Last week I met one of my oldest friends who had just discovered my blog, we were talking about different subjects then somewhere in the conversation she told me: “It has to be kind of boring and dangerous to travel alone most of the time right?”, translated in arabic it’s something like: “o katsafri bouhdek, makatkhafich?” Actually, It wasn’t the first time I had people asking me if I’m not afraid to go to Africa alone, and weather I’ll have “more fun” if I had a travel buddy, and this got me thinking, why is there such a fear and apprehension from solo traveling?
For some people the idea of travelling alone is the stuff dreams are made of (I’m one of those people). You get time alone with no one’s thoughts but your own, exploring cities on your own time, freedom to chat to whoever you like – the list is endless. But for others, the thought of going solo is more of a nightmare, as many are put off for fear of being alone or concerns over their safety.
For me it’s beyond the freedom of the places and the fact that you get to organize your trip the way you want, without having to ask the other person if she/he is interested to do the stuff you want to do (It’s kind a nice feeling though!), It’s more about going out there by yourself and being okay with it, it’s about taking the time to know your limits, and bunch of other reasons that I’m listing below (can’t help it I love making lists!):
- Meet people. Ironic isn’t it? But trust me when you’re solo travelling you’re definitely not going to talk to yourself the whole time, you’re actually going to meet people even more than travelling on your own. Sometimes people are just curious to see that girl chilling alone in that restaurant with her backpack, camera and scarf, after couple of questions (just to make sure that you’re not going to blow anything up… you know) they end up inviting you to their table and tell you all about their Fez trip and how much they loved it. (Note from a Moroccan to the world: there are other awesome places in Morocco other than Fez. Thank you.)
- Get pulled (more like catapulted) out of your comfort zone. This is a big one, especially when it’s the first time you travel alone. It’s about pushing yourself socially and going towards people. It’s about forcing yourself to speak the language of the locals (Breaking news: they lied not everybody speaks English!). Also and most importantly, it’s about being humble to foreigners in your own country ; you help them, make them feel at home because that’s exactly what you needed when you traveled alone.
- Grow your self-confidence and feel a great sense of achievement. I grew up being this shy-awkward-introvert kind of girls in high school, of course going to college helped a lot, but I still needed that big break that would definitely put me in situation where I will HAVE to put myself out there on my own and face the unknown (literally), and that was solo travelling. If someone told me 5 years ago that it will become natural for me to talk to strangers in a foreign country, I’d be like: “yeah right! Why not finding prince charming since we’re listing impossible stuff?”
- Gives you the space & time to think and deal with your own mess: Most of us have some old stuff that we push to the deepest parts of our mind while we’re busy trying to be normal, but every now and then something triggers a thought or a memory and we realize that there’s some unfinished business. Name one person who doesn’t have self-doubts or emotional baggage to get rid of, cause I want to know their secret! Time by yourself can give you a gorgeous background to confront some of that crap, don’t spent too much time lost in your thoughts though, it might just drive you crazy 😉
- And finally, it gave me something to write about: Writing is something I’ve been putting off like forever, and one of the things I really believe in is that you should “write what you know and feel”, that’s probably why I failed when I tried writing about alien invasion (true story, I still have my manuscript!) Travelling overwhelms you with bunch of things to know but most importantly things to feel, and it personally gave me lots of stories to share 🙂
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that solo travel is better than travelling with people, as you get to have memories together, you can go to the bathroom without having to drag your backpack with you, and particularly as a female you have less chances to get approached by some weirdos. But here is my point: should you travel with a minimum of awareness and care about your surroundings? Yes sure. But should you be in constant fear that your trip will turn into a horror scene from Taken? Of course not…For me at least.
cheers to the places we yet have to go to!