As a woman traveling alone you do need to make a few decisions and plan accordingly. This has been covered in earlier posts such as Solo Travel for Women Over 50 and now I want to share with you some great Solo Vacation ideas for Women.
Solo travel as a female may seem a little daunting but there are so many advantages for you to experience, such as being able to make all the decisions yourself including time frames, destinations and your daily itinerary
You may already have an idea of where you want to go. I have experienced many destinations as a solo traveler so I can personally recommend good safe travel destinations if you are traveling alone. I would like to cover various options for you to consider. Let’s start with my favorite.
New Orleans – NOLA
NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana. I think New Orleans is one of the best travel destinations for Solo Travelers, that I have been to. It is such a fun mix of music, culture, history and oh wow the food.
Don’t be put off by the crime statistics that say that New Orleans is the 4th most dangerous city in the USA, and the 32nd most dangerous city in the world. You just need to be aware of your surrounds and don’t allow yourself to become a target. This is general Solo Traveler advice.
The city is still recovering from the effects of Huricane Katrina. You can see a lot of the infrastructure and in particular the roads in some areas are still broken and damaged. The resilience of the people show through with the tourism definitely helping to keep the economy ticking along, and you are rewarded with a real taste of the lifestyle and culture.
New Orleans is such an interesting mix of cultures, African American, Cajun, French, Spanish, and of course Creole, which is the description of a mixed race person from Spanish, french or European descent mixed with African or sometimes Native American.
Mardi Gras – Throw me sumfing Mista
The New Orleans Mardi Gras is world-famous. You really need to put this on your bucket list. The parades and celebrations are free for all from about a month before the big lead up to Shrove Tuesday. This is the feast, traditionally with pancakes that is the day before Ash Wednesday when the fasting begins for Lent in Western Churches. I don’t know how many people partake in the fasting but there is certainly plenty who join in the festivities and the fun which leads up to it.
Joining in the crowds to watch the parades was one of the highlights of my visit to New Orleans. Standing among the tourists and locals was a great cultural experience. Kids on shoulders, calling out for a string of beads or a trinket for good luck was infectious and got you into the swing of things. People laughing and happy everywhere. I didn’t see any bad behavior and it was really a family event. The parades just went on and on and you felt like everyone in New Orleans was a part of it, either taking part in the parades or standing and dancing in the crowds.
Since the Mardi Gras started in 1819, it has been a favorite for locals and tourists alike. For 130 years it has been tradition for the green gold and purple colored beads and other decorations to adorn the street of New Orleans during the Mardi Gras month.
The Muses, are the 9 Greek Goddesses, from Greek Mythology. During the parade, they specialise in beautifully decorated high-heeled shoes which are well sought after, as a souvenir from the parade. Look out for the North side Skull and Bones Gang. They represent the Threme area of New Orleans, which is adjacent to the French Quarter. The tradition dates back 200 years and is based on African Spirituality. They dance along the street, beating drums and chanting. They threaten that anyone not living right will have to face the “bone man”. I’m not sure how many people take that seriously but it is definitely a lot of fun watching every part of the parade.
If you are lucky enough to catch something thrown in the parade it may include, beads, cups, shoes, hand made purses, doubloons (Spanish Coins), sunglasses, boots, toilet brushes, compact mirrors, flashing skeletons, and decorated coconuts which are actually passed down to the crowd rather than thrown. You don’t want to be hit on your coconut with a coconut.
. The New Orleans Mardi Gras is not just any normal parade, but a unique mix of culture, that goes on for days, celebrating the uniqueness of New Orleans
Did I say food?
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to food in New Orleans. If you think the food is normally a great
experience, with endless choices, then you wait until you see what is laid on for the Mardi Gras. Look out for the brightly colored King cakes. They are a mix of purple Gold and Green color. A delicious mix of coffee cake and cinnamon roll with fruit and cream cheese, the king cake also hides a little surprise inside. Whoever finds the plastic baby King in the cake has to go and buy the next cake or throw a party. That is an excellent way to keep the endless celebrations going.
Jambalaya, jambalaya, don’t you just love the sound of it as it rolls off your tongue? It even has its own song. As with other unique New Orleans cuisine it is its own mix of meat vegetables and rice, always including some type of traditional sausage, and shrimp, and of course craw fish.
A Gumbo is a meal and a half, and if you can find your favorite from the 1400 restaurants that New Orleans boasts then you have done well. Gumbo is similar but different to Jambalaya in that the mix of sausage chicken and vegetables is served on top of the rice, whereas the Jambalaya is cooked with the rice in the pot. I am sure there are several other traditional differences and actually who am I to tell you about these traditional dishes. You will need to talk to the locals over a bowl of Gumbo or a plate of Jambalaya and then you will have a meal and a conversation
While you are there, don’t forget to try a PoBoy-(Poor Boy) which is a sandwich with meats, seafood, cheeses and fillings with sauces. Or try the donuts from Cafe Beignet, but only if you want to walk along the street with powdered sugar down your front after you have devoured the donuts.
All of these food options are excellent choices if you are eating alone. If you start a talking with the locals about the food, you will instigate a passionate conversation which may lead to life long friendships. I did.
Where to Stay – The options
New Orleans relies on the Tourist Dollar and therefore the options for Accommodation reflect the choices available
for entertainment and eating out. You can stay in high end to Budget Hotels or Air BnB options right down to Hostels or BackPacker accommodation. Booking.com is always a good option that I use
If you want to be nearer to the action then staying in the French Quarter itself is a good choice, but only if you don’t mind the noise going on into the night, as this may be a possibility. If you stay outside but nearby to the French Quarter you can walk to where you want to, but be aware that as the night goes on you might want to take some transport such as Uber or Taxi to get back to your room, just as a safety measure. I found it OK to walk to my accommodation several blocks from the French Quarter but it was well lit and I didn’t encounter any issues, apart from having to step around some sleeping street people whilst I was en route.
As suggested in previous posts, a good option is to walk with another group of tourists just to avoid being seen, on your own.
Add New Orleans to Your Bucket List
Whether you have already thought about New Orleans as a travel destination or the idea is new to you, I really think that it may not be for everyone, but hey how will you know if you don’t try it.
A visit to New Orleans should be something that everyone has a chance to experience. There is so much history and the culture is like no other. We love you NOLA.