Lately there’s been some depressing news about travel. There’s overtourism, the planet is getting polluted, blah blah, bad news.
But then I think about the benefits of traveling solo. It’s not just the women who travel that it benefits. It’s everyone she knows, has a beautiful exchange with, and whose mind she changes. The ripples are far-reaching, and little by little, we are changing the world. I can think of at least 25 ways:
1. We become braver, and braver women set an example for other women to be brave, and on it goes.
2. We learn that people are mostly good, and it changes the way that we see the world, because we learn there’s nothing to fear, and that people are more alike than they are different.
3. We start to see other cultures as a chance to learn. We discover other ways of living, and question the things we once took for granted.
4. We come to realize that being away strengthens our relationships back home.
5. We question if typical societal roles for women are really meant for us. That way, when we come home, we can have a clearer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
6. We come to love and appreciate the planet more, and become greener in our everyday lives.
7. We learn what’s really important, and what’s worth prioritizing. We see the value in experiences over possessions. Maybe a designer dress or an expensive TV isn’t worth it, but finally seeing gorillas in their natural habitat is.
8. We get to show naysayers back home that it is possible to travel solo and live to tell the tale. We get to be the shining example.
9. We get to discover that traveling abroad can feel even safer than being back at home, and then we start to see the ways in which we can and need to be architects of change in our communities.
10. We learn to connect with people from different cultures, an invaluable skill in our globalized world.
11. We get to show people in countries where solo female travel is unthinkable that the world is changing, and women deserve more mobility and freedom.
12. We also get to show people in our own countries that the world is changing, and women deserve more mobility and freedom.
13. We learn how to think quickly, act without needing anyone else to do it for us, and problem solve in a way that those who have never traveled solo don’t understand.
14. Our self-efficacy and self-reliance grow like a budding flower.
15. We question ourselves less and trust ourselves more. The world needs more women like that!
16. We see the beauty in the world, make good art, and start to see the beauty in our own, makeup-free faces, too.
17. We pick up new skills, like learning how to freedive, backpacking for multiple days in the wilderness, SCUBA, falling more in love with yoga, or maybe even learning a new language.
19. Many of us grow spiritually, and start to want to heal the world, and most importantly, see our part in it and believe we can do it.
20. We learn not to sweat the small stuff, and learn to approach every problem with a solution-oriented mindset, because we can’t pass the buck when we solo travel. We learn that we can do it on our own.
21. We walk with our heads held higher and our backs straighter – with confidence.
22. We start to seek more transformational travel experiences.
23. We become damn good at budgeting and haggling.
24. We get to step back onto our home soil as changed beings who have grown, and can see our own home as a foreign land. Because shaking it up and questioning things is good, and leads to growth.
25. Above all, we prove to ourselves that we can do it, and that kind of accomplishment is infectious.
To all my solo traveling ladies, know that the bravery and effort it takes to go against the status quo is worth it, and you’re not wrong for wanting to see the world. Besides, we can demand cleaner energy with our votes and dollars, look at the 100 companies who are responsible for 71% of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions and demand they change, and not let ourselves be bullied out of the experience of seeing the world.
Because we become the architects of change when we are empowered, and solo travel brings us closer to that empowerment.