When traveling alone, whether by necessity, or just because, travel expert Catherine Addé has some tips borne of experience.
BY: Catherine Addé
Long ago, on travels far away (as a younger, fresh faced sales executive), I encountered some unusual behavior from hoteliers, restaurant maitre d’s and fellow travelers. The aforementioned seemed unaccustomed to dealing with a businesswoman traveling solo. Upon checking into a hotel, the front desk clerks used to say my room number loudly—for all to hear. Swell, I thought, nothing like a little privacy and security.
During plane flights, I utilized the time to fill out my expense reports and write presentations. On one such trip, I was headed for Alaska, and my seatmate, resplendent in his hunting gear, commented sarcastically, “You seem busy with your schoolwork, little girl.”
And at a fine restaurant in New York, the maître d’ was hesitant to seat me, a woman alone. He made a sweeping gesture of the dining room and proclaimed: “How sad it is that you wish to dine here unaccompanied!” Instead of shrinking, I followed him as he led me to my table, boldly striding with head high, though his head was shaking as if to say, “No, this is not okay.”
Today, I’m happy to say yes, we have come a long way. Safety and security issues, amenities in hotels, as well as manners towards women traveling alone on business have changed for the better.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re about to travel on business:
- Keep your phone charged
- Tuck an extra credit card and ID in your carry on in case your purse is taken
- Carry a safety alarm, such as the one on your car key
- Put your business address—not your home address—on your luggage tags
- Don’t give out your room number
- Book your transportation ahead—super shuttle, UBER, etc.
- Order room service if you’re uncomfortable dining out solo
- Do your best to have carry-on luggage only
- If not, pack light, accessorize to maximize your clothing options
- Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane
- Hotels have hair dryers and irons—leave yours at home
- Bring your own slipper socks and feminine products
- Obtain TSA pre-flight global entry for an efficient check in process.
- Are You Thinking of a Vacation On Your Own?
Several trips I’ve taken, for various reasons, have been solo—an African safari before I met my husband, a cruise to Hawaii, and once, a business trip to Paris, with an extended stay for some sightseeing.
In Paris, I stayed at the Hôtel du Crillon and, after checking in to my room, was astonished to discover my view of the iconic Eiffel tower—sparkling with its bazillion lights. Close to tears, I phoned home exclaiming to my husband, “I’m gazing at the Eiffel Tower right now, from my bedroom window, in the world’s most romantic city. Why aren’t you here with me?”
That was a down side to going it alone, but I think there are far more good things about traveling solo.
I’m over feeling funny dining alone, or venturing out as a single in a group of couples, but if you’re hesitating, here are some suggestions:
Ask your travel professional if he or she knows of any trips that are geared for those traveling without a partner.
Book a cruise (AmaWaterways, for example, waives the single supplement costs on some of their trips). Most have a get together evening for singles so that one can meet others that are unattached.
Have a customized trip planned to suit your needs—i.e. you’re met off the plane by a private car/driver, with day excursions either privately or in a small group. (My African safari was such a trip; I met people who I can now call my friends.)
Take guided walking tours of attractions or cities with a group of people for the day. That way you’re not committed to seeing the same people every day, but may meet a new friend as well.
Be adventurous and reserve a class in the country you are going to such as a cooking class, language course, wine tasting or art lessons—you’ll meet others who share your interests.
And the best things about traveling on your own? You’re in control, independent, can go at your own pace, soaking in the atmosphere and culture, feeling indulgent and free.