Category Archives: Travelling Solo

Highlighting the pro’s and cons of solo travel.

Tips for Women Travelling Solo

WomanAloneAirportThis past Tuesday was International Women’s Day. Originally called International Working Women’s Day, this date was designated to celebrate and respect women for their achievements in economics, politics and social status.

In spite of women achieving near equality with our male counterparts here in North America, women must still exercise a significantly greater degree of caution when travelling alone.

Regardless of whether you are travelling for business or for pleasure, as a woman there are many precautions that you should take in order to ensure your personal safety throughout your journey.  Even though a certain locale may seem safe, as a precaution women should always have their guard up and be aware of their surroundings.

Some General Precautions for Women Travelling Solo:

 Keep an eye on your belongings and NEVER leave them unattended.womanwithbaggageatgate Leaving your belongings unattended not only puts you at risk for theft, but may make you a target for drug smuggling if you are travelling in a foreign country. For example, even if you left your baggage with a hotel concierge, be sure to rip your bag apart and inspect it thoroughly because you never know if someone could have put any sort of illegal substances in your bag. If you fail to do this and unknowingly bring illegal substances with you through an international border, customs will not sympathize with you as you are personally responsible for all of your belongings.  Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.

Be aware of other people who may be staring at you and/or your belongings for prolonged periods of time. manStaringAtWomanFor example, if you are sitting in a restaurant and every time you glance over at a particular person, they are staring at you then I would strongly suggest that you move along to another safe highly public place.  If returning to your hotel room, approach the front desk and bring it to their attention and have someone from the hotel escort you to your room if necessary. Excessive gawking is not a compliment.

wtfBe wary of other travellers who express too much interest in your itinerary. It is one thing for fellow travellers to exchange basic information about where each other are going (generally speaking) and what kind of work you do, but if someone starts asking you details about your accommodations such as your hotel, room number or other highly specific information that should otherwise have no relevance to them, do not provide such details.  End the conversation and be on your way.


AirportApprovedTaxiOnly use transportation provided and approved by the airport and/or hotel or rent a car from a recognized company. 

There are many individuals who may be operating these vehicles illegally which can put you at risk of a variety of dangers ranging from being overcharged to risking physical harm in extreme cases.

 

Girl Jogging on a bridge

Do NOT listen to music using your headphones when walking, jogging or sitting in public places. Without your sense of hearing, you will be extremely vulnerable to attack or theft because you won’t even hear someone approach you.

 

 

NEVER leave your drink or food unattended. food drinkIt is now quite common for women to be drugged not only in their drink but also in their food.  If you have to go to the washroom, take all of your belongings with you and finish your food and drink before you go. You can always order a refreshment upon your return to the table.

 

Beware of “Female Friendly Networks” and “Meet-ups” aimed towards female solo travellers. Women-networking-onlineI recently became aware of a website which claims to be a networking site for solo female travellers. It recommends “Female Friendly Hotels” and offers an online network of female travellers which you can join and meet up with in your travels.  This is HIGHLY DANGEROUS! I don’t even have an account but I can go on this website and see which women by first and last name are travelling to specific cities on specific dates and very likely using one of the “Female Friendly Hotels” suggested on this website.  If I was a predator, this website makes it all to easy to target women travelling alone and not only that, women who are travelling alone and who are LONELY enough to reach out to strangers on the internet and clearly don’t have anyone else to meet up with at their destination. All it takes is going on this website, making a few phone calls to ask if the traveller is registered at any of those hotels during the dates they specified and boom! Might as well wear a target sign on your backs ladies!

woman on cell phoneAlways make sure at least one person knows where you are and check-in with others regularly. I’m not saying report your every move, but rather be sure to have someone whether it is a supervisor or a friend that you will communicate with at least once per day however briefly.  This way, if anything were to happen to you, at least someone would know.

 

To some, my list may seem paranoid but as far as I am concerned, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  It is still possible to have a great time when travelling solo and to always have your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. If you travel often, these behaviors will all become second nature.

 

So, travel safe my friends and have fun!

 

Cheers,

TSW

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Single this Valentine’s Day? Give this Ultimate Gift to Yourself

Gift-to-selfLove Yourself and Give Yourself the Gift of a Solo Vacation this Valentine’s Day! 

