Does being single hold you back from traveling because no-one can join you?
Kanu: Welcome to Real Love Real Stories TV and podcast. This is Kanu, I’m the host. Join me as I learn about love from couples who are making their relationships work and from singles who are making being single fun. In this first episode, in the guest chair is Megan and she is tuning in from Oregon. We're talking about taking a solo vacation. Have you ever gone on a vacation by yourself when you're single? Or even go on vacation solo, when your partner doesn't want to go? Enjoy Megan's experience as she talks about the recent vacation she took to France.
Kanu: Welcome back to the show. I'm so excited to have you again. For those people that may not know you, can you go ahead and just introduce yourself so they know who you are.
Megan: Hi there, I'm back. My name is Megan Norris. I did a podcast with Kanu a few months ago about being single and she asked me to come in today to talk a little bit about traveling solo.
I'm a single woman. I live in Portland. I have a Private Practice therapy. I'm a Mental Health Counselor and I work in crisis work in with singles who are looking to date, empower themselves then find their wholeness so that kind of what I do professionally. Personally, I'm from a really large family. I live downtown with my dog you know I'm at a point in my life where I'm 35 and lots of my friends and family have their own family. For me to do the things I want in the world, sometimes I have to bite the bullet and do it myself. When you do that it's one of the most empowering experiences. That's what kind of brought me on today.
Kanu: Yes, for sure. I so excited to have you on. I know that you just got back, very recently on a fun trip to Paris. I not sure if that's how they pronounce it but ... You were in France recently, you know, what made you decide to take this vacation by yourself?
Megan: In my 20's, I had a very different life and I traveled a lot by myself. At that point in my life, I financially was more secure than a lot of my friends who were really working on their careers at that point and so I had the personal flexibility and finances to be able to travel when people didn't so that's what pushed me into it in the first place. Then I switched careers and finances changed so that shifted a little bit because I was in school and doing all of this other stuff. I haven't traveled solo in a while and what prompted this trip was mostly ... A lot of my friends and family, like I said just a moment ago, are in totally different phases with their life than myself, which is awesome and incredible for them and can create some discourse, I think, a little bit. Not even just conflicts or anything like that but just in, how do I, especially where your life is at, but especially where my life is at if you can't join me. A lot of it came up around my 35th birthday. I was trying to... For me, 35 was a big deal and lots of personal things surround what it looks like to be a woman and thinking about children. Just things about my life that I'm... Doesn't mean that it's never but maybe having to make some peace around. For me and I told my friends you know, I not 40 but that doesn't feel like a big deal. Thirty wasn't a big deal. Thirty-five just kind of a big deal just because of where my life is versus things that may or may not be a part of it based on that tipping point.
Megan: I had prepped them far in advance so it's six, nine months in advance because I wanted to take a trip and all of my friends are mothers. I knew they need a lot of that time so we ended up planning one trip to... Pretty local trips to like Vancouver DC, I'm in Oregon. That was difficult with airfare and one of my girlfriends, even though I gave her a lot of time but she ends up having a baby just like a month prior. She'd gotten pregnant around the time I said I wanted to plan the trip. That was going to be really difficult for her to leave for more than just one night. I have a really small group of friends, it was about four. We ended up missing that trip and I was like well let's just do... I love my friends, I love their partners. I was like let's just do like a big gang trip to the beach. We'd get a big beach house, bring your partners. Hopefully, that'll make it easier on everybody. It didn't, it made it harder. At a certain point, it was so much work and frustration and guilt and it was just so difficult and just so elated that they... Even as much as they wanted to, they weren't in a place to meet me where I was at so I canceled both of the trips and said I'm just going to do me. That's really important for me so I had to haggle over it. You know, the responsibility of wanting to involve my friends who feel like family and the guilt of not involving them you know but at a certain point, you have to think about yourself.
One of my girlfriends, when I was planning my trip, she was like, 'Well my husband and I are going to New York for my 35th.' Her friends weren't even a factor in her planning her life. She has a family and she has people that she are her priorities and go-to's and as wonderful as friends fit into that but I'm not the person who she stops and thinks, can I do this if Megan can't go? Yet my whole ... all of my social interactions, because I don't have a family... I have a large wonderful family but I have a partner or a baby as myself tends to revolve around my sister. I find myself feeling, why I have this responsibility towards my friends who don't have the same responsibility towards me. Not in any bad way but it's just the reality of where we are.
