Let me guess, you think it’s weird that I travel the world alone. You aren’t the only one with those sentiments.
When I tell people that I travel the world solo, their first reactions are always negative questions or comments:
“Don’t go there, Valerie. You’ll be kidnapped!”
I haven’t been kidnapped or put in harm’s way, because I am smart and I do my research and stay out of bad situations.
“It’s so weird that you travel alone. Aren’t you bored and lonely?”
No, I’m not bored and lonely traveling alone; I enjoy meeting new people and having time to reflect.
“Haven’t you ever seen the movie ‘Taken’?”
Yes, I’ve seen “Taken.” I thought it was a little overly dramatic, didn’t you?
“Wouldn’t you rather go to Paris with someone you love?”
Yes, it would be nice to travel with someone I love; I’ll let you know when I find someone who can keep up with me.
“What do your parents think of all of this, don’t they worry?”
Yes, my parents worry about me because they care, but they don’t worry much because they know I am a strong, capable woman who can take care of herself.
To ask an even more important question, should a woman be traveling the world alone? The answer is yes, every woman should travel solo at least once. Solo travel is so crucial for me as a woman for many more reasons than I could ever count.
I didn’t set out to start traveling the world alone, it happened because I got tired of waiting on indecisive and unreliable friends. If I didn’t go alone, I wouldn’t have been to a fraction of the places I have been to. If I had a dollar for all of times I have passed up a travel opportunity because I waited on someone else, I would easily have enough for a flight to... anywhere, really. I have seen almost every wonder of the modern world, I have traveled to places with civil unrest and witnessed history, I have dined with locals and made friends around the world, while my friends sat at home, drank their Starbucks and went to bars or house parties.
When you travel alone you are also more open to different experiences and more chance encounters. The friends you meet traveling bring a different and refreshing prospective to your life, and make you a better more tolerant, educated individual by default. To become a strong woman, you also need to learn to be alone. Being alone with your thoughts can be good for you. It’s amazing what you discover you like and dislike when you don’t have others around to influence your decision making process.
Traveling alone, exploring new places and experiencing new cultures will help you to reassess your own values, priorities and beliefs. You will get rid of old values and insert something better. That’s called broadening your horizons.
Most importantly, solo travel builds confidence. Traveling alone forces you to step outside of you circle of comfort. It forces you to think on your feet and make important decisions. I feel incredible knowing that I am capable of navigating the world on my own. I revel in succeeding in places where others warn me not to go as a female solo traveler. I love to prove them wrong. I am smart; I know how to stay safe. Traveling alone has made me realize all the incredible things about myself, like my natural ability to make friends, my ability to take care of myself, and that I have an incredible sense of direction. When I come home, all of that self-realization turns into a whole lot of confidence, and that is a beautiful thing. What woman doesn’t need more confidence while getting through her daily life?
So, next time you are about to make a negative comment and discourage a woman from traveling alone because you overreact about her safety, think of all of the wonderful things you would be taking from her if you didn’t encourage her to go. Encourage all of your female friends to travel solo, and they too will have broader minds, become more interesting loving people, and most importantly become strong confident women.
Doesn’t this world need more of that?
This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post, May 13 2016