For some people, the idea of traveling alone can sound less than ideal. But for those who have found themselves waiting on friends, family and loved ones to save enough money, have enough PTO or to just simply get serious about that group trip you’ve been talking about for years, a solo trip can sound like the only option to ensure you’re not held back from seeing the world.
Still, traveling alone can sound scary if you’ve never done it before, and it could certainly be rough if you’re not properly prepared. That’s where Keem Smith comes in.
Weary of waiting on others to experience dreamy destinations, Smith, known as The Passport Abuser, started traveling by herself in 2017. She has since created a workshop that helps other women learn the ins and outs of solo vacations, how to do it often without losing all your PTO, ways to book a photographer to capture your favorite moments, and most importantly, tools to do it safely. She’s managed to make millions through her masterclasses.
These days, she works with Teachable, the leading online course platform for creators. She is the most popular solo travel creator, and solo travel courses have become significantly popular on the site due to the pandemic. In the spring alone, they were close to 15 percent of all travel course enrollments for the site.
Smith shared with ESSENCE the reason she got into solo travel, why so many others are flocking to it since Covid began, as well as tips to keep in mind if you too are ready to hit the friendly skies on your own. Learn more and enjoy images of her on her own adventures.
What was your first experience with solo travel?
I took my first solo trip to Paris in the summer of 2017, after being stranded on vacation by two friends. I decided to travel alone because my friends either couldn’t afford to travel with me, had little to no flexibility at work, or had family obligations. Traveling on my own felt like the only way forward—I was either going to live life with regrets, or get out there and pat myself on the back for at least trying if it all failed.
How did that turn into your course(s) and business?
I honestly never thought I could turn my life experiences into a stream of income or an online course. I didn’t think creating a course on the topic of solo travel would be profitable. At the time, it seemed like I was the only person in the world interested in female solo travel. But once I began posting photos and reels of my solo trips, thousands of women inquired about how I was able to prepare, start, and ace my first solo trip. I began teaching women around the world my nine-week system on taking your first solo trip. Within just one year, my course helped nearly nine thousand women from 14 different countries and grossed $1.1 million dollars.
Why do you think we’re seeing such a big spike in solo travel courses recently?
Two words: revenge travel. After surviving a global pandemic that changed the world, cabin fever is at an all-time high and people are in need of a vacation from the past two years. Most new solo travelers are so ready for a vacation that going alone seems like a much better option than waiting a third summer to experience Capri. If you’re someone who has decided they’re traveling solo, the best thing to do is prepare.
In the last year or so, are there any big trends or patterns you hear from your students about what inspired them to take your course, or why they became interested in solo travel?
I get hundreds of calls a day from women who report their biggest reason for choosing to travel solo is that they are fed up with waiting on their friends, or the right romantic relationship to come along, before they experience the world.
Do you see any patterns with who is signing up for your solo travel course? Is it younger people, older people, everyone?
I see people of all ages starting their solo travel journey. From women in their 30s who are tired of waiting on friends to women in their 60s who have retired and are empty nesters. What connects all of the women in my community is that they’re in a space of transition. They know they are not meant to live an ordinary life. They want to see the world. They want to conquer their fears. They want to make themselves proud. But most importantly, they’re looking for one-on-one coaching as they start their process.
What are your top tips for people thinking about embarking on their solo travel chapter?
The most important thing to consider with female solo travel is safety. When traveling abroad, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The STEP program allows you to enroll your entire itinerary with the local U.S. Embassy in each country you visit. Another thing I’d recommend is to share your location with a friend or family member, and provide them with a copy of your itinerary. That way, they can follow your itinerary and movements throughout the day. Another fun tip is to search on Airbnb, within the Experiences section, for a photographer in each country. This way, you’ll get awesome photos without asking a stranger.