Whether it’s for business or pleasure, traveling solo can be a freeing experience or a trying one. But mostly, I find traveling by myself to be exhilarating. You see, perceive, and experience things differently when you’re not in the comfort zone of friends, family and business colleagues. (And let’s face it, sometimes that “comfort zone” is actually a “pain in the neck” zone. Not everyone makes great travel companions…)
There are so many glorious places to wander on this planet. We’re here to explore and be adventurous, so we better get going! But it’s not always possible to gather like-minded travel pals who want to travel when, where, and how I do. And there are valid reasons to be cautious where one travels these days. But I refuse to let either of those considerations stop me – I go for it on my own.
As a female traveling alone, I embrace the freedom. It wasn’t that long ago when a woman wouldn’t have wandered into other countries, unknown cities, and rural countryside on her own.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not careful and smart about where I am and how I wander. I trust my instincts and use common sense: stay aware of my surroundings, avoid dark alleyways, and be wary of mobbed public gathering spots.
Safety when traveling solo is a fair concern, but traveling solo doesn’t always mean traveling “alone.” You usually meet fascinating people along the way, when you’re admiring an incredible sight, trying to decipher street signs, or having a coffee. Cheery conversations often start up with other people over meals. I always sit at the bar in a restaurant and make friends with the bartender—that often leads to lively chats with people around me.
Depending on where I’m traveling, I work hard to learn as much as I can about the culture, its sensitivities and priorities, its critical do’s and don’ts. I have blonde hair and in some places it stands out like a beacon. I pay attention on when to cover up my shoulders, legs, and head. There’s nothing more important than showing respect for the country and culture I’m visiting.
If you’re reluctant to try a solo trip, I suggest taking the plunge. Maybe a shorter, less exotic trip to start. Gain your traveling legs and work up to more distant and unfamiliar locations. It’s understandable to be cautious. But once you figure out your destination and hit the road, you might just keep going. “Solo” won’t mean “alone;” solo will mean empowered and free to go where you want, when you want, and how you want to be there. Bon voyage!