I love to travel as much as the next person, but it gets pretty complicated trying to coordinate schedules with friends or family to book trips together. That’s precisely the reason why I decided to finally book a trip and travel alone. Well, that and because it’s been on my bucket list for some time. I just never thought I’d actually have the courage to go through with it. If you’ve ever thought about traveling and exploring on your own, I highly recommend it! I’m no expert and I’m still afraid to travel out of the country alone, but we all have to start somewhere. I started in Seattle because it’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and here is how my little solo trip went.
Booking the Flight
This spontaneous trip started because of a flash sale. I can’t turn down sales. It’s a problem. In this case, it turned out to be an adventure. A friend of mine sent me a screenshot of a flash sale on flights to Seattle. Because Seattle is one of my bucket list cities, I took about 5 minutes to decide and then booked my flight for under $200.
I recommend following this account and similar ones on Instagram: @flightsfromaustin and “Life of the Pilots Wife.” This site is only for flights out of Texas. I highly advise booking ASAP since the deals change quickly and/or could disappear.
Where I Stayed
I am a big fan or Airbnb. In 2017, I traveled to five countries in Europe and stayed in Airbnbs the whole trip. My Airbnb was located south of Capitol Hill in the Atlantic/Central District neighborhood. It was also west of Downtown and Pioneer Square. The location was perfect for me! I was able to take a Lyft everywhere, and almost all of my rides were about $10-$12.
One of the advantages of travelling alone is that you do not need a whole lot of room. Be conscious of this as you’re booking a place to stay. My Airbnb was a one bedroom apartment and it was great!
One thing I learned when searching for a place to stay in Seattle was to avoid staying in the Bellevue area. There were a lot of available Airbnbs in this location, but it just seemed too far from downtown Seattle. Airbnb is pretty precise about location descriptions when booking a place to stay, so compare the area with a map of Seattle to ensure that you’re close to the places you want to visit.
How I Got Around
As I mentioned, I took a Lyft almost everywhere unless I could walk to my next destination. I would typically just use my Maps app to gauge that. However, I would be wary of this method. Learn from my mistakes. I decided to walk from the Seattle Space Needle to Kerry Park. I’m happy to report that I did indeed make it, but it was a struggle! The walk is uphill and I was a sweaty mess by the time I finally arrived.
I also used the Seattle Link Light Rail to get between Capitol Hill and Downtown. If you’ve never used a public transportation system before, fear not! It’s easy! The map they have down at the station is simple and you can buy tickets in the machines in the same station. The best part is that it’s super cheap. You can check for fares here.
What I Did In Seattle
Okay, now for the fun stuff! Luckily for me, my colleague and close friend is from Seattle and she was so helpful in the “Fun Things To Do” department. I know, I lucked out with my own personal tour guide. I also used Pinterest to research places to go and found several helpful blog posts.
Here is an outline of what I did each day:
I was on a red eye flight that was delayed several hours so I was TIRED when I finally arrived at my Airbnb in Seattle. The first thing I did was grab a cup of coffee at a nearby shop called Broadcast Coffee. After this, I explored Capitol Hill for a few hours. Capitol Hill is an area filled with restaurants and bars. There were a lot of bars I wanted to check out, and I did so during the day. As a female travelling solo, I just didn’t want to be bar hopping alone at night or be so busy guarding my drinks that I couldn’t actually enjoy being there. You know, just fun extra precautions you have to take as a woman. These are the places I checked out and recommend:
- Bimbo’s Cantina – for burritos and drinks.
- Unicorn – the coolest! It felt like an adult carnival. I think that’s definitely the point.
- Canon – drinks on drinks in cool glasses/bottles/all sorts of containers.
- The Elliott Bay Book Company – I’m a sucker for bookstores, and this one is a must.
- Lots of cute little shops in the area!
After this, I took a Lyft down to Pike Place Market. By this time, most of the shops were closed, but the views were still fun to check out.
I started my day at the same coffee shop (Broadcast), then headed to Pike Place Market. Pike Place was so busy and bustling and fun! You can easily spend a whole day here exploring. There are restaurants, book stores, shops, and farmer’s market pop-ups. After I explored for a while, I went down for more coffee to Seattle Coffee Works.
Yes, I do love coffee with all my heart and soul, but I also went here to meet a photographer. Yes, that’s right. I had a photoshoot down at Pike Place Market and no, it was not as awkward as it sounds. Here’s how it went down:
Airbnb now specializes in “Experiences” as well. These are just fun things they recommend in the city you’re visiting hosted by locals. One of these experiences was a photoshoot at Pike Place Market with a group. It took me a couple of weeks to actually convince myself to do this. This may be a surprise to some, but I don’t feel particularly comfortable in front of a camera. I feel much less comfortable in a busy area and with a group of people. However, the pricing was great and since I was travelling alone, I thought who else is going to take cool pictures of me? Plus, I figured if it was a group and I was flying solo, I could meet a few people.
