Traveling alone to an unknown city where you know no one can seem frightening and overwhelming. Many people travel alone on a daily basis ending up in a place surrounded by coworkers, or loved ones they know, but what about those who travel alone to a place where they know absolutely no one? Here I share my adventure plus a few tips from my first solo trip to Miami, Florida.
Where will you be staying?
Researching the area where you will be staying should be your number one priority when planning your trip. I visited South Beach Miami as a preteen with my family, but now here I was a woman in her mid-20’s visiting party central alone. I knew I wanted to spend most of my time laying out on the beach so booking a hotel that had direct access to the beach was important. Miami has many party hotels which hardly provide sleep at night. I knew I would be tempted to join the night scene if I stayed at one of the many party hotels. I also knew I didn’t want to risk having my drink spiked or becoming too intoxicated while being surrounded by strangers so I went with a more relaxing atmosphere. Aside from hotels, there is Airbnb, and some cities offer hostels– a cheaper option with the ability to meet other travelers. In order to purchase a package deal I book through Expedia or Hotwire.
Your flight and stay have been booked you’re ready to hit the road. It is important to keep in mind that most hotels require an additional deposit incase any damages are made to your room during your stay. I always call prior to my arrival to inquire about the amount. You should also research the cost of items in the area in which you will be staying. You don’t want to run out of money while you are out by yourself. Also carry some cash as some places will be cash only. I have experienced this in Miami and Austin, Texas.
For me this one is extremely important. All cities have some sort of crime going on, but some have areas far more dangerous than others. The last thing I want to do is book my stay in an unsafe area. Some cities have higher crime rates at certain times of the day or night. Research, research, research!
While most cities now have taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers some do not! If you will be venturing out further than walking distance from your place of stay know what means of public transportation will be available.
Depending on how far out you book your trip it will be difficult to determine what the weather will be like. Plan for a rainy day just in case.
As a woman I feel I am a direct target on a daily basis in places that I have known my entire life. With that said I thought if I am a target here I am a target anywhere. What difference does it make to travel alone when I do most of my daily activities alone? I booked my trip and that was that, no turning back now. I made sure my parents, roommate, and a few close friends had detailed information on my flight and hotel. I made sure to notify them when I landed and arrived to the hotel. I used social media to check in to places and Snapchat served as a documentation of my travels. Friends back home knew what I was doing and who I was meeting. If something were to happen to me people would at least know where I had last been.
The staff at the hotel was extremely helpful. When they asked if I was traveling alone I was unsure of how I was supposed to respond. Could I trust these people? I went with my gut instinct confessing to my travels alone. They took great care of me and promised to keep an eye out on the nights I went out. “If we see that someone is trying to carry you back to your room well let them know we got in from here.” They said. One night I came out of my room and heard, “Oh you’re okay! We had not seen you all day we started to worry.” These people were so good to me.
Mistakes Along the Way
First I promised myself that upon landing I would buy pepper spray and a pocket knife to carry at all times. I failed to purchase either item due to my excitement.
Second on my last night there I decide to take one last walk down the strip. I bought a coconut water, drinking the refreshing juice while I took in the warm breeze of the night. After a short while I realized I was being followed. The strip was busy but I had crossed the street now walking along the side with little light. I was heading back in the direction to my hotel when he finally spoke, “Beautiful night it is.” He was now walking beside me, “Yeah it is.” I replied. He made small talk asked where I was from, told me where he was from, where he worked, and finally, “Are you traveling alone?” This time I lied. I told him I was waiting for my friends who were still upstairs getting ready. “Why don’t I buy you a drink while we wait?” I told him I didn’t drink. He said, “In that case let’s go sit on that bench,” pointing to an area containing absolutely no light. “Um, actually the bench up ahead seems like a better option.” I replied. I quickly scanned the area. There was a homeless man two benches ahead, a young man walking his dog, and then the two of us.
Great my last night here and this is how it ends, I thought. This is when I get kidnapped. I mentally scanned my purse in search of a weapon. Why had I not bought the pepper spray or pocket knife? I could see my hotel off in the corner across the street, pulling my phone out I told him my friends were waiting for me. He insisted on walking me to meet them and I had never been more thankful to run into the hostess at the restaurant outside of the hotel. His intentions may not have been bad ones, but I could not help the eerie feeling inside of me.
3 – People
Traveling alone makes you approachable. Within 20 minutes of my arrival to South Beach I had already made plans to explore the strip with a new friend. It was one of the most fun nights of my life. We stayed out until four in the morning salsa dancing. I met someone new at the beach every single day, I became friends with the girl who greeted me each time I left my building. I had late night conversations with the staff at the front desk, and I took an Uber drive with two men who were traveling from France. I had one Uber driver give me a tour of the city for free. He even took me by a local café because I was craving a pressed juice. I learned details about each person’s life. Where they were from, their occupation, the places they had traveled, places they were going. Each one served a purpose, each one had some piece of advice to give me. This was the most fulfilling part of my trip.
4- Exploring the City
While I was in Miami I ventured off to the Wynwood Art District exploring cafés, bars, food, boutiques and tons of wonderful art. It rained part of the day I was there but hey a little rain never hurt anyone right? I have to admit that I would have enjoyed some company in Wynwood, but I still had a good time. I also explored a crystal shop along the bay area, and bought some decent sized crystals at an affordable price. If you are someone who is into crystal healing I recommend traveling to a healing shop in Miami. So far this particular shop has been my favorite out of all the shops I have visited. All my other time was spent eating delicious food, or enjoying the sun out by the beach.
My trip alone has been the most relaxing yet adventurous trip yet. I encourage you to book a flight and go explore the places you want to see.