“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone.
You need to know how to be alone
and not be defined by another person.”
– Oscar Wilde
Traveling has always been my biggest passion and I am constantly planning my next trip or adventure whether it is big or small. My travel bug first awoke when I backpacked for a month through Europe when I was 19 with my sister and has not stopped since. The one downfall of having a more spontaneous personality – ready to jump at the next adventure at any moment – is the fact that other people’s lives don’t always match up with your vision of your next big trip. Trying to plan a trip or adventure with your friends or family can be tough. People are at many different points in their lives – broke from being a college student, working too much, or working too little and can’t afford it, children or planning a wedding, not enough vacation days saved up or simply cannot justify spending the money at that time. The list goes on and on. I try to always be very understanding of everyone’s different situations, as I know many people truly want to take that next trip but just can’t afford or justify it at this time. Plane tickets are not cheap these days, especially in the US.
It can be frustrating when all I want to do is pack my bags to go camp for a weekend or book a week trip overseas and no one can go with. I have found that it’s really important to be comfortable to venture alone once in awhile and take that trip you have always wanted too even if you are going alone.
My first solo trip was when I was 21 down to Florida. Now Florida may not seem very extreme as a solo travel spot but when it’s your first adventure traveling alone then anything becomes exciting. I still remember the woman I was sitting next to on the plane ride down asking who I was visiting in Florida. When I told her that I was going alone her response was “Wow that is so brave! Are you nervous? Who will you talk with? Is it safe?”
When I first arrived there it was an exhilarating feeling knowing I could go where I want or do what I want without anyone’s opinions or input. It was my decision where I would go or what I chose to do. It was strange knowing I would be walking to the beach alone, biking alone and adventuring alone. I am a very extroverted person so it felt a bit out of place to be a solo female traveler at first but soon I learned to embrace and love it.
Confidence and Common Sense
Confidence in people truly shines. I think so many women and men are afraid to travel alone because that means they are lonely, don’t have others to travel with or they couldn’t find anyone else to go with. This is a mistake that is sorely misunderstood. I believe it is bravery and can be life changing for many people. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. I always research before I travel somewhere and I pride myself on being able to judge a situation or people very well. If I feel uncomfortable anywhere then I know right away that something feels off and I should leave that area immediately.
Don’t let the fear of being a woman stop you from traveling
If you aren’t ready to travel alone or don’t feel comfortable then please don’t. It is not for everyone but I must emphasize that if you are afraid to because you are a woman then don’t let that stop you. My mom raised me to be independent and never let being a woman stop me from doing anything. It is a growing experience being able to navigate a city on your own and take a few days for just yourself. If traveling abroad alone scares you then go on a smaller adventure alone such as hiking or touring a museum in your own city. The options are endless and you may just feel rejuvenated afterwards.
It is important to note that as a woman traveling alone I do take extra precautions when sharing information with strangers. Unless I feel a huge sense of trust meeting someone (I think we have all met those people we connect with instantly) I rarely share that I am traveling alone and I will mention that my friends are back at the hostel/hotel we are staying at. I also don’t share where the location of my accommodation is.
Unfortunately in this world women do have to be more careful and I wouldn’t just book a trip to anywhere in this world alone. I do a lot of research on safe places for women to travel. There are many articles out there stating the safest places and tips for women traveling alone.
Get out there and go!
Now 5 years later after my first solo trip to Florida I am now packing my bags and moving to South Korea alone. No friends, no family, just me and my backpack (and maybe 1 extra suitcase). I’ve been asked quite a few times if I’m nervous or scared or anxious. There are definitely moments when I am thinking what the hell am I doing – but for the most part it feels completely right in this time in my life. Everything happened at the right time to make this opportunity real.
I am excited for the future adventures and for the new friends that I will make. I can confidently say that I believe this experience will be challenging in ways but completely worth the new experiences I will have. I know that the people I am going to meet will have some of the same passions I have in life: traveling, being outdoors, hiking, open to new adventures and the willingness to be open to new experiences.