Today I would love to touch on a topic that is very dear to me and something that has completely changed me as a person. In honor of International Women’s day, I want to discuss solo travel as a woman and how it has positively impacted me.
When I started traveling in 2016, I could not do it alone, I always traveled with a companion because I felt it was the only thing to do. The idea of going to destinations around the world sounded ridiculous to me no matter how safe. I always thought about who would keep me company, who I would talk to and who would help with taking my pictures. I am generally a very shy and awkward person (especially around new people) and I know people find this hard to believe because of my presence on social media but it is true. I rarely start conversations with strangers and when I am talking to a new person I don’t make eye contact.
As a result of this, traveling with someone I knew allowed me to stay in a bubble and it made me happy because I did not necessarily need to interact with anyone if I didn’t have to.
This part of me changed when I took the leap and decided to travel solo in May 2017. I visited Peru as a solo traveler because my travel companion could not get time off work and I had travel credits from United Airlines that was expiring and I had to use it. I booked the flight and I also booked a group tour for the duration of my travels. I visited Cusco, Peru which is a huge city and there are SO many beautiful archaeological sites around the city (think Machu Picchu). Booking a group tour was the best way to see as much as I wanted and I became worried about how I would interact with people on the tour.
Since I was alone, I was forced to talk to people, make friends with people and I became trip buddies with a lot of travelers that I met on that trip. Solo travel has changed my life in the following ways:
- I am more outspoken and I am able to strike a conversation with just anyone. This is a very helpful skill which I have also applied for networking purposes. The ability to hold and carry a conversation goes a long way when meeting new people, exchanging ideas and discussing interests.
- I am no longer afraid of doing things alone. I used to be scared of eating alone, traveling alone, shopping alone, etc. but all that changed when I started traveling solo. I was scared because of the public perception. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of people staring at me and wondering why I was doing things alone. In reality, people don’t pay that much attention. I actually look forward to doing things by myself because I am able to take “me” time.
- Due to the large number of people I have met as a solo traveler, I have been exposed to different cultures and different lifestyles. The world is truly a big place and people live in ways that we think we cannot survive in till we are exposed to it. Solo travel has put me in several situations which has challenged my thinking on what is normal, and it has also made me appreciate the differences in cultures and lifestyles.
- I have learned a lot from the people I have met on the road. There is always a chance for education directly or indirectly and meeting people has opened me up to this. Locals especially are always willing to share information about their culture and they are willing to teach. I have had some of the most intelligent and insightful conversations with locals and these types of discussions make me appreciate the world more.
- I was not aware of the fact that many people read- like A LOT! Sometimes I have to pass time in an airport, or I might even have a slow day in a country where I am doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. Reading makes the time go by faster. It does not only have to be novels, it could be magazines, city guides, online articles, and the list goes on. Reading is not only educational but books are a great companion to have when necessary.