“Wait. So. Where are you going?
Who’s going with you?
You’re going by yourself?!
But, aren’t you scared?!
Girl, I could never do that! I’d be so afraid!”
This is a conversation I’ve had 525,600 times.
When I tell people about my travels and the fact that I travel alone most of the time, the overwhelming response is pure astonishment, confusion, disbelief, and fear.
For me, traveling alone has often been the most feasible option. Either people don’t have the money or time or desire to go. I never made any kind of declaration that I only wanted to travel solo…it just kind of worked out that way. And so I gained an appreciation for being in some foreign land all by myself.
As a woman, I understand the hesitation of other women when it comes to traveling alone. Many women are worried that they’ll be preyed upon in some country if people see them alone or that they’ll be mistaken for a sex worker of some sort. But a lot of times, women are afraid of going alone simply because there’s some sort of stigma attached to it. There’s this idea that we need to wait-for a man, for a friend, for a pre-packaged group excursion, for some sort of permission from our personal circles or families or society at large. And my question to that has always been…why? Why and what?
Why are we waiting for someone to give us permission to travel alone and what are we afraid of?
If we really take the time to unpack our fears we may discover one of two things.
1) We may discover that our fears are really someone else’s fears that have been projected onto us.
2) We may discover that we are afraid of things that could happen to us anywhere in the world, whether it’s across the street or across the globe.
Now, anyone who knows me or has been reading my blog for any amount of time knows that one of my catch-phrases is “Fear Is Stupid”. It keeps us grounded and bound and living a life that other people are comfortable with but not necessarily the life that allows us to pursue our visions and passions and be responsible for our own happiness.
What makes me a little sad is the thought of all the experiences and revelations that are missed because of that fear.
There are many things that I have gained from solo travel. So many lessons learned and experiences had because I was alone.
I’ve learned to rely on and trust the voice on the inside of me.
I’ve learned my loves, likes, and dislikes.
I’ve learned how to be content in my own silence and with my own thoughts.
I’ve learned that it’s ok to have gelato for breakfast…
I’ve learned how I best hear from God (usually in nature).
I’ve learned to be easy(er) on myself…that’s an ongoing lesson.
But most importantly, I’ve learned that I can do whatever I put my mind to, that I can make my own decisions, and that I can trust myself.
“But, what are people going to think?”
“Who will take pics of me?”
“How will I know what to do once I get there?”
Well, who cares what other people think? Maybe they’ll think you don’t have friends. Or maybe they’ll think you’re the dopest person they know for doing what you want to do without waiting for someone else to go with you. And trust me folks. If you’re putting off that dream trip (or anything, really) simply because you’re waiting for someone else to go with you or give you permission, you will ALWAYS be waiting and you will NEVER go. Regardless, no-one else’s opinion really matters here.
If you’re at a loss for activities, a simple google search will reveal tons of tourist attractions, excursions, restaurants, wine bars, etc, etc, etc.
OR you may find that you enjoy simply sitting on the beach, strolling along the Champs-Élysées, taking a bus from Maiori to Positano and back, or watching the sunset in some town square.
Whatever the case, the only schedule, desires, and budget you have to think about are your own. There’s no consulting anyone else to decide what to do and when to do it.
And as far as pictures go…your selfie game will grow tremendously! You’ll also learn how to mount your camera on a tripod (or rock or tree or ledge) and figure out the angles you need for the shot you want. AND, you’ll learn that sometimes, you may need to observe a stranger and, once you’ve deemed one safe, ask them to take a shot of you in front of whatever amazing backdrop you choose.
The point is, you’ll figure it out. And your life and your experience and your story will be so much better for it.
Now I’m not suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and not take precautions. You definitely want to be wise in your travel adventures, especially if you’re going alone.
Here are a few basic tips for safety abroad.
1) Do research on your chosen destination to find out about the political climate and that country’s relationship with the U.S.
2) Register your trip with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate especially if there has been recent political unrest or upheaval.
3) Always share your travel details with a friend or family member at home. Someone should have knowledge of your flight info, accommodations, activities, and excursions.
4) Check in from time to time with home base. Even if you want to unplug, you can send a quick email or text to let folks know that you’re ok.
Now these are the basics. The point is to reassure you that traveling alone does not have to fill you with dread. It may, in fact, teach you about yourself, inspire you, or grow you. And that only makes you a better person…for yourself and for everyone around you.
Kick the dread, folks! Plan that trip. Go alone. You’ll have your time and thoughts to yourself to do what you want and discover more about who you are. So go! And when it’s over, tell me all about it!! I can’t wait to hear from you!
#wedontsitoncouches #livelovegodobe #fearisstupid
** featured image taken while traveling solo in Roussillon, France.