Megan: When that kind of dawned on me, I was like, God I don't know why I'm doing this. I don't know why I feel bad at planning a trip that now I don't want to go on because it feels like everybody's going to be resentful and grumpy, so I just going to do me. That how Paris happened. I was trying to locate a bunch of other... I've been to Paris a few but not since my early 20s. I've been trying to look at a few other places most of which were a little bit dangerous like Turkey and Marrakesh and things like that. I decided not to necessarily check a bucket list items but just to go to a place that I found beautiful and wonderful and I felt safe at in the past. Some place I could go and just truly embrace my aloneness and you know an Incredible city and it made it, the flight's easy and all of those pieces. It just kind of worked out and I decided to cancel the trip and I booked a flight the next day and I booked Airbnb three days later and I left.
Kanu: That's awesome. Well first of all Happy Belated Birthday because that was last month?
Megan: That was yes, a month ago.
Kanu: Yes, secondly I can totally relate, I mean sometimes it's even harder to arrange a happy hour. A local happy hour.
Megan: It takes a month.
Kanu: Right, to kind of get everybody schedule aligned and then schedule something. They don't want you to schedule something that takes you across the world I mean that's you know it can be very challenging. Can you walk me through what were some of the fun things that you did on this vacation?
Megan: Well all of it fun I mean, let's see. On my 35th birthday ... The reason Paris hit my radar as a place that we go, was that they were having ... there's one Winery and the neighborhood of Paris are called... I don't know the [inaudible 08:50] because it's so hard to say it but [inaudible 08:53] but in basically Paris Central, there's one Winery. That is not like a tasting room, it's a full Winery. It the only Parisian Winery in Paris was having their crush week like that weekend and a whole Festival the weekend of my birthday, the 12 - 14. Mine was October 13th so that was like a big thing so I went to the Parisian Wine Festival and there just street stuff everywhere. I like the wine tastings. The evening of my birthday I went to the Eiffel Tower just to see all the showings because it's just so iconic.
On my birthday night, I end up being, just the most random night. I'd gotten a restaurant referral from my Airbnb host and I was trying to track it and I couldn't find it on... I couldn't find it essentially. I was walking on a tiny street, I couldn't... The addresses there are a little hidden sometimes. I end up walking into this tiny little bar. There was this French woman sitting at the table by herself and a handsome bartender. I was like perfect, perfect people to talk to. She ends up being ... she says my name is Charlotte. I'm a French model. This is my boyfriend and we end up talking.
Kanu: The Bartender?
Megan: Yes the boyfriend was her bartender he ended up being the owner of the bar. He and his brother were the only two people working and they owned it and it just turned into a huge party. Like they knew a couple of the patrons. They were already eating there and a big group of guys came in. I think there were 12 guys came in. It was two of their birthdays too and they knew the owner/bartender and Charlotte the French model. It ended up being this massive party in this tiny bar that this person owns, lots of dancing. Then we went to a club afterward and I met bunches of girls who I... well no. I met bunches of girls but I met two girls who ended up hanging out with throughout the trip. After that, it was just random and fun. It was just that perfect kind of night evolves, you don't plan it. Then you know I did tons of touristy things. Like the Montmartre, Artist Square and Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe. We did a thousand things...what did we do? We did the Latin Quarter, went to some Jazz clubs. It's super fun in Paris. I did a lot of just like wondering you know, getting up early. I really enjoyed that. I mean that's the advantage of traveling by yourself is that you have no agenda. Or only as much of an agenda as you've set for yourself so you're not operating on anyone else's opinion. We did the... I can't remember the names right now... The Catacombs which was super interesting so we did the Underneath of Paris. I don't know we did a lot of things.
I think the best thing that I did... The other thing I like to do when I travel solo or travel, in General, is when I go to other Countries I like to take a cooking class.
