Just like everything else, there are pros and cons to traveling alone. However, as a woman traveling solo there are some things you need to know and to watch out for.
The pros are numerous, which is why more and more women tend to be taking to the road on their own. You can stop when you want, take time to soak in the sites, eat where you want, and more: the freedom that comes along when traveling solo and the independence is something I got easily addicted to.
The cons can seem overwhelming, but tackling those head on will help you get yourself going if you have yet to try solo travel. If you're serious about traveling alone as a woman, you'll want to make the most of it - have the most fun, the biggest adventure, while being safe so you can return home and share your experiences.
In 2019 I rode my motorcycle from Northern New York to Milwaukee and back -round trip it was a little over 2500 miles all on my own! Even though I didn't leave the United States, I still found it fascinating to see how others like me lived their lives. And it gave me a chance to talk with others, learn about the area from more than just a website or travel book.
So without further ado, here's my tips for you:
Before You Go-
- Have your motorcycle serviced at the dealership -they have factory trained technicians who know your bike. If you're in-between services (i.e. you're at 27K miles & your next service is at 30K), ask about getting a "Pre-trip Inspection." Prior to my Milwaukee trip, I was told I'd definitely need a new rear tire when I got back since my wear bars where showing. I had them replace the tire before I left because I like tire traction!
- Make sure you have roadside assistance and I also recommend getting trip interruption insurance. I have both through the same company that does my motorcycle insurance, and it wasn't that much more either. Like the old saying goes: It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Still, you'll want to read exactly what is covered, how to make a claim, and when you can expect to get your money - often times you'll have to fork out money for expenses until you're back on the road or at home, and then you'll be reimbursed. In other words, you've got to have 'emergency money' readily at hand.
- Speaking of insurance, check on any limitations with your medical insurance. Of course in an emergency you'll most likely be taken care of, but what if you get sick (like stomach flu or food poisoning) and just want to see a doctor... will you be covered? These are the questions to ask before your trip rather than having to deal with the headache of wondering if the insurance company will foot the bill.
- Do your research as you plan your route. I leave it up to you -if you want to plan your stops out and make reservations or just ride until you feel like stopping. Either way, know the route you'll be taking, the areas to avoid, and the places that are safe. Personally I plan out about 8 hours (on the map) between stops, so research the places to stay -since I have rewards points with Best Western I'll look to see if they've got one in the area. Then I research that hotel in particular, pouring over the guest reviews to get a sense of the area.
- Pack light: take what you need to but don't go overboard. That dress or heels you plan on wearing one special night- leave 'em at home. Use pieces that go with several outfits -jeans, riding pants, moisture wicking tops, a cardigan, flats for when you're off the bike. Leave room in your bag for souvenirs you want to bring home!
- Eating lunch or dinner, I like to sit at the bar (if there's one) so I can engage in conversation, usually asking more questions than I'm answering. But even so, typically I don't speak to anyone unless I'm spoken to. I don't reveal I'm traveling alone, or where I'm staying. And I don't drink excessively, preferring to keep my senses intact.
- You'll definitely want to keep your head up!! Now is not the time to bury your face in your smartphone- look up and look around, and know what's going on around you. Off the bike, walk with your shoulder's square and a confident stride. Your body language sends lots of information out to the world, so you'll want to project confident strength.
- Have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, so that way you can keep moving. Plan A is what will most likely happen most of the time, but - if something goes wrong with that plan - you don't want to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do next. You'll want a Plan B, salvaging what you can to keep going (or to get back home). On my way to Milwaukee, I stopped to refuel in Ohio, only to find the power out so gas stations didn't have a way to pump fuel. I got back on the interstate to the next exit, only to find the same thing... I wasn't desperate for gas (my 'gas light' wasn't on), but it would be soon. Nothing left to do but get back on the interstate to the next exit, but if the power wasn't on there, I had my 'plan b': calling for roadside assistance for them to bring me enough fuel to get to a working gas station. Luckily at the next stop they had power and I was able to fill up.
- Jewelry is something to consider -if you wear any at all you might want to wear a wedding ring (even if you're not married). For some reason, even when you're traveling alone, giving others the appearance you're attached and there's a 'significant other' waiting for you at home helps.
- Consider keeping a travel journal, taking a few moments each evening to write down what happened that day. Not only does it help preserve the trip for you but also for your future generations.
- Get up early, start out early, and then you can get to your destination early -that'll give you time to get your bearings, see what you want to see, and plan out your next day. You'll also want to be your own best company -all too often our negative thoughts can squash the good time waiting for us. Be nice to yourself, relax and have a good time.
- And of course the obvious: safeguard your credit cards, cash and travel documents (driver's license, passport, I.D.), whenever you're traveling. Never ever flash wads of cash around, and you'll want a way to shut off your cards should they come up missing (through an app on your smartphone or have your bank's phone number handy).
- Last but certainly not least: trust your instincts and act on them!! If something seems out of place or you're feeling threatened please seek help immediately. Many times women have went along when their gut told them not to just because they didn't want to seem rude (and that's what the perpetrator is counting on!). The kindness of strangers is also a real thing, so I'm not saying that you should shun everyone you meet. Just be aware of your surroundings, your own personal limits, and know when and how to get help should you need it.