Fresh off the plane, your girl is back! Let’s get into this solo trip, shall we? As of lately, the thought of traveling solo had been on my mind. Not because I was sick of traveling with other people, but because I wanted to experience something on my own that was completely out of my comfort zone. If you asked me about traveling solo five years ago, or even two, I probably would’ve said: “HELL NO”. Yet here I am. For my first-time solo traveling, I went to Denver. During my initial trip to Denver in 2018, I fell in love with the city and the atmosphere, so where better to travel solo for the first time? I’ve gotten used to flying alone, which at first was a big deal to me because for 1. I have airport anxiety. It’s not even anxiety about being on the plane but this rapid anxiety from just driving TO the airport. Other than that, I wasn’t apprehensive about traveling solo, nor scared to be on my own. For me, working in NYC I’ve gotten used to the creeps on the street and the weird Uber drivers. Why let that stop me from living my best life and seeing different cities? Crazy sh*t happens everywhere, at any time. Granted, being a woman you have a lot more to worry about – but it’s not like I’m walking down a dark alley at 1 AM with my Gucci bag (I don’t even have a dang Gucci bag) but y’all get me. Being around crowds of people during appropriate times, creates a safety net if you are nervous being solo. Being the confident woman that I am (dramatically clears throat), I managed to suck it up and book a solo trip. I’m going to break down each phase of my trip from essentials and tips like flight details and rental cars, to the overall experience and explorations!
Flying alone can be peaceful with a sprinkle of stress. Of course, we all know to show up to the airport relatively early. It just makes everything easier and less stressful. Because I travel often and I don’t check bags, I usually arrive at the airport around an hour and a half early (sometimes an hour). That’s only because I do travel pretty frequently, so I know my way around my home airport. As mentioned, I don’t check bags…ever. I always opt for the option to bring a carry-on suitcase and a personal item (bookbag or weekender). For this trip, I packed extremely light and I was super proud of myself because usually, I love to bring outfits that I know damn well I’m not going to wear. Be mindful, you are traveling alone. The lighter, the better.
Since you’re now all packed and ready to fly, a tip that saves you TONS of time is to ‘check-in’ using your mobile device (and you can do this the night before). Whether if you have the app of the airline you’re flying, or if you do it via email – I can’t stress how much time this saves (because you won’t have to physically get a boarding pass or stand in any lines). Checking in via mobile can also be useful if you are subject to having a gate change or delay. From here, all you have to do is make it through TSA and pray for a window seat if you didn’t get to chose your seat (aka economy, no shame).
The landing was a breeze and now you’ve officially arrived in your destination city. Bringing a carry-on and personal item makes this easy since you won’t have to figure out where baggage claim is and all that jazz. In most airports, like Denver International or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, you’ll most likely have to ride a sky-train (a mini-train to take you to the exit or baggage claim).
If you chose to head to an open road city like Denver, I’d definitely consider renting a car. Otherwise, Ubering everywhere is also do-able but will probably add up. There are always public transportation options to assist tourists, this way you can pick and choose between the two. If you decide to rent a car, make sure you create your reservations in advance so you aren’t sitting around waiting for a beat-up Nissan to become available. A shuttle from the airport exit will take you to the rental car company of choice, like Enterprise or Budget (look for coupons and deals). Viola, now head to the hotel for check-in.
Before any trip, I plan an itinerary. For me, it’s always the best places to eat or best Black-owned restaurants, what attractions to see and typical tourist hubs. Also, don’t just read suggestions from Yelp or Trip Advisor – really search around for cool things to do (hashtags on Instagram are also beneficial). I like to really get into the culture of the city and not just focus on tourist magnets. Having an itinerary makes it less stressful when you know what’s going on and how to pace your time for the day(s) in the city of choice. Plus you don’t want to be eating sh*tty food all weekend, check those stars! Waking up early is a must, this way you can do everything and see everything and make the most out of your trip. ALWAYS be nice to hospitality, it can get you an upgrade or free tips on the city and the best things to do. I brought my tripod to capture some bomb moments that I knew would need more than one “excuse me can you take a picture for me” kind of picture LOL (Strangers usually take the worst photos anyway). After grabbing breakfast (table for 1 please) and hiking on my own then speeding down I-25 in my rental back to the hotel – the day was already amazing.
Dinner was probably the only time I was pretty apprehensive. Being a woman, we all know how strangers (usually men) react when we are “dolled up”. I decided to look nice for dinner because why the hell not, I’m on vacation. I wore my favorite reddish lipstick, which can be pretty risqué for some. For dinner, I was going to a bar/restaurant, which can feel kind of odd to do on your own. Ideally, I wasn’t going to the bar to scope out a man and chat it up. I wanted a nice dinner and a glass of champagne, and that’s exactly what I got. Sparking up a causal conversation with locals and others from out of town wasn’t as bad as I was making it seem in my head. Post-dinner, I went right to sleep in my comfy king suite and called it a night. The next day I did more exploring that was apart of my itinerary and also met up with a friend to hit some local spots. After the first day, you start to get comfortable being on your own and it’s really not as bad as it seems.
After an eventful weekend, by the time I looked at the clock, it was 4:30 AM and time to head back to the airport (no sleep gang). Late nights and early flights, as the cool kids say (LOL). Overall this trip helped me accomplish personal goals to see that I am capable of doing things on my own and enjoying time by myself. You can do whatever you want, on your own time and not have to wait up for anyone or do anything that you really don’t want to do! This trip was refreshing and nurturing for my soul, I would 100% do it again and recommend it to anyone who’s contemplating doing so. I’d recommend to start out in the states and see where that leads you. Popular cities like Chicago, DC, and Denver are always pretty dope. This is the only life you have, why not live it up and take advantage while you’re young! Travel and indulge in life, your money will return!
“Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!”Anonymous
Peace & Blessings,