I mentioned in my interview for August’s Woman of the Month that I greatly admire many of the women that I meet in Geneva for the type of independence they exude. One of the reasons I mentioned specifically was that many of them are unafraid to travel solo.
Women who go on solo travels impress me so much because it feels so uncommon to me. When I try to think of the number of women I knew who were traveling alone, back in the States, only one or two come to mind. Why is that?
Perhaps a number of people feel hesitant to do things alone, particularly when those activities are seen as couple or group activities. Perhaps some people feel like everyone notices that they’re alone; I was like that. I always would have seen a movie by myself, but I didn’t enjoy going to restaurants alone until I moved to Switzerland. In fairness, I attribute that change to adaptation; I had no one to go share with, yet I still wanted a nice meal and food trumps stigma every time. However, it was easier not to feel like I was wearing a colorful, flashing sign that says, “I’m here; ALONE” when there were one or two other people in the restaurant, reading over their meal or lost in thought.
When it comes to travel, I’ve always had the idea that holidays are meant to spend away with friends, family; a significant other.
Since the movie Eat Pray Love, I’ve been noticing more and more in the media about women traveling to countries I’ve never even heard of, alone– and thriving. I feel fortunate to personally know incarnations of such.
I’ve always wondered how they did it and now that most of my friends are women who do or have traveled alone, I wonder more than ever. What makes them different from me? What holds me back? I realized that they all strongly possessed key qualities I wanted, but did not yet fully possess. These women were self-assured, independent and trusted their resilience. These women were confident. Many grew up with this independence because of their proximity to other countries and their families means to travel; others just had an interest and dared to try.
I want to travel alone but haven’t been able to since my arrival to Geneva (except for my month in the UK). I haven’t had the energy, motivation or courage until now. I’m in an intense research phase so that I can finally go on a trip alone. Here are some of the steps I’m taking to join the ranks of those in the travel community I admire most: women who travel solo.
I joined a travel group.
I highly recommend joining a travel group. I’m a member of Nomadness Travel Tribe and it is a really special group to me. Via the Facebook page, I have a platform that hosts more than 13,000 other members along with their thoughts, questions, concerns, advice and wisdom. Many of the women of Nomadness travel solo or live a nomadic lifestyle and are willing to share words of encouragement, best practices and helpful tips on everything from how to get from the airport to all the best spots to hang with locals. Being able to watch other women of color travel, living their best carefree lives, has been inspiring to me.
I figured out what piques my interest.
Perhaps you’re wondering what you would do in a city or village alone for a few days or more. I was, until I asked myself the one question I never thought I’d have trouble answering: what interests you? I thought about a life change I would like to make (seems appropriate, as a first-time solo trip would be pretty life-changing, no?) and I challenge you to do the same; you may surprise yourself. Would you like to have time and space to practice relaxation and meditation? Perhaps you’d like to volunteer, where you can explore a culture, and leave something behind for the good of the people there?
There are options for both in the form of retreats. There is a retreat for just about any interest or demographic. A quick google search can return tons of reliable hits. When searching for things this way, keep in mind what is important to you and if you decide to pull the trigger, try to align yourself with a retreat that caters to that. For example, I would love to go on a yoga retreat with other women of color. From what I’ve read about retreats, you begin alone, but don’t often end that way, as it’s a great way to meet other people with common interests.
I figured out how to make my coins work for me.
It is extremely important to me that I pay for my first trip alone, without the assistance of my husband. I can just imagine the sense of pride I’ll feel going on a trip abroad that I paid for myself. However, just looking at the price of flights can be so discouraging. If traveling seems beyond your reach because of finances, you can lessen that burden by searching for flight deals. Websites such as Skyscanner, Skiplagged, ITA Matrix and The Flight Deal are well-known for their reliability and the Budget Traveller has awesome tips on where to find stylish accommodations.
I found my inspiration.
When I began researching, I found and followed websites and blogs for inspiration and information. I love Oneika the Traveller, Coco Gone Global, Another Single Sister, Black & Abroad, We Go Too, SheNomads and of course, Nomadness Travel Tribe. The best part? All of these are written/founded by women. How sweet it is. From the words on these sites, I am able to absorb confidence, just by seeing others do what I want to do successfully. I appreciate the honesty that comes through every triumph, disappointment, and ‘meh’ moment. It lets me know that my concerns are valid, but that there are solutions and ways to cope with the problems that arise.
If like me, you have the desire to travel, don’t let anything hold you back from it. If it’s about money, there are ways to lessen that burden. If it’s about planning, there are resources for that too. If it’s about confidence, there is support out there while you go through the necessary introspection. These are some resources I found helpful along the way, but could have used even more before my journey began. Use them to help you if your journey through life leads you to travel, but you don’t know where to begin.
Are you already a solo traveler? Or, do you want to be? Let us know in the comments along with any questions or tips you have!
This post was originally published by Modern Classic Daily on September 1, 2016.