“You’re travelling alone? Without a boyfriend? Without friends?”
Yes, you heard me correctly. I venture off into the world all by my big, bad self.
When I tell someone that I am going on a trip by myself, there is an 80/20 chance that I get asked that question.
“That’s so courageous! I could never do that.”
Despite all of the breakthroughs women have made in the last century, there is still certain type of stigma attached to a women traveling on their own.
I’ve always been in awe of intrepid female travelers – trailblazers who didn’t let their gender stop them from traveling the world.
But I haven’t always been one in practice. I used to hate going to the grocery store or post office alone (sometimes still a thing), let alone jet setting off on a vacation by myself.
But here is one simple truth that traveling alone has taught me – it’s absolutely f**king fantastic.
When you take the underlying feminist/girl power/strong, independent woman narrative out of the picture, traveling by yourself (male or female) is one of the most rewarding experiences that you’ll ever have in your lifetime.
I’ll never forget hitting the “purchase” button on Amtrak’s website for a “train-cation” across the United States – my first solo trip. Two weeks, eight cities between Baltimore and San Francisco, cutting through two mountain ranges over thousands of miles – all without a sleeper car (yeah, i regretted that later.)
I’ll be the first to admit that I considered turning in my tickets a handful of times before I actually boarded my first train out of Baltimore Penn Station. I couldn’t make heads or tails of if I had just made the best or worst decision of my life.
But the more people I told, the more I started to plan out my stops – landmarks I wanted to see, local dishes I wanted to try – the less I began to suffocate on the what ifs?
I made it about halfway to New York before almost completely forgetting the worries I (and those around me) had tried to smother me with.
In traveling solo you will learn to depend on yourself, trust yourself, entertain yourself, and keep yourself company.
Truth is, if you’re like me – you’re happiest when you’re discovering new places, snapping breath-taking shots on your camera, and trying foods that you can’t pronounce…being a woman shouldn’t stop you from doing it.
I’m not saying ignore personal safety, or to ignore that in some cultures, being a woman means you have to follow certain rules.
I’m saying don’t drown yourself in the what if’s that you forget to experience the world around you.
Here are three truths I’ve come to know about traveling solo…
Yes, sometimes it will be lonely and that’s okay.
You’re never alone when you travel solo because you’ll meet people along the road.” Is a widespread tidbit of wisdom that seasoned travelers will share with you. And for the most part it’s true. You will run across hundreds of people along the way. But it’s also true that you’ll have your fair share of alone time.
Sometimes it’ll be scary
I can’t sugarcoat certain facets of being a woman in the age we live in. There will be days –whether it be getting lost or just genuinely having a bad day (yes, they DO happen on vacation) that will make you painfully aware of how far away you are from your support system. It will be intimidating and sometimes downright bone-chilling. The only advice anyone can give you is to trust your gut, use common sense and know your limits.
It won’t always be glamorous…
If you’re only looking to have the “instagram life” version of travel, this might not be the right path for you. Depending on your location/duration and pretty much any factor you can think of, there are a lot of variables that come into play. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone without a shower for days due to poor water presser, or just the seer lack of fresh water, available in my hostel. Then there is your period to consider. Not every culture you visit has the same access to sanitary products. I can go on and on about the bumps in the road that can pop up. Like I said before, know your limits and your travel personality.
The real truth here is, solo female travel isn’t always a dreamy, empowering experience. But that’s exactly what makes it an important thing to do