I remember when I decided I was going to travel alone. I also remember not telling my mom I was traveling alone until after I had gotten back to Spain safely. Why? Solo female travel has a stigma attached with it for being unsafe. And I know my mother, she would literally be either trying to come out to Eastern Europe to find me or at home in a state of panic; neither of which I wanted. I did, however, tell my friends exactly where I was supposed to be and was in constant contact with them via Whatsapp throughout my travels. My tight-knit group of American girlfriends in Bilbao and I were good about that, always keeping track of each other abroad and being safe.
Anyways, solo travel was definitely one of my favorite experiences of my year abroad, and I think every female traveler should travel solo at some point in her life! It was during Semama Santa (Easter break) and I had two weeks off from school. My friends and I wanted to travel together as much as we could, but had different cities we wanted to explore, so we constructed the ultimate travel plan: we would start our trip together, venture our separate ways, and then reunite in Barcelona to share our travel stories. For me, this meant starting the trip in Berlin with 3 other friends, traveling to Prague with 2 friends and then I was on my own for Český Krumlov, Vienna and Bratislavia, before 2 of us would reunite in Girona for a night and then meet up with our last friend in Barcelona for a few nights before heading back to Bilbao (did you catch all that??). So I was essentially alone for about a week and honestly had the best time, full of moments and experiences I wouldn’t have expected I would stumble upon. I could probably think of 100 reasons girls should travel alone, but I’ll give you my top 10:
10 Reasons Why Girls Should Travel Alone
1. You will meet a crazy British guy who will probably make you do something you never thought you would do; like wander the Czech countryside, stumble upon a farm and go horseback riding.
2. In relation to #1, you will probably meet a Brazilian guy who speaks perfect english (and beautiful Portuguese…I love the sound of that language!) and you will go to the opera in Vienna together.
3. While waiting for an overnight bus to arrive that you think will never come, you will strike up a conversation in Spanish with a girl and her dad and realize how far your Spanish has come.
4. Instead of eating dinner, you will eat a piece of apple strudel without even thinking twice (as a girl who loves sweets, you could also do dessert for dinner every night when you travel solo because life is short…I may or may not have done this).
5. You will buy the same salted caramel latte from the same cafe in Vienna every day and make no apologies. Did you know Vienna is famous for it’s cafe culture? I had no idea until I visited! But there were outdoor cafes filled with people on every corner.
6. You will be on your way to Mozart’s house but decide to go shopping at Forever XXI, for three hours, and it’s completely okay. (In my defense, there were no Forever XXI’s in Bilbao!)
7. You will be able to walk in to an adorable cafe in Český Krumlov and write postcards to friends for a few hours, while sipping a giant, full of foam, perfect, latte.
8. You will connect with a Korean girl, who is randomly your bunkmate in a hostel, when she doesn’t believe you are Korean until you start to sing snippets you remember from the songs your grandmother used to sing to you in Korean. She will then completely translate the songs for you and it is just the best thing ever. You will exchange emails and promise to meet up when you make your way to South Korea or she comes to the USA.
9. You will become more aware of your surroundings, more present in the moment and more confident in your decision making. After traveling solo, I felt invincible! I was like “YEAH, YOU WANNA MESS WITH ME? I TRAVELLED IN EUROPE ALONE, OKAY!” (okay, maybe not exactly like that but still…)
10. You will be able to fill in #1-9 with your own memories.
That’s the thing about solo travel–you get to make your own, unique memories. It is one of those unexplainable things that you truly won’t understand until you do it. When you travel solo, especially as a girl, you are pretty approachable and people just flock to you. People are legitimately curious as to why you are alone and it’s hilarious to see the looks on some people’s faces and especially to hear their reactions or opinions.
So I definitely encourage any girls to think about solo travel! And definitely don’t let not having someone to travel with hold you back from visiting places or doing things you dream of doing–GIRL POWER LADIES! Just always remember to be safe about it (and by safe I mean don’t give your phone number to some guy at a market and expect him not to be creepy–THEY ARE ALWAYS CREEPY AT MARKETS, AND AT THE LOUVRE IN PARIS, AND IF THEY ARE FROM BELGIUM). But along with being safe, be open and allow yourself to have new experiences as well…just common sense is all it takes to successfully travel solo! So if reading this lights a fire in you: go out, travel solo, live your life, explore and make unforgettable memories for your own #1-9.
Have you ever travelled alone? Do you prefer to travel in pairs, groups or alone?