What is it like to be a female solo traveller?
Before I went travelling, people would ask me in horror… "aren’t you scared to travel on your own?" In all honestly, when I made the decision to go backpacking alone, it hadn’t actually crossed my mind as to whether it was safe or not. I just knew I wanted to go and see the world and I couldn’t sit around any longer to wait for a travel buddy to come along. It quickly dawned on me, that other people were more worried about this than I was and that was probably a good thing because had I also had that same fear, I may have never gotten on that plane!
Being a female on the road
The truth is travelling alone is so fulfilling, both spiritually and mentally. It is the time in your life where you can really learn about who you are and what you want from your life, without the influences from the people and places that you have become so familiar with.
It is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself in a fresh new way.
We all become almost robotic in our lives, we like the stability of familiarity and the unknown scares us.
"When you move away from the environment that you have always known and taken yourself away from all of the people and places that you have become comfortable existing in, you find yourself stripped back and it's easier to learn who you are now, without the familiarities and influences of your past." Chloe Gosiewski
Travelling alone smashes through those secure walls and opens up a whole new horizon of endless possibilities and amazing new friends.
Since I began travelling solo, the most common question I have been asked is – "Wasn’t it dangerous for a young woman like you to be travelling alone? Especially being blonde!"
Now firstly, I have to give some credit to my brownies and gingers out there and say that us blondes don’t really have all the fun. Secondly, there is still a huge fear amongst people about backpacker life and the vulnerability of being a female, which quite frankly, is a load of old tosh. It is still a common opinion for the many, that backpacking is a dangerous way to live and should be avoided at all costs.
I had someone say to me recently... “I heard that you shouldn’t go backpacking because people in other countries like to kidnap and murder you.”
To be clear, there are raving lunatics in every country, including your own and believe it or not, not everyone wants you dead. In fact, some of the most caring and kind people I have ever met, are from these so-called ‘unsafe’ places that you should not visit. There is no denying that as a backpacker, whether you are alone or in a group, you should take extra care of your safety and wellbeing, but to avoid it completely on the basis that every other country aside from yours is unsafe is ludacris.
In the majority of the cases where you hear something bad happening, like a mugging for example; the story usually starts with something like... I was drunk at 5 am on an airstrip, by myself. I have to say, if I end up drunk in a questionable part of London at 5 am, then I am likely to suffer the same fate.
I had spoken to a woman who had been approached on a beach, she was walking alone at around midnight when a man tried to grab her, she dropped her phone and ran. Ladies, please do not walk around late at night on your own unless you have no other choice.
I get that this can sometimes be easier said than done, I have walked along a beach at 2 am alone and it was really scary. I was in Caye Caulker – Belize and I had split up from a friend who was staying at a different hostel. The front of my hostel was locked up and I had to walk back down the road and take a side road along the beach to enter through the hostels rear entrance. I power walked and hoped for the best. I was fine but that is the kind of situation you need to avoid putting yourself in if you can.
Travelling alone doesn’t really mean you are all by yourself. In fact, you are always meeting new people. You move from hostel to hostel, sometimes with friends you met at the last place and sometimes you make new ones upon arriving. But, here is the beauty in it. If you want to be alone, you can be and you may find you want to be because you grow to enjoy quality time with you!
I happen to really like myself and don’t mind spending a day or two with me. After I am done giving my needy self some me attention, I walk into a dorm room and strike up a conversation with the guy or girl in the bunk above me, and just like that, I am no longer alone.
Even the shyest of people are forced to crawl out of their shell and make new friends and by forced, I really mean, a loving and gentle push. (Please don’t be scared, you’ll be fine, I promise!) You will meet other backpackers who will help you if you need it.
One of my first friends that I met on my very first solo trip was Emily, an awesome chic from LA who was also travelling alone.
I talk about her a lot, even now because she was an inspiration to me when I was starting out and fell in love with her beautiful spirit.
She walked into the hostel in Panama City and announced that her name was Emily and it was her birthday! I jumped up, so excited by her enthusiasm and immediately suggested birthday drinks.
Emily offered advice and friendship to me, right at the beginning when I was nervous and apprehensive, she became the first in a long line of girls that ‘had my back’ on the road! Shout out to Emily wherever you are now! Nothing but love and respect from me to you, forever!
So, I urge you to be open-minded and not simply see solo travelling as a dangerous thing to do and start encouraging each other to follow our dreams. Backpackers are a family and whether you go at it by yourself or with a pal, I promise, you will be embraced and welcomed into special bonds between brothers and sisters in the travelling community.
Happy travels & be safe! x