As a female solo traveler I often get asked – “Why would you want to go there alone?” or “Aren’t you scared?”. The answer is no. From an outsiders perspective, I can understand the thought and worry that goes along with a Caucasian female alone in a previous war-torn country like Myanmar or Cambodia. Generally, the ones asking me this most likely have never left their home country and it’s this unknown that they fear. They aren’t able to relate to these countries and have no close comparisons. For me it’s the opposite, I thrive on the unknown. I’m fascinated by new people and places, new cultures and ways of life.
I tend to be very comfortable alone, although I wasn’t always this way. It’s something that has developed in me over the years traveling and I’m so grateful for it. If you were to tell me even five years ago that I would be completely content and happy to take myself out for a coffee or dinner I would have never believed it. Back then, I would never be caught dead out alone. I was constantly surrounded by friends and always in large groups. Now, I thoroughly enjoy my alone time and ultimately my own company. I find it very relaxing. I can go anywhere I want to go, do anything I want to do, or eat anything I want to eat without trying to accommodate everyone else’s needs or preferences. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy being surrounded by people although it’s also nice to have a balance. When traveling, for months or even years on end I think this is a crucial aspect that you will eventually learn. When you’re continuously swarmed by people and almost herded like cattle on the move, in hostels, on buses, packed temples, or any sought after tourist destination you’ll truly learn to appreciate your alone time.
When you’re a female solo traveler, especially in third world countries you’re never really alone… only if you want to be. When you arrive to a new country and are in unknown territory, for the most part, there’s always an unspoken rule of fellow travelers that we are there for one another; a friendly smile, directions, recommendations, or what to avoid. It could also mean making new travel companions and someone to split expenses with; taxi’s, accommodation, etc. In my experience, many of these companions that I’ve met along the way have turned into some of the greatest friendships who I continue to remain in touch with. When you meet others while traveling there’s a different connection you establish. It’s different than meeting people back home, there is an instant bond with like-minded people who are doing the same things you enjoy doing. A travelers time is limited, which most often means your time together is limited – making the most of your time together makes all the difference. There is no past, no future, only the present so be sure to take advantage of it and the people that come into your life!
My first solo experience was the beginning of 2014 when I packed up my life and moved to Australia with no idea and no expectations. From this experience, I have met some of the most beautiful souls this world has to offer and they would have never come into my life if I hadn’t been alone. If you travel with a group of friends or even one other, you tend to always stick with them especially if you’re new to the traveling world. These friends are your comfort zone and why leave it when you have it? Even though you meet people in hostels or bars, it’s not the same as if you were alone in a new city, let alone a new country. When you put yourself out of your comfort zone and are vulnerable to new places and situations you are pushed to overcome anything you allow yourself to.
There’s something blissfully magical about arriving to a new country for the first time; the smells, tastes, touch, overwhelming emotions of excitement. There are no limits or boundaries. You have no past or future – you are simply living in that moment, and that moment only. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? With saying this, everyone has their own way or style when traveling, this happens to be mine and it won’t work for everyone. To each their own – whichever works best for you where you’re able to experience the most rewarding results. BUT, you will never know until you try it! You may be surprised by yourself and what you’re capable of.
Now, having done both methods of travel: solo or with friends. I’m a big fan of both while keeping the balance. Either travel to a new place alone then see what people come into my life or traveling with one or two others who I know I can travel with while being open to doing different things independently. Find your balance, if you haven’t given solo traveling a shot I would recommend it to anyone, the rewards are unparalleled.
⋆All photos used are with friends I’ve met along the way.