Megan: It's a really, really fun way to just get into the food and learn something new. You get to mingle with people who are either local or like-minded travelers, people traveling around. I found this guy who... I'm not so much into touristy stuff. I like to find pretty local things so although doing the cooking class is fairly touristy, this gentleman had been on the food network and all of these different things and he had a kitchen in his home. He was a true Parisian. He's from Paris and what the plan was, is we met at the Cafe' and there were six participants total and we decided on a menu together, just there on the spot and then he takes you to those local market. The local markets are only open on Tuesdays and Fridays and they bring in all the fresh wares. He takes you to the local market and then you purchase... and then you can only make a menu out of whatever is in season. Then he walks you through all of the special things about to pick certain like fruits and vegetable. What makes this dish fresh and what not. How was this cheese was made? Why again, in Europe they serve you buy meats that, the fish and chicken and things like that with their heads and their body parts still on.
He talks you through like why they do that and so you can tell what kind of life the animal had. Whether they were let farm raised and if they were in the grass, like just super interesting. Then he took us back to his home which had a full kitchen. His house was just so, I don't know, it just like the most amazing experience. It was from 9 AM. It was supposed to go until three and I don't think we left until 6:30 so we drank lots of wine... and you cover huge meals together and you make friends. I do intimate stuff a bit better than big crowds. I'm kind of a one on one kind of person. I don't know that was probably my most favorite thing-
Kanu: Yes that sounds really fun, yes. Taking your cooking class and I love the idea about you know, about what you bring to the market and learning about what's in season. Then you know I don't think I've ever given any thought as to why you should buy a fish with the head on it because with that it's like... I mean I don't think about those things but-
Megan: Yes, It's just a great learning experience. I don't know, yes, I really liked it. I traveled to Barcelona in the past. I took a Paella in Sangria making class there. There we did like quail and just different things so yes, it’s a really good way to kind of induct yourself, and do something fun. Have a planned activity, meet local people, drink a lot of wine in a safe place, you know. I loved that part.
Kanu: That's awesome so with all this fun cooking and all the things that you did Were there any single guys there that perhaps you ... I don't know, came across and-? Maybe nothing romantic but like connections, right or friendship?
Megan: No not so much, I mean the French have a reputation around friendliness and I wouldn't say... I've never ... I don't experience them as being unfriendly or anything like that. I thoroughly enjoyed my time. There was always somebody there to help me or talk me through something but they're... Maybe kind of how you know people conceptualize New York because they're very direct, they're doing their own thing and so it can feel like they're not giving you the time of day. Certainly, they're not warm, I would say as a culture unless you've, I mean, they go so out of their way. If you go to somebody's house for dinner, they cook you a five-course meal. You know they put in an incredible amount of invest and work and connections but if just being a layman person if I'm going to a restaurant it would take me a long time for someone to come over to me or the same as in a store or things like that. They're certainly not going out of their way to like, 'Hi, how are you?' I mean I guess the night of my birthday there were lots of guys there who was super fun. Most of them were coupled though I would think. Yes, it was fun but no love connections for sure.
Kanu: Yes I mean they're good stories of people that go on vacation and you know you least expect it. You're sitting somewhere and you're having a glass of wine ansd you know some guy shows up and... That's how Serena Williams and her husband you know how they met right, somewhere in Europe-
Megan: He must have been bold to walk up to Serena Williams. I felt that I had that happened to me. I don't think... this is my third time in Paris. That's never been my experience there and whether that's cultural or whether that's or whether they, you know... As a culture, they have a very different like body type or beauty Ideal. I don't quite fit that and so you know it was just like general things that I can maybe use a stereotype, I don't know. Yes, they have a little bit of a different beauty ideal that is not a mold that I necessarily fit into. I think that they just culturally aren't necessarily... they're not unfriendly but they don't go out of their way to be friendly. I don't think just people. I had that experience in New York, in Mexico, in Spain, lots of time in Italy as well but not in France.
Kanu: Okay, where you've traveled and met some...
Megan: All the places I've... Yes I met people or I mean even if I haven't firstly had a connection, I've garnered a lot of attention and that's been obvious and I did not feel that way at all in Paris.
Kanu: Yes and that's good.
