As a New Orleans native, I typically go to events or restaurants alone when my friends or family can’t make an event. Experiencing New Orleans solo is quite easy since many locals are nice and welcoming.
If you can’t tell, I’m extremely extroverted, and I do not have trouble making friends and talking to strangers.
While looking for guest bloggers, Brittany Michele wanted to put together a New Orleans solo travel guide for women.
These tips, plus additional tips you can find in the New Orleans section of Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants, can help plan the perfect solo weekend in New Orleans.
Whether if you are looking for trips to take alone in the South or want to explore New Orleans on your own check out this blog post for the perfect New Orleans solo trip.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy this guest post by Brittany all about her solo trip to New Orleans.
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NOLA Solo Travel Tips for Women
In the days leading up to my 3-week solo trip to New Orleans, I started to panic. I’m pretty sure it’s standard procedure for anyone to start freaking out a little bit before a 3-week trip.
How does someone pack for something like that anyway? Will packing cubes even fit three weeks worth of anything?
Can I really keep my luggage weight under 50 pounds? I can barely do that for one week!
Not only was I embarking on a 3-week trip, but I was going alone.
I’d never gone on a trip this long before, let alone solo. While I had a few friends already in the city, I still couldn’t help feeling anxious about my time alone.
As an introvert, I often cherish that alone time though it can still be crippling and keep me from meeting new people or going out and exploring new things on my own.
Can I even Travel Alone?
Would I leave the Airbnb or would I feel too anxious to go out?
It’s a strange feeling–dining alone, traveling alone, seeing movies alone. There are certain places and activities where I feel I’d thrive and other times where I feel like there’s a spotlight shining on me.
“Look at that poor girl, all alone,” says everyone. I imagine.
I remember telling my dad about a movie I saw by myself, and he said, “good for you!” It wasn’t until then that I realized there’s a certain level of bravery facing any activity alone.
I held onto that as a strength during my trip.
Leading up to my trip, a close friend had suggested the book “I’m Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come” by Jessica Pan. It was my survival guide.
Each chapter felt like I wrote it. The more I read, the braver I felt striking up conversations with strangers, and I started to take pleasure in short exchanges with those whose paths crossed with mine, listening intently to the stories of locals and visitors alike.
1. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation during Solo travel
I took many Uber, and Lyftrides during my time in New Orleans, much to the chagrin of my wallet. Most of the time, the drivers were happy to talk.
One even thanked me for breaking the ice, saying that it isn’t often riders will want to chat about something.
I chatted with one driver about his upcoming sommelier test, and we spent fifteen glorious minutes nerding out over wines and California wineries.
2. Find out where the locals go
Another benefit of talking with locals is getting tips on where to eat. I mentioned to nearly anyone who would listen that I was in town for an extended stay and wanted to experience the city the way locals do.
One driver insisted I check out Wrong Iron, a popular neighborhood bar in Mid-City. Another driver recommended a restaurant a half-hour outside the city, on the bayou, that looked like something out of a fairytale.
3. Find a meet-up or a local group to meet locals or other solo travelers
I know this is every introvert’s worst nightmare. I still cringe at the idea of a room full of strangers and me with a “hello my name is” sticker on my blouse, trying to make small talk with people.
Luckily, I was already a part of a Facebook group with a lot of local Nola ladies in it already. Leading up to the solo trip to New Orleans, I gathered up some courage to write in the group about my travels to see if anyone would be interested in meeting up.
I must’ve read that post a dozen times before I hit “submit.”
But if it weren’t for that group, I wouldn’t have made new friends in the city. I wouldn’t have been introduced to parts of town I likely wouldn’t have ventured out to on my own.
From that, I feel grateful to have formed two friendships with some lovely local ladies.
There are other forums out there explicitly dedicated to solo traveling and meet-ups. I’ll be honest; I wish I took advantage of more of them.
It’s a great excuse to enlist some company for a night out should you not feel brave enough to go it alone.
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4. Saddle up to the bar with a good book
While brunching one morning at Katie’s, a Mid-City neighborhood spot, I saw a man leave from the end of the bar with a book in his hand.
That seemed so nice. I wanted to do that.
I wanted to walk to \a local breakfast place, book in hand, and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading.
Instead of subjecting myself to continually refreshing my Facebook feed, why wasn’t I bringing a book to read when I didn’t want to socialize?
After three weeks in New Orleans, I started to feel like a bar and happy hour expert. The atmosphere has always been important to me when dining out, and there have been some spots that made me seem a little disconnected from the rest of the room.
While Manolito in the heart of the Quarter has a delicious Cuban sandwich and unique cocktails that I’d recommend to anyone, I’d opt for the upstairs seating for a better atmosphere. Beats staring into the kitchen or at the cash register while at the bar.
5. Take Advantage of Good Dining Deals
I happened to be in town for the first few days of August and Coolinary was going on. I took advantage of the 4-course meal the Bywater American Bistro had listed.
Sit close to the bartender, who will chat with you about the complexity of the dishes and ask genuine questions about your trip and your life and make you feel a little more seen and a lot more human.
While Avo Uptown had the most exquisite Italian meal I’ve had in a long time (thanks again, Coolinary!), I felt disconnected from the dining room.
My back turned on tables full of people I could be watching and admiring. Avo was the only restaurant where I felt like there was a literal spotlight on me and my soloness –the bar had brighter lights than the rest of the dimly lit room.
And I sat at the bar alone, staring at a modest wall of liquor.
6. Listen to music and live like a local
I can’t think of a better place to be on your own than a jazz bar.
The only conversations you’re likely to have are during the “five-minute” band breaks. Otherwise, strolling the blocks of Frenchmen Street, admiring the artists in the night markets, and popping into the dozens of bars with live music is a fantastic way to spend your night.
Oddly enough, I met a Frenchman on Frenchmen who talked to me about his US travels and his work at Cartier. We discussed the different wine bars he should visit – Bacchanal is a must – and the city’s diverse culture.
I talked with an out-of-town woman who owns multiple properties nearby and comes into the city every few months because she can’t seem to stay away too long . Sounds like me, minus the part of the owning a house in New Orleans.
It was a fantastic way to meet locals and those visiting from out of town, so long as you’re open to it.
Hitting up the various bars on Frenchmen became a bit of a regular thing for me during my trip, and those are my fondest memories of the trip.
The street’s crowds ebb and flow throughout the week. Nothing beats enjoying a seat at the bar at the Spotted Cat mid-week or seeing the enthusiastic crowd at a packed Maison on the weekends.
Something about the jazz bars makes it easy to disconnect from the glowing screen of a cell phone for a few hours and relish in being as present as possible in one of my favorite cities in the country.
I’m already counting down the days until my next trip where I hope to explore new-to-me neighborhoods and other good eats off the beaten path.
7. Solo Travel in New Orleans is safe – as told by a local
Many people are concerned about the crime in New Orleans, and even though there is a lot of crime in New Orleans, there are ways to stay safe.
Use the same common sense that you would use in any major city. Keep your personal belongings with you, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t walk in sketchy areas at night alone.
When in doubt, take an Uber or Lyft to hop to the next bar or to get back to your hotel room.
Even though New Orleans has a large drinking culture, make sure you are not over-indulging to continue to stay safe in New Orleans. Make sure to stay out of the bad neighborhoods and keep to the well-populated areas of town.
New Orleans Solo Tips
Hopefully, Brittany’s stories and tips help you feel at ease with traveling to New Orleans as a solo female traveler! There are so many different places to stay, activities to do, and ways to be comfortable in New Orleans that I hope your next solo trip will be in New Orleans!