Solo Travel: The Magic of Miami

By Melanie Nayer

MiamiSingle women need a sanity break once in a while. Refresh your mind and body, and throw back a shot of self-confidence, when you travel solo. But where to go? Welcome to Miami.

The last time I drove from Fort Lauderdale to Miami was over a decade ago. My sister and I were in my then-boyfriend’s rusted Jeep Cherokee; it was 2 a.m. and we were in search of something fun to fill the night. We hit I-95 and headed south toward Miami – 40 minutes later we were standing outside the velvet ropes of some of South Beach’s top nightclubs, and wondered if we were beautiful enough to be allowed in. When the velvet ropes opened, we danced until the sun came up.

Amazing how things change in a decade.

I’m past the age of waiting in line to get into bars and clubs, I’ve upped my dating criteria, and I don’t remember what 2 a.m. looks like (unless it’s from the seat of an airplane flying over international time zones). But on a recent trip to Miami, the memories came flooding back. One difference: on this trip to Miami I was solely focused on me.

I was eager for a solo vacation – a place to escape from work, laundry, grocery shopping and the piles of dust looming in my apartment. Single women don’t usually travel alone, but for me it’s a rite of passage – a time to get back in touch with my mind and body at the spa, workout on my schedule, order room service and enjoy free HBO. I hopped a cheap flight to Fort Lauderdale, hired a car to Miami and started my solo vacation.

There are a few things to consider when planning a solo getaway:

  • Choose a location that’s within driving distance or only a few hours by plane so you don’t lose a day traveling. Many airlines offer last-minute getaway fares or weekend fares for travel Saturday-Monday, so cheap flights are always available.
  • Consider a location where friends or family are based so you can meet for dinner or drinks at night, and enjoy some catch-up time and conversation.
  • Hotels are plentiful, but when traveling solo it’s important to focus on location. Keep a budget in mind, but be flexible with your price range. You want to stay in a hotel that is in a highly-populated area so you can walk to attractions and keep people around – it’s safer and will make you feel more comfortable when traveling alone.
  • Always choose a hotel with a 24-hour concierge. You’ll know there is always someone on duty if you have a problem.
  • Since you’re going to spend a good amount of time at the hotel indulging in your alone-time, choose a hotel with an on-site spa and restaurant. In many cases, hotels will offer packages that include discounts on spa services or restaurant credits. Use these to your advantage!
  • If your flight departs later in the day, ask for a late check-out. Most hotels will allow it free of charge if you give them enough notice, and you’ll get to spend a few extra hours in luxury, instead of at the airport.

My Miami trip started at the Mandarin Oriental in Brickell Key, Miami. Since it was a single woman’s solo escape, I wanted something off South Beach, away from the chaos and commotion that takes place on Ocean Drive. Brickell Key is a 1.3-mile island off downtown Miami and accessible by car, but only a few minutes cab ride from the downtown Miami restaurants. All the rooms at the Mandarin Miami have balconies or terraces with sea and city views, which makes watching the sunrise over Miami with a hot cup of coffee an easy way to start the morning. Rooms at the Mandarin start at $249, but consider one of the seasonal packages the hotel offers and you’ll save money on spa treatments and dining.