We all have the memories, pictures of us and our closest friends lounging on sandy beaches or partying till dawn.  I’m sure we all have great groups of friends who we share some of our fondest memories travel memories with.  However as we get older and life moves us each in new and different directions, it gets harder and harder to spend that quality time with each other.  Does that mean that life ends and you just sit at home waiting for schedules to coordinate?  So many people (especially women) are afraid to travel alone.  They worry about the stares they will get from strangers, how they’ll navigate a foreign city or how they could possibly have fun in a new country without their best buds.  Truth is you don’t need anyone by your side to have the experience of a lifetime. 

Sure it’s great to have your friends along for the ride, but traveling alone can open your eyes to so many things you didn’t know about yourself and can be even more fun than traveling with a group.  Life is way too short to miss out on all its wonders sitting around waiting for other people to join you.  If you’ve been putting off a vacation because you are scared to go alone, today is the day to put that fear to rest.  It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and into a world full of new challenges and experiences.  Here are some tips on how to see the world all by your lonesome….and love every minute of it!

Better Safe Than Sorry

Make sure you thoroughly research the countries you plan on visiting.  Safety comes first, especially when traveling alone, so make sure you’re aware of what’s going on in the country, what areas are safe/unsafe for tourists and write down local emergency numbers.  Also, plan your travel arrangements in each city so you’re not at a lost on how you’ll be getting around and be sure to leave the itinerary and contact info with loved ones before your trip. 

Get Up, Get Out, And See Something

Sure vacations are about lounging and relaxing, but don’t get tempted to stay at that exclusive resort in the middle of nowhere just because it has a great spa.  You can spa at home!  Pick a hotel in the heart of the city so that you’re close to all the tourist attractions, local nightlife and trendy restaurants.  Being in the mix will ensure that there is always something for you to do and see.

Lose Yourself

Don’t be afraid to travel off the beaten path.  Take the train to the last stop or walk through a town aimlessly, you never know what you may find that can make the experience a memorable one.  Of course as I mentioned, safety always comes first so if that dark alley doesn’t seem like a good idea…don’t go!  Other than that, be willing to put down the map and wander around a bit.

Live Like A Local

Tourist life is great, but one of the best ways to truly enjoy a solo vacation is to live life as a local.  If it’s customary for locals to drink espresso and eat pastries everyday at 3pm, find yourself a cafe and join in.  If locals usually ride the trolley around town, hop on.  Experience the country through their eyes and you’ll walk away with a whole new appreciation for their way of life.

Don’t Listen To Your Mother, Talk To Strangers

Most people hate traveling alone because they feel they’ll have no one to talk to, but they couldn’t be more wrong.  Talk to the woman shopping in the vintage store you find in Spain or the group of guys watching football in the pub in London.  You might find that these people are tourists just like you or better yet locals who are friendly and more than willing to give you insider tips on how best to enjoy their hometown.

Live In The Moment

Try not to plan every single moment of your vacation.  Force yourself to do and try things you wouldn’t otherwise.  Take in a street festival and try new foods or partake in a local custom.  Live the experience without the confines of time and most importantly TURN. THE. PHONE. OFF.  Twitter and Facebook will be there waiting for your updates when you get home.

Danielle Pointdujour is a native Brooklynite living and writing in the Big Apple. You can find Danielle sharing her personal outlook on love, life and travel on various publications across the web.