In my short time as a traveller and backpacker, I’ve often come across criticism from friends, family, and strangers about why I travel solo or why I travel at all and as much as I do. Usually, the concern or criticism isn’t just about me travelling in general, it often comes down to the fact that I am a woman and I am a woman travelling alone.
Considering the many attacks on women travellers around the world in the past, it’s understandable that people are concerned. These news stories only reinforce the mindset that international travel is dangerous and scary, but even more so if you’re a woman alone in a foreign country.
Solo male travellers are admired for their bravery and adventurous personality, and they’re encouraged to travel alone at a young age. Solo female travellers, however, are often met with judgment, concerned tones, and raised eyebrows. But why? why is it normal to not judge male solo travellers but it’s normal to judge solo woman travellers. Why can’t a solo woman travelling the world be normalized?
It goes without saying there is always a risk in travel, whether you are male or female, alone or with a group, but many times when something happens to a woman when she is travelling she is blamed for the incident and questioned for her motives of travelling solo to that specific country in the first place. You should never let other people’s opinions over gender roles dictate what you do in your life or where you should go.
Here are some reasons for travelling alone as a woman is pretty freaking spectacular.
People will look out for you
I’ll be honest. There have been a few times where I second-guessed myself while backpacking, wondering if I would be safe or if there would be any chance of me being harassed or attacked. A few days before my first solo backpacking experience I was starting to doubt myself, wondering why I wanted to embark on something so crazy and wondering if I was going to regret my decision.
Instead, that first experience and every experience travelling alone since then have been nothing short of a surprise at how concerned locals and other travellers have been for my well being. People seem to take extra care of me because I am a woman alone, making sure I have a taxi or ride back to my hostel at night, putting me in touch with trusted friends who have been to those countries or who live there to ensure my journey is smooth. It always feels good to have that added security that people are looking out for you.
You’ll focus more on the destination.
When travelling alone, the lack of familiar people to interact with forces you to engage much more directly with your surroundings—on where you are rather than who you’re with. This is probably why many travellers report more vivid memories from solo trips; their attention is absolutely focused on their surroundings.
Travelling alone gives you time to reflect
Solo trips offer you space to evaluate all the big things (and little things) in your life.
The time and space that travelling solo offers you while going from one place to the next allows your mind to wander. You can’t help but begin to think about your life, what you’ve accomplished, what you want to achieve and what you’re grateful for, giving you a whole new perspective on life.
It teaches you to enjoy the present
I used to always think of the future, I was always thinking what’s next? what am I doing tomorrow? what’s my plan for next week?
Since I started backpacking solo I found myself really enjoying the present and not wanting it to end. I live in the now not later, because I don’t want to miss a thing and I want to embrace everything that is happening right now in my life.
It’s easier to stay on budget
If travelling in a group, it is extremely hard to stay within everyone’s budget. we all have different money priorities, but if you are solo, you can set your own budget and you have wiggle room if you decide to treat yourself. It’s your budget and you can change it to fit your style of travel.
You learn to love some time alone
But what am I to do by myself? There’s a common belief that travelling on your own may be really boring, in reality, it’s quite the opposite.
Jumping on a solo trip away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life is a rare occurrence, it’s a time in which you reconnect with yourself. How you spend your time defines you as a person, it’s as simple as knowing whether you prefer history museums or kayaking, minimalist coffee spots to cozy restaurants, or city skyscrapers to quiet outback towns. It’s all about getting to know more about who you are and what you enjoy
Collect friends from all over the world
You’d be surprised at how friendly other solo travellers are, there’s a mutual feeling of we’re all in the same boat and solo, so even the shiest person can acquire a friend or two over the course of a trip.
You can bump into new friendships while just sitting in your hostel bed and simply saying ‘hey, where are you from?’. Simply start a conversation, then maybe you have yourself someone to go grab food or someone to go see a monument with you. It’s that simple.
Do whatever you want too, whenever you want too
Certainly a big perk of a solo trip. You have the choice to just go with the flow or stick to a strict itinerary. Do whatever floats your boat, that could be eating like a pig in Italy (which no one can blame you for), maybe you want to go back to the same island in Thailand you’ve been 3 times before?
You can plan your itinerary as you like without trying to convince everyone to change their travel plans.
Become the master of planning
Travelling alone also means you don’t have anyone else to rely on for train times or basic information, but the time you spend researching the travel times between accommodation and bus station, which route is the quickest and how to get from Bangkok to Koh Lanta will make you the master of planning your travels.
This skill transitions into other fields of life, you’ll find yourself managing your time better both professionally and personally while having a better idea of what is and isn’t worth your time.
You’ll be so happy you did it, alone.
With the combination of the experience, the confidence boost and the sense of achievement you’ll feel more sturdy in your own skin.
Your newfound sense of independence and wanderlust will have you keeping an eye for travel deals, leave you willing to get out of your comfort zone a whole lot more!