Megan: Which is kind of nice. When you're going by yourself you don't want to be like heckled by a bunch of people. Or have people all over you, it's kind of nice to just be a wildflower a little bit and do your own thing. A lot of people challenge you there, like a lot of the French women that I met and hung out with when I was there. That so... It's so brave of you to travel by yourself, I would never do that. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be alone that much. There are a lot of these exclamations around bravery to travel by yourself which I think is interesting. I don't consider it necessarily brave, I'm single, and I do everything by myself. Why would I only do it within a five-mile radius with home? That would just seem to me, traveling by yourself is an incredible and powerful experience. I think that you learn so much about yourself, positive and negative. Like your strength and you're not able to avoid who you are. Right? There is no tucking it away. But there is certainly... You know is it lonely at times? Absolutely. Does it make it hard to not have someone to lean on sometimes? Absolutely. Would it be nice to have a dinner date sometimes? Absolutely. You can say the same for when you travel with someone else. When you're with someone else would it be nice to just be alone and to not have to coordinate what you do every moment of every day? Absolutely. There is always these positives and negatives around what it looks like to travel, regardless of whether you go with a group, with friends, with a partner, by yourself on a tour, whatever it looks like there. There is always going be advantages. There is just this ... I don't even know if it's a stigma but this awe around single travelers, particularly for women.
Kanu: Yes, well it's interesting you say that. Tomorrow's my birthday and -
Megan: My goodness, happy birthday.
Kanu: Thank you and I procrastinated a lot, I wanted to go somewhere local, San Diego or L.A. I was like you know what just go for two days but I know they have fires in California and now everything I think is kind of good now. But I was like I would buy a ticket and tickets are very cheap from Phoenix to fly to L.A. or something and spend a couple of days. I've been there by myself but it's just for business reasons and back. This time around I'm like for fun. What am I going to do? I just started thinking about that and I ended up talking myself out of going to L.A. or San Diego for my birthday which is kind of sad. Because I wanted to go there, which is why I thought it would be good for us to chat about traveling while single and how it's doable and its fun and you can actually end up having more fun than you would have if you'd gone with your friends. I mean it's a different kind of fun. Anyway, so what would be some of the tips that you would give for single females traveling solo? Are there any tips that you would like to share?
Megan: That's a good question. The first thing I want to touch on is that I don't think that everybody loves to travel solo. To be quite honest I would probably prefer to travel with someone else. I think the empowerment piece is not saying you have to travel alone if you're single. It saying don't hold yourself back because other people won't join you.
Kanu: Right, that's [inaudible 22:18].
Megan: That I... Yes that's the big piece. You know if you want to go and there isn't someone to join to join you and you're like fine it looks the same, might not look the same as other people don't let that keep you from you're goals, you're dreams or your experiences. That's a big piece for me, it's less about being like I need to be alone and see this by myself. It's more about having ownership and confidence that I can. Most of the time I would say there has probably been four trips I planned by myself but never ended up being by myself. I said I'm going, this is when my trip is if you would like to join me you're happy to come. Actually, those are way easier to plan then the opposite when you say let's plan a trip together. It becomes all about resistance and they can't and the difficulties at that. But when you say this is what I'm doing, you're welcomed to join, people tend to figure it out. I don't know, they just do. That's what I would highlight. If you are single and your life looks different don't hold yourself back because you can't find someone to join you.
Being a single person... Tips... I mean a lot of them might come down to safety a little bit. I tend to probably not... I don't run with a super high level of anxiety around safety, some people are really thinking about that all the time, I should probably be a little more aware but I think its certain things like not posting your passport or your plane ticket or that you're leaving for a long time. When you get there it's just making sure that your things are close. Not taking free things from people, that's kind of a big one. Lots of people will try to... A couple of people tried to scam me when I was there. They would throw rings out, like little gold rings or silver rings or something and then the person, homeless or indigent or [inaudible 24:19] whatever that might look like would run up and grab it when you were walking by and be like 'Oh did you lose your ring? This is a beautiful ring, this is yours.' Then they would try to put it on your hand and then it's like it was on then they would say well you should give me money for that. About the scam probably pickpocketing.
Kanu: I see.
