Traveling with friends or your partner can be great. You learn more about each other and have someone to rely on if you are ever sick or feeling lonely. However, traveling with someone from home can also be extremely challenging in a way solo travel never is.
Instead of doing what you want to do and seeing things you want to see, you make compromises. Maybe you want to sleep in and they want to get up early and watch the sunrise. Maybe you want to wander around the city and they want to take a tour. You get the picture. Solo travel allows you a rare opportunity to be selfish- to do what you want exactly when you want to do it.
I find that while I love traveling with friends, family, and my boyfriend, I also really enjoy solo travel. I find myself longing for that magnificent feeling of being alone in a foreign city, wandering down the crowded streets and feeling absolutely free. That’s not to say travel with your significant other is worthless or doomed from the start. Traveling with someone can be a great experience, and can be a fantastic way to grow and expand your relationship. However, I believe that all women should give solo travel a shot at least once.
Why All Women Should Travel Solo
When I first started telling people I was planning a trip to Southeast Asia, their first questions were “Who with?” When I told them I was going alone the reactions was always “That’s not safe” or “That sounds lonely.” Some of these comments can certainly be discouraging.
I find myself relating to the the Sylvia Plath quote “Yes, my consuming desire is to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars—to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording—all this is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always supposedly in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…”
My desire to travel, live, and truly experience things can be limited by the fact that I am a woman it is statistically more dangerous to just be a woman in this world.
It can be daunting and scary. However, with the right safety measures, traveling solo can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.
You Will Become Fearless
There is nothing scarier then packing up your bag, saying goodbye to your family and friends, and leaving on a plane, watching comfort, familiarity, and security slowly get farther away as your plane ascends into the sky. Solo travel forces you to confront your fears head on.
You’ll Meet Someone Who Changes You
In your solo travels, you are bound to meet a significant other or friend that changes your entire perspective on love and life. You may stay with this person for a day or the duration of your travels, but that in no way diminishes the effect they will have on you. I have felt more connected to people I have spent the day with then people I have spent months with back home. Something about traveling- the endless bus rides, the newness, the excitement, allows people to share parts of themselves that maybe they wouldn’t at home. Share these parts of yourself. Don’t be afraid.
You’ll Question Everything
Traveling inevitably leads you to question the world around your place in it. I have questioned my own privilege and questioned the materialism and consumerism that is so prevalent in the United States. You will question things that you thought were certain and replace your old truths with new beliefs that are founded on experience rather than the distorted perception the media gives of the world.
You’ll Appreciate The Comfort Of Home
In your travels, there will be points when you are homesick as hell. Embrace these moments. Use the miserable moments- the times when you are sick and puking in dirty bathrooms, the times when you just want to call your friends, the times when you are tired and lonely and over it. Use these moments to realize how lucky you really are and how much your friends and family truly mean to you.
You’ll Realize Just How Capable You Are
On that same token, you will realize that you will survive the sucky situations. You will find discover that you are far more capable than you thought that you could possibly be. Getting around in a foreign city, not knowing anyone, and not just surviving, but thriving, is a skill, and you will be able to say that you have done it.
Traveling solo can be rough. Traveling in general is messy. It’s not glamorous, it’s not the front of a post card. But, as with most difficult things in life, it’s worth it.
How has traveling solo changed you? Do you prefer traveling solo or with friends or your partner?