Blame it on Instagram influencers eliciting travel envy with those perfect pics, or in-flight entertainment really stepping it up a notch, but millennials are stacking up those passport stamps… and they’re doing it solo.
A new survey from TheCashlorette.com reveals that solo travel is most appealing to millennials: Overall, 58 percent say they would do it, and 26 percent already have. Twenty-six percent of millennial women, it turns out, have traveled solo, and 27 percent have not, but would consider doing it in the future.
So where are these women wrecked by wanderlust headed to? If money were no issue, TheCashlorette.com survey found that domestically, Hawaii is the top spot for women across all generations, and internationally, Italy was the most popular destination across all genders, age groups and party lines. Because nothing brings together a country quite like pizza and pasta, am I right?
If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, now is the perfect time to book that dream vacation; early fall marks shoulder travel season for a lot of hot spots, which means long daylight hours, good weather… and dipping prices on hotels and flights.
Better get that out-of-office reply crafted, STAT.
Solo Travel Holds Its Allure
Before you beg your bestie to tackle that trip with you, consider a solo mission. Women across the country are fearlessly flying to every corner of the globe, from Africa to Ireland, and they’re racking up those miles alone. Many women have found their solo travel experiences enriching, and are encouraging other young women to also see the world, sans squad.
Jessica Muñoz, a 25-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, has spent the past few years ticking off dream destinations on her travel to-do list. Since 2012, she has traveled solo to Tanzania, Mexico, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Muñoz says that she enjoys traveling alone because it gives her an opportunity for self-growth and empowerment.
“Traveling alone, for me, is a once in a lifetime experience that consists of self-reflections, relaxation and independence,” Muñoz says. “It is a time of curiosity that is completely dependent on your own desires. You are the captain of the ship and are able to take control and explore as much as you want. You don’t have to worry about what anyone else wants to do, and the only person you care about satisfying is you.”
Sightseeing solo can be scary for some young women, but Muñoz says she loves coming home safe and sound, and hopes that it inspires others to travel alone as well.
“Before my trips, my family and friends tend to always talk to me about the violence, kidnappings and sexual assault that happens abroad,” Muñoz says. “But these things can happen anywhere in the world; you just have to be cautious of your surroundings. I know that scary things can happen abroad, but I also know that I am a competent young lady who has taken care of herself for the last 25 years.”
Hannah Crank, 23, is originally from St. Louis, but is currently living in Dublin. She’s traveled solo to California, France and Ireland, and has used her study abroad status to her advantage, checking off as many destinations as possible without having to bend to the schedules of others.
“Don’t be scared,” Crank says. “While you should always be somewhat skeptical just to play it safe, don’t be scared to go out and wander around. Some of my favorite days in Paris involved me just wandering around the less busy roads and sitting in a cafe and people watching while reading a book. Just go out and do it, because before my study abroad experience, I wouldn’t do anything on my own; I was scared of looking silly eating lunch or doing stuff solo, but it definitely helped me break down those walls and be more independent.”
Tips to Slay Your Solo Vacay
Before you jet off on that solo vacay, à la “Eat, Pray, Love,” there are a few tasks you need to check off on your travel to-do list. Once you’re done, all you have to do is pack your bags and pocket that passport!
1. Be smart about your safety.
As frustrating as it might be, female solo travelers need to be aware of countries that might not be the safest spots for women. If you’re stressed about your safety the whole time, your trip will feel like a ticking time bomb.
Crank says before deciding on her next solo trip, she always looks at the United States Embassy warnings, which are updated frequently. These travel advisories help summarize news events that could impact the current safety status of a country. You can also check out the U.S. Passports and International Travel site for timely travel warnings.
When booking accommodations, I am all about that Airbnb life; I’ve stayed at Airbnbs in both Cuba and Singapore, and saved hundreds of dollars by swerving those pricey hotel fees. But you should never sacrifice your safety for savings, and need to do your research before you book. Pick a place with plenty of positive reviews, research the reputation of the neighborhood of your rental, and try to book with Superhosts. Superhosts on Airbnb (indicated by a little badge) have hosted at least 10 trips and have received five-star reviews at least 80 percent of the time.
Logistics aside, be sure to bring your common sense with you, and you’ll be set.
“Try not to walk around too late at night and avoid being too far from your accommodation,” Muñoz says. “If you are ever lost, ask for help inside a store or restaurant. If you look worried and confused in the streets, you set yourself up as a target. Other than that, don’t be afraid to travel alone, take some chances and enjoy your time alone and abroad.”
2. Budget effectively.
Traveling solo also makes budgeting that much more essential; if you run out of cash, there’s no one there to spot you! Be sure to plan out which activities you want to do, what sights you want to see, and calculate how much money each day of your trip will likely cost.
Swiping your credit card could leave you with mounting foreign transaction fees, so you’ll want to either budget that in, opt for cash or choose a credit card that’s free of fees. Also, don’t forget to calculate how much the U.S. dollar is worth in other countries!
“I look into currency exchanges to make sure I can afford it, and know how much to budget for the trip,” Crank says. “I like to be somewhat spontaneous, but a little planning helps make things run smoother, so I usually book my accommodations ahead of time.”
Also, don’t forget to reap those rewards! Soaring through your bucket list with a travel or airline credit card can offer perks like frequent flier miles or free hotel rooms.
3. Pack your bags and peace out!
If you’ve done your research when it comes to your personal safety (and the safety of your finances!), you’ve done your due diligence.
Take it from Janel Young, a 25-year-old New Yorker, who has traveled alone a few times. She recently took a two-week solo trip to Queenstown, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, for an art show her work was featured in. She had been wanting to travel solo for about a year, and the art show served as the perfect opportunity.
“My desire for traveling, especially alone, often stems from the need for adventure” Young says. “This two-week solo trip was a time for self-reflection, re-calibration and re-energizing myself. A piece of advice I have for other ladies traveling solo is to do your homework on the culture of the place you’re traveling to and ask questions before you go. Ask a lot of questions. Ask difficult questions. These questions can be for yourself to fulfill your own checklist, and for others to get another perspective.”
So ladies, book that trip, and use it as an opportunity to enjoy yourself. For more fun, frugal financial advice, follow me on Facebook.