I had the opportunity to speak with the awesome Nikeya, from Brooklyn, NY about her solo trip to Aruba. I have personally always wanted to do a solo trip but I had so many questions and so much fear, I have yet to take that leap. For Nikeya, it seems fear came more from others than from herself, so she made it happen. Check her story out below:
What inspired you to do a solo trip?
Nikeya: Since I was 25, I have always wanted to do a solo trip. I had already moved 10 hours away from New York to Charlotte, NC, leaving behind family and friends. Then I went to Dallas for All Star weekend alone and had a ball! At that point, it seems like there were bigger benefits to traveling alone and I wondered “What’s next”? Traveling out of the country was the next best move, but then I allowed other people to cast their fears on to me. Everyone would say “You will be out of the country, you are a woman, and it’s not safe”. I had so much on my plate this year, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe between family and work. I was mentally losing it, so I just jumped! My whole family was going to Jamaica for 12 days for a wedding and I decided to go to Aruba. I didn’t tell anyone until 3 days after takeoff. Everything was paid for and it was the most life changing thing I’ve done outside of being baptized in 2015.
What parts of Aruba did you stay in?
Nikeya: I stayed in Oranjestad, Aruba.
What type of research did you do before leaving?
Nikeya: I checked out everything prior to leaving, the island is only 20 miles long and 6 miles wide, so it was the perfect place to go. I researched each part of the island, to find the tourist areas, party spots, and where the older people hung out. I also found out how much cab rides would be to and from where I needed to go.
Did you communicate to others that you were a solo traveler? How was it meeting other people?
Nikeya: I did communicate that I was alone to a selective few and the other people I met I gave them the impression I was with someone. Everyone on the island was extremely nice and it truly is one of the happiest islands. The first night I landed I met 2 girls from LA and their friend from NJ and we exchanged numbers. I hung out with them 3 out of the 6 days I was there. We partied, ate at a very nice restaurant called the “Flying Fishbone” and we had a beach day. I was able to find people that liked the same things I liked and it helped me not think about not having my friends around because I made new ones.
Describe the experience you had staying with the locals in the Air BNB vs. the resort.
While I was planning my trip I had to map out the cost and the experience and I wanted to get the best experience for my money. I don’t like being cheap but the least expensive hotel for me to stay at was $250 per night for 6 nights. I decided to stay at the Renaissance Marriott hotel for half of my stay and I stayed in an Air BNB for the other half.
The AirBNB was called Lagoon Studios located at Zoutmanstraat 35, Aruba. My host Sharon was amazing! Every morning she would bring her guests fresh Aruban pastries, my favorite was a pastechi. She had the cutest studio that was in walking distance from the main street, which worked in my favor. I was able to walk everywhere and feel safe, even at 2am. It sounds crazy but I really had no fear lol. I walked around and asked for the local spots to visit for food, drinks, clubs, etc. and my host provided me with a lot of information. Everyone I had an encounter with was super friendly and they do not beg, which was a big plus for me.
The second half of the trip, I did the full tourist thing. I had breakfast by the pool, took a boat to a private island and got a cabana and ate on the beach. I even took pictures with the flamingos. I felt more to myself when I stayed at the hotel and I needed that relaxation. Although I liked the hotel, I enjoyed and appreciated the locals more.
As a black woman, did you experience any racial prejudice?
Nikeya: I did not feel one ounce of prejudice, everyone was amazing and friendly.
What was the best part of your trip?
Nikeya: The best part was breaking free from the world. I went through a detoxification removing all the negative things weighing my heart down and emotionally suffocating me. I was able to practice meditation and brought along a book that helped me deal with my situations. I was able to leave behind all of the negativity and replace it with happy refreshing memories. The trip helped me outline new business plans, make new friends, and see things clearly.
Any advice for anyone who wants to do a solo trip?
Nikeya: Do your research! Read reviews and understand the purpose of your trip. Ask yourself, what are you trying to gain or experience? Relaxation, Partying? Once you understand what you need and want, your search will be simplified. Utilize Google, Yelp, and Air BNB, reviews will truly be your best friend.