Are you depriving yourself of a wonderful tropical vacation ’cause you’re a Nervous Nellie? Have you found yourself suddenly alone and just can’t imagine taking a trip all by yourself? Are you dreaming of sitting by the pool with a margarita? Read on to find out how not to be nervous to travel alone even if you’re a Nervous Nellie.
I was doing very well in my journey into widowhood. My anxiety was fading away. Every day I congratulated myself on the challenges I had taken on and accomplished. However, there was just one thing, a stumbling block I had a tough time getting over…
Traveling by myself
When Covid-19 hit I became totally isolated for almost a year. And I was super careful. I hardly ever went out of the house and even had my groceries delivered. I wore a mask when I went out to get the mail.
Even though I found plenty to do at home, and wasn’t bored, I began to feel that if I didn’t go somewhere soon, I would lose my mind.
Then I said to myself, “OK if I can learn to use power tools and finish a basement, I can certainly go on a vacation.” And I did. Read on to see how I traveled alone for the first time.
I Wanted To Go Someplace Warm
When my husband was alive we would spend a few winter months in Florida to get away from the cold New England weather. We found a town we loved (Venice, Florida), rented a house, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
The kids and grandkids came down to visit, we played golf, met friends, even thought about buying a winter home. We were snowbirds. That all ended when Jim died of course, and after that, I just couldn’t get myself to go alone. Until this year.
So How Was I Going To Manage Traveling Alone?
The Key To Getting Ready Is Careful Preparation And Organization
- I went to the VRBO website and found a house that would fit my needs; 3 bedrooms for my family visitors and a pool for the grandkids. I booked it immediately. Vrbo, now pronounced ver-bow, is a great travel site for booking all types of accommodations. There is an awesome review of Vrbo here. I booked my Florida vacation 6 months ahead of time and I was very lucky. Next time I will book even earlier, maybe a year in advance.
- Sign up for TSA Pre-Check. This is basically a fast pass through the security line. No removing shoes, jackets, liquids, or electronics. And instead of going through that embarrassing full-body scanner, you’ll just pass through a standard metal detector. The cost is $85 and is good for 5 years, which breaks down to $17 per year. You can find more information here. Definitely worth it, in my opinion.
- Then I booked my airfare and my rental car. This was all done six months in advance and I got pretty good prices on everything. Never rent a car at an airport if you can avoid it and save a lot of money. I had a friend pick me up at the airport (thank you!) and drive me to the local Budget Rental in Venice, Florida, and got a car for less than $800 for the month. That was half price!
- By the way, I think it’s a good idea to print out everything.
Can’t be too careful.
How was I going to transport a month’s worth of clothing, etc. without a strong man to help me out?
- First of all, I discovered packing cubes and I am officially hooked on them. These things are amazing! I can’t believe I’ve been packing without them my whole life. A packing cube system helps you get everything you need into your suitcase by neatly organizing and packing all your clothes tightly into their space-saving bags. And, unlike vacuum bags, you don’t have to suck the air out, so your clothes don’t arrive in a wrinkly mess. Another great thing is that you can pack one of the bags with items for a one-night stay so you don’t have to dig through the entire suitcase for that stayover.
- Secondly, I needed a new piece of luggage, the kind with swivel wheels, also known as “spinners.” What I wanted to get was a lightweight, large (not over 62″ in total dimensions per airline limitations), suitcase with spinner wheels. Nothing fancy. The important thing here is to make sure you get a suitcase with spinner wheels. Especially if it is large, like the one I needed, and loaded up to capacity. That’s almost 50 pounds! Spinner wheels add a degree of maneuverability that will save your arms. This is what I ended up with.
If you have a piece of luggage that is a dark or common color, buy a fun, bright-colored luggage tag so that you can find it easily. You want to see your suitcase the minute it comes out of hiding onto that carousel! Get something like this:
- Thirdly, I also needed a carry-on bag to hold my laptop computer, kindle, and miscellaneous stuff. This is what I bought.
