Why All Women Should Travel Solo
People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience, and for me time and time again it is. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully and I think this is one of the most life changing experiences a person can have.
(Yes, yes, yes... of course, single travel has its perils too -- such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots)
...While I don’t have ALL the reasons, I do have some great ones that I have taken away from my travels.
SO here I am again, lucky enough to come and spend yet another summer in Europe. Many people I know were very surprised by the idea that I came here not knowing anyone in my study abroad program and the fact that I was going to spend some weeks/weekends alone traveling alone but, most of these people have yet to experience the joy that solo travel gives a person.
Here’s everything important to me that explains why I so adamantly claim all women(and you men too) should travel solo at least once in their lives…
Solo Travel Makes you More Confident
If you’re lacking in self-confidence, it can have serious effects on your livelihood. Without confidence in yourself you are likely to question your decisions thus being indecisive, seek confirmation in others, and never follow your own decisions and life path. Solo travel will not only help you gain self-confidence ‘back in the real world’, it will leave you to feel more confident than you ever thought capable. You will walk to the beat of your own drum because you have seen the world, conquered challenges on your own, and learned to rely on yourself and yourself only.
You Gain Independence
While you’re at the conquering the world (well, catching the right train anyway), you will invariably learn to solely depend upon yourself and yourself only. While that may not mean you can suddenly change a tire if the situation calls for it, you will now be more well-equipped to deal with such situations in a sound manner… even if it just means your patience is forever in tact. When you solely rely on yourself, there is nothing anyone can do to rattle you and nothing can be taken from you because even if you were stripped back to a bare nothing, you would have survival instincts. You’re used to being alone with your own thoughts for days and weeks at a time, you’re used to making do with what you have, and you’re used to making decisions for yourself.
You break down the idea of a ‘comfort zone’
Forget the days of comfort zones and those little people lingering around your ears telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. A solo female traveller no longer cares about looking her best 24/7, can get ready in under 60 seconds in the morning, and has learned that jet leg is a mind over matter ordeal. A solo female traveller doesn’t rely on others for their opinion, nor does she seek to be validated… she is comfortable in her own skin.
It’s a Process of Healing
Whether it’s a breakup, loss, life changing career move or you’ve just simply had enough of playing the game of life, solo travel will help you heal…. even if you didn’t realise you needed to!
"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn "– C. S. Lewis
There will be ups and downs and sideways moments that, at the time, will feel like a roller coaster you didn’t realise you weren’t sure you wanted to go on…. but this is all part of the learning process. 12 days out of 10, you will be having a good time (that’s not a typo). On the rare occasion(s) where something does go wrong, you will become more and more suited to dealing with issues because you are over time becoming more patient and understanding.
Then there’s the obvious ways you will educate yourself…. language, culture, tradition, cuisine…. you name it. Everything will be different and exciting and new. You will learn to live in a world completely different to what you know.
You Evolve your Understanding of Love
I once believed that love was exclusively an emotion between two people in a relationship – be it a man and woman, man and man, woman and woman…. whatever the case. I may have even stretched my understanding of love to include animals because my goodness, do I love my cat and two dogs. But there’s so much more to love than just that. From traveling the world solo I learned to love feelings of bliss, a sunny day, a clear sky, a city, a smile from a stranger, a smell I was fond of… I learned to love in so many forms beyond people or animals. I learned to love love.
Restore your faith in human kindness
As mentioned earlier, things can and will go wrong. But when they do, more often than not your faith in human kindness will be restored. I can’t tell you how many times I have been offered help by a stranger – be it money at the check-out counter, a phone to make a call, a free ride from one place to the other… you name it, people are (mostly) inherently good by nature.
Discover yourself, love yourself
Traveling solo as a woman will not only give you confidence and independence, it will also teach you to love yourself. As women, we tend to adopt a tendency to compare ourselves with other women, perhaps even competing with them. This is not in any way healthy, nor will it help you or other women in life – it will fester inside you until you are green with envy. But it is often easier said than done t simply just stop comparing ourselves with the women we see on the cover of magazines – airbrushed and all. So why solo travel? I’m not entirely sure why it is, but solo travel has a way of helping you to let go of these tendencies to compare yourself with others. You soon learn that there are so many different people out there in the world – different body shapes, different personalities, different hair colours, skin colours…. and so on and so forth. We are all different. Embrace your individualism.
Appreciate the little things
After you’ve camped out in cars/airports or lived off cereal because you decided to spend your money for the next week on museums or even the horrible event that you can’t access your bank funds and or have all your money stolen from an ATM (throw back to Colombia WHICH I LOVED SPENDING A FEW WEEKS), you will soon learn to appreciate the small things in life. Clean running water, a roof over your head, food – whatever it is, and human affection. These are the few simple things you need, anything else is just a blessing to be thankful for.
You Learn what is important in your life
You don’t just learn what is important in life, but what is important in YOUR life. You might hate solo travel – that’s okay, you have learned that you are not someone who loves to be alone and perhaps you find you are happiest when you have human affection. You might hate lethargic beach days and miss your busy work life and by the time you get home you have learned to appreciate the Monday-Friday ‘daily grind’. You might love the sense of freedom that comes with traveling the world and find a way that you can make this your career. Whatever be the case, you will learn what is important to YOU.
Most importantly…. you free yourself
Women especially who travel solo – for whatever reason, for whatever they take away from it, for whoever they meet along the way, for whatever they miss back home, will experience a change that is simply indescribable. It isn’t an adjective or a word found in the dictionary…. it is a feeling of freedom. Of discovery. Of self.
So... as you set off to enjoy another summer season, take the time to consider a solo trip of your own. It may be scary and intimidating at first, as new things often are, but you’ll be surprised how relaxing and empowering it can be when out there on your own.