solo travel

Fall Trip, Booked: Chile

I’m so happy. I just purchased a flight to Santiago—I’ll be going to Chile for nine days in October!

This trip was a bit of a whim. The last few months have been a bit crazy, with so much going on. And I’ve just noticed that the year is half over—so I’m overdue to plan a big trip to look forward to.

I’ve wanted to go to Chile since I flew through Santiago on my way to Buenos Aires.В I remember looking out the airport windows, seeing the mountains, and thinking that the landscape looked pretty awesome. Plus, it’s a fascinating country—long and skinny, with so much between its northern and southern points. Accordingly, it has a lengthy coastline. And you know how much I love the beach.

Right now, I’ve yet to plan my itinerary. But I’m considering a few days in Santiago, and then the rest of the time hopping around various coastal towns.

If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

…and in the meantime, it’s time to start brushing up on my espaГ±ol.

(Photo of ValparaisoВ via Pinterest)

On Solo Travel

Over drinks last week, two of my girlfriends and I were discussing a travel phenomenon that we’d just recently noticed:В When you tell people where you’re going on vacation, the first thing they’ll ask is not, “What will you be doing there?” or “How did you decide on that place?” But “Who are you going with?”

Though I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that, myself, it strikes me as so odd! That instead of inquiring about the amazing experiences lying ahead—the restaurants you’ll eat at, the trails you’ll hike, the neighborhoods you’ll explore—most people first want to know who you’ll be with.

I suppose I’m especially attuned to this now, with my fall trip just a few weeks away. Because when I tell people I’m going to Buenos Aires by myself, unless they know me well or have traveled alone, themselves, their reactions tend to be similar: They look impressed. They look surprised. And sometimes, they look like they feel a little sorry for me.

To be completely honest, my solo trips haven’t stemmed from a burning desire to travel alone. It’s more that I have insatiable wanderlust—and if no one is available to join me when I’m ready to go somewhere, I’d much rather head out on my own than miss an opportunity to travel.

Last year, I took my first solo trip in six years. While I was considering it, I was a little nervous about traveling on my own, again. I wondered if I’d get bored and lonely being on my own for so many days. And I worried about my safety in a country with a high murder rate and a dubious public transportation record. Deciding to study Spanish through a school assuaged those fears. I knew I’d definitely meet people to spend time with, when I wanted company. And I’d have plenty of time to be on my own, as well.

I ended up having an amazing time. I met lots of smart, interesting people, climbed a volcano, ate mountains of tortillas, immersed myself in Guatemalan culture and history—and improved my Spanish a ton, too! And I relearned an important lesson I’d forgotten from my first solo travel experiences: That traveling alone is quite a luxury.

Because you can do whatever you want.

You can sleep as late as you choose, go to whatever restaurant you desire (even if it’s the same one a few nights in a row), hit whatever museum looks appealing, and then leave after a few minutes when you realize you’d rather not waste a sunny day inside. As a college kid, I got my first taste of doing things on my own: I went to anВ Australian music festival alone, and spent long days wandering around hip Sydney neighborhoods. On my last pre-Guatemala solo trip, when I was 23, I hit up Lan Kwai Fong bars by myself, and spent one night doing nothing but relaxing and staring out at the Hong Kong skyline for hours.

Those are the kinds of things I’m looking forward to doing in Buenos Aires. I’m excited to rent a studio apartment that’ll serve as my home base, and take my first ballet classes in Spanish. I’m eager to explore different neighborhoods and find a cute cafe where I can get coffee and medialunas every morning. I’ve found a few restaurants I want to try, and I’m seeking places to tango.

None of those activities are all that different from what I do every day in NYC—usually on my own, as well.

Earlier today, Peter sent me this.gif"http://nycexpeditionist.com/img/2013/09/4ngb7yr.gif">iguazu falls

That’s all I want to hear when I tell people about my upcoming trip—no awkward looks of surprise or awe or pity. Just excitement.

(Image via Reddit)

Subway Maps You Can Wear on Your Wrist

This is genius.

When Tiffany Burnette was researching women who travel solo, for her master’s project, sheВ stumbled upon one voyager’s gripe: Having to pull out a map to navigate the NYC subway—thus clearly branding herself a tourist. Inspired, Tiffany came up with a simple and stylish solution: subway maps embossed on cuff bracelets. While wearing them, female travelers can navigate a transit system with a discreet glance at the wrist.

So far, her company, designhype, has cuffs for NYC

nyc metro cuff

London

london metro cuff

Paris

paris metro cuff

…as well as Milan, Berlin, Chicago and Brooklyn.

As a woman who’s often traveled solo, I can attest to how many times I could have used these! One safety measure I always take when traveling alone is to look like I know where I’m going. And nothing blows your cover more than when you have to study a subway map, whip out a guidebook or consult your smartphone—if you’re in a place where you even get service. These cuffs could have helped me out in several cities.

Plus, I love how the bracelets are very understated, so you wouldn’t be flashing around expensive-looking jewelry. I actually just want the NYC one to wear every day!

Here’s to hoping city map cuffs will be designhype’s next project!

(Photos via designhype; found via Scoutmob)

P.S. — I had an amazing time onВ EleutheraВ and I’m looking forward to posting about it, in a few days!