This is my post that was published on The Huffington Post.
In August 2007, I sent myself to Edinburgh, Scotland as a graduation (I graduated with a Master of Science, Management degree) and birthday gift. This wasn’t my first time to Edinburgh, but it was my first time as a solo traveler. Was I nervous? Yes, I was. And it surprised me.
I stayed in a hostel, and some of my work colleagues teased me about it because of a horror film about a group of people who were terrorized while staying in a hostel. Plus, I don’t think they believed I would travel by myself to another country.
Solo travel is a great way for women to break free of codependency and strengthen communication skills. You have to walk up to people and ask for directions to a museum, restaurant or store. Your family and friends can’t help you navigate to your hotel or the airport. You are responsible for you.
My trip to Edinburgh was fabulous! I met many people from around the world, like China and Australia, and blended in so well that a retail service rep from a fashion store asked me if I wanted to open a credit card. I said, “Thank you, but I’m from The States.”
Below are 10 reasons women need to solo travel. Don’t be afraid to travel alone. You can learn about others and yourself at the same time. And you can release any prejudices and preconceived notions you may have about a country and its people.
10 Reasons Why Women Need to Solo Travel
1. Gain independence.
Want to become more independent? When you solo travel, you are responsible for you. You can’t lean on your partner, sibling or friend. You need to ask for directions. You need to fumble through speaking in a foreign language, if you’re not fluent in it. You need to figure out where to eat. Travel by yourself and independence is yours.
2. Become more confident.
If you lack self-confidence, it can cripple your life and spirit. When you solo travel, you’re in charge. You decide what to see and do. And you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone or compromising because you can do whatever you want. You get to decide everything. The confidence you gain is priceless.
3. Learn negotiation skills.
Solo travel teaches you negotiation skills. For example, some retailers and street vendors expect you to negotiate. Don’t know how to do this? Not to worry because you’ll learn, fast. Don’t worry if you stumble over negotiations. You will get better with each transaction.
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
How long have you lived in your area? When you stay in the same place for long periods of time, it could bore or dull you. Get out of your comfort zone and visit another part of your state, province or country, or another state, province or country. Remember, your area is a travel destination for people. Visit a place that’s new and it will revitalize your soul.
5. Heal from a life-changing event.
When you experience a life changing event, you can become stuck or depressed. A trip to a far off destination or weekend away is cathartic. Why? Because the healing process can begin when you spend time by yourself. You don’t have to worry about what this or that person thinks. You can go wherever you want and do whatever you want.
6. Learn about a new culture.
Staring at your four walls can drive you crazy! Buy a plane ticket to a foreign country and get to know the people and history because it will expand your outlook on life. You can learn how to live simply. You can learn that you don’t have it so bad, even though you may feel as if your life is falling apart. A new culture opens your eyes to possibilities.
7. Find love.
You can meet Mr. or Ms. Right or Mr. or Ms. Right Now when you solo travel. How? By being by yourself. It’s easier for people to approach you. When your friends are around you, someone who’s interested in you won’t make a move because he/she may be intimidated to do so, or they don’t want to interrupt. Be open to meeting new people and love will find you.
8. Experience the kindness of strangers.
If you haven’t traveled by yourself, you’re in for a treat. People are kind and helpful to those who travel alone. Others look out for you, and they’re open to escorting you to where you want to go, like a theater and park, to make sure you arrive safely. When someone asks you if you need help, respond with a smile and say, “Yes. Thank you.” A positive and grateful attitude takes you far.
9. Discover things about yourself you didn’t know.
Solo travel gives you the opportunity to get to spend time with you. You may discover that you’re more confident than you thought. You may find that you can handle pressure and anything that comes your way. Like many wanderlusts, you can eat, meditate and explore.
10. Solo travel saves you money.
Would you like to save money? When you travel by yourself, you only have to worry about yourself. You can rent a bike or scooter instead of paying for taxis. Better yet, you can walk, which is a good way to get to know a city and its people. The exercise is good for your body. Plus, you can couch surf, now there’s an adventure. Or, you can stay at a simple hotel or B&B. The money you save can be put towards your next trip.
Solo Travel Frees You
You may feel like you’re stuck.
You may feel as if you have invisible chains around you that you can’t break no matter how hard you try.
Solo travel frees you from the ties that bind. You’re free to travel where you want and when you want.
You can reinvent yourself.
You can journey to the center of you and find answers to that old question, “Who am I?”
But there is a catch. Once you travel by yourself, you may discover that you have a knack for it.
And who knows? Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life or change careers and move to another city or country. It could happen.