Once more, I stared at the flight confirmation window on my laptop, confirming that I did indeed just book a flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — all by myself. Ay dios míoooo.
Trying to salvage the situation and quell the waves of anxiety that kept overcoming me, I repeatedly reassured myself that I could always ask a friend to buy a ticket and join me. But, I wanted to do this. I have been traveling a lot lately, especially taking short international weekend trips, and solo travel had been on my bucket list for several months now. After reading, "Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Her Life", I decided that this was my chance.
The question was: where would I begin?
Just like our readers, I also turn to xoNecole for life, career, and travel advice and decided to do a little digging. Luckily enough, I found a fewdope articles about solo travel that I used to plan every stage of my first solo trip.
Lydia Lee (@hello_lydia)
Like Zaniah suggests in this article, research and schedule drafting were extremely important to me in the beginning stages of my trip planning. So much seems out of your control while solo traveling like making new friends, finding your way around, and ensuring your safety.
Proactive planning is your greatest chance at regaining some of this control. The week before my trip, I sat down for over an hour and drafted an in-depth schedule detailing every single day of my trip and what I intended to do. Friday: pool and spa day, Saturday: walking tour, Sunday: beach trip, etc. Although my planned schedule would ultimately do a complete 180° upon arrival, I felt 100% more comfortable with my plans and was able to begin budgeting and booking tours in advance.
Pro Tip: Safety > Penny Pinching
When it came to booking a place to stay, upon reading this article, I also decided to prioritize staying in a reputable hotel with a concierge and security team. I'm usually the first person to book a cheap Airbnb to save money, but since I was traveling alone, I did not want to leave anything to chance. I even prescheduled taxi service to pick me up from the airport since my flight arrived while it was still dark outside.
No precaution is too great – it's better to over-prepare and tone it down rather than feel like you did not do enough and be left in compromised situations.
Although I did not end up booking my trip to any locations on Jovania's compilation of bucket list destinations, I started my search with the 10 cities and countries she recommended. Should I visit Barcelona, Milan, or Montreal? Where could I take a quick trip and get the most bang for my buck?
After reading 10 Places You Can Travel To & Get Warm This Winter, I knew that I definitely wanted to go somewhere tropical. I spent about a week researching San Nicolas, Aruba and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as both are known to be international locations that are relatively female solo traveler friendly.
Upon doing some research, I decided that I wanted to be in the Caribbean so I could take a direct flight from New York. I also knew that I wanted to visit a Spanish-speaking country, so Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic quickly jumped to the top of my list. After a ridiculously cheap direct flight to Santo Domingo, DR popped up on my Skyscanner app ($240!), I knew that my fate was sealed.
Char's article was where my solo travel fantasies all began. At the beginning of her article, she touches on the freedom of solo traveling, and she couldn't have been more accurate.
Solo traveling feels a little rebellious and selfish in the best way. You have complete say over where you do and don't go, when and who you interact with, how much of the bed you take up and when to leave it… You can take the time to self-reflect or completely immerse yourself in new projects. The choice is yours.
I spent so much energy worrying about what could go wrong as I was originally planning out my trip, but all of my fears were silenced as soon as I had the chance to stop, reflect, and fully embrace the experience – the independence was almost intoxicating. I don't think I have ever felt more free.
Lydia Lee (@hello_lydia)
Everyone jokes about the almost satirical self-reflective component of solo traveling, but my personal rendition of the #eatpraylove experience totally caught me off-guard. I went out of my way to make time every day to spend uninterrupted time by myself either by the pool, or during breakfast in the hotel sky lounge to simply reflect. No work, no companions, just me.
On my first day of self-reflection, I found myself reflecting on my goals, progress, and challenges over the past few months in the most kind, self-forgiving manner that I could ever remember. I'm incredibly hard on myself, and for the first time, I felt that I could truly "see" all of the progress I was making. I felt comfortable with the steps I was taking to achieve them. I felt genuinely proud of myself for some of my recent achievements. And, especially proud that I felt brave enough to take this solo trip.
After my second day of self-reflection, I found myself going much deeper. Almost three years after my grandfather's death, I finally grieved. I let thoughts of him fill my mind and allowed myself to feel the pain. This emotional vulnerability then let me feel the pain of past heartbreak and other disappointments that I told myself didn't matter. This emotional detox was way overdue, but much needed.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s people who perform songs, and then there’s performers, and let me tell you something: Victoria Monét is a PERFORMER. I first fell in love with her as an artist after hearing her hit song “Moment,” and then when her album JAGUAR was released in 2020, I was hooked. JAGUAR was one of those albums that I kept on repeat as I and the rest of the world were going through the motions of being in a pandemic. I remember watching her perform her single “Jaguar” from the album on her YouTube channel, and the way she performed so effortlessly with such confidence, I knew I had to see her live.
Luckily, I got the opportunity. Along with dropping JAGUAR II, which features the viral single “On My Mama,” Victoria also announced The Jaguar Tour, and as soon as the tickets dropped, it quickly sold out. I attended her Atlanta show at the Buckhead Theatre, and besides being met with a sea of concertgoers from wall to wall, my ears were immediately hit with a beautiful voice from none other than Alex Vaughn, who opened for the mother of one. Once Alex finished her set, it was time for the main event.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
As soon as Victoria stepped on stage, it was hers. She commanded the room with her sultry voice and hypnotic dance moves, performing songs from albums JAGUAR I and II and previous projects such as Life After Love, Pt. 1. Fans were singing her songs word for word to the point where, at times, you no longer heard her singing. However, it was clear that she was in a room filled with love and support, and she also showed it back on stage. The singer rarely took breaks in between songs and dazzled fans with her smooth moves that is reminiscent of the legendary Janet Jackson.
One of my favorite moments was when she performed “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem).” She dressed in a trench coat and fedora, complete with her pimp cane, and another big moment was when she performed “Stop (Askin’ Me 4Shyt)”. Overall, it was nice to vibe out to live performances of some of my personal faves like “Ass Like That,” “How Does It Make You Feel,” “Alright,” and “Big Boss.” In a recent cover story for Galore, Victoria revealed what she hopes concert attendees walk away with.
“On tour, I really wanna give people the best version of Victoria on stage, better than I’ve ever been before. I’m hoping people have the time of their life at the show,” she said. After working behind the scenes as a songwriter for so long, the California native now has all eyes on her, and it’s clear she was ready for this moment.
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Feature image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images