We Should Get Out More – 8 tips for going solo

I don’t generally give advice on this blog – much more often it’s a case of me showing you where things have gone awry for me and letting you draw your own conclusions.

Remember this? Getting There. And this? Technical Difficulties

But something I know a lot about is going places on my own. I realised very early on in my first marriage that if I wanted to go somewhere, then chances were I was going to have to go on my own. And I learnt that I could do it – I could drive a long distance, or take the train, or fly, I could stay in a hotel or take a bus trip. On my own.

This is not intended in any way to be patronising. If you are well-used to going places solo, this is not aimed at you. This is for the women who are suddenly having to do all this stuff on their own for the first time, after years of doing it as a couple – and are frankly scared shitless.

Here are my 8 tips on how to get yourself out there.

  • Do what you want, what you really really want. If you’ve spent years doing what he wants to do, or what ‘you’ (plural) want to do, now’s the time to think about what you want to do. Think about it carefully. It’s your turn now. Jot a few ideas down – there’ll be big ideas, and small ideas. There will be some that are easy to do, and some that will challenge you. But the important thing is, they’re yours. You can do this.
  • Be prepared. The first time you go out on your own, you’ll likely be hyper-aware of everyone else being in a couple. Or you might worry that they’ll notice that you’re on your own (they might notice, but they won’t care). The world does tend to revolve around couples. But if you’re ready for it before you go, it won’t come as a shock. Buy a coffee and fiddle with your phone – it’s what everyone else does, even if they’re with someone. And after a while, you’ll see that not everyone is in a couple. And not everyone who is in a couple is having the time of their life…
  • Learn to linger. This is the bit I’ve found hardest to do. To begin with, days out went like this – I want to visit X. I go to X. I look at X. I go home. I’m slowly learning to take my time. Spend longer looking round, get chatting to people, drink the coffee slowly. Take a moment, and just be there.
  • Take photos. Build your own memories. Take some selfies, or get serious with long lenses. As well as being a good thing to do, it slows you down and makes you stop and think.
  • In most couples there is some sort of division of labour. Maybe he always did the driving. Maybe he always did the online booking. Maybe he always knew the best places to park, or how to get through the one way system. I’ve known women who wouldn’t drive on the motorway, or never filled the car with petrol, or had never programmed the SatNav. There are two ways of approaching this – you can start small and work your way up to the bigger things, or, well, there’s a lot to be said for just getting on with it. You can so do this.
  • Plan the journey. Short or long, if it’s the first time you’ve done it, think it through. Think about how long it will take you (check with Google maps, then add a bit), where you might stop en route (don’t try to drive for more than a couple of hours without a break, particularly if you’re not used to driving long distances). Fill the car up before you set off. You can even use Google street view to find the place you’re going, so that when you get there you’ll recognise it.
  • Practice – fiddle with the SatNav beforehand, use it for journeys where you know the way anyway. Go and have a practice drive on the motorway – maybe ask a friend who is an experienced driver to go with you. Remember, you are an independent, capable woman, and you can do this. Or – feel the fear and do it anyway.
  • Go easy on yourself. It won’t all go according to plan. You will take a wrong turning – and that’s when the adventure begins.

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    Great advice!

    If driving on a motorway is scary, you can even have a lesson or two from a driving instructor. Some motorways in the south-east, in particular, can be very intimidating (think M25, M3 or M4) for those unused to them. Even my husband who, like me, has driven since he passed his test at 17, 40-odd years ago, won’t drive on the M25 as he grew up in Gloucestershire. As I hail from Surrey, it’s no problem for me.

    It can be a great challenge to do things solo. When I was about 50, having split up with my 3rd husband (!) and after a failed relationship with an Italian, I returned to the UK to live in Bath. I had found a flat-mate online, another newly-single woman about the same age which was good for company as we could do some things together, but didn’t really have many similar interests. So I started to venture out alone.

    One of the biggest challenges that I set myself was to go abroad on holiday solo. All my workmates were going hither and yon and regaling me with their wonderful stories, so I decided I would book myself a short break in Lugano, Switzerland. I’d never been to that place, although had gone to other parts of the Ticino with my parents as a child. I had been the one to book holidays in my previous marriage, so that bit wasn’t a problem. And having ‘commuted’ to Italy to visit the Italian ‘boyfriend’ quite often, I’d become used to chatting to other travellers, many of them single women, but also couples.

    I’d take a good book to read – at the time, Bill Bryson was a favourite which always gave me fits of the giggles in waiting rooms or on planes/trains etc. Sometimes people would see what I was reading and chat about how they enjoyed his writing too – other times I’d just get odd looks from fellow passengers – the giggling thing sometimes was almost unbearable, seemingly getting progressively worse if stifled!

