in other words, make up your own mind
When I first decided to go to India I wanted to go alone. Don't ask me why because I don't know. Anyway, my friends thought I was mad. And to be honest, everything I read -- online and in travel guidebooks -- sort of discouraged it. While no one came out and said it was a stupid or dangerous thing to do, there were articles and sections that could have made a solo female traveler wary.
In the end I went on a tour -- not because I was afraid to go alone, but because I was referred to a travel agent who was leading a trip I wanted to go on. She was going to all the places I wanted to see and she was going at exactly the time of year I wanted to go. And they were staying in spectacular hotels and her itinerary was very appealing to me.
I'm not sorry I did it. I had a fabulous time.
BUT ... now that I've been to India I know that I could have gone myself. I never felt that I wasn't safe. I never felt that if I'd been a woman alone I would have been scorned by many Indian people (which is what a lot of the guidebooks warn you about). I know I wouldn't have been lonely. And I know I would still have enjoyed myself.
It was great to have people to share my experiences with -- but I also know that I would have met people during my travels. I did even on my tour. You meet people and strike up conversations everywhere -- in lines, in bars, in cafes, at museums, at airports, in restaurants, in hotel lobbies, at tourist attractions. Somebody inevitably starts talking -- it stands to reason -- you obviously have something in common because you've found yourselves in the same place at the same time.
If you're a woman traveling alone are there things you need to watch out for? Absolutely. But if you're a woman traveling on the subway at night in your own home town there are things you need to watch out for.
How do you know what to see if you're not on a tour? Well to begin with that's what travel magazines, the travel section of newspapers, the Internet and guidebooks are for. Hotels can also organize tours for you and you can also make arrangements with your travel agent to hire your own, private driver and guide.
All you really need to have a terrific vacation on your own is the confidence to do it. So don't wait for your spouse or your sibling or your kids or your friends to go on holiday with you because you might end up waiting forever -- and while everyone else gets to see the world, you'll be wishing you were.
If you want to go somewhere and you've got no one to go with, go anyway. And if you're not quite ready to fly solo go on a tour -- there are plenty of them that cater to small groups of from 10 - 14 people so if the idea of traveling with 20 or 30 others is putting you off, there are alternatives.
Do it once and I'll bet wish you'd done it sooner. Send me a postcard.