Most of us have become somewhat complacent and dependent on other people for companionship, acceptance, validation or cling to others simply out of a fear of loneliness among a multitude of other possible reasons.  As such, very few people are truly independent.  Unfortunately in our society, those who have the strength and courage to be truly independent are socially stigmatized,  especially on lovely Hallmark holidays such as Valentine’s Day.

For this reason, most people find the thought of being alone, never-mind travelling alone on vacation completely and utterly daunting.

I bring this up because the most common objection to solo travel that I hear is that people don’t want to be alone. But why?

Nobody to talk to? Afraid of getting lost in one’s own thoughts? Fear of being in a dangerous situation and unable to help oneself?

The fact of the matter is that in this day and age, people don’t even really TALK to each other anymore.  I mean, everyone just texts or instant messages and nobody actually picks up the phone and actually calls each other anymore.  Last week my younger brother stayed at my place and when my phone rang, he handed it to me and said, “Wow, your friends actually call you?”.

Heck, these days even if you sit in a coffee shop alone and aren’t scrolling through your smart phone or reading a book people will look at you like you’re a psychopath.

psychopath

What I’m trying to get at here, is that although we are so “connected to everyone” we are not truly physically or directly interacting with people in person.  This type of communication (texting, IM, emails, social media even real phone calls! etc. ) can all be done while abroad and while travelling solo. So what is everyone so afraid of?

I digress.  Now that that’s out of the way, lets explore how taking a solo vacation can benefit you and why it is the best gift you can give yourself!

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should take a Solo Vacation at Least Once in Their Lifetime:

1. You Will Make New Friends

group of smiling friends traveling by tour busWhen travelling alone, you will have to interact with others whether you like it or not. Some interactions may be brief and superficial however you will very likely meet other travellers that you otherwise never would have met or engaged with if you were in the company of your travel companion(s). Chances are you will also meet other solo travellers and if you meet someone you like, make plans to do something together even if it’s just to sit at a beach for a day, share a taxi or grab a coffee.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.

2. Your Self-Confidence Will Improve as You Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

comfort zoneWithout anyone to depend on but yourself, you have no choice but to take care of all of the planning and preparation for your trip. If you find this potentially daunting, all you have to do is write out a list of your plans and everything you need for your trip and cross them off as you’ve completed each component of your itinerary. Upon returning from your adventure, you will not only be proud of yourself for all of the organization you put into the trip but also all of the amazing experiences you had as a result.  It was all you! This will no doubt boost your self-confidence immensely.

3. You will become more introspective and in-tune with your surroundings

mountain-climbingWithout the distraction of another person, you may notice and think of things you otherwise never would have noticed which can enrich your thought process and enlighten you as a human being.

 

 

 

4. You Get to do Exactly What You Want When You Want.

Me-TimeYou are in complete control of your vacation from start to finish. You can plan your itinerary just as quickly as you can ditch it and devise a new plan and not have to worry about upsetting anyone else. Want to sleep in? Do it and have nothing to feel guilty about as after all, it’s your vacation.  Want to wake up early the next day and go for a run or a head start on a road trip? No problem, just go! Tired and want to go home? Go home!  Hungry? Well, go get something to eat, whatever YOU are in the mood for and take as long as YOU like.

5. You Create your Budget and Control it.

150914_RTW_MillennialMillionaireWhen travelling alone, you spend what you want to spend and not get guilt tripped into paying to do some expensive excursion that you never wanted to do in the first place.

As you can see, there are a multitude of benefits to taking a solo vacation but there are some potential setbacks.  For example, if you are embarking on an all-inclusive vacation, most resorts have a singles surcharge which can be as high as $1000 or more.  Even worse, some resorts such as Sandals, ban single travellers all together as though singles are some outcasts in society (But don’t take it personally because these same resorts also ban gay couples so why anyone in their right mind would support such a bigoted organization is beyond me!).   Furthermore, if you are travelling solo, you must exert extra caution to ensure your personal safety especially if you are female.

