When you’re married for a long time or have children, there’s almost always someone around for any activity you want to do. Name it: eating out, skiing, hiking, going to the movies, traveling. You’ve got someone who can go with you.
Eventually the children move out and you end up in the 50% who get divorced.
There’s no one around to go out and do stuff with.
Is the real fear showing up somewhere alone?
What are you worried about? That people will look at you and say: “Look at that poor old lady who’s here alone. She has no friends/family.”
That’s unlikely. If you’re in a restaurant or in a theater before the movie starts, what is everybody doing, even if they’re not alone? They’re looking at their cell phones! No one’s looking at you. They don’t care.
I walked by a Subway restaurant one day and most of the tables had two people sitting at them. Every single one of them was looking at their cell phone and ignoring the person they were with.
Really. Nobody cares that you showed up alone.
Start off small
Do you fee like a goof if you go to a tourist attraction, the movies, or a restaurant alone?
If you’re planning to travel solo, these are things you need to learn how to do by yourself. That is if you want to see stuff or you get hungry and thirsty.
Conquer that fear!
Pick a movie you want to see and away you go. It’s not like you go to the movies with a friend to have a conversation. You can chat before the movie, but if you keep talking while it’s playing, you won’t be too popular with the others in the theater.
For me, going to a restaurant alone is tough. I’m not talking a fast food or doughnut/coffee shop type place. Nobody thinks twice when they see people alone in those places. In fact, you probably already have run into McDonald’s, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme or Tim Hortons by yourself over the years. You’re already doing stuff alone!
So what if you go into a table service restaurant alone? Will the other customers pity you? You’re going to miss out on some really neat restaurants if you play it safe and grab a to-go sandwich at Subway.
Another way you can start small is to spend a night or a weekend in a city within driving distance. I’ll let you define what’s “within driving distance”.
This coming from a woman who spent the night just north of Sacramento, California, started driving north just after 7am, and crossed the Canadian border about 9pm that same night. That’s about 800 miles. The last 100 in a snow storm!
Yeah, OK, I was 27. I wouldn’t want to do that much driving in a day trip now!
A short trip for me would be around 100 miles from my house. Now, seeing as how I live close to the Washington border, I could be in Seattle within two hours, depending on the border line up.
Or I could drive up to Harrison Hot Springs, about an hour away, and enjoy a soak and look for Sasquatch.
Whatever town you choose, make sure there’s something to do once you get there. You don’t want to spend a few hours driving and then sit in a hotel room until it’s time to go home.
The whole point is to push your boundaries. Drive alone. Stay in a hotel alone. Dine alone. Visit an attraction.
Little by little as you build up your confidence, drive further away and stay away longer.
It’s OK to bring your dog with you as a companion. No sense in spending money on a boarding kennel. The dog can double as your security guard.
Even in the daylight there are some neighborhoods you want to stay clear of. If you’re uncomfortable going for a walk at night – don’t! I have two big dogs that need to be walked. I don’t think anything about walking them at all hours, because generally someone with evil intentions is probably not going to target someone with two big dogs. There are easier people to target.
I had a creepy guy following me once in daylight, and talked about it in my post staying safe while walking dogs. You’ll see my tips for staying safe while walking, and they apply with or without dogs.
Even if you’re a good swimmer, kayaker, or canoer – stay away from the water when you’re by yourself. I’m not saying to give up swimming or boating if you’re traveling by yourself. Just make sure there are other people nearby who can help if you run into difficulty.
Don’t go rock climbing or do any extreme sports solo.
Avoid empty beaches and other deserted areas when you’re alone.
Make sure you’ll be safe. Use common sense.
Things to try solo
There are many things to try while building up confidence doing stuff alone.
Here are some ideas to test your boundaries and expand your skills doing stuff alone. Even if these suggestions don’t appeal to you, maybe it’ll get you thinking of other things you can try. Most of these things can be done for free, and others will cost you a few bucks.
- Take up geocaching. If you don’t have a handheld GPS, download the geocaching app to your phone.
- Walk around your neighborhood and see what’s going on.
- Look at Christmas lights in December.
- Visit a park you haven’t been to before and pack a picnic lunch.
- Look at the stars. If you can’t do this from your yard, drive to a place that’s safe at night like a mall parking lot and look up.
- Become a photographer using the camera app on your phone, or get a real camera. This skill will be handy when you start traveling alone.
- Sign up for a city walking tour. I took the Cloverdale Ghost Walk over the summer.
- Go to a farmer’s market.
- Visit a winery, a zoo, or something interesting that you haven’t done before.
- Sign up for skiing lessons, either snow or water, depending on your area.
- Or sign up for a different activity you’d like to try – bird watching or kayak lessons.
- Go to a point of interest. For example in my town there are a few totem poles. My favorite totem pole is hidden in the woods near our former city hall.
- Check your city’s recreational activities webpage. There might be free movies or festivals.
- If there’s a racetrack or casino in your area and you haven’t been, go check it out. Whether or not you gamble, the slot machines can be entertaining to watch.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Local pubs or coffee shops often host musicians. Costs you a drink to listen.
- Attend a free music concert in a park.
- Drive to the next town and window shop along the main street.
- Visit a museum or art gallery, even if it isn’t your “thing”.
Worried about looking goofy?
When you’re sitting alone in a restaurant and want to do more than stare out the window, bring along something to keep busy.
I used to take my iPad with me when traveling. I have the Kindle app on it and I read a lot of books. I’ve switched to a Kindle. It does everything an iPad does and it costs way less money. If it gets stolen, left behind, or otherwise turns up missing, it’ll be less traumatic for me to replace. When I’m in a restaurant waiting for my food, I pull out my Kindle and read. That Kindle makes me feel less awkward when I’m eating alone.
I just noticed a good deal on a Kindle, though the wrong price is showing in the ad right now (November 25/19). If you’re shopping for a Kindle, double check the price first. On Amazon’s page it’s currently $59.99 and you can either get it with or without three months free Kindle Unlimited. You also get a free $5 credit to buy a Kindle book when you activate your account. Basically that just means signing in to Amazon on your Kindle. I have no idea how long the special price is in effect. Could be something to do with 2019 Black Friday week so the $30 savings may not last. The Kindle is really handy when I’m traveling because I can connect to free WiFi and download my email or surf the Internet.
(Disclosure: I’m an Amazon associate. If you click the link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
I hope my suggestions give you the confidence to get out and about. Soon you’ll be saying: “Doing stuff alone? No biggie!”