As I’m starting to plan out my next adventure with two of my friends, I’ve been being reminded of how different it is to plan out things with a group vs. being a solo traveller. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is the reaction people have when I tell them that I’m flying overseas…with my friends.
The moment I say I’m traveling with two other girls there are smiles, story swapping and all kinds of laughter and fun. Since I’m human and therefore not exactly anti-acceptance I’ve gone along with it for a while, but being the solo traveller that I naturally am, it has started to bother me. Why is it so much more societally acceptable for a woman to travel with a couple of friends than for her to travel by herself? Do we still, subconsciously, live within a world where a woman needs to be “chaperoned” in order to safely traverse the world around her?
Of course you should all know my feelings on the matter. But as an added bonus, I thought I would debunk some myths that people told me about traveling as a woman, based off of my personal experience.
1. You won’t have any friends to talk or share memories with: I’m am a pretty hard core introvert. I’m not the most outgoing person in general, but something kicks into gear when I travel. There’s something beautiful about having thousands of people around you who you don’t know, and may never see. For me, it’s so freeing, and it’s one of my favorite things to make friends with the people I meet along the way. Whether it’s meeting people in hostels, people I’m staying with or just people I meet on the road – I have some of the coolest stories based just off of the people I’ve met and adventured with. Would I have been as outgoing if I was traveling with other people? Honesty? I don’t think so.
2. You’ll get lost and never be able to find your way back. When I travel, I don’t have an iPhone that works outside of Wifi, I don’t have any special GPS or anything magical that makes me able to travel flawlessly. Sometimes I get lost, and sometimes I get to make new friends just by asking for directions. Those are some of the beautiful aspects of travel, though! And you would be surprised how much you learn about map reading when it’s your only way of getting around! I know – sounds like something our parents did, but traveling without any kind of help has always worked beautifully for me (no horror stories to tell). If you’re really bothered, you can always pay a small amount of money for a personal GPS, as well.
3. It’s dangerous. Here’s some news – life is dangerous. And if you live cowering in a corner, you’ll never experience some of the most beautiful moments. I live by a mantra: Don’t be scared, be prepared. Research, research, research! Know about the country and culture – know about the people and the places you’re going to. The safest I’ve ever felt is having plans (even if I throw them out in the end). This is also a great opportunity to make friends when you travel! Having people know you, is a great way to make sure you have a contact if something does happen.
4. You won’t get as much out of the experience: Like I said, I’ve been on some pretty epic adventures in my time. I’ve never regretted traveling alone, and while I would never discourage traveling with friends, I would definitely say don’t wait to travel just because you can’t find people to go with. I waited two years for people to go with me on a backpacking trip and I regret that SO MUCH – as soon as I actually bought my ticket and went on my trip it was amazing to see how many of my friends started getting interested in traveling more. Be a leader! Take a step forward and embrace the adventures that are waiting for you!
5. Something will go wrong/you’ll die: It always amazes me how many people told me of how my travel adventures would result in my untimely death. Obviously, I’m not dead yet. And the thing about this myth is that life is never guaranteed to us, no matter how carefully we live it. If I die while traveling, I will die doing something I love with every ounce of my being (not a bad way to go). And statistically speaking, travel adventures are a lot less likely to land you in the morgue than the general public seems to believe. While I do, of course support being informed, careful and vigilant when traveling, I also encourage not allowing the unfounded fear of others (especially if they aren’t speaking from any personal experience) to dictate how you live your life.