I get asked all the time when I post on Facebook that I am headed somewhere new — “Aren't you afraid of traveling by yourself?” The answer is simple — no I am not afraid to travel alone.
You see, for many years of my life I lived in fear of doing anything — moving to a new city, quitting my job and starting my full time blogging career, and yes — for many years I was deathly afraid of going anywhere by myself.
But somewhere along the lines, God spoke strength into my life and I no longer feared the things I once feared.
Back a few years ago when I dove into this blogging career full time, I promised myself I would be open to trying new things, because we all know with blogging, the doors for travel are opened for you if you share about your adventures.
When I went on my first press trip to New York for the Avengers event, right then and there, I fell in love with traveling. I did that one by myself — and had to find my way around the city with just a couple of other bloggers. Honestly — it was one of the best times in my entire life.
Then I went to California, and to Texas — and then I did New York again.
And you know what? The more I travel by myself, the less afraid I am.
Here's why I feel that way —
5 Reasons Why I am Not Afraid to Travel Alone
1. The World May Be Dangerous, But It's Not as Dangerous As It's Made Out To Be
Before I traveled to New York, I was scared of that place. Why? Because all I have ever known about New York is that it has high crime, murderous villains, robbers, etc.
We see so many movies and read so many sensationalized headlines that we’ve become conditioned to assume that the world “out there” is a scary, dangerous place. But guess what? It’s really not.
I have been on the streets of New York and walked with just my phone and my friend and we walked ALL over the city — and not once did anyone treat us poorly.
Yes — I am sure if we sought out that kind of person then yes we could find them, but when we needed directions or help, we knew the kind of people to ask.
We even braved the subway when we went to New York.
#2 I Trust My Gut Feeling
I pay attention to my gut when I am traveling. Yes — as a woman, I have to be careful who I talk to, and traveling as a woman is different than a man.
But here is one thing that I make sure I do — I treat my trip away from home as if I was at home. What I mean by that is if I don't act or do that in my home town, I am not going to do that while I am by myself.
This means that I’m not going to go wandering in an unfamiliar place on my own at night, or take rides with complete strangers, or go off without telling someone where I went.
You definitely will not find me in a bar getting drunk or doing drugs or anything else that would put me in danger no matter where I am.
I also have learned to be aware of my surroundings and to trust my gut. If I find myself in a situation where I feel uncomfortable, I do what I can to remove myself from it. When you travel by yourself, you are your own best defense.
#3 Research, Research, Research
Anytime I am going on a trip, I always do my research before I go. I decided to start doing this after my first trip to New York.
When you visit Times Square, I was not aware of the money scammers that hang out down there for “picture opps”. Being a first time traveler, I bought into it and had my picture made with Elmo and then right after, he wanted $20 for the photo.
He finally let me go, and I was fine. But I quickly learned my lesson to check out the area by Googling and reading up on things like cultural norms, common scams, and how I should dress as a tourist.
Doing my homework helps me fit in to new cultures better, and also makes it easier to be vigilant without being paranoid.
#4 Not Everyone is Out to Get You
This one is a big one for me as I am not afraid of meeting people and just walking up and asking questions. But some are deathly afraid of this.
I realized this most recently when I went on a trip to Austin, Texas. I was meeting up with my Nutrish friends for a fun filled couple of days and there was a very nice man on the plane.
Granted, he was probably flirting, but I just let it go as he was being super nice. He helped me get my luggage up in the overhead bin and when it was time to depart the plane, without me asking, he got my luggage down for me.
To me, that is a true gentleman and I thanked him for his kindness and we went our separate ways.
Just as the world isn’t an extremely dangerous place, people are not always so evil. I spent a lot of time being very suspicious of anyone who would strike up a conversation with me for about the first year I was traveling alone. Until I realized that those people were just trying to be friendly.
While it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and the people you come in contact with, you do not have to look at everyone as a threat or someone who wants to do you harm.
You will enjoy yourself so much more, if you just relax and open yourself up to meeting new faces and having great conversations.
You will realize that people are more like you and not as different as you think. It's neat to meet new people and hear their story and how they go to where they are.
#5 Find Like Minded People Who Like to Travel Too
One of my favorite parts about traveling is that many times it is with the blogging groups I am a part of. We attend the same conferences, the same press trips, and when we do, we find ways to meet up together to hang out and enjoy the company.
There’s no need for me to be afraid, because I’ve learned that traveling by myself doesn’t necessarily have to mean being alone all the time. There is always a friend close by!
What about you?
I realize that traveling along as a woman will always be one of those things that gets misrepresented and blown out of proportion. Hopefully the information I shared with you here will give you a little more confidence and help you rest a little easier the next time you want to visit somewhere new.