Megan: I didn't end up going to Marrakesh or Turkey in general or things like that because it was a little bit dangerous. Probably a lot dangerous for a lot of people. For me, it was less about the danger and more about if I'm going to be careful and might not be able to experience what I wanted. I'm not worried about the danger but if I can't really go out at night by myself if I can't really do a lot of these things and I might go and feel a little trapped. I didn't want that to be my experience so I think you have to find your own comfort around what countries you want to go to. You know Mexico has had lots of things that have made it feel like fear mongering a little bit about why not to travel there around the cartels. Some of that's very real and some of that's ... Not to say that it's not real but the fear is built up much bigger than it needs to be for the average person.
I tend to jump on my plane ticket as quickly as I can to get a cheap one. Cheap places are easier to find and you have a lot more flexibility so, start with your plane ticket. You can find an Airbnb, a hotel, I mean there are a lot of options for places to go for that.
Kanu: So what was your experience with Airbnb being in another country? That's always to me, I'm always leery about that when I travel in another country. Especially when you're getting a room. If you're given a whole house to yourself then that's great. But when you're getting a room, I think it can go good or bad but I don't know.
Megan: I guess I've not done like a private room in a place. I've always gotten my own spot whether it was just an apartment or a house...I don't know if I've gotten a house but I've gotten like condos or apartments by myself and I've done that in several countries internationally.
Megan: And it was fine. I never had any issues. I mean there is just so much technology that helps with things like that, all the translators, GPS works everywhere, and Uber works everywhere. It's just ... I have not had it be a particular challenge and I mean Airbnb is pretty fantastic, I think you get more bang for your buck. I don't think it's any cheaper than a hotel these days, with all the taxes and fees and all the things going on with Airbnb and how popular it's gotten. It's not necessarily any cheaper unless you have a large group.
Kanu: I see, yes.
Megan: So like if you're fitting 10 people in somewhere then that's cheaper than getting a bunch of hotel rooms. What I do like about Airbnb versus a hotel is that you can have more of like a home environment versus a room with a mini fridge and like a microwave hot plate or something. So if I'm traveling I like the experience of having it feel like a home. That's why I tend to dress more towards an Airbnb but hotels can be great to save different amenities. If you go for Airbnb you're not going to have a janitor or a concierge or some of these other things. Again I tend to like some more authentic, I don't really care about the amenities too much. There are certain... I might plan a certain trip that will be a little bit pampered and less about the culture but for most trips like that I just like it to be as authentic as possible. I don't really care about the amenities, it's more about the location, and it’s more about what I'm surrounding myself with.
Kanu: Cool. Yes, so what's in store for 2019 traveling wise? Are you planning any fun, adventures?
Megan: A couple yes. It feels like things I've done a little bit. My family, we have a spot in Mexico that we go, so I plan to go there and doing swimming with the whale sharks excursion which I hadn't ever done before. I'm super excited. They are the largest fish in the ocean but they eat planktons so they're totally harmless. I'm going to be doing that in the spring. I have a couple girls trips planned throughout the summer. I'm going to a wedding in ...It's not in Rome, I think it's in Maples, like southern.
Megan: So, I'm going to a wedding in Italy in the summer. Yes, I don't know, we'll see.
Kanu: So none of them are you are planning to go on your own?
Megan: Not right this second. I haven't quite... I just got done with the back to back trip so I haven't quite earmarked the stuff for next year. It's a really good time to buy right now though for next year that's a great tip. You can purchase a plane ticket up to a year in advance, 365 days and Black Friday, Cyber Monday and any time around the holidays can be a good time. The other really good time is around January because a lot of people don't travel in January after the holidays. Purchase the tickets as soon as you can, so if can... there is something to be said for spontaneous travel like where am I going tomorrow? Like that's an incredible way to travel, I love doing that and it's a gamble on expense. If cost is a factor for you, planning ahead particularly if you can book a ticket more than six months out you're going to get a better deal often times. Book on Tuesdays, a little bit of cheap with days of the week to book flights. You know January I'll probably just settle into being at home a little bit for the next few weeks and then be thinking about if there's something I can do next year. Now that my life is allowing a little bit more time, I'd liked to solo travel once a year. That would be a solid goal. To travel more than once a year but to travel by myself at least once. You can make that -I mean, you know if you only have two days just get out there and do it. It's so easy to talk yourself out of it and just be like [sound] it's just easier stay or what would I do, like you will figure it out. Don't worry, you'll meet someone on the plane or maybe you'll spend the entire time just walking around or in the lobby sitting by the fire reading a book, which you haven't had time to do. That's the beauty of it and I think that can feel so intimidating and talk people out of it mentally.
