How I Solo Travel: I Get Around

From renting a car to riding Uber/Lyft to mastering the subway, I'll share my personal secrets for smooth solo travel.

How I Solo Travel: I Get Around

We all plan and execute our solo travels differently. Some of us have whiteboards, some of us use templates, some of us just haphazardly plan on the fly. There’s no right or wrong way. We all have our ways of making this happen. This guide series is meant to explain my process of planning a solo trip from start to finish.

When I first began solo traveling, I remember renting a car on my own. I was so pumped! I made the booking through a travel site and was super excited about the bargain compared to getting it at the airport. What a steal! After I landed, I took an Uber to the car rental place, which turned out to be 20 minutes away from the airport. When I arrived, the person working there was really unfriendly and dismissive. I was already annoyed from being taken so far away and how it was eating into my trip. Finally, I received the keys, hopped into the rental, and discovered it was not only the last one available, but there was a HUGE stain on the ceiling. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do since it was a prepaid non-refundable rental! Thankfully, I wasn't in the car that much, but I had discovered a few other issues in the house of horrors I was driving for that trip that week. I used to think that car rentals were the same everywhere, but boy was I wrong. Nevertheless, I believe in learning from my experiences, and that was no different. Upon reflection at home, I vowed not to have a repeat of that experience. I did my homework and made a conscious effort to make my next experience better, and let me tell you, there is definitely a better way! In this installment, I will explain how I move around at my destination when solo traveling.

Hey!! Taxi!!

I have found that Taxis, Uber and Lyft generally work best when your activities are close together, and you're in a city. It keeps costs down, and the availability of a ride is greater in that instance. When it comes to work travel, I prefer using Uber, Lyft, or taxis whenever possible. Typically, my work trips involve visiting an office or attending a convention, which requires careful planning of all aspects. During my recent work trip to Scottsdale, AZ, I was fortunate enough to have a hotel within walking distance of my office. Throughout the entire week, I only used Uber or Lyft once, for transportation between the airport and the hotel. Since I enjoy walking for exercise, it didn't bother me at all. On the other hand, when I travel for leisure, I only consider using these services if necessary. During my trips to Nashville, especially when visiting Broadway, I knew I would be consuming alcohol. Therefore, I decided to leave my rental car at the hotel and rely on Lyft for transportation to and from Broadway. This option holds value for me as it eliminates the hassle of finding parking in a city.

On A Downtown Train

This option works nicely with Lyft, Uber and taxis. It is especially effective if you are located in or near a city. Major cities like Boston, New York, and Washington often have extensive subway and light rail systems that cover a large area. When I visit New York City or Boston, I prefer to use the train to avoid the hassle of driving my own car or a rental car into the city, finding parking, and dealing with high parking fees. For New York City, I typically park at the Darien, CT or Yonkers, NY Metro North stop. When heading to Boston, I can park at either Providence, RI or Framingham, MA. These locations offer ample parking at a lower cost, and the light rail service is affordable as well. From there, it's easy to connect to the main train stations in the city (Back Bay or South Station in Boston, or Grand Central in New York). Amtrak is also a convenient option if you live near one of its routes, especially if it takes you directly into the city. I realize cities aren't the safest places right now in terms of crime levels, so even yours truly will take an Uber or Lyft or taxi or i'll walk to my destinations in the city when i'm visiting, and generally it is during the daytime.

Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

This is definitely my top choice when traveling alone. Yes, the song is amazing, but I'm referring to rental cars! Being the one behind the wheel gives me the most control. My hotel is usually located outside the city where parking rates are lower and they don't charge for parking (and definitely no valet parking!). I prefer renting a car because I enjoy driving and having the freedom to go wherever I want without being restricted by train schedules or relying on the availability of an Uber or Lyft driver. Every city and destination is unique, and having a rental car provides me with plenty of flexibility. As I mentioned in my previous posts about planning and hotels, I usually use the city I'm visiting as a "home base" and explore the surrounding areas. One trip I'm planning for the future is Southern California. I want to be part of the audience for a sitcom or game show (maybe Wheel of Fortune?), and I also want to visit the presidential libraries of Nixon and Reagan, all of which are within driving distance. If you've noticed from my "Travel Stories," there's almost always a post about "Day Trips" that follows. And most of the time, those day trips wouldn't be possible without a rental car.

I typically rent rental cars directly from Enterprise and always make a reservation at the airport. Although it may be more expensive, the convenience is unmatched as you can easily walk to the terminal to pick up or drop off your car. Recently, I have been using my employer's travel app, which allows us to book leisure travel and has saved me a significant amount of money. Moreover, I can still earn rewards points through Enterprise. Additionally, insurance is always included, so I usually don't purchase extra insurance. My auto insurance covers me as the driver, ensuring that I am protected regardless of the vehicle I am renting. It's always a good idea to consult your insurance policy to confirm if this applies to you. Since I book my travel with one of my credit cards, rental car coverage is one of the perks that come with it. This is why renting cars works well for me.

Final Thoughts

As I wrote this week's entry in this series, it occurred to me that I tend to use many different options when moving around, and it's mostly based on personal experience. That one bad experience renting a car was a great teachable moment for me as positive thinking got me to think that there has to be a better way. So, the next time I would travel, I would rent a car from the airport and i've done so ever since. I have also flirted with and explored other options when it suits the trip best. I always keep in mind that not all solo trips are the same. Renting a car for me is my top option because it is the perfect representation of what a solo trip is all about: Freedom. Independence. Exploration. One particular drive that holds a special place in my heart is cruising through the desert at night during my time in Las Vegas. I vividly recall driving back to my hotel after a night out in Henderson, NV, and feeling the exhilarating desert breeze. It truly is an unparalleled experience.

OK, so we nailed planning, financing, the flight, the road trip, the accommodations, but....what about activities?! Our final stop in this series is next time.

person driving car on desert during daytime
Photo by Rawan Yasser / Unsplash