    I found my way to Lugano, via plane from Bristol to Milan, bus from the airport to the station and then managed to get my already-booked tickets printed at the machine and found the right train to Lugano. Then I lugged my baggage to the hotel, buying a nice bottle of wine at the supermarket on the way, installed myself and had a well-earned drink on my balcony. The staff at the hotel were great – nobody seemed to find it odd that I was at a table on my own, and the man at the bar, where I went to use the internet to work out plans for entertaining myself, was lovely. He was older than me – like an older brother – and Italian rather than Swiss, but was happy for me to practise my Italian on him.

    Eating out felt a bit odd, and I took my camera with me everywhere – but also a small notebook, where I made notes about, and sketches of, things I’d observed around me. I invented a reason for having a notebook, that I was comparing the Italian culture and people to the Swiss-Italians, which I thought was an interesting concept. After the first day, the ‘weirdness’ of being on my own wore off and I really started to enjoy myself.

    So, as Susan Jeffers recommended, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can overcome one challenge, the next ones seem far easier – but you do have to start somewhere in order to make progress!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story – I like the notebook!! Sometimes it can be easier to drive on the motorway etc when it’s really busy – everything slows down and you have a bit more time to think about which lane you need to be in. I passed my driving test and then almost immediately moved to Shetland – it was about 5 years before I needed to drive in a big city again. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, rush hour, trying to find the railway station (pre-SatNavs). Everything was moving so slowly, it turned out to be quite easy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anglosvizzera says:

      M25 is interesting – 4 lanes at times…a bit of a bugger if you happen to be at completely the wrong side and realise you have to turn off soon. We did get stuck on it last August Bank Holiday Monday coming back from Norfolk to visit my daughter in Winchester on the way home. Having avoided the motorways for the first part of the journey, on wonderful relatively traffic-free A roads, I made the foolish decision to travel a few miles on the M25. Big Mistake. After crawling along for a few hundred yards, we turned off again and found the lovely village of Chalfont St Giles where we stopped for lunch. Then went on A roads again to Winchester – much more pleasant. I think the rest of the country was on the M25…


  3. elizabeth28263 says:

    Great tips. Love your story Anglosvizzera.

    I’ve always been fairly independent and have travelled solo and I like to be able to tackle jobs myself or at least know how to do them. One job I can do is change a tyre – my friend thinks I am silly to do this but you just never know when you might have to. My rationale is, if you’re used to sorting things out then you might still worry but at least you know what you are capable of, which sometimes is half the battle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely – knowing what you’re capable of. Such important self-knowledge!!


    2. anglosvizzera says:

      Thank you 🙂 Yes, changing a tyre is a good string to have on your bow. Although, to be honest, I might feign ignorance were I to need it changing in the pouring rain and/or in the dark – if a nice gentleman offered to do it for me, I would jump at the chance!

      I was telling my youngest daughter the other day that I did a car maintenance course at 6th form college years ago, back in the day when cars had distributors and carburettors and spark plugs that you could change etc. She thought that was wild! Then I told her that her aunt, who is now 72, also did a car maintenance course at an evening class when she was well into adulthood. That impressed her. Then I told her that her eldest sister who’s 10 years her senior did a car maintenance course at a nearby college, arranged by the secondary school that she also attended – she couldn’t believe that! Her sister was one of the few girls that went and ended up having her photo and profile on the cover of their brochure as she was such a good example of ‘equality’. Just because we’re female doesn’t mean we’re useless mechanically!


  4. Joan Mudd says:

    I thought that I had done rather well today by popping down to Birmingham on the train for lunch with some chums. Stations can be intimidating as the are so busy but I got a coffee, used the “facilities”, got on the right train, turfed a squatter out of my pre-booked seat, completed the Sudoku in the Metro paper then read my kindle. I had already looked up the restaurant that we were meeting at on Google maps and planned the route from the station. It proved to be quite easy and if the train had not have been 26 minutes late, it would have been perfect. I normally drive places so although it’s not quite a solo trip to Switzerland (kudos by the way) it is well outside my comfort zone. It can be done.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hope the lunch was good!!


    2. anglosvizzera says:

      Excellent! Thank you for the kudos too – I was quite proud of myself afterwards!! I don’t know how I managed in the old days without the internet – of course we did, maps, brochures, timetables, telephone calls, travel agents etc – but it’s so much easier to look things up and book online, read reviews, compare prices and check the traffic situation before leaving or en route.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SisterStay says:

        Talking GoogleMaps on my phone is the best invention ever. It gives me such confidence when navigating my way somewhere new.


    3. SisterStay says:

      The principle is the same be it Birmingham or Bern! Go you.


  5. Enjoying your blog even though it takes me on a trip to England. Solo travel for me has been with friends were not ready to join me until late afternoon or evening. So it is usually on my own that I discover the ship, new friends, and activities on board. Life sure does change for most of us. My bucket list includes a barge trip in the uk!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Heidi – I hope you enjoy your trip to England when you read my blog!! You have to take a barge trip – I live right next to Bingley 5-Rise Locks – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g668054-d3162066-Reviews-Bingley_Five_Rise_Locks-Bingley_Bradford_West_Yorkshire_England.html – if you happen to be passing!!


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