I love the fact that more people, especially women, are letting go of their fears and traveling more as the years go by. It's always fascinating to be in a conversation with women about our travels and I mention that I take a lot of my trips alone. I am sure you can imagine the widened eyes, gasps, and tilted heads, but it's cool. So, naturally, I get a lot of questions about traveling solo as a black woman in today's society. I get excited and do an attempt at explaining how it's the most freeing activity but my major gem key response is typically the same. Until you take a solo trip for yourself, you won’t understand, and unfortunately for all of the people asking me about solo travel, I know most of them might not end up going. Therefore, I am praying that I can do a bit of convincing in this post and can get you lured into some travel deals so that you get your solo travel poppin' for Q2 of 2017. Whether you are single, married, a mother, or a widow, I think every woman should take at least one solo trip in their lifetime.
1. We as women, do NOT get enough “me” time.
Getting “me” time is sometimes a chore. We all know that I don’t have any mini-me’s yet, but that does not mean I’m not active with other commitments. Have you all seen that meme where it talks about trying to stay fit, please your man, go to work, text people back on time, see your mother, and everything else under the sun while keeping a smile? Guess what? It’s HARD. We give give give and unfortunately, do not receive a lot of that energy back. If you are constantly thinking to yourself that you are tired, stressed, underappreciated, etc., it’s time to get some of that power back and do something for YOURSELF.
One of the hardest travel decisions I made earlier this year was committing myself to a trip to Puerto Rico. I, along with my family, were in the beginning stages of grieving my late aunt and uncle, but I knew I needed this trip. I needed time alone on the beach by myself to pray, read, write, and do whatever else I needed to do. The New Year is already a reflective time for me and being away on a solo trip really allowed me to recharge prior to returning to work after almost a month away.
2. Anxiety reverts into relief.
Whether we like to admit it or not, anxiety is a thing and can be extremely crippling at times. I remember a time when I had to take the day off because the thought of me going into work that day felt like I was being suffocated. My eczema was beginning to flare, I was getting pimples, and friends were at the point of asking me, “was I okay?”, and thankfully I answered “no”. One of my best friends then asked me how long had it been since I had traveled anywhere after Europe and the epiphany came. I had gotten so deep into the work storm that I had not been anywhere in going on three months which was rare for me. I decided to take a holiday trip to Austin and a few weeks later I booked a Thanksgiving week solo flight to Panama City, Panama.
I know some haters will say that travelers are running away from life but I do not think that’s 100% accurate. I knew what was causing my unhappiness in my personal life and I also knew mechanisms that would aid my stress levels that were not prescription pills from big pharmaceutical companies. Judge if you want but when you are alone in your happy place and only focused on breathing, I dare you to tell me that an anxiety attack would be produced. I actually feel sad for people that boast that they never take vacation days and have perfect attendance for work, because these are the same people who are visibly aging quicker than others and complain about heart issues. Newsflash, it AIN’T worth it and I am not dying for a company that would fire me at the drop of the dime if worst came to worst. I know what works for me and my body, and that is a wonderfully relaxing solo trip every now and then.
3. You meet the best strangers.
Let’s be honest for a minute. When you are out with a group you know, you are not always the most interested in outsiders intruding upon your circle. This is why men sometimes don’t approach women in groups because the number of onlookers is intimidating. When that number gets smaller, doors are opened (hopefully good doors). I don’t know about you but I’m not the biggest fan of the #NoNewFriends culture. Of course, you should have slight caution, but do not block your future network blessings just because you have not known someone since your childhood years.
That’s the beauty of traveling solo, you meet the best strangers that turn into friends. I remember meeting a lovely couple in Paris, Rey and Tahaya. We have become Facebook friends and they are super supportive of the blog. Imagine how crazy it is that their daughter and my mentor’s daughter ended up being line sisters and my new Sorors. That’s just how mind blowing the world is. No, you might not cross paths with everyone you meet again, but those stories will last a lifetime. You can have the mindset that traveling while solo you are vulnerable or you are on an adventure ready to meet a temporary partner-in-crime. Trust me, the comradery is real. I’ve had some of the best seats in the house, meals, and drinks (YES, I watched the bartender make it) sent my way simply because I was a woman alone with a smile. Being alone is not always a bad thing, ladies!
Related Post: An Open Letter to the People I Met Abroad
4. Saying “YES” to new things and going out of your comfort zone is a blessing.
When we are at home, we get stuck in our daily routines and never want to take risks because we are too comfortable. But when you are traveling (solo or not), you will not always be in your comfort zone but that’s a beautiful gift. You are vulnerable yet willing to take chances and try new and exotic things whether it be a dish or an activity. In fact, whenever I take a trip, I try diligently to knock off a “first-time” activity which has led to me water tubing in Colombia, kayaking in Puerto Rico, and paddleboarding in Belize to name a few. You are already breaking the status quo by being a woman traveling solo so screw the rules and take a leap!
More chances than not, whatever you are about to do is not going to kill you and if you think it will pray about it before you do it (i.e. hang-gliding). In a world in which taking risks isn’t always esteemed, in the world of travel, anything is fair game and you will be amazed at all that are capable of when you strip down barriers. I have gone from cautiously hiking in a rainforest to jumping up on rocks at the Grand Canyon due to the vast experiences I have had traveling and the exhilarating euphoria it gives me while traveling solo.
Related Post: 5 Reasons You Should Purposefully Get Lost Abroad
5. Your self-confidence will grow.
There is NOTHING like successfully navigating unfamiliar territory on your own like a badass. Nothing! Don’t underestimate the dress, sunglasses, and manicured nails, women can do it all. I started my solo travel journeys in different domestic USA cities, then the Caribbean, and eventually 40 glorious days in Europe. I never felt so liberated in my LIFE. It was me, a map, and a new city every 4-5 days and I felt like a warrior. I was able to turn heads when I could [manage to] speak in the native language and my senses were heightened.
I know plenty of women that do not even like to eat out alone at dinner but that is probably one of the best things my ex taught me. Sit at the bar, smile, and make friends and eat what you want to eat! Hold your head up high and keep moving, you solo traveling queen.
Related Post: 40 Days In Europe- My Top 10 Moments
You may not enjoy it at first. You may feel alone. You may feel scared. Things may not be perfect but if you take whatever happens during your trip in stride, I do think that you will thoroughly enjoy that first solo trip. For me, it has been like the Pringles slogan, "once you pop, you can't stop." Even when I am married, the future Mr. will have to accept that his free-spirited wife needs at least one solo trip a year to keep the peace.
For those of you who have been on a solo trip, what was your first experience like? Where did you venture off to? What advice would you give to other women reading this post? If you want more of my solo travel tips and stories, click the "solo" tab at the top of this page. Let's have some dialogue.