When I made the decision that the year 2018 would be a year of solo travelling, I was met with two responses. The first was excitement and the second was a thinly veiled version of pity. The truth of the matter is that there are so many things I want to see in this world, and previously I was waiting for the right time or a friend to have the same interest so I didn’t have to go alone. After realising that if I waited for either of those, I’d probably be waiting my whole life, I took action and jumped in head first. Now – I don’t care I’m going alone! I planned my trip and every aspect of my trip is 100% full of the things I’ve been dreaming about doing. The people that pitied me when I told them, they don’t understand that. All they see is that I’m going to be in a foreign country alone, and ask ‘Won’t you be scared?’.
My mum and my brothers were the most supportive, but I think a large part of that came from the fact that I’m mostly going to European countries next year so in their eyes it’s safe. 2018 will consist of Singapore, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Iceland, Germany, Peru, Chile and possibly Japan. Peru and Chile are the only countries on my list that I would even slightly think of as being unsafe, but that’s more so because of what people around me have said than my own fear. But my point is – most of the countries I’m visiting are the stereotypical safe countries.
2019 will be the year I’m changing things up a bit. Obviously nothing is set in stone yet, but my general plans so far include Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. I don’t want to say anything bad about those places, I’m 100% fascinated by them, but they are places that Australians are generally warned to avoid travelling to. If you check the Smart Traveller website, for the majority of those places it tells you to really consider whether you need to be there at all. I considered it for a while, and came to the conclusion that yes – I need to be there, at least once in my life so why not in the next 2 years. And this was the part where I’ve recently been told that I’m stupid and that I’m pretending to be brave for making such plans.
From Petra to Gallipoli to Giza to Chetchaouen – there are so many places I need to see in those countries! And I don’t consider myself wanting to go to conflicted countries as brave and/or stupid, I just think it makes me curious. I am completely aware that being a western woman travelling alone in those countries, there is going to be some potentially unsafe situations. But I think the key with that is to avoid them by using common sense. Don’t walk down dark streets or ominous looking places alone, especially at night. Don’t flash your wealth. Dress appropriately for the situation i.e. respect the local customs/themes. Do your research before you get there. These are all things that will help to somewhat protect you while travelling, but at the end of the day – if something bad is going to happen, you can’t stop it. Lord knows I could get hit by a bus just walking to work in the morning (I walk through the Brisbane CBD so this is actually a very real possibility) so bad possibilities are not just limited to foreign travel.
With that in mind, if I want to see something in the world – I don’t want to let fear or worry hold me back from seeing it. Getting back to the question from the beginning ‘Won’t you be scared?’ – yeah, I probably will be at some point. But I’m more terrified at the thought of not seeing the world. I don’t want to miss out on seeing things, and that outweighs me getting scared in a foreign country as far as I’m concerned.
The concept of a solo female traveller still seems so shocking to some people, which I don’t understand. Booking.com released some statistics recently that said 65% of women feel more confident when they travel on their own. Hell yeah we do! They also said they’d seen a rise of around 40% in the last 10 years of women booking solo holidays. There are also some amazing role models of female travellers out there too that have taken over social media platforms. Hey Nadine and Raya Was Here (from YouTube) are my personal favourites, but there is so many. And if any of them can do it, so can you! Fear is such a crippling weapon, and if you let it control your life choices – it’s you that suffers. And don’t be that person who tries to control someone else’s life because of your own fear (i.e. friends and families travel plans) – they’ll end up resenting you for it.