When I tell people that I enjoy solo travel, this is the usual expression I receive from some folks…
Arguably, it is out of the norm. Traveling is an experience largely shared with a person by your side, whether a spouse, friend or a group. The idea of someone venturing towards the great unknown of a new place by themselves and that someone being a woman by herself–thoughts of safety, possible loneliness, and general well-being are all viable causes for concern. Even the age-old question of “who will take your pictures?!” is a question I’ve heard more than once. Nevertheless, it hasn’t stopped me from traveling solo many times, and I can honestly say it remains one of the most enjoyable things I have done and will continue to do.
Why Do I Travel Solo?
I do love traveling with other people. It’s wonderful to have that shared experience. But there’s something indescribably fulfilling about experiencing my own adventure; I constantly learn about myself in situations where there’s not someone else close by to rely on, which allows me to recognize my strengths, abilities, and areas where I can always improve (it takes a lot of humility to ask a stranger how to get somewhere, for example). And, quite selfishly, I enjoy making my own plans and adhering to my own traveling schedule. This includes seeing the sights I’ve planned on seeing, and taking breaks/naps whenever I want! Ultimately, when it comes to traveling, times waits for no one, and sometimes, neither do I. If I can go, I go.
What about safety, loneliness, and general well-being?
When I travel solo, I most certainly take it safety seriously. I keep to myself within reason. Announcing to a bunch of strangers that I’m headed to my destination alone? Nope. (Folks strike up conversations with you when you’re alone, mostly out of curiosity. I try to be general and vague in my responses.) I also pick places where my arrival and departure won’t be that noticeable, which means I tend to favor big, touristy cities, but I also do my best not to look like a naïve tourist, which can also leave you too vulnerable. My personal documents and belongings are where I can see them.
As for loneliness, it’s not usually an issue for me. Sure, there are moments when I want someone else to see the amazing thing I’m looking at, but those moments are few and far between. It helps to remember that I chose to travel alone. If I wanted someone with me, that would be the case. The latter points can be applied to my general well-being: solo traveling can really open your eyes to an amazing personal experience.
Okay, now that I’ve convinced you to try solo traveling (hopefully!), here are some wonderful traveling resources for women of color:
There are many groups on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that explore solo traveling for black women and solo traveling in general. A quick search on those platforms will provide abundant resources on groups to join, questions to ask, and so much more. And speaking of Travel Noire, their Instagram page provides so much visual traveling inspiration. You’ll want to jump on a plane immediately.
For more information about the above resources, check out this list from BAUCE Mag.
Of course, most, if not all of us, can’t always afford to spend tons of money on travel. Here are some places to find affordable travel (aka cheap flights):
Remember, make sure to follow these sites on social media, as well. Also, read the Huffington Post’s round-up of cheap flight websites here.
Looking for places to go?
Make use of those traveling resources mentioned above. Many of those sites provide great advice about where to go and can even curate travel destinations. Likewise, travel groups (especially those you find on social media) can give candid tips about certain destinations and how we are welcomed there as black women.
To end, I believe Dr. Maya Angelou said it best:
So many valuable lessons can be gained through travel by itself, and that won’t change whether you’re traveling by yourself or with a group of people. Nevertheless, it really can’t hurt to try.
Thanks for reading! Are you a solo traveler? What are your favorite things about solo traveling? Share in the comments below! For more of my writing, check out my lifestyle blog at www.okyerewa.com. You can also find and follow me on the ‘Gram @frowriter.
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