By Uplift Contributor & Global Traveler: Jennie Linhares
“The way I see it, we have a three day weekend so I think Friday I’ll go to Florence, Saturday, I’ll go to Venice, and, maybe Sunday I’ll go to Cinque Terre”. “All by yourself?” my friend asked as impressed as he was astonished. “Yes. Trust me, you get very tired, very quickly of traveling with people too...hungover to do anything fun”. If you find yourself wondering how to quickly irritate a solo female traveler, I’d recommend bringing up a reference to the movie Taken. Their claims do have some credit, there are countless stories of women being harassed, beaten, stalked or even thrown in jail whilst traveling. When you truly think about it, you are just as much at risk for all those things in your native country as you are anywhere in the world.
When you travel alone either for business or pleasure, you start to rely more on instincts you never really knew you had. Will traveling with a group of other native English speakers push you to learn and use a different language? Will hanging out solely in touristy bars with other Americans help you really immerse yourself in another culture? Does everyone really want to spend an entire weekend arguing with friends or colleagues over who wants to do what and when instead of just going out and seeing the city? I will let you be the judge of that, but the answer is probably no. Left alone to your own devices, lies an opportunity to truly find yourself. You make new friends, you learn to communicate, and you realize you truly do not need a map to find where you truly belong. When I travel somewhere new, I guess myself (and many others, maybe) are truly searching for themselves.
In some instances, there truly is safety in numbers (maybe being in a larger group would have saved me a lot of hassle dodging pickpocketing gypsies at the Florence train station, having to determine what to keep and what to leave behind, and perhaps from the Moroccan shopkeeper whom showed me a picture and asked if I wanted to marry her son), but through solo travel, you are able to say that you truly lived somewhere and did not just visit. No I’m not on some feminist-ranting journey of self discovery (nor is it anti-feminist to travel with friends). You do truly cultivate the many impactful journeys the world has to offer. And sometimes it’s necessary to just sit back and experience this different perspective... all by yourself.