Addressing the #1 Question: What's it like being a Solo Female Traveler?
What's it like being a solo female traveler? Aren't you scared of going alone? How do people treat you? What do you do by yourself? What made you want to do this?
These are just a few of the many questions I always get asked when it comes to my travels. So this blog is dedicated to answering those very questions! For starters, being a woman doesn't equal being handicap; and when I say handicap I don't mean physically- I mean mentally. Just because you're a woman doesn't mean you can't go out and do things by yourself. We can go to grocery stores, malls, movies, dinner and lots of other places by ourselves, why shouldn't we consider traveling by ourselves as well? Especially in this day and age- women are doing more and more by themselves and for themselves, why is traveling any different? Don't ever be led to believe that just because you're a woman, you don't have access or the ability to do certain things! Those have never been my thoughts about myself. Being a woman doesn't hold me back, in fact- it propels me forward!
With all that being said, don't hold yourself back from doing the things your heart desires. You'll soon grow to be an older woman with people that look up to you. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends and more! Have exciting stories for them of the things you did in your life. What better stories and adventures to share than your travels?
What's it like being a female traveler and am I afraid-- It's fun being able to just get up and go! Not having to wait for anyone else to have their money or priorities together is a great feeling. Also not missing opportunities that the Universe has set in place for me because someone else wasn't willing to go with me. I don't live my life that way. I go when I want, where I want and do what I want when I get there.
What about being scared-- I do still get butterflies right before every trip I take. But it's more from excitement than it is fear. What is there to fear? Death? Being hurt? Kidnapped? Assaulted? Sure, I can let those thoughts control me, but the truth about all of those things is that they can happen even when I'm not on a trip. They can all happen right in my backyard! So why fear them? When it's your time to go, you're going regardless if you're at home, working or traveling. Again, I don't let those things hold me back from living my life and neither should you!
How do people treat you-- My experiences of how people have treated me as a solo traveler have been great. I've not had anyone be overtly rude, disrespectful or mean to me. Although I can't speak for other travelers, generally wherever I've gone, people embraced me. They're curious about me and why I'm traveling alone. They strike up conversations with me, invite me to their cities local hot spots, offer to show me around town and in extreme cases, they've even invited me to stay at their homes! Both men and women. I've been embraced by older and younger people of all different nationalities. I believe it has a lot to do with the way I carry myself and the way I treat them. I'm not rude, disrespectful or mean to people-- and I'm a firm believer that you get the same energy you put out in the world.
Now of course I've never taken the opportunity to stay at someone's house! Just because I'm bold and brave, doesn't mean I have to be naive. There are still some things I won't do out of safety and precaution. I graciously accept their offers and invites to stay at their places, then politely decline while leaving the option open for them to show me around their country or city. But in that respect, I usually always book my own tours and adventures through a reputable travel company. I'm not reliant or dependent on the generosity of strangers to host me or show me around.
What do I do when I'm by myself-- I do whatever I want. If I'm hungry, I go out to eat. If I want to shop, I find a mall. If I want the beach, I find a taxi or a shuttle to take me there. Despite the language barriers, navigating your way around in a foreign country is really no different than it is navigating your way around at home. Not to mention we have these handy little devices in our pockets called cell phones that literally do everything for us. From finding bus stops and restaurants to checking flights times and emails-- we have complete access to the world right in the palm of our hands! So find what you want to do and do it.
My favorite booking site that I've used in nearly every country I've visited is Viator.com. It's an easy to use site that doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. Simply input your location, along with the dates you'll be there and the different activities will populate. Prices are shown and you can book directly from your phone. Although the recommended time frame to guarantee a booking is 24 hours, I've booked activities within 4-5 hours of the tour starting and was successful at getting it! (Don't take your chances though. Always have a back up just in case you can't book something within the 24 hour window) If something goes wrong or your tour is delayed or cancelled- they do give full/partial refunds (depending on the cause of the cancellation.) Check the site out for yourself. You can even use the site to find fun things to do right in your own state!
What made me want to travel by myself-- Initially that wasn't the goal. But it ended up working out in my favor. I planned my first trip with somebody else and they flaked when it was time to put the money up and go. I ultimately missed out on that trip. I wasn't as upset with the person as much as I was with myself. From that moment on, I told myself that I would never miss another opportunity again, I would go with or without others. Since then, that's exactly what I've done. I realized that what the Universe had in store for me might not've been the same for someone else. Therefore I would take what the Universe was offering me and not think to include anyone else.
What's for me is for me and what's for them is for them. Traveling is not for everybody. Some just don't see the value in it and that's OK. There's nothing wrong with it. I suggest if you want to start traveling, but find yourself stuck or afraid because your friend/ sister/ cousin/ co-worker or whoever else refuses to take it seriously, go without them; and TRUST ME when I say this, when you get back, they'll be begging you to take them on your next trip! That's how it works. You have to be the beacon of hope and inspiration for others. They have to see you do it and succeed before they feel brave enough to take their own leap!
Besides that, all of my travel friends, I've met while traveling. That's how you'll find your travel buddies, through traveling. They are already doing it and have no problem meeting you in different places for group traveling. These are the people you want to associate yourself with. Not that you have to abandon your hometown friends, but if you want travel friends, find people that are already traveling. The same goes for just about anything in life. Birds of a feather, right? You want friends with motorcycles, you join a motorcycle club. Friends with degrees and educational backgrounds, you find them in schools. If you want friends with the same interest as you, you find them in the places already doing what it is that you want to do!
I don't share my travels to brag or to shame people for not doing the same. I do it to inspire others. I had no idea that after returning from my first international vacation, I would start a blog and have travel friends. That was never my intent. It just so happened that people began sending me messages about how much I inspired them and they wanted to know more about me. How I can afford it, how I began, where I'm going next, if they could see more pictures, etc. That's why I started this travel blog. To be able to address some of the questions and erase the doubt that a lot of US (people of color) have when it comes to learning more about things that we aren't necessarily familiar with. Travel, being one of those things. It's always easier to learn from someone who looks like you and relates to your struggles, than it is to learn from someone that isn't even in the same social or economical class as you. With this blog, I hope that I'm able to do just that! Teach, inspire and help others feel brave enough to follow their own dreams!
Now that I've answered those lingering questions, the real question is are you ready to start traveling? Whether it be group travel, solo traveling and traveling with your significant other- are you ready to show your tribe that it's possible? Do your homework on where you want to go and book it! It's that easy. (I'll be doing a $200 cash giveaway this Friday 4/10 to 1 lucky person who: shares this blog, subscribes to this site and follows me on Instagram @AshawnaLane) Winner will be announced on Friday 4/10! Good luck!!
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Be safe and happy travels!