Prior to booking and shorty before you leave for your trip regardless of where in the world it may be, be sure to check out your country’s government travel advisory page. If the region or the country you will be visiting becomes subject to a travel advisory, your travel health insurance or your trip cancellation insurance may be affected.

So what are you waiting for? Suck it up Princess, and go book yourself your dream solo vacation! You’ll be so proud you had that experience and have memories you will never forget!

Bon voyage!

TSW

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Dating a Frequent Traveller: How to Make it Work

TagAlongTravelAn interview with Deborah Zanke, spouse of a frequent traveller and author of the Tag Along Travel Blog.

Being a frequent traveller, I know all too well what it is like to date someone who does not travel for work which I discussed in my previous post “ Love and Romance En Route: The Unique Challenges Frequent Travellers Face in Dating and Relationships.”

In my experience, I have always preferred to date fellow salesmen or men who are frequent travellers because they inherently understand business travel and do not have a problem with me going away for extensive periods of time for work and vice versa.  My last relationship with a non-traveller proved disastrous.  He was completely insecure and became so jealous and suspicious of my every move because he just didn’t get it.  He turned into a complete control freak.   If I didn’t respond to every text or phone call, he thought I was cheating on him which was never the case.  I was just busy, working.  I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this type of behavior and annoying false accusations and hence why the relationship ended.  Based on my experiences, I was sure that romantic relationships where both partners travel for work was the only way it could work, but I have been proven wrong. As  it turns out, dating insecure and emotionally unstable people makes it impossible.

So I digress…

I recently met Deborah Zanke, the owner of a Marketing and Public Relations Firm and author of the Tag Along Travel BlogIn her blog, she discusses the ups and downs of being married to a frequent traveller and her experience tagging along on his business trips.  Her spouse of 20 years only recently embarked on a new career that involved a significant amount of travel and that change she says, required a significant amount of adjusting on her part.

Debora’s husband is away on business travel nearly 40% of the time.  In the past year alone, he has travelled on over 100 flights in 11 countries.

What are the biggest challenges of being the spouse of a frequent traveller?

Deborah admits that it took her time to get used to him being away.  Initially he would be away on business for up to 3 weeks at a time and logistically it wasn’t possible for him to come back home on weekends which created tension in their relationship.  He then moved to a different position where he is only away for usually 1 week at a time at most but nonetheless, still travelling for a significant amount of time.

Other challenges of being the spouse of being a frequent traveller  Deborah says are coping while they are apart, missing each other, dealing with things that go wrong while he is away (condo repairs, car troubles, etc.) and being out of synch when he returns.  When reunited, may they be adjusted to different time zones and set in different routines.

How did she overcome these challenges?

In order to adjust to her husband being away so frequently, Deborah realized that she had to be more independent.

A huge perk of Deborah’s business is that she can work remotely which means it’s possible for her to accompany her husband on business trips.   When she does this, while her husband is working she works on her own business during the same business hours as her hometown and spends the rest of her time essentially travelling solo.  She describes a recent business trip of her husband’s to London which she tagged along on. During the day while he was in meetings, she would go sight-seeing and dine alone and if he was working in the evening, she would work on her own business at night since it was still regular business hours back at home.  Occasionally she would accompany him on business dinners but that was not commonplace.

The key to their success is that there is a mutual understanding that if she tags along on one of his business trips that his business is the priority of the trip.  She has the strength and independence to essentially go on the trip as a solo traveller and not interfere with his business.  She enjoys being able to take advantage of his super elite status, hotel upgrades and the opportunity to explore new places that she otherwise never would have even thought of.

When she isn’t able to tag along on one of her husband’s business trips, they maintain their intimacy by communicating regularly by text message, skype and facetime.  They even had the great idea to do a “virtual date” whereby they watch a movie and order pizza together over Skype.  Such a great idea!

Overall, in speaking with Deborah, I have learned that although it may not be easy at first, it is possible for a non-traveller to have a healthy, loving and fulfilling relationship with a frequent traveller which she achieves by being:

  1. Self-confident and secure
  2. Not afraid to travel solo
  3. The owner of her own business and one that can be done remotely
  4. Comfortable making the best of her time alone when at home, enjoying things such as binging on Netflix
  5. Understanding that her husband’s business is a priority while he is on business travel and doesn’t try to interfere
  6. Able to find unique ways to communicate and maintain intimacy from a distance

So fellow frequent travellers, there remains hope for maintaining a romantic relationship with a significant other who does not travel frequently for work.  And for all of you who are on the other end of the spectrum and are dating a frequent traveller, be sure to read the Tag Along Travel Blog or follow Deb on Twitter  for tips on innovative ways you can best utilize your time together and apart and make it work.

