At the beginning of the year 2015, I flew from home to Indonesia, not really knowing what to expect from the next months I would spend traveling the world on my own across South-East and Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. I left behind everything I knew to go sleep in houses of people I had never met, discover places I had only heard of and live some of those “once in a lifetime” moments I had read about on the many traveling blogs I was spending hours on when I was bored at work. To say that this decision was one of the best I have ever made is an understatement. Traveling on your own, as a woman, is a must. Let me share with you a very inspiring video to get us started:
And here are the ten reasons why you should do it if you are still weighing the pros and the cons.
1) The possibilities are limitless
One of the first things you will quickly realize while traveling on your own is that it gives you a lot more freedom when it comes to deciding what to do, where to go and when to change your plans.
When you are by yourself, you’re the only one deciding what your trip should be like, you do not have to compromise and it allows you to live the experience to the fullest and without any regrets. Your trip will be what you decided to make it and only that. Keeping that in mind, you will be able to follow your emotions, wishes and feelings without having to take into account someone else’s and the possibilities will be limitless.
I know, quite selfish, but chances are that you will not experience such a long trip many times in your life and therefore, it is just right that you should enjoy it to the fullest.
2) 99,99% of the people are good
We live in a society leading us to believe that we should be scared. Scared of strangers, scared of the unknown… We are generally taught that we should stick to this little box we know so well and that we usually call “comfort zone”. But as many travelers will probably tell you, life begins when you actually step outside of it.
Once you open yourself to others and step outside of your comfort zone, you realize that the huge majority of people are actually kind- hearted, willing to get to know you and to help you, and even more so when you are traveling alone and as a woman.
They see you as someone to protect and to take care of and will most likely try to help you as much as they can if you reach out to them or if they see you in despair. Which brings me to number three.
3) You will never be really alone
A lot of women are afraid of traveling by themselves because they are scared to be alone. Scared to be bored, to have no one to talk to or to have to rely only on themselves when a difficult situation comes up. Trust me, you will NEVER be alone, unless you decide to. Traveling alone naturally brings people to you (especially as a woman) and also forces you to go talk to them. If you are traveling with someone, chances are that you will spend most of this time with your travel buddy who speaks your language and you will therefore stick to this “traveling comfort zone”, as I like to call it.
Being by yourself will automatically make you more sociable and more open to new encounters. I used Couchsurfing all along my trip and lived in more than fifty households while traveling “alone”, sharing the daily life of dozens of people who were more than happy to welcome me into their homes and to interact with me. And even if you are not convinced/seduced by the concept of Couchsurfing, there are plenty of other opportunities to meet people when you travel.
Asking your way on the street, talking to the person seating next to you on the bus, hanging out in the common areas of your hostel… it is just up to you to decided when and where you would like to spend time with people.
4) You are not a brave adventurer
I hate to break it to you but though traveling alone will make you grow as a person, it will NOT make you this brave woman everyone at home is proud of and likes to picture. During your trip, you will meet a lot of other like-minded people and you will soon realize that your “adventure” does not require as much courage as your family and friends tend to believe.
Meeting all of these other travelers will be the best way for you to stay humble throughout your trip, which is a great quality in the self-obsessed society we unfortunately live in. Remind yourself that thousands of women decide every day to travel on their own and you don’t need to be “brave” to be one of them. The only thing traveling requires is curiosity.
Remember that fear is just a state of mind, and that there is no reasonable reason to be scared. And if tons of other women have done it, why not you?
5) Traveling is the best education
If you decide to travel on your own and you are interested in more than just partying on the other side of planet earth with other foreign backpackers, you will soon realize that traveling will teach you a whole lot. About yourself, others, history and humanity in general.
I had never heard of Pol Pot and the Khmers Rouges regime before setting foot in Cambodia, nor did I know about what had exactly taken place in ex-Yugoslavia countries less than thirty years ago, before traveling to the Balkans.
Being where things happened and talking to people who have lived these events immediately make them more real to you and give you a better understanding of it. I don’t pretend to be now an expert when it comes to the history of the countries I travelled to, but going there and seeing things for yourself will usually teach you a lot more than what you’ve been taught at school or what you have read in books.
These abstract and complicated facts will become more concrete and therefore will teach you a lot about the world we live in as well as the countries you are traveling through. And being alone will just help you process all this new knowledge as well as your understanding of it.
6) You are your own best friend
A best friend is someone who’s here for you, for better and for worse, who shares your ups and downs, your laughs and your tears.