I booked my experience with Cameron Thomsen Photography. You can check out his Instagram page here. Cameron had the group meet at Seattle Coffee Works. Our group had about eight people, all friendly and one other was travelling solo (Yay! We bonded!) Cameron gave us a one-hour tour of Pike Place Market, throwing in some fun facts and history. His guidance for taking photos was easy and quick. Nothing awkward about it! He even sent edited pictures the very same day! This was such a fun and different experience, and I am so happy I got over my shyness to actually go through with it.
These are some of the places I visited and recommend:
- Golden Age Collectables – for the nerd in you.
- BLMF Literary Saloon – still a nerd.
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – best mac and cheese I’ve ever had!
- The first Starbucks ever. Enough said.
- Gum Wall – Gross but also really cool.
After Pike Place Market, I walked down to Starbucks Reserve Roastery. It was about a 15-20 minute walk, and well worth it to check out downtown Seattle. I do love Starbucks, so this experience was also worth checking out. Across the street from Starbucks Reserve was a tattoo shop so obviously I had to get one. I know tattoos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re open to it make sure to check out Black Sparrow Tattoo.
From here, I took a Lyft down to the Seattle Space Needle and checked out the MoPOP. I walked down the street to a dive bar/diner complete with a jukebox called The 5 Point Cafe. After this is where I made my first mistake. I decided to walk to Kerry Park to check out the views. The walk is uphill for a little more than twenty minutes in muggy Seattle weather. TAKE A LYFT, unless you’re really fit or about that life. I am neither.
One of the things I really wanted to do on my trip to Seattle was to drive out to one of the parks and go on a solo hike. Because I am a procrastinator, I waited until Friday night to attempt to rent a car to drive myself out to a park in the morning. This was a mistake. Most of the car rental places were closed on Saturdays or only open for a few hours.
Airbnb Experiences offered really cool group hikes with a guide, including transportation. However, these were a little too pricey for me. In a desperate attempt, I checked Airbnb Experiences one more time to see if I could find a reasonably priced group hike. Lo and behold, the Universe wanted me to experience Snoqualmie Falls because I found the perfect trip out there!
I booked my hike the night before on Airbnb with hosts Daniel and Matt called Seattle Wine and Waterfall and they were so quick to respond! This is how it went:
Daniel picked me up at my Airbnb, along with the other guests who had booked. Everyone was picked up at their respective hotels. How freaking cool and convenient is that? Daniel drove us out to Snoqualmie Falls and stopped for a little exploring of the town before we began our hike. The waterfall and the hike were beautiful! I had never seen anything like that. I walked the hike alone while Daniel waited at the end. He let all the guests explore at their leisure. It was so relaxing. Everything was taken care of and I didn’t have a worry in the world.
We also went to a nearby restaurant for a delicious brunch and then hit up three or four wineries (I can’t remember now because the wine was flowing and it was great). Then at the end of the day, Daniel dropped me off at Capitol Hill (at my request) so I could grab some dinner before heading back to my Airbnb and calling it a night. To say that this experience was a beautiful success is an understatement.
Mindset: What It Really Feels Like to Travel Alone
As I’ve stated, I am no expert and this was an impulsive decision to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Before my trip, I was worried about a few things. Part of me was worried that I would be bored. I do quite a bit of things alone, and yes it’s cool, but sometimes it’s boring. I can only entertain myself for so long. Being an introvert for the most part, I love kicking it with myself but even introverts need a tiny bit of socialization. Anyway, I had nothing to fear because there was so much to do and see in Seattle that there was no time for boredom. I wanted to take in as much as possible because everything was so exciting, and when I wanted to slow down and take it in I was free to do that as well. There was nobody to check in with or collaborate plans with. Just me, myself, and I and we had a lot of fun discovering Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls.
I had also been afraid of feeling awkward while travelling alone. Sitting at an airport is one thing because everyone is in their own little world or travelling alone anyway, but sitting at restaurants and bars alone? Weird, right? Like, that girl is a total loner and it’s creepy that she’s eating alone. And then there were the group activities. How weird was it going to be when everyone was paired or grouped off and I’m standing there friend-less?! Again, my mind was just giving me things to panic about because I didn’t end up feeling awkward nor lonely. When I sat at bars – whether to eat or have a drink – nobody gave me weird looks or asked if I was waiting for someone. Most of the time, there was someone next to me who was also eating or drinking alone. When I went on the group activities, I met others who were travelling solo or who were extremely friendly to me. Just remember: the world is big and wide and you are so not the first person to travel alone. Nobody cares what you’re up to, so make the most of it.
It felt so good to sit with myself at coffee shops and slow the day down or open up my journal and write in the moment. It felt good to come back each night exhausted and happy. I can honestly say it helped me to know myself a little better and to overcome my social anxiety. I was just doing my thing and nobody minded! If you’re thinking about doing the same, Seattle could be the place to start.