Once in your life, allow yourself a trip that is entirely planned and done by you. The discoveries are amazing and leave lasting marks and learnings in your travel history. There are countless stories of women traveling around the world with friends, with a companion… or alone.
You already know me. You know I like to pack a backpack and venture out into the world. And I enjoy using dating sites to find new people in my travels. I meet people to talk, spend time together, kiss or have sex. I really believe that traveling alone is a very efficient way of knowing myself. But many people are surprised to discover that I travel completely alone. I hear many questions like "Don’t you feel lonely?". My dear readers, we must break this taboo that say that women should only travel accompanied by someone. You will never know the breadth of all your capabilities and possibilities while you don’t have the courage to travel alone.
You’ll be surprised, but the internet searches for "ideas for traveling alone" grow 50% a year, and searches for "destinations for single travelers" increase by 60%. Packing and embarking for an unfamiliar destination is a great opportunity to meet people, but at times the traveler may feel lonely. And this sensation is not exclusive to vacations: who never needed to have lunch alone at the interval of work and wanted some company?
Let’s create some hypothetical situations here. You were the only one of your friends who managed to buy that unbelievable tickets on promotion. Or your boyfriend has changed jobs and now you have to work on the dates planned for the holidays. Or everyone you know has gone to that incredible destination that you are crazy to visit. Suddenly you, who never thought about traveling alone, have to decide: get bored at home or explore the world?
For me, there is only one answer that will bring great memories and adventures. And you know what? Taking the plane alone doesn’t mean being without company on the trip. After all, today there are many tools and applications that bring the traveler closer to cool local people or other explorers with interests similar to yours.
So, as I write this post, I'm on the plane going towards my South America backpack adventure!
Why did I choose to travel alone?
One year and a half before all these travels, I went through an intense process of emotional and spiritual treatment because, among other things, I had a great difficulty in accepting the inconstancy of human relationships. This, coupled with a strong tendency to want to control everything and everyone, gave me a lot of anxiety and, therefore, suffering.
To be honest, all I wanted to do after breaking my heart was to take a vacation from others and, more importantly, from the person I became when in contact with others. Basically, I wanted to have fun doing whatever I wanted, any way I wanted and anytime I wanted to. Sounds pretty liberating, huh?
And it was. It was fun and liberating and gave an honest raise in my self-confidence. But traveling alone was so wonderful that, as if that goal was not enough, I still learned things that I desperately needed to complement this whole healing process. Things about people, about each other and about myself. I was learning a little bit with each loved person that I found along the way.
And believe me, the people who find their path when they travel alone are true gifts from the universe.
Traveling alone is having the power throughout the trip planning. You are the one who benefits from decisions, like choosing the destinations and lodgings, what to eat, what hours to wake up and how much time you’ll spend relaxing on the beach. You (and no one else) is the one who completely dictates the pace of the trip and that makes it even more interesting!
The lightness of travel friendships and loves
During all my travels I met people, interacted with them, amused myself, allowed me to trust. I was alone when I really wanted to and I never felt lonely. But I considered all these encounters as travel friends and/or lovers, with all the lightness it brings.
I was always aware that each person I met was on the same path as me, each in his own way. Somewhere along the road we met each other and shared something: a walk, a joke, good conversations, an adventure, photos, kisses, caresses. Soon, each one would continue his own path, taking with him a good memory of the other and nothing more. And this was not at all sad. It was a gift to have lived with those people and made part (even if small) of a trip that probably changed their lives, in the same way that traveling alone and experiencing these encounters changed mine.
I felt so relieved and proud to finally be at peace with the detachment I sought. But it did not come without the counterpoint of detachment to balance. In fact, it's not difficult to detach when you have not come close enough to someone to begin with.
But is it safe for women to travel alone in Latin America?
The answer is yes. There is not much secret, really. Just take exactly the same precautions you usually take when you are traveling alone through America or Europe. Only that.
To get security tips wherever you are, always talk to the staff at your hostel, hotel or other lodging. They live in the city and know the quietest areas, the ones to avoid at night and the one to fully enjoy. No mistake or unnecessary worries . Discover this and have fun! Quickly you’ll get into the vibe of becoming alone and get handle of everything!
Let me tell you my personal story, because the decision to go unaccompanied was crucial to my journey. If you're not sure about that, or thinking of giving up on your trip because you didn’t find the right company, I hope that's the push you needed.
Often what makes it impossible for a woman to make the decision to travel through South America by herself is the simple fact of being a woman. Yes, we know how difficult it can be to travel to certain places feeling the fear of suffering any type of violence. The reality, unfortunately, is that even today, we are always exposed to this type of attitude, whether in the streets, at work, in personal life and also in travels. But we should not restrain ourselves, on the contrary, the more women traveling in South America alone, the more chance we have of having our complete and deserved freedom to be able to travel alone whenever and wherever we want.
The care we must have is the same as we already know we should take, no matter the place. A very important tip is to first research and read about the destination you intend to go, to know the culture, the customs and, after your arrival, ask for directions to the residents of the area and follow each one. After all this and whenever you feel safe: let yourself be carried away by your instincts (for they don’t fail!).
Choose a destination, book accommodations, plan the itinerary, pack, separate the necessary documents and embark… all this alone! In recent years, the number of women traveling to South America alone is significant and very encouraging. That fear of traveling alone for being a woman or for lack of company is already something that is increasingly forgotten in the distant past.
The variety and diversity of destinations within South America is fascinating, and the perfect opportunity to plan your trip for the first time alone. The fear, at times unfounded, of exploring a country without company, can’t prevent you from enjoying a time entirely devoted to yourself.
- Never forget: too much money together is synonymous of problem. Divide the money so that you can survive for two days, in case you lose most of the amount you are carrying;
- Walking with money on paper requires organization and discretion. Don’t keep opening your wallet full of cash in front of the whole hostel;
- If you lose money, don’t despair. A desperate person always thinks in the dumbest way;
- Avoid making large purchases of currency near elections, plebiscites or major political events in the country.
Speaking of money, is it ok for me to arrive in a country of South America without the local coin?
Yes, no problem. Come with your currency (always safer to trade) at the airport, bus station, whatever the place, and you'll have somewhere to change. Exchange little, just enough to get in your lodging or in the center of the city, where you must find various exchange offices.
But Leah, what if I don’t find a foreign exchange place in the city where I arrived? Damn, how unlucky!!!! Try to unroll to pay in dollars even, I already did that once. But I find it difficult to happen, since all cities have, at least, a bank. Try to go there and talk to someone.
In another post I will give tips on places to visit and talk about some of my adventures.
What I will take from the experience of traveling alone?
Today, for me, my progression is very clear throughout the trip. I started by allowing myself to interact and trust people, but without getting too close; And I ended up opening up to create deeper and more lasting bonds with the people I met and places I knew.
And here comes the important part:
This deepening wasn’t due to the excessive attachment that caused me so much suffering. It came with the acceptance that these encounters happen and pass, but the exchange between people, the good things, these things stay with us, regardless of what happens later.
In the end, traveling alone brought me: a) great friendships; and b) lessons that I needed a lot.Seriously, people, it wasn’t easy! I really needed a shakeup like that. And I am very grateful to have been a shakeup by good, fun and lovely experiences. Because we learn too much in difficulty, but learning in joy is much better, right?