While traveling on your own, you will learn that it is not unbearable to live this kind of moments alone and it will make you both stronger and more confident for the rest of your life journey. Indeed, traveling will make you understand than no one knows you better than yourself. You don’t need anyone to live this great trip. While traveling, you will learn many things about your personality, your fears, your dreams and it will only make you trust yourself more.
Though we do need to interact with others in order to be happy, we tend to forget that it is a lot easier to love others when we appreciate the person we are, in the first place. Facing the world on your own will also be an inner and fulfilling experience. The first time I laughed on my own, I felt crazy. It took me quite a while to realize that it was actually cool. I was able to appreciate something on my own without anyone by my side.
I soon became my best travel companion and it helped me question myself when I had to take decisions and challenge myself every single time. Which leads me to number seven…
7) This will be the best challenge of all
The first time I set foot in Tajikistan and realized that almost nobody spoke English around me, I was lost. And it was the beginning of a crazy adventure across Central Asia, where I had to learn the basics of Russian language in the space of a few days in order to get to where I wanted to go, or to make people understand me. Traveling to remote places alone makes you challenge yourself on a daily basis.
Things will not always be easy and you will have to find solutions on your own for every problem that comes your way. This experience will make you both more independent and a lot wiser. You will understand that, no matter how difficult it is sometimes, you WILL eventually figure it out on your own and find a way to make yourself understood.
One time, in Uzbekistan, my host who just knew a few words of English, was telling me that I need to go buy my “chicken” before night came. After a few hours or confusion and sign language, I actually understood that he was talking about my train ticket…
Many situations won’t make sense to you when you travel and some will lead to this tragi-comical moments but always remind yourself that you will learn from it and that it pushes you to have a better understanding of where you are, who you are and the situation you are facing. When you keep that in mind, the sky is the limit and every single moment of this travel challenge will become an opportunity either to laugh or to make you a better and stronger person!
8) There’s nothing to be scared about
That’s a fact: you do not risk more your life abroad than you do in your home-country. In life, you sometimes happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong moment, with the wrong people. It happens. It does not matter whether it is in Viet Nam, in France or in the US. This is just life.
So you can either choose to lie to yourself and stay in your country believing that it is safer than any other or you can actually travel and find out that abroad is as safe as home (well, except if you decide to travel to a war-torn nation, I admit).
And the best thing is: traveling on your own as a woman will make you actually more prepared for this tricky situations if they happen to come up along your trip. By then, chances are that you will be more able to rely on yourself, think quickly and wisely and defend yourself if you unfortunately cross the path of one of these 0, 01% “bad” persons.
9) The world is a lot different than what you imagined
When you travel on your own, you take more time to observe what’s around you and how people actually live in the places you travel to. This will actually make you realize that the world is way different than what you expected when you boarded on your first plane. Every day will be full of surprises and will make you more aware of what the places you decided to go to, are really like.
When I decided to be an intern in an advertising agency in Lebanon, a lot of my family and friends were scared for me considering the conflicts taking place in the region at the time. I was so surprised when I got to Beirut and found out that this country was actually nothing like what was pictured on the news every day.
And there’s no better feeling than confronting reality to your expectations, because it gives you a better understanding of what the world really is. Which leads me to number ten…
10) “Perspective” will become your new favorite word
Last but not least, all of this will make you look at everything in life completely differently. It will make you understand that what is not like you is not “weird”/”strange”/”creepy”/”scary”, it is just DIFFERENT and you can learn something from it. This will open your mind to new possibilities and will make you more both compassionate and understanding.
Traveling will completely change your outlook on what is right or wrong, depending on the country and the culture you are experiencing at the moment.
Most people just see traveling as a great way to discover the beauty of the world, but there’s so much more to it. Traveling on your own will make you see everything with another perspective if you really commit to it. It will change you for the better and the journey will not only be physical but also intellectual and spiritual. It will be the best decision you can make for yourself and will change the course of your life.
So just let go of your fears, get your backpack ready and go experience the world on your own. You will surely never regret it.
About the author: Though she was born in Paris (France), Elisa Fourt usually describes herself as a world citizen.
She has lived, studied, worked and travelled in more than 50 countries throughout her life and she loves to share her passion for the world with others. When she is not planning her next trip or writing about the last one, Elisa likes to help people in need and get involved in various not-for-profit projects. Her other passions include creative writing, reading and photography.
About the pictures: Fancy the destination? Find more about it HERE.
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