Safe travels my friends and good luck in love.

Cheers,

TSW

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Part 2: The Early Bird Meets the Boogeyman

darkmanIn my previous article, “The Early Bird Gets the Sale”, I mentioned that I occasionally have to leave very, very early in the morning in order to make it to my breakfast meetings.

Regardless of the time of day, I caution anyone travelling alone to always be on alert and I’m not just referring to paying attention to the road, but also to your surroundings.   I have to admit, this can be quite difficult in the middle of the night.

To all of my fellow salesmen  and women who hit the road dark and early, this story will serve as a reminder to keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times, because you just never know what sort of shady characters might be lurking in the darkness around you.

One morning I had a 7am breakfast meeting which was a 2.5h drive from home. It was 4:25am, quiet and pitch black outside.  I got into my car, and began to organize my “mobile office” for the day.  As my car was warming up, I placed my laptop on the passenger seat and booted it up.  I normally boot up my computer fully in the morning and then put it to sleep or in hibernation mode throughout the day so that I can easily open and close it before and after meetings rather than have to start it up and shut it down every time.  As I was opening up all of the computer programs that I would use throughout my day, I organized my sales reports, notes and my agenda on the passenger seat.  This whole process usually takes me about 5 minutes.

Once I had everything organized, I glanced at the dashboard clock, smiled and thought to myself “This is great! I feel awake and I’m on time!”. As I closed my laptop and sat back upright in the driver’s seat, I noticed something out of the corner of my left eye.  Before turning my head, I glanced slightly to my left thinking maybe it was just my hair and there it was, the most terrifying thing I had ever seen…

There was a man whose face was covered in bandages pressed up against the window of the driver side of my car!!!  I was so distracted looking at the passenger side of my car that I never saw him approach my vehicle.

I completely panicked!  All I could do was start screaming and flail my hands in the air. As I was doing that, I was thinking to myself how disappointed I was in myself that I was that girl. You know, that girl in the horror movies that just gets paralyzed with fear, screams and then gets brutally murdered?  I am an avid horror movie buff and I really thought that all of those years of watching horror movies would better prepare me for when I would encounter a real life boogeyman; I would be better than that and certainly not be that girl.  But this guy looked just like Darkman! And it was the middle of the night!

Ok,Time to suck it up Princess!” I told myself.  I had to take action, so I immediately threw my car into reverse and backed out of my driveway at top speed.  Just as I was about to back right out into the street without regard for oncoming traffic, I stopped the car abruptly and thought to myself, Wait, he is trespassing on MY property!”. 

I put the car into drive and drove back up to the boogeyman, lowered my window just one inch and screamed at him at the top of my lungs “Get the #%*$ off my property!!!!!!”

He then proceeded to calmly ask me for directions to a street that was on the complete opposite side of town and not at all within walking distance.  He spoke as if there was nothing odd at all about his appearance or the fact that he just leaned up into my car window while I was parked in my driveway in the middle of the night!

I was so distraught that for the life of me, I couldn’t tell him if he had to go left or right so I just told him to Get the #$&* off my property or I’m calling the police!”.

He walked away and I sped off.  Pfewf!!!

As I sped off, I saw my neighbors lights go on.  I found out later that apparently I screamed so loud from inside my car, I woke up my neighbors on the opposite side of my vehicle!

To this day, I’m not sure where the boogeyman came from: The local psychiatric institution? The hospital after a bar fight? Who knows! Regardless, I am lucky that he intended to do me no harm.   Since then, I have installed motion activated lights in my driveway, a monitoring system and I have made it a habit to lock my car as soon as I enter it.

So fellow travelers, the take home message of this story is please be safe and aware of your surroundings.  You never know if the boogeyman will come for you.

Safe Travels.

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