Remember when you couldn’t ignore how badly you wanted to travel anymore? You asked your friends, boyfriend, second cousin, and your best friend from third grade to go with you until finally you realized that if you wanted to travel you’d have to go it alone. Maybe those around you expressed concern or tried to talk you out of it, because the idea of a girl traveling on her own still, unfortunately, draws some skepticism.
Yet thankfully, solo female travel isn’t as taboo as it used to be.
We’re exploring the world in greater numbers year by year, challenging the status quo and proving, not only to others but also to ourselves, just how strong and independent we can be.
Unfortunately, there are still those inane questions that we solo female travelers always get asked, that I want to answer once and for all, so we can all move onto more interesting topics of conversation, alright?
Here are 13 questions just about every solo female traveler has heard:
1. Why is a pretty girl like you still single?
Because so many conversations with would-be suitors go like this…
2. Don’t you have any friends who want to travel with you?
I do, but they have their own lives chasing advanced degrees, climbing the corporate ladder, and saving lives in hospitals. We each have our own dreams and our own life paths and just because theirs keeps them at home doesn’t mean that I’m friendless.
3. Your husband/boyfriend/father lets you travel by yourself?
Ahem, nobody lets me do anything. I make my own decisions, like the freethinking adult that I am.
But depending on how aggressively and suggestively you’re asking, he just might be around the corner, 300 pounds of solid muscle and ready to pummel you. I’m on my way to meet up with him now.
4. Aren’t you lonely?
Each time I walk into a hostel I make five new friends, each time a local takes interest in why I’m alone, I get invited to a family dinner or a cool local ceremony. I have made more friends than I can count simply because I’m constantly meeting new people everywhere I go, and while there are some lonely times, they are few and far between.
5. Isn’t it dangerous for a woman to travel on her own?
Enough with that bologna! These days I spend more time in countries that are statically safer by a long-shot than the USA, so by leaving home I am actually decreasing the chances of something sinister happening.
6. Really? You’re not worried about being victimized because you’re by yourself?
When I’m on my own, I’m hyperaware. My intuition gets sharper, and locals are more likely to want to take me in or look after me than to take advantage of me. Thankfully, I find that being a girl traveling solo is actually helpful rather than a disadvantage.
7. Don’t you get bored?
It’s impossible to get bored with constantly changing landscapes, and new smells, sights, and conversations on the daily.
8. How do you stay safe?
I just do the same things I’ve been doing all my life to stay safe and alive – I say no if a situation makes me uncomfortable, don’t walk around alone at night, make sure that I familiarize myself with the safety situation in the cities I visit by asking the employees at my accommodation what to be aware of and what to avoid, and I dress according to the customs of the country I’m in to avoid unwanted attention.
9. Don’t you get homesick?
Yeah, I do. That’s a tough one, and the longer I’m away from home the more I miss those who have always loved and supported me. The great thing is I can always go home, and I can make it a priority to be there for the important milestones in my friends and family’s lives. We all put in more effort to see each other when there are fewer opportunities and that’s an unexpected benefit of traveling.
10. How can you handle living out of a backpack? I’d get so tired of the lack of wardrobe variety.
Honestly when you’re having the trip of a lifetime what you are wearing and how great your hair and makeup look quickly fade in matters of importance. It’s about the adventure first and foremost, and that’s an even more beautiful thing.
11. Do you have boyfriends in every country? You must get around.
That would require way too much juggling and I don’t have the energy! I get the opportunity to meet way more men than I would at home, true, but that doesn’t mean I share my bed with all of them. And even if I did, so what? Ladies have every right to experiment, too.
12. How do you afford to travel like that?
Hard work, sacrifices, and savings, it’s really that simple!
13. When are you going to settle down, have a family, and stop traveling?
This is my favorite question of all, because every woman should want to get married and have kids, right? I don’t see ‘settling down’ as the end goal for my life. Maybe I’ll get married and have children and maybe I won’t. I do know that right now, what fulfills me is wandering and writing and if someday that doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ll figure something else out.
Don’t worry too much about me, I’ve gotten to know myself better than I ever did before I traveled alone. I’ve become so much better at problem-solving, negotiating, and tuning in with my inner voice and needs. When the time is right to choose another path, I’ll know, but it’s not right now, and it won’t be tomorrow, either.