Kanu: Well I'm thinking about -
Megan: Just book the ticket, once you have the ticket you're going to go. Just book the ticket, that's my-
Kanu: Once you spend the money then it's like okay you have to go. I may see myself next year on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Megan: There you go.
Kanu: Because I can't keep waiting forever, I'm going to find somebody to go with or you know. I will meet Mr. Right and then travel together, I just need to go and travel on my own.
Megan: When you meet Mr. Right you can travel there nothing keeping you from going to those places but that's my biggest tip is just don't keep yourself from experiencing things because you don't have what you think you want or what your life might look like. Mr. Right might not like to travel.
Kanu: Right, that's true.
Megan: so do you and that opens up your heart and your mind anyways and allows people to come into your life. No matter what people encourage and admire that, they might not be willing to do it themselves, they might be afraid but people admire that. I mean it's an incredible characteristic. Just own who you are, buy the plane ticket because it's easy to talk yourself out of it and once you kind of got your hook in, that helps me because I tend to be kind of a homebody as well. I'm not the type of aid that got to be doing something all the time. If I bump up into a weekend that I've have nothing to do, I'm more likely just to stay home and do nothing than go out. If I ... That's always been the most successful thing for me to make sure that I'm getting the experiences that I know in this big picture that I want. Because in the moment I might cave to my craving work, emotion or fatigue or whatever that might look like. So if I know that it's happening and I can plan far up in advance then I do that. I guess coming back that would be a good tip. Plan the trip, bound the ticket as fast as you can. Do some research then figure out where you want to stay, try to figure out where you want to stay at least initially depending on how far you're going or how long you're going for? Try to at least fill up the first couple of days so you arrive and have time to orient yourself. I guess the other thing I would I say is don't overly book yourself, it's nice to have flexibility. You can always figure out where to stay, what to do and so it's nice to have those first days for a week may be set up. If you have more time after that, like a month, it's nice to not have a plan also. Give yourself the flexibility to do what comes up organically.
Kanu: No, I like that as we're talking I was like you know because I referenced Tennis earlier, a Serena Williams. I love Tennis and one of my goals is to go to all the majors. So maybe that will be my single thing, I go to the Australian Open, the French Open, to Wimbledon, I mean you name it. That will be my solo travel and love Tennis.
Megan: That would be amazing.
Kanu: I know, so I should make that my 2019, maybe I'll check one of those off.
Megan: Just pick one. Just say I am. I think that's a part of it too, not maybe. I am. I'm just going to pick one, I'm just going to go.
Kanu: Right, I am going to go to either French Open or Wimbledon because that's later in the year.
Megan: There you go. When's the French Open?
Kanu: French Open, I think it's in September. September sometime... No wait September is US Open. I think between July and September is when that happens. Wimbledon is in July. August into July and I know Australia Open is in January so that's too soon for me to plan. It would get one of those off of my list in 2019.
Megan: Do it.
Kanu: So that will be my plan, to travel on my own.
Megan: You predicted it for yourself.
Kanu: Yes. Well, this was a lot of fun. Thank you for talking about your recent trip and giving us some tips on things to do and traveling solo. That is very brave and fun and hopefully, other people will also get that motivation and encouragement to go and travel. You don't have to wait for your friends or family because sometimes schedules just don't align.
Megan: You can wait forever it doesn't mean that they can't join you, you just have to move forward independently.
Kanu: Yes exactly. So thanks again for taking the time to chat.
Kanu: Thank you so much for tuning in to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Please remember to subscribe, rate and review in iTunes and you can always find more information on my interviews at realloverealstories.com, and also by following me on Instagram and Facebook at Real Love, Real Stories. Till next time.