When I tell people that I travel on my own a common reaction I get is “Oh! How brave!”
I understand how staying in a country for an extended amount of time when you don’t speak the language can seem like a bold and audacious move…….but brave?
The term ‘brave’ insinuates that traveling alone is inherently dangerous for women.
That’s not true.
Now I do acknowledge there are inherent dangers to traveling alone but those inherent dangers are applicable to everyone regardless of location. I do also acknowledge that women face inherent dangers being alone especially at night that traditionally men don’t worry about but (unfortunately) these dangers are universal. That means the women who live in the places you travel have to live with the same amount of risk and exposure you risk when you are home.
Think about it.
There are millions of women around the world who go about their lives every day without incident. They do it alone and they are fine. Seoul, South Korea is a foreign city and country for me but for millions of other women, it’s home. They walk the streets confidently and safely during the day and night.
If you are thinking about traveling abroad (which I strongly encourage you to do) but you are too afraid to make the leap here is some practical advice to help you bridge that gap.
Stop telling yourself it’s dangerous
Most likely the place you are going is not inherently dangerous. Would you purposefully put yourself in a foreign country that is inherently dangerous?
Of course not.
So stop telling yourself that traveling is dangerous! You can’t travel in peace when you are constantly telling yourself that you are in danger. That’s the equivalent of saying that women who call that place home are constantly in danger and that’s not rational. Use the same sense of self-preservation you have at home and you will be fine. Women’s intuition is a global phenomenon.
Choose a destination with excellent public transportation
Public transit is key to traveling independently and confidently. Choose a location that is known for its public transit then invest time in learning that system intimately. Using public transit can be a liberating experience especially when you start exploring. While I am in Seoul, I rarely ever know where I am going but I always know how to get back home. An excellent knowledge of public transit is key to your independence as a traveler.
Use apps like Facebook Events and MeetUp to meet new locals and foreigners. Whatever city you happen to land in, the point of traveling is getting outside of your comfort zone so make a conscious effort to do that every day. Personally I use MeetUp find to language exchange cafes to practice my Korean. These apps are a great tool you can use to get out there!
Create an itinerary….. but do not treat it like the Bible
The nice thing about an itinerary is that it gives you direction and a sense of purpose for the day. It’s a great way to get the day started. With that being said it’s okay to deviate. In fact, invite it! Take a detour! It a part of the experience. It’s okay to miss that museum tour because you ended up talking to someone you met at a cafe. Enjoy your travels with all its twists and curves.
There are some obvious aspect of traveling that I purposeful left out. For example, you know to keep your passport safe and to notify the bank about your time abroad. I trust you to take care of yourself while you are abroad; now trust yourself and start your next adventure.