A personal essay.
They asked me to justify why every woman should travel solo once in her life. This is what came out.
I have put off writing this article for months because I didn’t know where to start.
I didn’t know where to start because there is an implication in that prompt that doesn’t sound quite right and, for some time, I couldn’t put my finger on it. All I knew is that I was uncomfortable.
Why should every woman travel solo once in her life? I let it sit there in my mind, letting the subconscious do its job. Procrastinating can be a very powerful thing. A few weeks went by until one day, I was finally able to say it out loud: She shouldn’t. Or, rather, she doesn’t have to.
Have I disappointed you? Bear with me, please.
In the process of reflecting on my own beliefs, I looked up the words on the internet to see if I could get a different point of view. Maybe there was something crucial I was missing. What I found, it turns out, was a long list of articles with the same topic listing the benefits of travel rather than backing up the premise they chose as a title. “Why should women travel solo” and “the benefits of travel” are two very different topics of conversation.
Don’t get me wrong. After years of traveling on my own, I could talk for days about the benefits of traveling solo. I could go on and on about confidence, connection, empowerment (the trendiest of words), intuition, courage, personal growth… I have experienced all of those, and more, while traveling alone. And I can say with a certainty I don’t often feel that traveling has been a life-changing experience for me and everyone I have met on the road.
However, the fact that something has benefits doesn’t mean that everyone should do it, right? I’m sure running 10 km a day has many benefits, but we don’t go around telling people they should go and complete a marathon a day. Why should this case be different?
✨ It’s not the traveling part that stings me, it’s the should I have problems with ✨
Why should women travel solo once in their life? What if they don’t want to? Aren’t our lives plagued with enough shoulds already? We should study. We should love our family. We should exercise. We should eat healthily. We should act in ways that are acceptable to society. We should always strive for more (don’t even dare to settle). We should, we should, we should.
The last thing I want to do is adding another should to our lives.
Maybe some people thoroughly and genuinely prefer traveling in groups, for instance. And what if someone doesn’t like traveling? What, you don’t think that’s possible? I have friends who hate traveling. They find it stressful and suffer every minute of it. Others are simply indifferent to it. Now, you might be tempted to say, for example, that they are afraid of the unknown and that traveling would help them beat that fear. Touché. But they are not. They don’t fear it. They are simply not interested. Period.
Do I relate? Well, not really. I have been wanting to explore the world ever since I can remember. I used to read stories of adventures in faraway lands and dream of the time when I would go away and have my own. I also see travel in every little movement I make. Damn, even a trip to the supermarket can feel like an adventure if you put your mind to it. Maybe travel is just a mindset.
And traveling is not the only path to challenging yourself, boosting your confidence, or feeling empowered. In the end, we all have to find our own ways, our own answers.
I don’t relate to what my friends feel, but I wholeheartedly accept it.
Embracing our differences is love. This is an exercise in empathy: not sharing someone’s beliefs but still understanding that other people have the right to think differently than us. And that’s what makes the world interesting, isn’t it? Being open and exposed to other people’s opinions and points of view can broaden our minds just as much as traveling. And we don’t need to get on a plane to the other side of the world for that.
So, no. I don’t think every woman should travel solo once in her life, the same way I don’t think every woman should get married, or have children, or love men. What’s true for me doesn’t necessarily have to be true for others.
Let’s rephrase it, then: Every woman could travel solo, if they wanted to.
If you’re reading this, chances are that you DO want to travel, that your feet are itching to get going and explore the world. And that’s great. That’s amazing. Go do it. You have all the power and resources within you that you need to make it happen. And, whatever your experience, you will come back stronger and wiser for sure.
But let’s not put pressure on others to do the same.
👉 P.S. I am aware of the tremendous amount of privilege that these words carry. My journey has not been without its challenges (I’m from a poor family in a third-world country), but they are nothing compared to the challenges other women face. To them, to you, I salute you. And I’m here for you.
More about NomadHer :
NomadHer is an app for female globetrotters to encourage solo travelling safely. NomadHer has a vision of empowering women through travelling.
December 14, 2021
Have you ever thought of going on a solo trip? Let's see 5 ways your life will change when you start solo travel.
December 31, 2021
We all understand how difficult to start the first solo trip in life. That’s why we ask our NomadHers to recommend a safe country for women travellers based on their experience.
December 22, 2021
Through the solo trips, I have become wiser, more independent, stronger, and happier. That’s why I want to share five things this experience has taught me.
Station F, 5 Parvis Alan Turing, Paris, 75013, France
Chenonggyecheonro-85, 9th floor, Seoul, South Korea
BIFC 55th floor, Nam-Gu, Busan, South Korea