For the past year, I worked as a traveling brand ambassador for a liquor company. Some of my weekly tasks included planning and hosting events by myself, visiting bars at night by myself and talking to thousands of strangers by myself. And, yes, I am here to tell that tale that it really wasn't too scary.
Just one, creepy man in a car that drove off once I walked into a bar. Other than that, people were kind, helpful, and respectful. And, although I couldn't make creepy car man disappear, I probably could've been aware of the high chance of running into him with little research on the area I chose to explore.
"But you spent most of your time in bars! What about getting aggressively hit on or stuck in long, drunk conversations you don't want to be in," you ask?
I am happy to announce that once I explained to someone that I had a boyfriend and wouldn't want to make him uncomfortable spending so and so amount of time or doing so and so actions with the person who was coming on to me a little too strong, every single drunken person respectfully explained that they wouldn't want to offend anyone and went on their way.
I was honestly shocked by the level of respect I received from strangers. I believe that is partly due to my epiphany that people aren't so bad after all but also partly due to three things that I always made a point to do to end a conversation if I felt someone was being pushy:
1. Research where I was going before getting there.
2. Appear to be more knowledgeable than I may truly have been about my whereabouts and my plan for the evening so that people wouldn't try to show me around if I didn't want them to. "Thank you so much for the offer but I actually have plans for tonight."
3. Appear to be meeting up with someone shortly so that strangers wouldn't try to uninvitedly join my night. "No, I'm actually not here alone, I'm just waiting for my family/boyfriend/girlfriend."
Now, this absolutely does NOT mean that I didn't meet great people, have tons of great conversations and make friends that I can visit again in the future. Not at all.
But it does mean that I stayed aware of the situations I was putting myself in by consciously selecting who and where I was choosing to spend time around. I always did this and had zero big issues during my yearlong travels.
Of course, there are always exceptions and some negative situations are out of a person's control. All I'm saying is that it is AMAZING to me that I encountered thousands of strangers and was shown so much respect.
My point in sharing a bit about my story is to express that people really aren't all so bad and to hopefully inspire YOU. Take the trip you've always wanted already! There is so much out there waiting for you and most of the time it really, really isn't as scary as you think.
Take it from the girl who was, seemingly, in the hypothetical worst possible situation: alone, at night, at a bar, surrounded by drunk strangers. Turns out things are a little better than I thought. There's hope, people.
I learned so many other valuable lessons, tips and tricks while away on all these crazy adventures, and I've shared them for you in my article "24 Tips for Young, Solo Travelers".