As a professional woman who travels for work often – I’m on a plane at least twice a month to a new city – I’ve gotten pretty good at enjoying new places solo. It can be such a rewarding experience to take yourself out of your comfort zone and to put yourself into a new situation – all on your own. Sure, you could stay in your hotel and order room service every night, but then you’d miss out on the opportunity to see new things and ultimately, to grow as a person.
I think it’s so important as a woman to be able to enjoy your own company. Very often on my trips – after the work for the day is done – I’ll see the sights, try a new restaurant, check out a show or go to a museum. Some nights when I’m exploring I people watch, others I read a book, others I bury my head in my phone.
My number one rule is that I never judge myself for how I spend time with me, though. We judge ourselves and others enough. Why not give yourself a break and have an adventure you’ll always remember?! From dining to art to concerts to safety, I’ve tried it all. And I’m sharing my best tips with you today.
Whenever I get off work in a different city, I check out what popular sights are nearby and try to see one or two and even snap a selfie. If your office is downtown in a city, chances are you’re near a major monument of some sort.
Last week in Dallas, I went to the Eyeball (it’s literally this giant eyeball downtown – so weird! – and snapped a pic). Then I went out to a fun meal on my own. In Denver, I took the train from the airport, rather than a cab, because I wanted to see the newly renovated Union Station. It’s so beautifully decorated for the holidays right now and was such a cozy spot to see. In Chicago, I stay near Millenium Park and always treat myself to a walk to The Bean, then to the huge fountain in Grant Park and a short walk along the river. Once I even took the architecture boat tour (a must-do!).
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Eating alone is scary but it is also one of the most character-building and valuable activities to do. Like I said earlier sitting in your hotel ordering crappy room service is such a missed opportunity to experience a great restaurant or a local cocktail creation. Plus, hello people watching and eavesdropping! I cannot tell you how many first dates or bizarro conversations I’ve overheard. I will often read a book, work on my blog or bury myself in my phone while I’m eating.
In Dallas, after the aforementioned Eyeball selfie, I popped across the street to the Midnight Rambler at the Joule hotel for a drink and the onto the newly-opened City Hall Bistro at the Adolphus hotel for an amazing meal. My work was done and I had no home commitments so I relished the alone time!
ART & MUSEUMS
If you’re in a city for a few days and need to fill a couple nights, why not look for an art gallery or museum? Many museums have one night per week where they are open later (usually Thursdays) after work, and you could even look up gallery exhibition openings. How fun would it be to go to a party like that?
SHOWS & CONCERTS
Before I moved to Chicago, I would travel there for work a lot. Since it’s a world class arts city, I would always try to see the symphony, dance or a play.
In fact, on my recent trip there I snagged a same-day ticket to Hamilton for under $200. Unheard of! I simply walked by the ticket window after work and asked if they had a seat! Grab a glass of wine and some theatre snacks and you’re golden. Who needs company when you’ve got a show to dazzle you?!
As a woman traveling alone and exploring a city, it is absolutely 100% mission-critical that you consider your surroundings at all times. As my dad always says, watch your 6. Know what’s behind you and around you. ALWAYS. This should go without saying, but remember you are alone in a city without trusted and immediate help.
I share my hotel room and location, flight numbers and times, and even restaurants and places I’m going with Evan or my sister, even Uber/Lyft info sometimes. I’ll send photos along the way and such – not just so I feel like they are involved in my adventure – but so that there is a reference for the people who would help me if I were ever in trouble or in need. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order, but I like to know that my people have my whereabouts and can make sense of where I’ve been if they needed to.
I probably write about this topic way too much but I’m pretty obsessed with efficient packing. Remember my travel rule? Pack items in the same color palette (for me, it’s usually black, white and red) with a few basics that can be worn more than once. No one is going to notice if you wear the same black pencil skirt, shift dress or blazer more than once – as long as you reaccessorize or change up one of the other pieces in the look (different shoes or blouse, for example), you’re fine. And you save plenty of room in the suitcase! Oh yeah – and compression luggage is key!