“Don’t you get scared?”
That is a question I have gotten a lot recently, mostly targeted toward my choice to travel alone.
We are human beings. Instinctually we are created to feel fear. In times of discomfort, being surprised or threatened, feelings of fear come over us. That is normal and essentially a pure and authentic function of being alive. Of course I get scared. Everybody gets scared.
Traveling alone is not necessarily the trigger for that fear. We all make choices based on what we like to do. I like traveling, and at this point in my life I really enjoy traveling alone.
Fear impresses itself on us only in specific situations. For example, traveling alone is not scary, but being alone and being jumped by a masked stranger would be scary. I assume however, being jumped by a masked stranger would also be scary if there was another person with you.
With that said, I believe a lot of people worry about solo travel, especially for fear of young women traveling alone. Society imprints these feelings on us. All you have to do is watch the news for a couple minutes, and instantly fear and panic will take over a big part of your life. A lot of bad happens in this world, but so does a lot of good, and honestly a majority of the good goes unnoticed.
The way I see it, we can be afraid for our whole lives or we can live our lives. We can live our lives “on the edge” while simultaneously being smart and staying cautious in order to avoid bad situations.
I don’t necessarily mean to point out just females, but from what I have come to realize is that it is mostly girls who shy away from being alone, feel threatened more easily and just straight swear off solo traveling. Based on my experiences so far, here are my most up-to-date reasons for why girls SHOULD travel alone.
Independence. Duh. Of course I am going to preach and fly the independence flag first and foremost. Not because I want to be cliche but because I want it to seem like the most important, which it is. Traveling alone might be one of the most important transitions a woman can go through. It is very difficult if not impossible to truly and rawly know and understand who you are as a person if you constantly have somebody else by your side. I can honestly say that I stand up taller, hold my chin higher and radiate more confidence purely from spending time alone.
Loyalty. No, no, no not loyalty to a significant other. Loyalty to yourself. What is it that you want to conquer, learn, see, experience? Where do you want to go? How do you want to grow? Maybe you don’t even know. Maybe you just feel like you need to run away or escape a certain life you feel locked down to. Maybe you feel like you are suffocating in a relationship or a job. Maybe you feel your life slipping by and you just need to rediscover yourself. Whatever it may be, be loyal towards those feelings. Be loyal to any feelings or desires you have hidden inside of you, and make them a reality.
Fear. Prove to yourself that you are not really afraid of the things you think you might be afraid of. Prove to yourself that you are not afraid of camping alone, or driving across the country by yourself. Prove to yourself that you don’t need to rely on your boyfriend or your parents or your brother or sister or whomever it is that you think you “need” to have with you in order to travel or make plans. JUST DO IT BY YOURSELF EVEN IF IT SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF YOU. (please disregard if you are too young, ehem any of my younger cousins, don’t go riding your bike in the middle of the night by yourself, that is not safe).
Personal exploration. You learn what you want and don’t want, as well as what you need and don’t need. For example, there is a lot of pressure out there, especially for women, to think that it is abnormal to be single, especially in your twenties. For some reason, girls just think they need to find “the one” right away and settle. Personally, that is the last thing that I want right now. It is also the exact opposite of what I need right now. What I want is to find a unique and sustaining life, different than anybody else’s, full of adventure and new beginnings. I want to feel alive every single day, I want to feel as though this giant world is big enough for my dreams to never stop expanding. I want a mind full of stories and experiences, and thoughts spinning uncontrollably through my head. I want to never ever feel normal or perfect. I never want to be the same tomorrow as I was yesterday. I think the only way to truly grow continuously is to never stop exploring, always go to the next place, keep your confidence strong, be nice to people and more importantly allow the mistakes you think you have made to never feel like regrets. Allow everything in your life to be a learning lesson.
I understand that everybody is different, we are all unique. Some of you read this and said “heck yeah!” and you want to book a plane ticket somewhere right now and go on your first solo adventure. On the other hand, some of you read this and said “no way jose” and you want to snuggle back into your couch with your fiancé and your bottle of wine with your puppy at your feet. To each there own. But for me, traveling alone is something I cannot imagine living without. At this exact moment in my life I am only a fraction of the person I know I am going to be, and solo travel is the greatest foundation for my growing and learning process. So if you have even the smallest inkling to get out there and find a piece of yourself that you think you are missing, I promise that even if you get out there and hate your experience, somehow the search will be worth it.