What happens when you’re fearless, outgoing, and know how to treat yourself? Potentially a lot of things, but for my friend Brooke, it was a solo vacation. Brooke and I have been friends since freshman year of college, and after both of our post-grad jobs brought us to Philadelphia, life has been good. I was so crazy proud of her (along with my fair share of: “are you sure you’ll be safe?!” mixed in) for taking on a vacation by herself, that I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing her experience with all of you for my second guest post (ever!).
Being a young woman in my mid-20s with a few years of my first real job under my belt, I have caught a serious travel bug. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have traveled with my family to several places in the Caribbean and loved the warm weather, laid-back attitude, and the beautiful blue water. This past winter I was generously given a winter bonus at work, and after I did the responsible thing and put some of it towards my student loans and savings account, I decided to treat myself.
I decided to look into taking a vacation to Turks and Caicos, but I had a problem: I couldn’t lock down any of my girlfriends to join me! So, not wanting to put off the trip, I made probably the boldest decision of my life, and booked my flight and house (we’ll get to that later) on Providenciales for my SOLO vacation. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so excited about something, and the thought of my vacay on the horizon got me through this year’s rough single digit winter days.
Everyone I talked to about my vacation thought that I was so brave (some told me crazy) to go on vacation alone, and honestly, I was a bit nervous. Would I be lonely? Would the island be safe for a single gal traveling alone? Would I be able to rent a car in non-US territory and make it around the island with a map in the passenger seat, all while remembering to drive on the left side of the road? (Hint: I was!)
I will admit the first day of traveling was trying. But, once I stepped foot on the beach and saw the crystal clear blue water, all the stress faded away. I spent the next four days exploring different beaches, snorkeling the reefs, SUPing (stand up paddling) through the salt water mangroves, and enjoying conversations with the genuinely wonderful locals. I could not believe how beautiful the island was, and am already trying to figure out ways to go back!
If you’re even considering taking a solo trip, my advice for you is: do it. There are so few times in your life when you will be able to do something like that, and I feel like my short time on the island of Providenciales was a self-discovery of sorts. In case you need a few tips to get your brainstorm going, here are a few ideas for making the process way less intimidating:
1. Use a flight app to find cheap flights. Yes, I did have two connecting flights on my way to Turks and Caicos, but I really don’t mind navigating my way through an airport and I had allotted an entire day for travel each way. I ended up saving about $300 on the flight by accepting the extra layovers. I also only packed a carry-on. Checked luggage is easily lost when you have multiple stops!
2. After researching neighborhoods and where you’d like to stay, consider using Airbnb for your accommodations. You will probably not find a luxurious all-inclusive with a beachfront view, but if you’re looking to explore the island, it doesn’t matter where you are sleeping. Obviously safety is important, but you definitely don’t need to spend $500/night at a resort. Although my house was a few miles from the main tourist beach location, I felt completely safe and truly enjoyed my stay in someone else’s clean house (with a kitchen!) for $99/night. In my opinion, holiday apartments are a great option, particularly for solo travelers!
3. Before you leave, make sure to check out what service your phone carrier provides for your destination. After assuming the best, I was in for a slight panic attack when I realized my phone had zero service on the island.
4. Spend money on experiences. Don’t skimp on activities once you finally reach your location. I had two amazing days on guided tours with a company called Big Blue Unlimited. I took an 8 hour snorkeling trip and a 2 hour SUP tour through the nearby mangroves. Besides swimming in and gazing at the absolutely breathtaking water, these were the two most fun things I did while on vacation.
5. Don’t be afraid to be alone. Today, people are always around other people, on their phones texting, etc. There is really something to be said about being able to enjoy some quality time with wonderful old you.
During my past travels, I have been completely reliant on someone else to make the plans, get me where I needed to go, and make all the decisions. Let me tell you, I felt so empowered to be able to pay for the trip myself, arrange my travel plans, and plan excursions during my time there. After putting my pre-vacation worries aside and just going for it, I can honestly say this trip was the best experience of my life.
Thank you, Brookie, for sharing your awesome tips! In my several years of blogging, this is only my second guest post. Both posts have been written by my best friends and trusted Philly residents, so you’re in good hands. If you’d like to read my first guest post from Kelly, she planned the perfect Philly visitor agenda. Have a great week! xx