EPISODE 009 – Solo Travel: online forums and groups
Episode 009 – Solo Travel: online forums and groups where I discuss the vague questions asked online and how to ask more focused questions and perhaps find your own answers.
There are plenty of general travel, solo travel, and solo travel for women groups and forums on Facebook and other platforms. You’ll get hundreds of people asking “where should I go?” And in return, you’ll get a lot of answers as well but then no explanation as to why. There always has to be a why.
What’s Your Why?
From the start, why did you ask perfect strangers to recommend a place for your vacation? Are you surrounded by family and friends who have never gone anywhere or have they’ve only been where you’ve already gone?
Second, there’s a whole wide world out there! Seriously? You’ve just set yourself up for more confusion. You’ll get answers such as Iceland, Jamaica, Europe, the Maldives, Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. Can you narrow it down to a region or continent, at least?
Third, you didn’t say what you’d like to do while on vacation. Horseback riding on the beach, off-roading on atv’s, snow skiing, water skiing, hiking, skydiving, shopping, touring ruins or ancient sites, learning about your heritage, etc.
Fourth, you didn’t say when you wanted to go. Even the Caribbean and other tropical destinations have different seasons: dry or rainy. Traveling during school holidays and summer could be absolute madness but perhaps those are the only times you can travel.
Fifth, you didn’t say what your budget is. Iceland might be reasonably priced to fly to but do you know how expensive the food is there? Is staying in a hostel or Airbnb okay with you or is this the trip where you go all out and do that top-tier luxury thing?
Sixth, you don’t say what mode of transportation you’re comfortable with. Even in this day and age, a lot of people have still never flown on an airplane or taken a cruise. Some people won’t get on puddle-jumper/small aircraft while others won’t get on a ferry or small boat. So going to the Maldives, if you’re not staying on the mainland, you’re going to have to take a puddle jumper or a ferry boat, a small boat to get to all those different atolls and islands
Seventh, you didn’t say how many people are going with you. Solo travel can be exhilarating and costly but if you’ve never done it before, you might want to start with small steps. If you have many people wanting to go with you, some hotels will turn you away (or kick you out) if it’s really a bachelor/bachelorette party or spring break shenanigans.
Your indecision about the world at large is grating. Some might respond condescendingly or meanly while others may laugh out loud and/or not answer you at all. At least pose a more focused question such as: I’m thinking about going to X, Y, or Z next summer. What has been your experiences in these places during that season? OR throw out your must-haves and have-nots, such as: I’m open to anything but I love historical sites/ruins but want some beach time and I’m willing to try ziplining and different foods but I don’t like/I’m allergic to coconuts and bananas. OR I hate the cold but always wanted to see the northern lights where’s the best opportunity to see them in the shortest amount of time? OR I just want to relax on a beach somewhere warm that’s no more than a 3-hour flight from XXX. The answers to your focused questions can turn out to be very valuable in the long run.
As a travel advisor, I have to ask you these types of questions and a whole lot more. We have to be detectives, especially if you don’t have a place in mind. But even if you do have a destination in mind, I still need to know why you chose it. There always has to be a “Why”. I might start with: close your eyes for a minute and picture your dream vacation; where are you and what are you doing? And then I will actually stay silent for a minute or so. I had a client who was set on Jamaica for a solo trip but was afraid to go international… and during that quiet minute she saw herself surrounded by water but not the beach; she had hiking boots on with waterfalls and kayaks in the background. I did not send her to a Caribbean island, I sent her to Hawaii and she loved it. Another example of what I might ask is: when you were a child or a teenager, where did you dream of going? What were your favorite subjects in school, tv programs, books or movies, childhood games? That’s how I get a sense of your ideal place. Whether you realize it or not, your childhood plays a major role in your dreams, desires, delights, disappointments, defeats, and destiny.
Hey, I had a troubled childhood but I still had dreams and favorites and I excelled in certain games and school subjects. My favorite tv shows lead me to African safaris, scuba diving in Aruba, and snorkeling in the Phi Phi Islands of Thailand. My favorite games and school subjects lead me to Greece and Italy and eventually to Egypt. Did you know there is a Jane Austen Festival, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Bridgerton tours? You get to visit some of the film locations and historical references, learn some of the dances, attend a ball, dine with a real duke and duchess, enact some of the battle scenes, etc. The answers to your focused questions can turn out to be very valuable in the long run.
I’m a Lord of the rings fan and have been since I read the books when I was age 13, so going to New Zealand was at the top of my list. I had to go when Hobbiton was rebuilt because it was torn down after Lord of the rings because Peter Jackson didn’t think he was ever going to do Hobbiton, but then he did and he rebuilt Hobbiton. And now it is a main attraction. I was always a huge fan and I got to see it in real life.
Another example, have you heard your Mom or Dad say if you dig a hole deep enough you’ll end up in China? Well, I grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and I found that the polar opposite is in the middle of the Indian Ocean but the nearest city is Augusta Australia – about a 3- hour drive south from Perth Australia. So when I visited Perth, I purposely found a tour that took me through (not a stop) because Augusta is just a little town. Why? Because I was always interested. On top of that, it was a great tour.
I get it. I know that not everyone needs or wants to work with a Travel Agent/Advisor. So if you’re a DIY’er, you should ask yourself these same questions because with a little investigation you will find your dream vacations. Not just one destination but a whole list of places. The hard part should be how to put them in some sort of order.
You can’t call yourself a Queen if you’ve never ruled – and that means… knowing your own mind and being a leader not a follower. While you may seek the counsel or opinions of others, sit still for a minute, cut out that noise. Let your mind disconnect, scatter to the far winds, then re-connect to be laser-focused on your own needs. Write down your dreams and plan out the how’s, the what’s, the when’s, and the where’s because now you know the why’s.
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