This is an amazing set of two bags. It held all my electronics and fit under the seat. The large bag folds up and fits into the small bag for storage. So clever! I also bought the matching ID case.
It clipped right onto the larger bag. I was able to put my ID, my tip money and my charge card in there and pack my purse in my suitcase!
- Fourthly, it is important to have a toiletry bag with lots of pockets to keep organized. It’s also preferable to have clear, see-through compartments to make everything visible. There is nothing worse than digging around in one deep invisible pocket to find a particular item. I like to have a separate pocket for each type of product. One for each of these:
This BAGSMART travel toiletry bag is the best I have found. There are enough compartments to hold everything and they are see-through too!
I Decided To Check My Bag!
This is the best decision I ever made and I will never ever struggle to get a carry-on bag into one of that ridiculous hard-to-obtain, little overhead bins again. Of course, this time my bag was too big to go up there anyway so it had to be checked. But what a relief not to have that to worry about. Definitely worth the $30 baggage charge for the peace of mind. (Jet Blue) Be careful of the size and weight, though! In the case of Jet Blue, the overweight/over-size charge is $150! Add the luggage charge when you book your flight.
Buy This Nifty Tool!
I found this at Amazon, but I believe it is available at other stores like Walmart. With this tool, you won’t have to hold your breath when you get to the airport. You will already know how much your bag weighs! Also, don’t forget to take it with you! Somehow the bag is always heavier on the way home. How does that happen???
Check Into Your Flight From The Comfort Of Your Home
The process is easy, just follow the instructions and fill in your name and your confirmation number.
If you haven’t already done so, you can choose your seat and pay your luggage fee.
You can either print out your boarding pass or have it emailed to you so that you can show it at the airport on your smartphone.
You’re done! All you have to do when you arrive at the airport is hand over your luggage at the counter. You already know that it is not overweight because you have weighed it with your nifty luggage scale. So easy!
Before you leave for the airport, charge up your devices. And make sure both your charging cord and block are available, not packed in your checked suitcase! Sometimes you can find an outlet in the airport for charging.
Don’t forget your ID!
First of all, leave for the airport early! For me, a good time is 3 hours before the flight departure time. Remember, I’m a Nervous Nellie. Use your own judgment, but err on the side of early.
Take advantage of airport transportation. In the Boston area, we have Logan Express, a wonderful service. All I had to do was drive (or get a ride) to the nearest Logan Express Bus Terminal and buy an inexpensive ticket to the airport. The driver handles the luggage and drops you off in the right place! I wish more airports offered a service like this.
Did I mention kindle? I love mine! These days when conversation with strangers is really difficult due to Covid-19, you need something to read. Don’t you hate sitting there with nothing to do? My Paperwhite Kindle was a gift from my daughter and I couldn’t be happier with it.
It was great on the plane because I didn’t need to turn on the overhead light. It doesn’t hurt that I can make the size of the print REALLY BIG.
Arrival At My Destination
Yay, warm weather and palm trees! The friend who picked me up said he’d never seen anyone strip so fast (haha). Someone else said she thought I might kiss the ground. Yes, I was happy. I needed this vacation.
Was I lonely in the house all by myself?
Not at all! First of all, I was hardly ever in the house! I developed a routine that included walking to a cute coffee shop almost every day for breakfast. If you are ever in Venice, check out Island Coffee, a great little place. I took advantage of all of the outdoor dining opportunities in Florida.
- I walked
- Went out to lunch
- Sat out by the pool with my kindle
- Shopped in the boutiques
- Took some computer courses
- Went out to dinner
- Had a lot of company, which included going out to eat yet again!
- Drank margaritas
- I unplugged…that’s right, no news for an entire month!
Isn’t this gorgeous? I spent a lot of time out there! Why was I worried?
The Family Arrived… The Highlight Of My Month!
3 of my grandchildren are teenagers now so they provided their own entertainment. They rode their bikes and skateboards downtown to the shops or to the beach and then came back and jumped in the pool. They had a ball!
OK, Nervous Nellies, You Can Travel Alone Too!
As always, take care. You can do it!
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