It’s no secret that we encourage solo women travel here at Wanderlust and Lipstick. Yet I marvel at how often my traveling alone to exotic destinations provokes a variety of reactions from fellow women travelers who are not, ranging from:
“You’re so brave!”
“Really?” (as in, Why would anyone want to do that?)
“Wow.” (as in, How do you get to do that?)
While I’m a great proponent of travel with family and friends given the opportunity, I’m also a strong advocate for solo women travel. In fact, according to recent reports cited both in The New York Times and Oprah Magazine, the number of solo travelers, American women in particular, is on the rise.
As a Boomer woman living life single, as an empty nester, or with a partner who doesn’t share your travel bucket list, perhaps, you too, wonder whether solo wanderings are for you. Having ventured around the world on my own and with travel companions, here’s what I know for sure:
“You’re so brave!”
I’m not really. But given the choice of seeing the world solo or not at all, having once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences or not, my bags are always packed. Traveling feeds my soul and the confidence I’ve gained from doing so on my own has returned to me a thousandfold when facing similar, potentially intimidating situations in life. Susan Jeffers said it best in her ground-breaking book. Sometimes you just have to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway in order to get where you want to go.
If the fear of traveling on your own is preventing you from doing so, make a list of your travel fears, followed by an action plan to minimize their impact. Ask for help from experienced travelers. Browse the Internet for tips from travel pros. Find out how to protect yourself from possible theft or handle other safety concerns. Don’t let fear drive your decision to stay home if you want to see the world but don’t have a travel companion.
“Really?” (as in Why would anyone want to do that?)
Lots of reasons. Because all the award-winning photography in the world can’t compare to the unexpected emotion you feel when surrounded by Monet’s waterlily paintings at the Musee de’Orsay in Paris. Because when you witness the pristine, natural beauty of sites like Alaska’s Inside Passage up close and personal, you understand in a visceral way why it’s vital to protect our environment for ourselves and future generations. Because the memories of sailing aboard a felucca on the Nile at sunset or biking the backroads of Provence can sustain you when all else around you fails.
Besides enjoying exotic destinations, besides building self-confidence, traveling solo exposes you to fast friendships and exponential growth when you interact with others who speak another language and who see the world through a different lens than you do. Why not learn how to cook the cuisine of Ecuador on location? Why not listen to Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the opera house in Vienna? Why not saddle up for a solo horseback ride in Patagonia if that’s what you want to do?
“Wow.” (as in How do you get to do that?)
I get to see the world in my role as a travel writer. But you don’t need to be a travel writer to enjoy the best that solo world wanderings have to offer. Research your travel options with the help of a travel agent or tour company that specializes in solo journeys. Network with like-minded adventurers. Set your intention, make a plan and get going.
For more information on solo travel, check out these articles:
The New York Times
What solo travels have you taken, wanderboomers? Please share your experience with us here.