Lessons from Solo Adventures


Solo Adventures Around Europe: What I've Learned So Far

I just got back from my 5th solo adventure and so far I have not regretted the decision to travel by myself. I get to keep the hours that I want, see the sights that I want to see, and go at my own pace. But that's not to say that I don't like traveling with others, in fact that is still my preferred way to go, but for now I am perfectly happy with my solo adventures. And I've learned a few things along the way. 

People think that you're a local until you pull out a map or a camera. That means that they'll ask you for directions or for you to take their picture. Because of this I've started up some interesting conversations with people, like where you're coming from, what brought you here, etc. But what is also nice is that I haven't been a major target for pickpockets or other petty crimes because I am not distracted in conversation. I guess because I am not in a large group I am more approachable for others.

I have also learned to rely more on public transportation. These places can be places of crime, true, but trusting a bad map to get me around an entire city is more dangerous. I always end up in some pretty bad areas because I try to take shortcuts on the map. So I've learned to take the public transportation to get me across large distances and then walking the short distances. I used to be terrified of underground rail systems, but after months of using the metro, that fear has gone away. 

Le Pont d'Avignon, Avignon

I've also learned that solo travels are not as scary as I thought they would be. I'm not worried about my safety when I travel alone because I know which precautions to take. I don't wander into any dark alleys and I don't get into cars with strangers. I don't wear flashy jewelry and I have that French girl "don't mess with me" face down. So yes when I do get followed I start up a conversation with an English or French speaking family so that the person can't separate me from the group. And when those creepy men look me up and down or give me the whistle I glare at them or accidentally trip on their feet to shoo them away. I would love to live in a world where all sexes are treated equally, but I know that is not the reality, so I prepare myself for it. I guess this is my big feminist action: traveling by myself as a single young woman.

My solo travels have shown me so many things that I might not have seen if I never made this big decision. I've also learned a lot about myself. And I think that I've changed my life. I'm learning not to depend on others and be more independent. I'm learning how to communicate with people who don't speak my language. I'm learning how to be adventurous but also stay safe.

So when people ask me why I travel by myself, I just give the short answer and say that I want to see the world and that I have the time right now. And that is the truth. I don't travel solo because I hate people. I travel solo because I'm learning to love myself and follow all my dreams, no matter how big, crazy, small, or insignificant. So I honestly encourage everyone to try it. 

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