Sometimes, when I travel alone people – women and men – tell me that what I’m doing is great, inspiring and admirable. My husband even hears: Your spouse is so brave! You’re not afraid to let her travel the world on her own? And in that moment I would like to say, hey, you can do this, too! Each of us can travel solo!
I would like to say so. I would like to encourage you to try. And probably a few years ago I would have done so. Because a few years ago I used to think naively that if I usually go against the grain and it is quite natural for me (after all, I’m zodiacal Aquarius :P), it means that the whole world doesn’t have problem with it at all. But in the meantime, life threw me between different people. People who have different personalities, different self-esteem and different commitments.
And now, when someone says that’s what I’m doing is amazing and inspiring, I prefer just to say ‘thank you’, because I know that not all of us can and not all of us will try solo traveling. It is likely that some people dreaming of such a journey will give it a try, but for the vast majority dreams will remain just dreams.
I asked some bloggers why not every woman will undertake it, even though deep down she would like to try at least once. Many of these reasons are similar to each other, or even the same.
For example – loneliness. Paradoxically, it’s hard to be lonely during travelling solo. Okay, you get into a plane or a bus alone, but during your journey it’s likely that you’ll meet so many people that the feeling of loneliness may be unknown.
‘I travel alone, but I wouldn’t call myself a solo traveler. Half of the time I end up traveling with someone else. I don’t mind going by myself and have done a couple trips on my own, but I like the companionship of having another person. I see travel as a way of connecting with others – it is after all a big reason why I started writing about my travels – and there is no better way of getting to know someone than traveling with them. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone who understands everything you saw and to reminisce about good memories and laugh over misadventures.’
It seems to me that if we are open to new contacts, we should not have trouble finding a company on the road. Usually, there will be someone who have similar plans as we do, and you can go out somewhere together for a day or two.
‘I am very new at traveling solo, but plan to vamp it up this year as much as my schedule allows. The difficulty, other than limited time, is getting out of my comfort zone. I had many expectations on my first couple trips, thinking that, especially when I didn’t stay with friends, I would make new friends so easily, either through the hostel or through the activities that I was doing. It turns out that wasn’t really the case. I tried to smile and say hello when I could, even if it was fairly uncomfortable for me to do so, as it has historically been for me to make the first move. The hostel’s TV lounge for example was usually filled anywhere between 10% to 50% of people. Most of them were staring at the TV, their phone, or their laptop. There were a couple groups of friends from Europe and Australia, who were the most talkative ones, and latched on to each other, while the rest of us continued to solitarily stare at the TV, our phones, or our laptops. Those groups did not really make much of an effort to speak to anyone else. I was for the most part fine with just exchanging hellos, but I found the dynamic curious, since you keep hearing stories of how people meet at hostels and would party or do their adventures together. Either it was not the most social hostel or it just wasn’t in the cards for me that trip.’
But Ivana is not disheartened and this year she wants to travel even more. Although she is a little bit afraid and hesitant, just because of their gender, age and type of Asian beauty. What’s more, these fears are compounded by doubts of her parents.
Isn’t that true, that sometimes we give up traveling solo or our other dreams just because of the opinion of others? People who do not have experience in what we want to do, and think with stereotypes, but often they’re successful with implanting in us this fear, that later stops us from taking action?
On the other hand, Ivana also mentioned that some people rely too often on the other people’s experience, and they would like to live exactly the same adventure. They are afraid that their experience of a newbie do not provide it and they journey will not work out, so they stay at home.
Is not it true that some people listen too much to others? That they give too much faith to other’s experience, and yet every person has a different life experience. Would not it be better to simply rely on our own intuition instead of listening to Uncle Good Advice? Or turn off all these expectations of the world to us?
Or maybe it’s not about someone’s experience but our own? After all, a trip like this is to leave your comfort zone, familiar and safe environment and entry into this new, unknown world. Doesn’t this world frighten us, the world which we do not know, we don’t know how to move, the world, where we have to learn everything from the beginning?
