There’s an unfortunate school of thought that women aren’t supposed to travel alone. Should you travel with heightened awareness of your surroundings? Yes. But should you be in constant fear that you’re trip will turn into a horror scene from Taken? Of course not! Traveling alone can be an emboldening and life changing experience if you trek smartly.
We sat down with Kinga Philipps, host of the Travel Channel’s The Wild Side with Kinga Philipps, who hits the road for a trip across the Southeast with Hilton Garden Inn this week as part of their new mission to help Americans reclaim their weekends and recharge through travel, to get her take on traveling alone.
“It took me years and years of traveling before I got up the courage to go solo. I wish I knew how easy, freeing and fun it was. I would have done it sooner!” says Philipps.
“One of the most important things I have learned from travelling alone is having self confidence in situations out of my normal habitat…you learn so much about yourself and how you handle various circumstances that throw you for a loop. You also learn to laugh at things instead of letting them stress you out. You most definitely learn flexibility!” she notes.
Start planning your solo adventure now with Kinga’s tips!
Set fare alerts for your dream destinations. One of the biggest barriers to travel is money, but by setting fare alerts using websites and apps like Hitlist, Hipmunk, and AirfareWatchdog, you can snag a great airfare as soon as it comes up! If you have the flexibility in your schedule, find out when the high/low travel season is in different areas. “A week before or after high season, you can still get the same great weather, minus the cost, when prices can often triple,” says Philipps. But if you can only go at a specific time, calling the airline directly can turn up deals that can’t be found online, she says.
Start with female-friendly locations. Don’t let nerves hold you back from planning an epic trip! “There are so many places that women will not only feel safe, but adventurous,” says Philipps. “Hawaii is solo traveling 101—exotic yet safe, easy and accessible.” She also recommends Australia, because the locals are helpful and accommodating. “Another guaranteed great time is Italy—just be firm with the gents who will follow you around and shower you with compliments!”
Don’t underrate the road trip! “If you are worried about being far from home alone, start with a road trip,” says Philipps. “Road tripping around the US is a blast and a great way to see our own country in an intimate way.” Some of Philipps’ favorite US destinations include the Florida Everglades, Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, shipwreck diving off the coast of South Carolina, and Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
Do your research beforehand. While research is key with any trip you take, it’s especially important when the only person you have to rely on is yourself. “Research everything from customs and traditions you should be aware of, make a mental map of the region so you always have your bearings, gather public transportation options and important phone numbers,” says Philipps. “I also like to be aware of logistics in advance, like how I get from an airport to an island for instance, so I don’t have to stress myself out when I get there.”
Screen shot vital info on your phone. Cell service can be spotty when you travel, so screen grabbing maps, numbers, addresses, and public transportation schedules can be a lifesaver if you’re in a dead zone, notes Philipps. A backup paper copy of a map never hurts either, in case your phone dies while you’re out and about.