Welcome back to Women Who Wander. This series focuses of Solo Female Travel. The aim of this series is to enable Solo Travellers to tell their stories. Also to provide encouragement for those who have yet to venture out on their own. While I am not a seasoned solo traveller myself, I hope these stories will not only inspire you, but also give myself some inspiration!
Here’s Danielle’s story about how you don’t have to be single to be a solo traveller
Danielle Bricker is the girl you see smelling the pages of Pride & Prejudice in the corner of a used bookstore. She is an avid reader, occasional hiker, and an obsessively neat eater. After years of juggling various jobs in publishing, nonprofit management, hospitality, and freelance writing, she is undertaking a year-long round-the-world trip to cover Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, and South and Central America. She likes this current gig – where she travels the world and writes about it – the best.
Read more about Danielle’s travel adventures at www.world-smith.com
You can also find Danielle on:
The Life of a Solo (Not Single) Traveller
Sometimes it seems like the crash and burn of a relationship is a prerequisite for solo female travel. Just take a look at the stories of traveling women that take off in pop culture: Eat Pray Love, Wild. In the new Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, when Lorelai declares she’s going to “do Wild,” Luke immediately begins freaking out about how she’s going to end their relationship. In our collective mindframe, for women to travel alone, they have to be alone.
I’m here with a radical suggestion: No. We don’t have to be single to travel solo.
If I’m being completely honest, the first bud of my solo RTW trip plans did appear during a horrific break-up. But not six months into the three years it took to make my travel pipe dream a reality, I began the healthiest relationship of my life.
Making it Work
As the time for me to leave for my year-long trip steadily approached, there was a lot of dancing around the issue of what would happen to ‘us.’ I briefly entertained the notion of getting my boyfriend to come with me, but deep down I knew I had always pictured this being something I undertook on my own. So our options were either to break up or attempt a long-distance relationship. We were not eager to embrace either of those choices and put off the conversation for months.
Ultimately, we determined that it was silly to make assumptions about what my travels would do to our relationship and end things prematurely. It may be a morbid comparison, but if you somehow knew you’d be run over by a bus in two weeks, would you kill yourself right away to get it over with? Or would you enjoy the rest of your life? We decided not to put any undue pressure on ourselves. We’d give long-distance a shot and if it didn’t work out, we could separate without any hard feelings, knowing it was simply our circumstances driving the split.
I’m now over six months into my year of travel, and happy to report that leaving home for so long has actually been good for our relationship. By no means would I suggest that everyone should maintain long-distance relationships while they travel. But there’s no need to immediately write off the possibility.
The Benefits Solo Travel can have on your Relationship
Traveling has made us better at communicating. When all you can do together is talk, whether via text or Skype or Facebook or email, you become very good at talking. Having the distance as a buffer makes it easier to speak openly. We are in touch if not every day, at least several times a week. Our conversations run from quick check-ins to long, serious discussions.
Traveling has made us both more independent. Like many couples, we were often guilty of the ‘I don’t know, what do you want?’ game, whether we were deciding what to do for the weekend or what to eat for dinner. We rarely spent a day apart and were verging on codependency. Spending all of our days apart has revitalized our ability to be alone. I am more decisive and less concerned about being seen out by myself.
Moreover, traveling solo has given me a stronger sense of self. As a very introverted person, at home I often felt my boyfriend had a richer life than I did. I put most of my energy into working multiple jobs saving for my trip, and nearly all of my friends were also his. As a result, I sometimes felt like my identity was simply ‘Jo’s girlfriend.’ Finally being out in the world as a traveler and a writer, my identity is wholly my own.
The Benefits Solo Travel Can Have on Yourself
About a month ago, I was sitting at a bar in Chiang Khong, stopped over for the night before getting on the slow boat to Laos. For the first time in my life, I was chatting easily with the bartender and other patrons, also on their way to Luang Prabang. We could talk about where we were from and the experiences we’d had. And I realized how rich my own story is after months of travel.
I could say I’m a writer without any reservation. I could talk about seeing an avalanche in the Himalayas or hiking the active Nea Kamini volcano in Greece. I could listen to their own stories. I felt engaged. I felt interesting. I felt whole. And I also knew that feeling won’t end on the road – having taken this time to myself and developed my independent experiences, I can return to my home and my relationship and have more to offer.
Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories