It seems that every time I travel somewhere and have my usual Instagram posting, there is that one person who appears in my inbox asking the question, “are you traveling alone?”, followed by “please be careful, it isn’t safe to travel alone.”
Welp! Thanks for the concern as there may be some truth to that, but I learned that with being cautious and alert, it can be safe and fun to travel alone. I don’t just pick up my bags and fly somewhere. I cautiously plan every detail of a trip, so that I can be as safe as possible and still enjoy my adventures. But do believe when I tell you this: you don’t have to travel outside your city to be unsafe or in great danger. I know this first hand, but that will be a story for another time.
This time around, my adventure seeking-self, explored the Middle East and Europe. You can count Asia in, if taking a boat in Turkey, across the Bosphorus Straight counts to you.
Back in July of 2018, the same thoughts kept popping in my head, “take a big trip into the Middle East”; although just saying that can sound scary because of all the things we hear on the news, I wanted to take that chance and I did. But this post is not about that trip; that will come soon! This is about being a solo traveler.
Why am I a solo traveler? To answer this question better, I can tell you that it would be great to have a life partner to travel with. To indulge in different cultures together, eat all the different foods together, take each other’s pictures and kindly ask strangers to take our pictures. However, that is not my life and I haven’t been fortunate enough to find a friend I am compatible with to travel. Believe me, just because you are friends with someone it doesn’t mean you are good travel buddies. I am the type of person who enjoys waking up super early to beat the crowds; the type of person who will walk from sunrise to sunset without breaks and unfortunately, very few share this same sentiment when it comes to vacations. Although, I will admit, that if I take trips to the beach, I will sleep in late and completely relax.
Traveling alone, especially as a woman, is very empowering. It gives me the freedom to really enjoy time to myself, to make my own decisions and to really show the world that women are capable of so many things. It has given me a new outlook on life. I have always been very independent, and this only solidifies this. Of course, I have learned so many things while traveling solo, like nights at the hotel can be lonely. Not having anyone to be like “look” to can be frustrating. But specially, having to set timers on your camera so you are not always asking strangers to take your pictures can become annoying. Regardless of these sometime feelings, the experiences that I have lived over trump all these other temporary feelings.
I want to encourage all women to at least travel alone once in their life time. You don’t have to go to a far-away country. You can even travel within the U.S., but to experience adventures on your own will provide you with a different kind of self-growth and self-fulfillment.
If you do decide to travel alone, there are many precautions you can take. Here are some which I find to be very important and have aided me in my alone travels.
- Do your homework on the area you are traveling to. Read blogs about the area, read websites such as Trip Advisors, people will post reviews on these sites which are very helpful.
- Pay a little more but stay in a hotel that is in a better part of the city. Read reviews on the hotel. What are others saying about it? Have there been incidents of crimes or robberies reported on these hotels or nearby.
- I always goggle to see if Uber exists in the places I travel to and how safe would it be to utilize their services in a foreign place.
- Find out if the hotel you are staying in offers shuttle services (even if it’s just airport pick-up and drop off).
- Never tell anyone at the hotel you are staying-in, that you are traveling alone. My story is that I have a friend who lives in that city and another friend who is traveling with me but staying in a neighbor hotel (find one close to where you are staying).
- Always carry important information with you, such as: where the nearest U.S. embassy is in relation to your hotel or area where you are visiting.
- If you lose your cell phone or it gets stolen, do you know anyone’s phone number by heart? I made a point to email myself the most important phone numbers and email addresses (although social media is now the easiest way to communicate, remember that not everyone checks their messages consistently).
- Make sure you have travel insurance, it will come handy (trust me on this).
- Guard your passport like it was gold!
- Use your common sense and gut instinct; have fun but be alert at all times.
I would lie to you if I tell you that I have never felt nervous about traveling solo. Of course I have. Specially if I don’t speak the native language, but once I get to my destination, I know that I have to make the best out of my trip and become that culture-seeker that always wants to know the history, the favorite foods, favorite drinks. I want to take it all in! Traveling solo allows me to make my own itinerary, my own decisions! So far I have no regrets.
I will begin telling you all about my most recent adventure in my next blog.
GO OUT & DISCOVER THE WORLD!