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Beach houses are booked up, flight numbers are surging and rental cars are sparse: Travel is officially back in the United States. As travel restrictions lift and vaccination rates rise, many are itching to get away.

Even before the pandemic, solo travel among women was surging, as women increasingly sought relief from their overwhelming work and personal lives. With the past year only worsening existing inequalities and leading to more burnout, many women are desperate for a break.

Although there are risks and stresses associated with solo travel, many women say the most important thing is to be prepared. To help, we collaborated with By The Way, The Washington Post’s destination for travel news, to bring you tips from women who have been there, done that. As always, you can find more travel tips, news and City Guides every day from By The Way on their website, Instagram and newsletter.

Note: Although vaccines are driving covid-19 rates down, risks remain high for unvaccinated people. Find the latest news on cases and vaccination rates here.

Choosing your adventure

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)
(iStock/Washington Post illustration)

So, say you’re vaccinated and ready to travel, but your friends and family companions are out of the question. First, you have to decide where and how you’re most comfortable traveling alone. By The Way reporter Natalie B. Compton has you covered with this list of options for when you find yourself with more travel plans than travel buddies: You can book a group tour, for example, or look for volunteer opportunities on your route to make connections.

If you’re set on truly alone time, you have her full endorsement: “Being a party of one makes it easier to get restaurant reservations, encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and talk to new people, and helps you focus on doing what makes you happy.”

The do’s and don’ts of camping alone

Natalie B. Compton borrowed her sister's dogs for company on her solo camping trip to Colebrook, Conn. (Natalie B. Compton/The Washington Post)
Natalie B. Compton borrowed her sister's dogs for company on her solo camping trip to Colebrook, Conn. (Natalie B. Compton/The Washington Post)

If sleeping under the stars sounds like the perfect way to spend some socially distanced alone time, you’re in great company. Solo reservations on the booking service Campspot doubled last year, reports Compton. She consulted experts for seven tips on the do’s and don’ts of solo camping. Don’t: Forget to tell people you trust about your whereabouts. Do: Bring a book and your favorite snacks, and get cozy with the isolation of the great outdoors.

Solo road-tripping as a Black woman

Dodge City, Kan., one of Rita Omokha's stops on her cross-country road trip, on Oct. 7, 2020. (Rita Omokha)
Dodge City, Kan., one of Rita Omokha's stops on her cross-country road trip, on Oct. 7, 2020. (Rita Omokha)

In the face of skyrocketing airline costs, crowded flights and international restrictions, many Americans have taken to the road to vacation. But if you’re wary about solo road-tripping as a woman — especially as a woman of color — writer Rita Omokha has some tips. Last fall, she traveled to 30 states in 32 days on a reporting road trip. As she passed through predominantly White states, she was conscious of her vulnerability as a Black woman — and her fear was stoked when she was stopped by a White police officer.

Along the way, she compiled the practical tips she learned, including pack light and for safety, and share your location with family and friends.

The Instagram vs. reality of #vanlife

Compton tests out the van life in Maui. (Ryan Siphers for The Washington Post)
Compton tests out the van life in Maui. (Ryan Siphers for The Washington Post)

Maybe you’ve heard the country is facing a rental car shortage after companies sold off fleets during the pandemic slump. In an effort to curb the issue — and save some money on lodging — Compton rented a ’90s Chevrolet Astro van on a recent trip to Hawaii. She expected an Instagram-worthy, remote-work experience in Maui. But what she got were a few hard lessons.

Her advice: Be prepared. Know what amenities your rental provides (ahem, air conditioning) and plan where you can park it safely and legally.

On Instagram, we asked our followers to share their best solo travel tips. Here are a few of them:

Responses from The Lily's Instagram
Responses from The Lily's Instagram

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