There’s something truly magical about solo travel as a female. The feeling you get navigating a destination on your own, the perfectly selfish freedom you get to possess, and the overall sense of independence strengthens and defines you the more you travel solo.
It’s a fantastic way to travel no matter who you are or where you are in life’s journey. But I understand there are hesitations that many aspiring solo female travelers have dancing around in their heads, so — as a seasoned solo traveler — I’m answering some of those top questions and concerns.
Is solo travel safe?
This is probably one of the most major concerns, so let’s tackle that first. Traveling solo is not unsafe, regardless of what you may hear. It is as safe as traveling with friends as long as you remember to stay alert and follow your instincts. Don’t do things you would consider to be unsafe at home. For example, perhaps don’t wander down strange dark alleys and, unless you feel 100% comfortable, don’t wander off with strangers. Be smart, be confident, walk with your head held high, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
I’ve been to eleven different countries as a solo traveler, and the worst things that have happened to me are getting my phone stolen while in a crowd of people and men being too forward, which leads me to my the second question. . .
Are men going to bother me?
I’m not going to lie, they might. But, unfortunately, this seems to be a problem no matter where you are in the world, regardless if you’re by yourself or not. Have you seen that video of a woman walking through New York City and dozens of men are trying to talk to her and hit on her? It’s more of an issue in regards to gender issues and sexism rather than safety.
My advice is to keep your head forward and ignore them. If they continue, be firm and hold your ground and tell them you’re not interested. If you are unsuccessful with this tactic, then make up a lie. Tell them you have a husband and you’re going meet him at a coffee shop with your two-year-old daughter. Show off your “wedding ring.” It may seem silly, but it’s a solid strategy.
I do want to make a note though. Do try to keep in mind that not every man who comes up and talks to you is automatically classified as a terrible person. Once while I was traveling, there was a younger man who constantly tried to talk to me as I had to walk past his restaurant when going to and from my hostel. Eventually, we ended up having a nice chat about travel and what happiness means to us. Then, he gave me a sweet discount on a meal at his restaurant. That’s it. He didn’t try to get my number or take me out. Was that on his mind? I have no idea, but it was a harmless encounter regardless.
So don’t necessarily brush off every guy you meet and assume the worst. Always be prepared for the worst, however, but don’t be afraid of interactions just because you’re traveling solo. You never know you who might end up meeting.
Will I be lonely traveling solo?
The great thing about solo travel is that the choice is yours. You can choose to spend your days alone or you can meet people. Staying in hostels opens doors to lifelong friendships. Another way to meet people is just going out to coffee shops, museums, etc. and striking up conversations. Also, take advantage of MeetUp groups and Couchsurfing, too.
In case you don’t already know, the Couchsurfing app has a section dedicated to meetups. Become available to hangout and you’re basically able to have someone to explore with in minutes. This app worked wonders during my trip to Poland.
Remember: Your life is still happening no matter where you are geographically, and in life each day can feel different both physically and mentally. There will be highs and lows as you travel solo, but just remember that it’s an adventure and you’ll be learning a lot about yourself through this extravagant experience.
How do I deal with friends, family, significant who don’t agree with me wanting to travel solo?
Maybe not everyone will agree, and that’s okay. This is your life and you deserve to enjoy it how you see fit. If you think it would be an important journey for you and your personal growth — which it absolutely is— tell them and hopefully you’ll be able to find common ground.
When I first told my mother that I wanted to travel solo, she was far from pleased, but eventually came to terms with the benefits and realized I was going to do it whether she wanted me to or not. Then during my solo travels, she saw how happy it makes and has been actively supportive ever since.
Isn’t it strange to do everything alone? Won’t I feel awkward?
I remember this being an initial concern for myself. How strange is it going to feel to go to dinners alone and when the waiter asks, “How many?” and I have to reply, “Oh. . . one”? And what about exploring a city with no one else to share my thoughts with? Or going on excursions? Are people going to think I have no friends?
I quickly scratched those thoughts — almost immediately, actually. It took me no time to realize how pleasant meals by myself are. In fact, now I appreciate just how nice it is to go into a restaurant and say “Table for 1, please.” Then, plopping down with a smile on my face as I open up a book or my journal, order a glass of wine, and just enjoy the ambiance of the place I’m in.
Plus, it’s safe to say that no one is actually thinking, “What is that girl doing alone? What a weirdo.” Do you have those thoughts when you see someone else enjoying their life without the company of another? I know I never do.
Whether it’s a café, restaurant, museum, cinema, or park, you can do it all on your own without any need to feel embarrassed or awkward. Think of it as taking yourself on a date if you’d like. Enjoy your own company. You deserve it!
To sum it up, the world is yours — take it! Be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams. If you dream of going traveling, then just do it; you don’t need to wait around on the rest of the world to jump on board. Solo travel is an eye-opening, incredible, life-changing experience; why else would thousands of women travel solo every year?
Want to know more about solo travel? Check out my post all about why you should travel solo.
Originally published at http://thespiritedexplorer.com on June 9, 2018.