When I tell people that I travel the world solo, their first reactions are always negative questions or comments:
“Don’t go there, Valerie. You’ll be kidnapped!”
No, I haven’t been kidnapped or put in harm’s way, because I am smart and I do my research and stay out of bad situations.
“It’s so weird that you travel alone. Aren’t you bored and lonely?”
No, I’m not bored and lonely traveling alone; I enjoy meeting new people and having time to reflect.
“Haven’t you ever seen the movie ‘Taken’?”
Yes, I’ve seen “Taken.” I thought it was a little overly dramatic, didn’t you?
“Wouldn’t you rather go to Paris with someone you love?”
Yes, it would be nice to travel with someone I love; I’ll let you know when I find someone who can keep up with me.
“What do your parents think of all of this, don’t they worry?”
Yes, my parents worry about me because they care, but they don’t worry much because they know I am a strong, capable woman who can take care of herself.
And to address an even more important matter: yes, every woman should travel solo at least once in her life. Solo travel is crucial for me as a woman for more reasons than I could ever count.
I didn’t set out to start traveling the world alone, it happened because I got tired of waiting on indecisive and unreliable friends. If I didn’t go alone, I wouldn’t have been to a fraction of the places I have visited. If I had a dollar for all the times I passed up a travel opportunity because I waited on someone else, I would easily have enough for a flight to Japan. I have seen almost every wonder of the modern world; I have traveled to places with civil unrest; I have dined with locals and made friends around the world, all the while my friends sit at home, drink their Starbucks and go to parties.
When you travel alone you are also more open to different experiences and more chance encounters. The friends you meet while traveling bring a different and refreshing prospective to your life, and make you a better, more tolerant and educated individual by default. As a strong woman, you also need to learn to be alone. Being alone with your thoughts is good for you. It’s amazing what you discover you like and dislike when you don’t have others to influence you. Additionally, traveling alone, seeing new places, different people and cultures, allows you to reassess your own values, priorities and beliefs.
Most importantly, solo travel builds confidence. I feel incredible knowing that I can do all of this on my own. I revel in succeeding in places where others warn me not to go as a female solo traveler. I love to prove them wrong. I am smart; I know how to stay safe. Traveling alone has made me realize all the incredible things about myself, like my natural ability to make friends with just about anyone and take care of myself. When I come home, all of that self-realization turns into a whole lot of confidence, and that is a beautiful thing.
So, next time you are about to make a negative comment and discourage a woman from traveling alone because you overreact about her safety, think of all of the wonderful things you would be taking from her if you didn’t encourage her to go. Encourage all of your female friends to travel solo, and they too will have broader minds, become more interesting loving people, and most importantly become strong confident women.
Doesn’t this world need more of that?
Photos: Valerie Wilson
Do you solo travel? Let us know in the comments.