. Fast forward to 2015, and I have now placed limiters on my reckless sense of abandon.
So, if you’re thinking of spreading your wings and you’re at all hesitant, do it in baby steps. Visit a nearby state that you’ve never been to. Sit at a bar and strike up a conversation with a stranger. The worst that can happen is that you’ll meet another lonely soul who just wants to drink. The best, you’ll meet someone, and learn something, new. Either way, you’ll likely discover things about yourself, and maybe even a few things about life. Once you’re ready to book your international flight, take heed of a few things.
1. KNOW YOUR DESTINATION. Don’t venture into the unknown until you’ve honed your travel skills with some solo outings close to home.
2. KEEP YOUR CELL PHONE AT THE READY. Always keep one handy that allows you dial locally in whatever country you’re exploring. (The New York Times has this handy guide.)
3. LIMIT MEET-UPS TO PUBLIC PLACES. If your flirt game is in high gear and you simply must rendezvous with that attractive stranger, do it in a public place. (In other words, do as I say, not as I do!)
So, go forth my fellow Wanderlust Women. Spread your wings and fly. Just make sure you can handle Milwaukee before trying Milan.
Hear Lisa’s 2015 interview with Sandi Klein here.