Welcome back to Women Who Wander. This series focuses encouraging women to seek out solo travel. Empowering and inspiring both seasoned Solo Travellers and those who have yet to venture out on their own. The response to this series has been amazing and I just want to thank you all for embracing it. Hopefully many more Solo Travel stories to come
Next up is Lauren with her reasons for why solo travel just isn’t for her.
Lauren is a Yorkshire born, Mexico City based blogger (for now anyway) who’s headed for South America in September. Unsurprisingly she won’t be travelling solo. Her favourite things to blog about are food, feminism and cultural quirks. Check out her blog www.northernlauren.com
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Solo Travel Isn’t For Me
Solo travel is considered by many to be the pinnacle of travelling. If you aren’t going it alone in this big, wide world then why are you even bothering? However, I’ve tried solo travel – believe me I’ve tried – and I’ve come to the conclusion that Solo Travel isn’t for me. Even though I fit the mould of the ‘perfect’ solo traveller – I’m naturally solitary, a big fan of my own company, as well as bossy and organized by nature – it just doesn’t seem to work for me, and here’s why.
I’m throwing perhaps the most controversial point in early, so hear me out – I don’t want to make new friends. I think a huge part of travelling alone is wanting to meet people and have travel buddies along the way to share your experiences with. While I totally agree that this is one of the most important aspects of travelling, I just prefer to make my memories with pre-approved friends who I know can take great not-candid-candid shots of me at the drop of a hat and, most importantly, without judgment. And don’t even get me started on the forced conviviality and seemingly interminable small talk you have to endure with people you meet in hostels. Half of whom you share nothing in common with other than current geographical location.
I also find that, and excuse the upcoming sweeping generalisation, the stereotype of the traveller you find in the type of cheap hostels I’m inclined to stay in (because, budget) is generally pretty reliable. That’s to say, sleep all day, party all night and repeat. It’s just not a world that interests me. So I’m not particularly interested in getting to know those people. It’s clear we have such wildly different ideas of how best to experience a place.
Is It Safe?
The safety aspect of travelling solo also puts me off at times too. When I was travelling alone in Havana I never felt I could really experience the place. I felt I was too much of an easy target wandering around alone. (As a sidenote, you always hear just how safe Cuba is and I believe it, but that didn’t stop me feeling intimidated by leering men). Plus, going out at night was off the table because I had no one to go with (see previous controversy-making point). I know, I know, I can’t have my anti-social cake and eat it too, but still…sometimes having no one with you puts a dampener on what are crucial travel experiences.
Furthermore, as a solitary female and former cripplingly self-conscious teenager, I always have a complex about wandering around alone. Perhaps living in Mexico has something to do with it, but I’m always convinced people are looking at me. Logically, I know I blend into the background. However, these overwhelming remnants of teenage self-consciousness still lead me to rush through things and never properly take anything in. I feel too awkward to walk into a café and sit alone with a drink. I hate to order from food stalls alone when I’m in a new place.
Navigating a New Place Solo is Hard
Admittedly, I’ve definitely got over this in recent years. However, I remember when I first moved to Guadalajara I couldn’t bring myself to enter shops for about six months. Which is just ridiculous looking back. Every time I go somewhere new that same weird feeling creeps up on me again and I become unbearably self-conscious. Basically, I need accompaniment to help me get out of my own head. To take everything in and really appreciate the place I’m visiting. After all, and as the old saying goes, the people make the place.
Finally, to fully expose all my vices and flaws for the internet to see, I also tend towards being sinfully lazy if given half a chance. If I don’t have a motivation (in the form of a travel partner) to get up and go, I’d happily lounge around in the hostel reading or messing with my phone. Which isn’t the ideal way to spend a holiday to say the least. I’m almost certain this reluctance to do stuff is also related to the previous point. I spent some time over Christmas 2014 in Playa del Carmen. I was so guilty of this that I don’t actually remember what I did in the time that I was there. My memory of that stopover isn’t littered with great parties or experiences, but with the lobby of the hostel I was at and an unfortunate sexual harassment incident.
It’s Just Easier with a Travel Buddy
For all these reasons, solo travel isn’t for me. That’s not to say I don’t like going off on my own for hours at a time and having some time for myself. But I need the comfort of knowing that there’ll be someone else waiting for me when I get back. And, arguably the most important reason of all, only your nearest and dearest know how to take that perfect not-candid-candid of you.
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