What’s more, isn’t it escalated by the sense of duty – because we all have some – which we leave at home? Isn’t it common for some of us to think that if even for a moment we leave all these duties, there will be nothing to come back to? Marissa Dookeran from the blog MAD Travel Diaries (follow her on Facebook) refers to this:
‘While some women are now charging forward carving out their own world according to their passion and not what’s expected of them, there are still many who are scared to think outside of the box much less step out of it and travel alone. Many of my readers and friends live vicariously through my travels and are always fascinated at my lifestyle which leaves me to ask them why can’t they do it too? It doesn’t have to be extended travel, it can be a short city break or spa weekend even. Kids? Finances? Job security? Restricted vacation? Mortgage? Fear? Loneliness? Some women don’t travel solo because they are just not confident enough to take that step and do not truly believe in their own capabilities nevermind deep down inside they really want too. They are strong enough to deal with issues at home but when taken out of their familiar it all changes. If only they know that a bit of solo travel can be therapy in so many ways, especially in building their own self confidence, finding themselves, believing they are capable of so much more and that yes, they do have choices.’
I’m thinking now about what Marissa wrote. Are the above-mentioned reasons able to stop us from fulfilling our dreams? I know a lot of people, who don’t make a problem out of the limit of days-off in a year or money, on the contrary – it is simply an argument for them to think and be up to reaching their goals.
Family, children? If I leave them for a week or two, will I be a bad mother because I want to make my dreams come true? Is our society so conservative that if a woman is realizing herself (let’s emphasize that it suits the whole family), she’s immediately judged as the impious, the selfish, the one that is not able to devote to her children?
‘Although I’m a guy, I was raised by a women who always dreamt with meeting new cultures, new places, new people. However, she wasn’t able to do it because she was raising two boys. With my father being away most of my childhood, my mother would always be taking care of my brother and I. In the mid time, she would always be sharing stories of articles or pictures she saw on magazines, and how much she wanted to travel the world. But also, she would share the fear she had of leaving us behind, and not being there for when we needed her. In addition to that, it’s not easy to save up money for traveling when all the income goes to your kids.’
I do not have children yet and I do not know how I will behave when I become a mother. I do not want to judge others and I have no intention of doing so, but I have few questions in my mind. Is the mother, by her love for children, able to opt out of passion, whether the longing for the passion will not be frustrating for her? And if this frustration accumulated during the years, will it not affect the children?
Angel wrote me another email that his mother did not regret that decision because she chose more important priorities. While he is grateful, because no child would be happy to hear that his or her mother left the family for travelling.
On the other hand, I know some people (adulta already who have own lives and families), who admit that they would prefer if their mothers had travelled from time to time. Not “left them,” but if mum had left for a moment all these duties of daily life and made some of her travel dream come true, she would simply happier. As children they couldn’t see or understand it, but now they know that everyone would have benefited from that, if mum fulfilled herself.
It all makes me wonder how much reasons exists, that prevent us from traveling solo? Actually, it does not even need to be traveling, it can be any other passion or dream. Isn’t it true that we are just bombarded with negative information, experiences, and beliefs, and in the end they engrain in our minds?
Or maybe these are just excuses, and the only real reason is self-confidence, or rather lack of it? As written by Marissa – a woman can be a superwoman, the mistress of organization, the perfect housewife within her own four walls, but if you throw her into the unknown terrain, she panics. Maybe a lot of people is afraid of that panic, that they can’t be perfect in a place that may surprise us by every move?
Marissa wrote that solo traveling can be a form of therapy. I write under this idea, especially when it comes to increase self-confidence. Already had wrote about what my solo travel to Sri Lanka gave me, and how it has changed me. Thanks to it I feel great, I know that I can do anything. But if I had not dared to put this first step, the fear of action would paralyze me and dictate how I live. If a woman wants to build her self-confidence, she should take a backpack and go to the end of the world.
I’m curious of your opinion on the subject. Do you know any more reasons that women (and men) do not travel solo? Do you know the stories of people whose life or character has changed since traveling alone? Or maybe you travel solo and you would like to tell others what it gave you? Or maybe you do not agree completely and think that if a woman travels solo and leaves her family, she’s just selfish or simply crazy? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!