I have taken a recent hiatus from posting as I was traveling throughout Japan, and more recently Cambodia. I was very lucky to travel throughout Japan with my great friend, Emiko, but I traveled to Cambodia by myself. Granted I was joining my inspiring aunt a few days later, for half of the trip I was by myself. While this wasn’t my first solo trip, I still am amazed at the reactions I receive being a female solo traveler. Why is this so shocking?
If you have been around the internet once or twice, you will know that everyone
loves knows of memes. When people look at me in disgust disapproval shock, I think of the Joker meme taken from “The Dark Knight”: Why in this day in age is it so surprising for a female to be exploring the world by herself? I have been asked many times why I am traveling alone. My response? Why not? A guy be himself? Totally fine. A boy and a girl? That’s great! Two girls? Acceptable. One girl? OHMYGOODNESS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
When I walk into a restaurant whilst traveling, I get so many stares behind me, waiting for someone else to appear. When they ask me “How many?” and I say, “Just 1” they stop, give me an odd look, but eventually sit me down. I already have issues eating by myself in public, those looks aren’t helping!
When I get into a taxi or a tuk tuk, they always assume I am here for business because I am by myself. When I explain that I am just here for travel, they generally scoff and ask, “Why are you alone? Where is your boyfriend?” Sir, I have been asking that for years. Find him and tell me. Thanks for rubbing that one in my face.
When I check into hotels or hostels they always question me, at least three times, “Only a booking for one??” Yep. One. Uno. Un. Eins.
Don’t you feel nervous?
Of course! Who is going to hold my hand when I freak out over turbulence? Who is going to help my when I get undeniably lost thanks to my lack of directional skills? But that is all part of the fun! Traveling is an adventure.
Who are you going to talk to? Won’t you be so bored?
The great thing about traveling is you meet so many people from all around the world. There are so many great ways to meet people – stay at a hostel, go couchsurfing or attend a couchsurfing event, go to a restaurant/bar known for travelers and mingle, etc. You just have to put yourself out there if you want. You don’t have to either! There is something very liberating about going somewhere by yourself and doing the things you want to do and not having to talk or entertain some.
Wow, you are so brave!
Thanks! Traveling in general is brave – you are taking on an adventure to experience something you don’t know. You are taking a chance to go outside your comfort zone, and it definitely isn’t for everyone. But, anyone who travels is “brave” not just a girl traveling by herself.
Isn’t it very dangerous?
Stepping onto the street is very dangerous, so might as well do it in another country! I am from one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. I lived on a University campus that had one of the largest late night attacks records when I was there. I accidentally walked around the 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements of Paris
after at midnight (sorry, Dad!). I still walk with keys between my fingers at night, it keeps me calm, so find what helps you feel safe.
Yes, it can be unsafe in certain situations, but you just need to be wise about it.
- Be cautious, always, but don’t let it hold you back
- Make a plan ahead of time so you know what you want to see and do
- Be aware of your surroundings – do your research, ask the hotel/hostel staff for tips
- If something feels funny, trust your gut and leave/get away
- If staying somewhere that has lots of travelers, ask to join them if a group is going out. They almost always will say yes!
Yes, some parts of the world may not be the safest for women right now, but that shouldn’t make us scared. We should be able to do and go wherever we want. Traveling alone shouldn’t be met with wide eyes or a warning, it should be met with an “Alright!” or “Thanks, enjoy your stay,” with little acknowledgement, just like group travelers receive. By getting less looks and questions, traveling by yourself will become more acceptable and hopefully more people will do it – girls and guys alike! It is something everyone should do, so what’s stopping you?
*Please note a lot of this I say with sarcasm and in jest. I really don’t mind when I get looks or questions, but I would be okay if it stopped too. 🙂