I have this conversation a lot, with men and women, mostly with women.
They say “I could never leave the country by myself”
I say “Why not? I have three times”
They say “WHAT? Did you stay with people? How? I’m not that brave.”
I say “Brave, or stupid, it’s so worth it….”
What I have learned, especially with women, is that so many feel that they either have to have male/friend accompaniment, or permission to go on their own. I know so many women that end up not taking a trip, or an excursion, or an outing without someone with them.
It’s not just on a trip in a foreign country, it’s even here in the states. And it’s nothing to do with a controlling partner, it has so much to do with people just fearing being on their own.
Many people won’t go to movies or dinner by themselves. They barely want to go to the grocery store without their kids, or partner or friend. There is an inherent cultural or biological fear on being solo out in the world.
Some of it is the fear of the unknown, the fear of loneliness, the fear of being hurt or pained. We have a culture that feeds on fears as if the world is falling apart, but the truth is that it has always been falling apart, and I refuse to be afraid of existing in it.
There is nothing wrong with this, I find it curious. I also have learned that I can’t wait around in my life for someone to come with me to see the world, to live my life. If I had waited, I would have never visited anywhere I have been.
When I was in high school friends would talk to me about traveling when I was planning my first trip. They would speak that they wanted to go, but no one really saved the money, no one got their passport, no one was serious.
I could have held back, I could have waited another year or two. But I realized that no one was going to actually follow through. I loved my friends, but their priorities were different at the time, totally ok, but I couldn’t wait.
Of course I was completely scared when I got on a plane to London, and then to Germany. I cried at the airport because I was frightened, I was afraid of all the horror stories people had sent me. I was afraid I would end up in a dumpster or on the sex slave market. Yet, nothing like this has ever happened, very little “bad” things have even happened, and mostly it was of my own making.
While the fear is real. Very real. While being aware of your surroundings and cultural situations is important, there is also a level where I will unapologetically jump into the world and live my life.
My husband is not nearly as adventurous as I, he will not leave the country without me, but it doesn’t hold him back because he’s happy being a homebody. It doesn’t hold me back because he doesn’t expect that I stay. I will continue to travel and embrace my existence, with or without him. Because I can’t wait around for someone else to permit me to have my best life.
So I encourage all of you, if you can, to get out and be by yourself. Explore the world, embrace your life, see new things, eat new food. Don’t be afraid.
Also, the best thing about being a solo traveler is that you are forced to make friends, forced to meet new people, and you will and they will continue to be inspiring voices and people as you traverse the world.