Your Not Just a Girl in The World…Conquer It!
Even with travel marketing materials depicting blissful couples clinking glasses at luxury hotels and happy families at the beach, there’s something to be said about traveling solo. In fact, there’s something magical about being free to blaze your own trail without the pressures of a group or the dynamics of family relationships. Though some women venture half way around the world to soul search, others simply “find themselves” in the process of exploring new places and meeting new people.
The first order of business is to address your fear of doing something alone or doing something new, and go do it anyway. Of course, there are pressures to travel with others from friends and family members less well traveled. We are also too familiar with countless media accounts on bad things happening to female travelers abroad. With this in mind, the very act of your deciding to plan a solo trip is your first step on the path to enlightenment, of finding your real, more courageous and authentic self.
This is your time to declare your independence, not only from barriers others have set for you, but barriers you have established for yourself in your own mind. The reality is that a woman traveling alone is pretty commonplace and accepted. Furthermore, there are plenty of blogs and articles (such as This Time feature) documenting experiences other women have had going solo, along with useful insights.
If you’re new to traveling alone, look for a place you can relate to, whether it’s through your personal family heritage, religious background, activities you enjoy (such as yoga or volunteer work) or interest in a culture through your education. Once you’ve done it a few times, you can venture deeper into those proverbial waters. Of course, once you’ve selected your destination, visits to sites like Journeywoman.com, www.nomadicmatt.com/female-travel-tips and WomenOnTheirWay.com are a must to learn about local customs concerning dress, behavior and other formalities so you blend better with the locals, most of it from women who have been there.
From there, be prepared to go with an open mind. We may love shopping and museums, have our hearts set on certain hiking areas and have to-do lists based on other people’s travels. However, to discover other sides of yourself, you have to allow for spontaneity and spirituality that will carry you away from your familiar favorite things into new activities that will truly expand the way to see the world.
Although you may be “by yourself,” you’re ultimately going to meet people on the way, some who may teach you something new or change the way you see the world. Whether it’s through your lodging, attending a yoga class, hitting a museum, or sitting at a cafe, the simple act of striking up a conversation will lead to alliances with like-minded travel companions and even lasting friendships. Again, this is where some advance research can help, looking up things like docent tours at museums, local fitness studios or groups connected to your religious or cultural affiliations.
Of course, there are some common sense things you should do on the road OR at home: After dark, take a reliable taxi service instead of public transportation. Be willing pay a bit more for accommodation that has a 24-hour security guard when necessary. Dress conservatively when the occasion or culture calls for it.
If you don’t go, you’ll be missing out on many amazing places and incredible experiences, and most importantly, missing out on an opportunity tap into your inner strength. Women underestimate their own abilities, because this is how most of us are brought up. Even in the 21st century, we exist in a world where powerful, independent, and ambitious women don’t get the credit or compensation they deserve. If nothing else, you will come back with the souvenirs of greater independence and self-reliance, which will serve you better in your everyday life than a tee shirt or a cool pair, shoes or a pair of earrings. You may even cultivate stronger gut instincts and more attuned street smarts. All of this makes up the bigger picture of figuring out who you are and what great things you are capable of.
Because life is about taking chances, and because women face enough obstacles all on their own, just do it–don’t let yourself be your most formidable obstacle.