Let’s face it, sitting on the sofa and rehashing all that has befallen you will ONLY get you so far. What else is possible?

Consider a change of venue – a place free from what you have known. Magical things can happen in your heart and mind when you step away from your typical habits and everyday people. Choose a theme for your trip or set an intention for your retreat, one that takes you away from your memories, loss, and your pilled sofa. What have you always wanted to do? 

We asked Phyllis Stoller of The Women’s Travel Group to give some tips on how women like you might follow through.

So, you have two plane tickets, and Mr. X is not joining you in Tulum, Mexico?

Sounds like “Sex and the City,” or “Shirley Valentine,” but this time it is not a movie. It is about you and your reclaiming who you are.

After a divorce, widowhood, or your major, life-reckoning, going for a vacation alone presents a difficult and emotional crossroads. Either you stop traveling, or you jump in and learn to travel solo without regret. You begin to face your fears. You get back in touch with yourself.

Here are some tips for your first vacation by yourself:

1) Know where you are going and choose some place totally different from your memories. Study a map so you know some streets and landmarks up front. A screen shot of a map can be useful. This helps you avoid “tourist opening large map in public syndrome.” If you don’t speak the language, read up on the destination and check online for what is happening in English while you will be there. Many cities and tourist areas have English language daily newspapers/newsletters; these will list local events where you might meet others. Local press might mention street crime, something else to be aware of if you are alone.

2) Interactive tours are the easiest way to get started. Pick a theme, or something you have always wanted to do, and follow through! Viator.com, which is a compendium of tours, includes cooking, food-tasting, drawing, etc. If you prefer the tour in English, be sure to confirm before you book — unless one of your goals is to practice a foreign language, and why not? Whatever the tour, make sure there that are other individuals who have booked the tour, too.

3) Think about your affiliations: charities, your college, or workplace for connections abroad. A group like Rotary can connect you with people overseas, who open doors and give you a welcoming start. Your alma mater might have a junior year abroad program for advice that is available to you. Poke around some travel blogs, written by expat Americans. About.com is a good starting point. An excellent site to know is Toursbylocals.com. They supply local guides who customize walks, hikes, and adventures tailored to your interests. The site has handy reviews about each guide to help you choose.

4) Lets Go Guidebooks are not just for college kids. These books, written by Harvard students, also list fun, inexpensive places to eat and unusual opening night events at museums, galleries, jazz clubs. Want to have fun at the best pizzeria in Venice? Lets Go is the source.

5) Ask at your hotel, and not just the concierge. Chat with female management about where they like to eat, shop, and walk. Ask flight attendants! They are an under-looked source of good information.

6) Find out where English-speaking events are being held: Theater? Bookstore? Museum tour in English? University lecture? Remember in former, British colonial areas, there might be sponsored English-speaking events and get-togethers.

7) Look for restaurants, with a captain’s or kitchen table. These are not just in the US. I have seen them in Paris and Rome. Even some of the big name restaurants now have a casual group table in or near the kitchen. Museum restaurants overseas are often spectacular lunch venues. Yelp and TripAdvisor are also useful here. Choosing a hotel with an outdoor café for dinner is a comfortable option for those who worry about eating dinner alone.

8) I am a great believer in starting a new travel life, first with like-minded people. If you are a woman, consider an all woman trip to an unusual destination. Unusual areas make for the best bonding experiences. Add your solo days at the end of the local tour so you are less tired and more confident. It is fine to jump right in, but not everyone is that brave. Start with a group tour, learn to swim, then dive in solo.

Phyllis Stoller is the founder of The Women’s Travel Group and she welcomes your inquiries. Contact her at [email protected]


Although SAS periodically features links to and writing by other professionals on the SAS website, SAS for Women™ is not responsible for the accuracy or content of that information. As for what is best for you and your future, SAS always recommends you speak to a professional to discuss the particulars of your situation.

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