Travelling alone around the world (regardless of your age or gender) is a hugely brave and life-defining thing to do. It takes an obscene amount of courage and every individual journey is as wonderful as it is challenging.
However the very act of travelling alone holds much more weight for women because the dangers of travelling alone are generally more considerable. It is the vulnerability of travelling alone that deters many young women from taking the leap themselves and unfortunately, most of us still live in a world where women are likely to become the victims of crime, the reality of which can happen in our homes and neighbourhoods so naturally the thought of taking that risk thousands of miles away from home may feel like one not worth taking.
Why then, despite all of these potential threats and heeds of warning do women continue to travel solo?
There are countless reasons as to why so many women travel by themselves; to heal a broken heart, to work through a life crisis, and often it’s because our lives have become stagnant and we need an injection of vitality into our otherwise normal lives. But through all of that there is a desire to assert our selves in a world that is constantly telling us no.
“No, you can’t do that job.”
“No, you can’t wear that, you’ll attract the wrong attention.”
“No, it’s not safe for you travel there as a woman.”
It’s this fear of the unknown and the rhetoric of warnings that propel women to travel alone anyway. It gives women freedom above all else; freedom to slow down, enjoy the view and breathe the air. Freedom to prioritize yourself above anyone else. Freedom to live every day on your own terms; you’re not bound by anyone or anything, giving you room to address your own needs. Travelling alone gives you the space to explore your sensory pleasures; to eat and indulge, love voraciously, to experience culture through a different lense and to feel the weightlessness and empowerment that comes with the territory of travelling solo. It gives you the gift of choice – every decision you make is yours and the path you take is yours alone. This kind of individualism may feel daunting and overwhelming, but it teaches you how to be comfortable in your aloneness, and you will return from a solo trip feeling more confident in yourself as a woman. There will be no obstacle you can’t overcome and no mountain too high for you to climb, and it’ll encourage you to become the most fierce and independent versions of yourself.
I reached out to some of the amazing and strong women who I’ve met on my travels and during my early 20s to get their insight into solo travel; why they do it, what they’ve learned about themselves and why they would never change their experiences for the world. So if any woman (young or old) out there need inpiration to take that leap and book a solo trip, here they are:
“Yes, I will always do it again and will keep doing this for as long as I want. Travelling alone taught me the most in life so far and how to love and accept myself. I developed a peace for life in the process and made mindset changes that will never leave me. That is the best decision I ever made in life.”Sophia
“I think the best thing is the freedom and that you don’t depend on anyone, you can change your plans easily; if you feel like staying the whole day in bed you can do it or if you suddenly decide to join someone and spontaneously go somewhere else – you can. The best advice is to be open minded and not afraid of some difficulties. Shit happens and yes there are some bad people out there, but the amount of amazing people you meet on your way is so much bigger. Stay in hostels, talk to everyone and have the time of your life!Ksenia
“I love that travelling alone challenges me in so many ways and gets me out of my comfort zone. It really helped me with becoming more confident around other people and accepting myself just the way I am. In the last nine months I learned to listen to my body and soul, and to only listen to the things that make me happy, and that anything is possible if I only set my mind to it. As scary as travelling alone as a young woman sounds, I would never have had such amazing experiences nor met so many great people if I hadn’t gone alone and I will definitely not stop exploring the world anytime soon. I am happy that I’m not this shy and insecure girl anymore, but an independent, self-loving woman. I have friends in every part of the world now and being aware of what I have achieved in these past months and what challenges I have mastered makes me incredibly proud of myself and I am really looking forward to my future travels.”Anna
“My time in Japan was more than just exploring a beautiful country. I wasn’t just walking through foreign places, I was exploring parts of myself that I’d never allowed to surface before. My self-assurance grew, my independence and my ability to live life at a day’s notice, rather than a meticulously planned year in advance. It awakened a love for travel, for creating bonds with other people i’d have never met otherwise, for learning new languages and, perhaps most pertinently, I began to love who I was, what I would become and what I had to offer others.”Lauren
“Solo travelling made me more confident – before doing it I would have felt very self-conscious sitting alone in a restaurant or just going up to a group of people and introducing myself… It is one of the most freeing experiences you can have as a woman. Advice for other women wanting to do the same: sadly there are more dangers that statistically affect women while travelling solo than men but it’s such a freeing experience so go with the flow! Also don’t put pressure on yourself to have fun all the time. Instagram makes it look like solo travelling is all rainbows and smiles but there are some real challenges and there are days where you won’t want to go out and explore. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – you’re there for you and if one day you want to stay in bed – that’s okay!Faye
So what are you waiting for?!
Sadly this sort of freedom doesn’t extend to women everywhere, many women are still fighting for basic equality – so if you are in a privileged position where you have to power to travel wherever you want, I urge you to seize that opportunity. Stop waiting around for the right person to do it with and go out and discover just how life-affirming and incredible it is to do it on your own. You’ll discover what you’re made of, make memories and friends for life and really come to understand who you are as an individual and your power as a woman.
I know travel is limited right now in this pandemic, but I hope this blog gives you some food for thought and encourages you to start planning your own solo trip when the world resembles some level of normality and you can catch a flight again! In the meantime, why not take a short trip in your own country? It is the best way to ease yourself into travelling alone. Visit a new city, go on a multi-day hike, live like a hermit for a few days in a small cottage somewhere in the middle of nowhere, embrace yourself and focus on you. Be selfish – you’ve earned it.
I have been travelling solo around the world since March 2019. Check out my Instagram @jessicamaygreen below, I’m happy to answer any questions or have a chat with like-minded people!