You may think you would never travel solo. It may just…happen. And if it does, it will change your life.
If you wait for that friend or partner to travel with you, you could stay at home and give up on an experience you had been looking forward to for months or years.
Are you worried about feeling awkward, lonely, unable to communicate with anyone because of language barriers, finding accommodation, ordering food, getting ripped off or that you will miss out on an enriching opportunity?
Every time you travel solo, it’s like a self-esteem boost as you’re reminded of all that you are capable of. Traveling with others, you tend to rely on different people for different things. The male partner handles the map because he’s good at navigation and the woman smooths out any ordeals because she’s an excellent problem solver. When you’re traveling solo, you’re responsible for it all: Reading the map, navigating local transportation, communicating through language barriers to order food or a bus ticket, problem solving when you miss your train or your motorbike runs out of gas, getting un-lost in unfamiliar cities, and any travel mishap in between.
And guess what? You’ll do it! You may not think you can handle all the tasks that come with solo travel, but you’ll surprise yourself. Because when you’re looking out for yourself and a challenge comes your way you’ll accomplish anything and everything.
Learning To Shine
Before you begin traveling solo, you are often much more reliant on other people. Maybe you are shy and hide within the circle of your friends. After traveling solo as a female, however, you will realize that you can be a social superstar if you tried.
Many women reach their full socializing potential when partaking in some solo female travel. Start where it is easy (see suggested destinations that follow). For example European culture is extremely social in itself, with people mingling and sharing wine in public squares and one can make friends on every corner. Suddenly, people were coming up and starting conversations with you in money exchanges, train stations, parks, buses, piazzas, hostels. As you assimilate more into the European culture and the friendliness of the backpacker circuit, you will begin initiating conversations yourself. Bring a bottle of wine to a park, offering to share with picnickers in exchange for some cheese and bread, or invite people from a walking tour out for drinks at night. You will make a lot of great friends, many for life. You will soon realize how easy it is to make friends once you come out of your shell, a skill that will help in work, friendship and relationships.
Despite having helpful parents, being young or inexperienced and dependent on other people; however, one solo travel trip will leave you transformed. When traveling solo independence isn’t something you need to try to attain; it’s just something that happens naturally. There is nobody there to rely on for money, to watch your luggage when you go to the bathroom or show you the way when you get lost. It’s all up to you. And the more you figure these things out the more independent you become.
Disasters will happen and there will be many hassles, but once you figure it out and solve the problem all on your own, you will soon realize that no matter how insurmountable the difficulty, almost always thinks turn out in the end. And it is those epic adventures that you will remember the most.
The best thing about traveling solo is it forces you to interact with locals and not just talk to your travel buddies from home. Most of us live in a bubble where everyone speaks English and tourism caters to your needs. This will all changed when you begin exploring the world. When you visit a foreign place you must adapt to the local culture, figuring out how to order food, dress appropriately and ride the local transport system. If you don’t know how to use a squat toilet in Thailand they’re not going to roll out the red carpet for you and bring you a flusher. You figure these things out as you go, and as you encounter new situations and cultural facets you’re able to engage, process and react to them without influence from others.
Riding buses is a cultural experience in itself, as you sit with locals for 20 hours at a time, meet local artisans, hear traditional musicians, sample typical foods and see what the local farmers are selling. If traveling with a friend, you may have had to deal with judgmental comments or persuasive opinions, or too consumed talking with your companion to actually notice the everyday nuances of culture going on around you. Solo female travel allows you to take culture in and interact with it without distractions, transforming you into a more worldly and open-minded individual.
Probably the greatest gift solo female travel will give your life is the experience of ultimate freedom. When you travel solo you decide where you’ll go, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. There’s nobody trying to change your plans and there’s no need to compromise. You’re in complete control of your travel experience, and it feels good.
As you get used to traveling as a solo female, you will enjoy traveling without making plans. Arrive at a place, discover it organically, ask for recommendations from locals and use CouchSurfing to meet new people. You may change your plans daily based on how you’re feeling and who you meet. Life’s one big adventure full of experiences to be had, and there is nobody there to tell you, you can’t.
From Vacations To Journeys
You may not be looking to turn life into one long vacation. But if you desire unique experiences around the world, solo female travel can show you how to stop being stagnant and keep moving to learn and experience more with the short time you’re give on Earth. You don’t need to wait around for your best friend to have time off from work or your boyfriend to save up enough money to accompany you. If you have plans, there’s no time to waste.
It Isn’t Permanent
Being in control of the trip planning will assuage your fears of female solo travel from the get-go. You can hop on a plane home if you really feel uncomfortable. Many people seem to forget that just because you make a decision to travel somewhere solo doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Once you arrive to your destination give yourself a few days to get used to being on your own and orienting yourself in the destination. If after you’ve given it a fair shot you genuinely feel terrified or miserable, change your location or go home. When you’re traveling solo, it’s all up to you.
Whether you end up loving traveling solo or deciding it’s not really your thing doesn’t matter, as either way you’ll end up having an enriching and unique experience. Because really, the worst case scenario is you feel some awkwardness, but also discover you’re capable of so much more than you believed when immersing yourself in a new culture in a way that forces you to interact with locals instead of your friends from home. And if you really feel uncomfortable, you can always hide in a comfortable hotel room or change your plans completely.
Your Most Important Lesson
The most important thing solo female travel will teach you is that anything is possible. It will open the world for you and make it a smaller and larger place all at the same time. While it’s easier than ever to cross seas and explore new continents, there are so many experiences to be had and so many interesting people to meet. You will go from blindly believing stereotypes and what you hear on the news to experiencing places and cultures firsthand, creating your own truths. There are bad people and dangerous places in the world, solo female travel will turned you into an optimist that believes there are many more safe places and people with kind hearts. Solo female travel will teach you how much more worthwhile life can be when you live it to the fullest without regrets.
Would you ever travel solo?
The Solo Traveller’s Handbook by Janice Leith Waugh
Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo
Wanderlust and Lipstick: The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo
Global Gal Travel Wallet [Travel Style]
How Solo Female Travel Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours, Too) [Blog Inspiration]