The conversation goes like this. “Oh that’s amazing! Who did you go with?” “Myself!” “Wait seriously..weren’t you scared? How? What?”
The answer is no, I’m not scared. We spend our entire lives being dependent on our friends and family. On people we know and feel comfortable with. In places we know and feel comfortable with. In places where everyone speaks our language and everything is easy. My question is: Aren’t you scared? That your experiences might be predictable for the rest of your life?
I went to Europe alone the first time, and with a friend the second. Guess which one I grew more from? Being alone forces you out of your comfort zone. It forces you to strike up conversations with strangers and be open. Does it feel weird at first? Absolutely. I will never forget walking down the street in Barcelona for the first time looking for dinner and realizing I was completely alone in a foreign country. Fumbling to find the Spanish words. Feeling like a complete loser eating alone. At the end of the day who cares? Stop feeling awkward and get over it. It was that time of my life that I learned to truly enjoy my own company. To love sitting with and cultivating my own thoughts. I am one of the most social people that I know, and I love being with people, but I also love the freedom of being alone. If being by yourself makes you really uncomfortable, that’s something you should look into. Why? Don’t you like yourself? Aren’t you interesting and good company? What are you afraid of? It’s something to chew on.
Don’t worry–I made friends pretty quickly in Barcelona who are some of my best friends to this day. I also went to Bali solo. Because I was moving around every few days, it was a bit harder to make friends with a similar agenda. I had to be so creepy sometimes, you guys. It was day three and I had not met a friend yet. I was starting to feel lonely, when I heard a girl across the restaurant from me speaking with an American accent. She was also alone. I straight up asked across the patio where she was from and then proceeded to ask if she wanted to hang out. It was her last full day in Uluwatu and she drove me around on her scooter, showing me all of her favorite spots and restaurants and her secret beach. She had been there for about a month and had so many tips for me. At first I was reluctant to drive my own scooter after hearing all the horror stories, but after a day on hers I was excited and confident I could handle it. From there I would introduce myself to people in my yoga classes, walk up to people on the beach and all around grew some major balls. I now have no shame. And now that I know that I won’t die, if I want to talk to someone I will walk directly up to them and say hi. I met so many awesome people just by doing that. The way I see it, if someone you approach isn’t nice or acts like you’re weird–they’re probably not very cool. And we don’t want to hang with not cool people anyway, right?
Another big concern is safety. Is it safe to travel alone? In my opinion, yes. But you have to be smart and you have to be aware because there obviously are certain places that are safer than others. Is it safe for you to frolic around by yourself in Syria? It is decidedly not. But is it safe to frolic around by yourself in Thailand? Absolutely! I felt more safe walking around in Thailand and Indonesia at night than I ever did in Los Angeles. Don’t let people, the super cynical news, or whatever else, make you afraid of the world. Look at it like this–something could happen to you in even the safest neighborhood in your home country. It is not logical or statistically accurate to think you are less safe simply because you’re in a different one. Be smart, be informed, but don’t be scared. What I have found is that most humans are incredibly kind. They will guide you when you’re lost, offer to have you over for dinner at their mom’s house when you’re hungry, and even give you money when you’re crying at an ATM in the middle of the night and your card isn’t working (true story). They will pick you up on the side of the road when your bus doesn’t come, and return your passport back to you by personally meeting you for drinks when you lose it. They will let you hang out in their villa when you’re scared because the power went out in Bali, and let you use their personal scooter on Nusa Lembongan all day just because. These are only a few of the awesome people I have crossed paths with and I believe that most people have good hearts. So yes, I think solo travel is safe. Listen to your gut above all. If somethings feels off it probably is..trust that.
Another major perk of traveling alone is doing whatever you want at all times. How epic is that? Many people miss out on traveling to their dream place because they can’t find someone who wants to go to the same place and is available at the same time. When traveling, other solo travelers will be more open to you as well. I can’t even tell you how many more people come up to you to start a conversation than they do at home. A lot of people are in the same boat. Trust that if you are open and kind, you will meet people. Maybe even your new best friends. So what are you afraid of?