Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes our regular column on solo female travel. It’s a topic I can’t cover so I brought her on to cover topics and specific issues important other women travelers! In this month’s column, Kristin reminisces on the lessons learned from traveling solo.
“You’re going across the world by yourself?! Are you sure?”
You’ve heard it before, right? Someone who means well and tries to talk you out of traveling solo, mentioning all kinds of things that could go wrong.
They can be pretty convincing, focusing heavily on the negative — but completely forgetting that there are so many more positives that come from travel. What about all of the things that could go right?
There are things that only solo female travelers get to experience (things that just don’t happen when you’re traveling with someone else). It’s like a club that almost anyone can get into but few know about. But for those of us who have done it, we know that it’s not as scary as we thought, and much more rewarding than we ever imagined possible.
Traveling the world solo has taught me many lessons and made me realized there are some truths you only learn when you travel the world solo:
1. It’s way more exciting to try a new food on the other side of the world – and find that we absolutely love it – than it is to go to a swanky restaurant back home.
2. An exotic dish somehow tastes better when we eat it with our hands. With our shoes off, while sitting on the floor.
3. Being in a hammock on a tropical beach, watching the waves roll in, whether all on our own or surrounded by new friends, is worth the mosquito bites.
4. We can say “hello” and “thank you” in more languages than your fancy car has gears.
5. Playing with a child in another language is more warming than all the designer sweaters in the world.
6. People are beautiful everywhere, in every shade, shape, and size, and there is absolutely no singular beauty standard.
7. There is no greater rush than buying a plane ticket to a place that we alone want to see and that we alone picked out.
8. It is sexier to have more stamps in a passport than watches and fancy purses.
9. A sugar rush is somehow sweeter when we’re sitting in Europe eating a chocolate croissant with a whole day of adventures ahead of us.
10. It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing, where they’re from, or what their savings account looks like. If they can carry an intelligent conversation halfway across the world, we’re more than happy to hang onto their every word.
11. Espresso really does taste better in Italy, and Panang curry really does taste better in Thailand.
12. Knowing what it looks like when the sun sets over the ocean on the other side of the globe is worth more than all the Instagram likes in the world.
13. The Facebook news feed is a lot less interesting when we have an entire day of adventures ahead of us, with no plans, no obligations, and no strings attached.
14. Maybe makeup and hair products and straighteners and Spanx aren’t all that necessary, and we look fantastic just the way we are.
15. The heartbreak later is worth the fling right here and now with this beautiful stranger with an accent from far away and the promise of an adventure.
16. Being able to say “yes” without having to check in with anyone first feels so damn freeing and satisfying.
17. Being able to say “no” without worrying about offending anyone or feeling obligated feels even more powerful than saying “yes” sometimes.
18. We’re braver than we thought.
19. We’re capable of doing things that a year ago would have terrified us.
20. No classroom anywhere will ever be a better learning environment than going it alone on the road.
21. No boardroom, job interview, or house party where we don’t know anyone will ever intimidate us again, because we know what it’s like to go solo to a country where absolutely nothing is familiar and everything is new. And we handled it like a boss.
22. There were a few blunders and “learning experiences” here and there, but we’re better off for them.
23. Out of all of the things we learned, most of all we’ll remember that we are capable individuals with a better understanding of how we fit into the world now, and that’s something that will be beneficial for the rest of our lives.
24. When the trip is over, we’ll remember these things that only we know, and what we’re capable of — and probably start researching plane flights again.
We solo female travelers know that traveling alone is an amazing gift. It gives us a chance to develop our confidence, make all of the decisions about where we want to go and what we want to do, and be the CEO of our own lives and adventures. This confidence and ability carries over into our daily lives long after the trip is over.
Our loved ones’ fear and misunderstanding of it will probably always exist. Rebuffing a few well-meaning but uninformed remarks just comes with the territory. You can often show those naysayers by example how wonderful it can be.
If you haven’t yet traveled solo but really want to find out who you are and what you’re made of, go to the other side of the world by yourself and prepare to be amazed. Don’t let anything hold you back — you deserve to see the world on your own terms.
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Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings in 2012, Kristin has roamed the world for more than five years and visited over 70 countries. You can find more of her writings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.