Advice for a Solo Woman Wanderlust Wanna-be
I was recently asked for advice about traveling alone by a young lady whom I've never met. She had recently come out of a long term relationship and all the adventures she had planned in the past – whether in fantasies for the future or having been put to action – had all been with the company of her ex. Now, feeling like a piece of her has been taken away, she has found her wanderlust that she once had has somehow gotten lost in the break up. Her confidence in her abilities to travel alone – not only because of the fear of being a young woman alone, but more debilitating being the fear of possibly not enjoying traveling alone – keeps her from venturing out at all. She longs to get that sense of adventure back, but is worried that it might have gotten taken away with the ex.
As far as the survivalist instinct in all young women, which causes them to be afraid of traveling alone; I personally – as well as every other badass solo traveling woman I've ever met – have had nothing but assistance and kindness from strangers when on the road alone. In fact, strangers are more willing to want to protect you rather than exploit you when you're a young lady alone. It's when women are with their male counter parts that strangers tend to be more stand-offish and willing to ask for money. Fear is something that you have to overcome and respect. You can't ignore it because it's often what keeps you out of bad scenarios like riding alone at night; but you also cannot let it consume you or you'll never leave home. But the most important part about traveling alone is not exactly knowing what to expect when you hit the road, because let's face it, you'll never know what to expect; it's knowing how to live with yourself and love your alone time once you've stepped out into the world without a man.
The best way to discover who you are is by traveling alone and it's the best advice I can give someone who hasn't been in solely their own company for a long time. It will test you and give you the perspective on life that you are searching for.
And traveling alone doesn't mean you have to be a social butterfly in order to really enjoy and interact with the world. Sometimes I find that just being an observer – like a fly on a wall – allows my respect for life to mold, enabling me to constantly find a reason to smile from all the things that might otherwise frustrate us or even go unnoticed.
This doesn't mean you have to be a cold bitch to everyone you meet; it just means you don't have to project yourself out to the world in order to reap its benefits. A simple smile could be the only connection you need for two strangers to feel completely fulfilled by a moment. And at this time in life, you don't need to meet people; you need to learn to be alone. Don't worry, you'll probably meet people whether you want to or not, and they'll probably be the most wonderful people you'll ever see smile. But you won't truly get to know your limits, desires, strengths, and struggles until you travel alone.
I know it can be hard to find the motivation to travel alone. You can come up with a hundred excuses if you allow yourself to. That's why it can be good to start small. You first solo adventure doesn't have to be a solo motorcycle ride across Tanzania; it can just be an alternate route home from work. Take the long way to the grocery store that maybe you haven't been down yet. Take an extra hour to park next to that field you always pass. Walk across it and find what it's truly made of. These experiences will allow you to discover something new about yourself while you explore something new to your world. You start to learn how you react to the world without the distraction of another persons presence and sometimes their judgment. This is an important moment to have. It's the beginning of learning to enjoy your own company and love yourself.
When you're single is truly the best time to travel. Even if you don't have the distraction of a boyfriend traveling with you – which I'm not knocking and is a totally different perspective gained with this experience and wonderful all its own – you still have an attachment to someone who will be on your mind with every decision you make while on your trip. Alone, your mind is on your adventure and what you can experience rather than your experience with or for someone else.
It's funny because I have the opposite problem. I have trouble being with someone because I love traveling alone so much. It's hard for me to allow them into my experiences; to allow someone else to take the reigns from time to time. It's even harder when I want to take off but the time-frame isn't just up to me anymore. These are things that I'm learning. I have to discover how to wait and travel with a man whom I love, and if anybody has advice for me I'd love the piece of mind.
But in regards to all of us: it's time to take the road less traveled, specifically, the road less traveled by you. The world has been walked over and again, there are hardly any roads not traveled; but there are plenty of places that can still teach you so much about yourself and your place in this world.