I recently read a blog posting shared on Twitter about women travelling alone. I do not know anything about the writer other than gender which matched my own. My main takeaway was her frustration with the idea that women should not travel alone. Perhaps an even greater concern for me would be the safety factor.
I travel extensively, and have done so for years. When I worked, there were trips with co-workers and trips on my own. The same holds true today. My latest trip, Hawaii, had some of both. One day I spent traveling the Big Island by car while my fellow travelers spent time by the ocean. I am not one for cliff jumping. The different climate zones were fun to experience and I felt very comfortable on my own. On the last morning there I spent an enjoyable time exploring Banyan Drive in Hilo alone and met a delightful retiree while waiting out a light rain. Chance meetings reaffirm my faith in people.
I know bad things can happen. However, I do have suggestions for travelling alone which should reduce the negatives and increase safety. These tips have worked for me and maybe they will appeal to you. Some of the ideas really rely on using common sense.
The first time I traveled across the United States by car I was 13. I now live in a rural, and by East Coast standards, isolated part of the country. It is about 200 miles to the nearest large airport. The closest shopping mall is 100 miles. Thus, I am used to long car rides but, I believe the travel safety begins before ever hitting the road.
One of the most important things is maintaining your car. Regular oil changes and tire rotations are a must. If the car has more than 50,000 miles on the odometer, a recent check-up under the hood is also important. I start out with a full tank and try to refill before I am below a quarter tank. When I need to refuel I like to find interchanges or areas with multiple gas stations. Then, if I pull into one and get bad vibes, there is an easy back up location. I like stations that are busy but not too busy. I try to stop driving before nightfall, but if I am on a final leg where the destination is with a family or friend I will drive in the dark. In those cases, I make sure I top off at a gas station before dusk.
Where to stay has a set of requirements for me. I avoid large cities whenever possible and look for hotels in smaller towns. Part of my reasoning is avoiding rush hour traffic when I set out in the early morning. My first choice in hotels is the Hilton chain. I particularly like their Hampton Inns for over the road travelling. Many are located in the small communities where I prefer to stay. Out of family loyalty I also stay at the Starwood/Marriott chain. Most of these are in the suburbs. Both chains offer many price points.
If I am spending the night on the road in a hotel, my goal is to check in before dinner time. I do this for several reasons. First, by that point I have usually traveled at least 10 hours which is plenty of time on a solo drive. Second, I can avoid the rush at the hotel front desk and I always ask for two keys. This reduces the number of fellow travelers discovering my single status. Third, I can find a place to eat if there is not one in or near the hotel. Finally, I can get a workout in all before full dark which is when I like to be settled in my room.
When flying somewhere, I take a similar approach, depending on the length of my trip. If I will be gone just a few days and it is not winter, I try to book a midday flight and park in close at the airport. That allows me to feel comfortable going from car to security. I like to reach my destination in daylight. For me, a key to feeling comfortable about travelling alone is time of day. I try to return morning or midday for the trip to the parked car.
If however, I will be gone a week or more, I stay at one of the airport hotels offering Park and Fly rates. In this case my flight times are much more flexible since I take the hotel shuttle to and from the airport. But even then, I do not like to depart or arrive late at night. I take the same approach in winter to build in flexibility around possible winter storms.
Where I eat depends on where I am travelling and what my budget is. I do like the hotels that include some type of breakfast. Quite a few are also offering some type of dinner option now as well. However, sometimes I need or want to go off property. If I am in a city I look for the big box chains, in small towns I go for the mom and pop restaurants. To be honest this is the part of travelling alone that I like least; eating alone.
The most important thing for me is listening to my intuition, or Spidey Sense. I don’t hesitate to walk or drive away if things don’t seem right. I also stay with the tried and true for hotels, gas stations, and restaurants more often than not. My experiences travelling alone have been positive, but I have always taken common sense precautions.