In one of the recent posts, I wrote about pros and cons of traveling with a boyfriend. A lot of women I talk to want to travel and have the means to do so, but hesitate to go anywhere alone. They want to wait for their friends to become available to join them, or hope that their current or future boyfriend will come along. Some, in despair, choose to travel with their parents.
Now, depending on your relationship with your parents, you might feel compelled to spend some quality time with them on a relaxing trip to Paris, for example, or a seaside all-inclusive resort. But unless you folks are uniquely cool and fit, you aren’t going to take them on a proper backpacking journey to Peru or Vietnam, or anywhere else for that matter. And guess what: you don’t need to wait for anyone else to join you, either.
If you’ve always wanted to do what your heart desired with regards to travelling, then nobody should stop you, and certainly not your own fears or reservations.
You first concern might be, “Is it safe?” I’ve got news for you: most countries you are likely considering, are safer than your average North American or European city. I am talking countries such as Thailand, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Turkey, Argentina and Chile, even Philippines and Indonesia, just to name a few. In other words, if you have spent enough time in your life walking around your hometown, day and night, you have nothing to be scared of on a trip abroad. Nothing should happen there that common sense and wisdom won’t help you prevent. I can think of only one popular region where it may be better for a woman to travel with a man, and that is Northern Africa, especially Morocco. Not so much because it’s unsafe, but simply for the amount of unwanted stares and attention you’d get as a solo woman walking around.
Of course, there are countries that are popular with travelers that are not perceived as safe, such as India, Brazil, Mexico or Colombia. Don’t fret: with the same common sense and normal caution that you would exercise everywhere else, you are no more likely to be a victim of a crime there than in your hometown. And even if you are still hesitant, well, then start with the safer countries and build up your confidence, because trust me: after that first solo backpacking trip, you will need no-one to keep you safe and comfortable.
So what about sharing those special travel moments with your companion? Yes, it’s fun to have someone to constantly exchange impressions with your friend or significant other. But isn’t a journey a time to reflect and ponder? Think about it. You are likely living in the world where everything and everyone is pouring every tidbit of their life and emotions out onto social media, no matter how mundane or uninteresting. And let’s be honest, you might even be one of those people. And it’s addictive – trust me, I know. The only solution to a vicious circle lies outside the circle, and that solution is to leave your home for a while to truly contemplate and taste life’s every flavour without necessarily spilling it out. And when you travel with friends, in a way, you take that big piece of home life with you, and thus you never really exit the artificial world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even hourly gossip over the SMS. Yes, it is fun to share certain moments with a special someone, but you, and everyone else, should learn to quietly enjoy them alone.
On top of self-reflection, travelling solo will teach you some basic practical skills, whether it’s brushing up on your Spanish, packing light or haggling for the best price. You might not live in a place where those are useful, but the world is much larger than that place. You just never know when you might need some hard skills. After all, you consider yourself an independent person, right? And it is when you travel solo, you will be able to make all of your own decisions without relying or depending on your friends. It might seem scary at first, but very soon you will realize how liberating it actually is.
Finally, if your concern is the cost of the trip, then all you really need to do is read some of the articles in this blog (and others throughout the Internet). There are so many ways to cut the costs of your trips now that your plane ticket might be the biggest item of your total budget. And even for tickets you can safe greatly if you buy smart. I recently read about a woman who travelled in Italy on 10 Euros per day, which was shocking even to me. The key word was “couch surfing”, and while I don’t recommend doing it all the time, it is a great way to not only cut your accommodation costs drastically but also meet some local people. Which brings me to the final advantage of travelling solo: you are much more likely to mingle with the locals if you are not surrounded by your friends or attached to your boyfriend. All the personal reflection aside, a trip is supposed to be both fun and educational, and meeting local people is a major part of that.
I’d like to finish with an example, or rather an observation. Almost everywhere I have travelled, I have met solo female Japanese backpackers. Their life in Japan is very safe and sheltered, and these girls usually speak hardly any English. They are typically petite and to be frank, kind of clueless. Yet they fearlessly roam the world’s most remote and seemingly dangerous corners, oblivious to anything bad that could happen, because usually it doesn’t. And that lack of fear helps them enjoy their trips worry-free. I don’t know if there is a statistic of any mishaps that happens to Japanese travelers abroad versus any others, but I doubt it’s any different from other foreign tourists. The point is, if they can do it, so can you.
So there you have it, girls – don’t let the lack of travelling partner deter you from exploring the world. Life’s too short to sit and wait for someone when you are ready to go. And by the way, all of the above applies to guys, too 🙂
In one of the next posts, I will write in some detail about basic safety tips for the ladies (and fellas too). Stay tuned!