My first international trip alone was to Pisa and Florence, Italy in 2011. I spent three days exploring the cities in between a mom-daughter trip to France and meeting my study abroad friend in Rome. Looking back at my study abroad blog, Spanish Adventures Revealed, I am reminded that the solo travel experience was quite liberating. I felt accomplished for being able to navigate the transportation systems, the city of Pisa, and the city of Florence on my own.
In today’s world, though, with all the headlines about crime against women, it seems frightening for women to travel alone. After experiencing solo travel myself and speaking with others about solo travel, I am convinced that women should not be afraid to travel alone. Hostel World guest blogger, Stephanie Yoder, provides an interesting perspective on Solo Female Travel – nine myths and one truth, discussing women’s travel safety:
“As women, we are often taught to regard the unknown as threatening, which is unfortunate because it keeps us boxed up where we feel safe. The truth is that in many, if not most, places, if you travel intelligently and responsibly you are probably at least as safe as you would be in a major city at home.“
As long as women are as cautious as they would be in any new place, I think all women should take advantage of traveling alone, at least once, as there are many benefits. Below I have outlined some of the benefits of I have experienced in my solo travels:
- Reflect on who you are, what you are doing, and where you want to go. With all the reflection time on your own, you may learn something new about yourself and your vision for the future.
- Gain confidence by going outside of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. This confidence can be transferred to any life circumstance where you have to try something new.
- Develop a greater cultural understanding. By going to new places, you will learn new customs and lifestyles, meet new people, and expand your outlook on life.
- Feel empowered by your independence. You will remember that you can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you are confident, prepared, and willing to work hard.
I have also been inspired recently by all the solo women travelers I have noticed on my trips, especially in Central America and South America. I have noticed that more often than not, it appears that European women are more comfortable traveling solo than American women (this is purely observation; I don’t know of studies that prove this). I have two speculations: 1) Europeans are more likely to travel given the accessibility to other countries through the European Union. 2) Americans are more cautious and less likely to take travel risks given that international travel is less engrained in our culture than others (such as the European culture). Given these speculations, I would like to challenge women (especially Americans) to travel solo and of course, be smart along the way! The sense of empowerment and personal growth outweigh the risks and any fears you may have!
I would love to hear about any solo travel experiences you have had and what you have learned in the process. Thank you for your comments!