What If You Traveled Alone?
As a woman, you are raised, in many parts of the world, to live for others, sometimes please them and serve them at the expense of your own happiness or wellbeing. Choosing to work, save up money and spend every coin on your own pleasure and growth is a choice to live for solely yourself, even if it’s for 5 days that year. Waking up in another town, city or country altogether alone teaches you things about your abilities and true happiness more than any other object anyone can gift you, or you can gift yourself. A plane ticket or sometimes a simple bus ticket can take you on a long journey of self-discovery, during a time when you’re busy looking for a partner to see things in you or searching for a best friend that will understand you. How much do you know yourself?
You’re not a boss on a work trip. You’re not a mother on a family vacation. You’re not a wife on a honeymoon. You stop being a girlfriend, a mom, a best friend, a sister…
You are just a woman and it’s refreshing to be treated as who you are, in relation to no one but your own true self. There is nothing more liberating than the feeling of living for you only, discovering a new place, having time to be freely fascinated by all that is around you and taking it all in at your individual pace. Being genuinely mindful of the details around you, especially those of a new world, invites you to internalize the discovery and let your heart wander however it desires, almost always going back to learn new feelings about yourself, your body and your senses that suddenly feel more alive when your only focus is you.
I am by no means negating the fun and importance of a trip with friends, family or loved ones. Sharing moments with others makes the memory more enjoyable, and the pictures remain to remind two or more travelers of their experience of a new country through their bonding. Yet traveling solo, whether as a teenager, an adult, regardless of your gender or background is a priceless adventure that allows you to grow. You’ve probably heard that phrase a million times. Count this as a million and one, because although cheesy, it can’t get any truer. It is particularly challenging for women, in a world that restricts movement, a world that tells women the specific places she could exist in safely, a world that tells her that her emotions are excessive and a sign of weakness, a world that underestimates her physical and mental capacities.
However, emotions bring you closer to other people you meet along the way. They allow you to connect with nature or live out the hate-love relationship of a new noisy beautiful city. Challenging yourself to go against where you’re meant to go, told to go or asked to go fills your soul with an indestructible energy. Fear may be part of the equation, possibly one of the best parts, if you don’t let it stop you from swimming farther, traveling longer, hiking higher, waking up earlier, eating more crazy food.
Besides self-discovery, traveling alone means more than your own company, but traveling with the company of the entire world, the possibility of making friends in the most unexpected places. When you’re alone, you will value any conversation with a person, especially a local, a merchant or a little kid walking to school. You will have the time to catch all the smiles and hello’s and give them back. When you’re traveling with your group of friends or lover, you focus on them and on you together experiencing a new place. Your conversations become mostly directed to them. You might meet strangers along the way with whom you will talk, but possibly half as long as you would when you’re completely by yourself, craving a conversation that will fill you with excitement. Meeting strangers simply becomes more rewarding and fulfilling.
But what if you get lost, wouldn’t you start crying? What if you get harassed, wouldn’t that stop you from having fun? What if you feel too weak to hike up the full trail? What if you get your period? What if you miss your family? What if you get bored?
You will hear endless “what if’s” thrown at you that might discourage you to go. But crying is okay if you’re frustrated. Soon enough you’ll get found. Harassment can happen anywhere and in fact does happen everywhere, but should never stop you from being where you want to be. When you want to hike a mountain, your mind does more work than your body. No one can tell you your limits except yourself. You may get your period. You may miss your family. You may have times when it gets a little challenging. But as women we know one thing, it is to pick ourselves up and continue.
Next time you’re thinking of following your travel dreams, think to yourself:
What if you have too much fun by yourself and experience something too special for words?