We’ve mastered the corporate ladder, worked our butts off to reduce the gender gap, and continue fighting day in and day out for our rights, so why aren’t more us traveling solo? I am here to tell you it is time for a change. We do not need a chaperone to travel.
I see it every day. We let society tell us we should not do this or that by ourselves because we are women. Sadly, we believe them; too many of us are afraid to do things by ourselves. The world is not as scary as the media paints it to be. The media loves to make us believe that the mysterious world around us is dangerous, and we are better off staying within our comfort zones. Many other women, like myself, are advocating for change and to wake you up so you do not miss out on the beautiful world around you. Traveling abroad alone will be one of the most empowering and life changing things you will ever do.
Last year, I decided to take my first solo trip abroad. Prior to this trip, my friend and I had been planning a trip abroad together. First it was Morocco, then England, then Austria… the list goes on. She eventually bailed after weeks of waiting for her to decide when she could make this trip happen. I was a little disappointed at first and almost settled for the idea that the entire trip was canceled. Then I asked myself, “why can’t I go by myself?” As I sat there and contemplated whether or not to plan this trip alone, every possible “what if” scenario popped in my head. What if I get lost? What if my plane crashes? What if something really bad happens to me while I’m alone in another country? What if my dog runs away while I’m gone? What if I get sick? What if I get kidnapped? The anxiety was overwhelming. Then there was the question that made the answer crystal clear: what if I do not go on this trip alone and regret it for the rest of my life? The next day I booked a roundtrip flight to Ireland.
You cannot sit around and wait for other people to determine the outcome of your life and the things you get to do. If you want something, go get it! If you sit around and wait for other people, you will never do the things you want to do and will live a life full of regret. When you travel alone, you gain so much perspective and will feel like a total badass. And yes, it is scary. Weeks prior to my trip, I had nightmares of my dog running away and had overwhelming anxiety that my plane would crash or I would die alone in another country (blah, blah, blah). Oh, and for the record, I am TERRIFIED of flying (to the point where I have to be medicated). It turns out nothing bad happened. My dog was safe and sound when I returned, and I came back in one piece. I know it’s scary at first, but it will empower you and make you feel like you can do anything (which you can, of course).
My solo trip to Ireland led me to visit 4 countries by myself in 2017. I know that may not seem like a lot to those who travel often, but for me this was a huge step. I grew up with a lot of anxiety and fear; I worried about every little thing. Ask anyone who knows me and they will back me up on this. I used to be afraid of everything, and even the thought of leaving my house gave me anxiety. The fact that I took a leap of faith and started traveling alone was a huge step towards independence and has changed my life. If I can do it, you can too.
Here are my top 10 reasons why you should travel alone:
1. You will meet so many amazing people from all over the world.
From a young age, we are taught to never talk to strangers. That is a valid point when you are a child, but many of us keep this idea in our heads as we get older, making social situations uncomfortable for us. There are so many amazing people out there who are also seeking adventure, freedom, and an opportunity to meet new people. Traveling alone forces you to make friends with strangers. You meet people everywhere you go; from checking into your hostel to sitting outside of a local coffee shop. You are never alone unless you want to be. You will connect with people from all over the world and will likely keep in touch with many of them. Once you get past the initial awkwardness of meeting someone new, you will likely learn you have a lot in common with them and will become pals in no time.
2. You will gain new perspective.
Traveling alone opens up your mind and heart to a whole new world out there. The media has a way of creating these false ideas that the world is unsafe. Yes, there places in the world I would recommend avoiding or using extreme caution, but there is more beauty in this world than what we are brainwashed to believe. In fact, I felt safer abroad than I sometimes do in my hometown. It also allows you to expand your horizon and try new things. How can you truly find the things that make you happy if you never step out of your comfort zone and try new things?
3. You can do whatever you want.
Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up and go about your day doing whatever you felt like doing and on your own time? Traveling alone frees up your schedule to do whatever you want to do. You do not have to plan your days around anyone else. If you want to sit and stare at the beautiful mountains or crystal ocean for hours, you can!
4. You will save money.
Believe it or not, traveling alone is much cheaper than traveling with a companion. Obviously you only have to factor in airfare for one. But for me personally, traveling alone opened up my mind to staying in shared hostel rooms. Accommodation in Ireland for 8 nights cost me roughly $200. Hostels are a great way to meet new people. Plus, most hostels provide free breakfast and a fully equipped kitchen so you can cook your own meals instead of relying on paying to eat out for every meal.
5. You will become more independent.
You do not need a man or anyone else to travel to another country. You will gain so much confidence while on your own. If you are never comfortable alone, and I mean truly alone, what good will you be to anyone else? You are fully capable of accomplishing solo travel on your own! Most women rely on codependency, and I’m here to tell you it is 2018; independence is extremely underrated and lacking for most. Go on… be a little rebellious.
6. You will build incredible memories.
Chasing dreams and memories is so much better than chasing money and things. Nobody can take your memories and experiences away from you. No amount of money and material things can amount to the memories you build from your experiences. The first trip you take by yourself will be something you will forever look back on and smile. Plus, people will find you interesting and will want to hear all about your travels.
7. You will learn more about yourself.
Traveling by yourself creates a sense of oneness with yourself that you would not be able to otherwise find. You become more in tune with what makes you happy and what does not. It gives you time to reflect and look within. Traveling alone affords you the opportunity to step outside of the box and open your mind beyond what you are conditioned to believe. And no, traveling alone is not always rainbows and butterflies. I cried on the train in London as I was heading to the airport to catch my flight to Madrid. Not just a few tears; I was sobbing. I was overly exhausted and felt more alone than ever before. After my mini meltdown, I told myself, ” come on self, get it together. You got this!” Later that day, I found myself in sunny Madrid. I promise you will learn you are so much more capable than you ever gave yourself credit for.
8. You will stop and appreciate the moment.
Being alone in another country really forces you to take everything in slowly and embrace the moment. You will witness some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see that will leave you smiling for no other reason than the fact that you did this; you created this moment. You will have these “pinch me” moments because you cannot believe it is real. You will find yourself trading in social media for the beautiful reality that is right in front of you. After all, why would you want to live vicariously through other people’s experiences when you can create your own?
9. You will feel more free than you have ever felt before.
The moment you get to where you are going, you will feel more free than you have ever felt before. There is something magical about being lost in another country but somehow finding your way. Breaking your routine and stepping away from your busy schedule is extremely liberating. There is also something empowering and freeing about being smack dab in the middle of the unknown, unfamiliar, and not totally understanding why you are there. Ironically, being lost is sometimes exactly where you need to be and often leads you to where you are going.
10. You overcome your fear.
Those little voices in your head that create fear and tell you that you should not do it will begin to dissolve. Overcoming your fears makes you stronger and more resilient to the little things. You stop worrying about the “what ifs” and fear of the unknown and begin actually living. For me, getting on the plane is the scariest thing; however, if I let the fear of flying hold me back, I’d never be able to experience the beauty this world has to offer. Routine is boring. Challenge your boundaries, step away from what is comfortable, and experience this life for yourself. I challenge you to ask yourself this question: are you truly happy with what you have done with your life so far? Maybe it’s time for a change.
Travel tips: Be smart and be safe. Just like everywhere, there are bad people and bad places. Do your research before you go anywhere. Understand the culture, the language, how it is different from what you are used to, and prepare accordingly. Also, use common sense like you would do in your own hometown. If something does not feel right, go somewhere else. Listen to your gut. Most of all, have fun. Life is too short to let fear hold you back from creating some pretty epic memories!