When a woman says she wants to travel the world by herself, she can stereotypically be met with some disapproving glances or double takes. “What?”, someone will say. “By yourself?”
And while said sceptical person probably only has your best interests at heart, there are so many misconceptions about travelling alone that put people off doing it.
Which is why it’s time to shut down the myths and book a one way ticket to the other side of the world with just a backpack and a spare camera battery to your name.
‘It’s dangerous for a female to travel solo’
Let’s get real for a second: yes, there are situations where a woman would fear for her safety more than a man potentially would – but situations like that can occur in the UK, too, and that doesn’t stop us from being out alone.
In certain scenarios, men and women – twentysomething or not – would feel scared for their safety, but that can’t stop you from exploring the incredible, amazing and glorious things the world has to offer.
Do you research, use your common sense and keep your eyes open to your surroundings – not only to avoid any unwanted situations, but to take in what you’re seeing and to fully appreciate your unexplored surroundings
Plus, the internet exists! Apps will always have your back: Google Translate will help with communication, Safety Map Worldwide will always help you plan the safest route and Sit or Squat, well, it’s got all the toilet info you can ever need.
‘You have to share a room with randomers’
Again, this is the same for men and women, and doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing – or, actually, a thing at all. Be smart: use the lockers, check you’ve got all your stuff with you and just be conscious of your surroundings.
If mixed dorm rooms in hostels aren’t appealing to begin with, consider booking yourself into a private dorm or female only bedrooms for a couple of nights whilst you find your feet and get to grips with the travelling lifestyle. It can be a lot to take in at once, and the last thing you need is a bad night’s sleep, but look at it this way: the people you’re sharing a dorm with are probably in the exact same situation as you, and if you actually got talking? You’d most likely have a lot in common.
‘You have to talk to strangers’
As anyone who’s been travelling by themselves will tell you, strangers quickly become friends when you’re in a situation where nobody actually really knows anyone. When you’re discovering the unknown and seeing the same faces in hostels all the time, it’s easy to become acquainted with ‘strangers’.
Equally, there’s no unwritten rule to say you have to spend time with other people, anyway. If by ‘travelling solo ‘ you really do want to travel by yourself the whole time, you don’t have to feel inclined to talk to other people. You do you, girl.
‘It’s too expensive’
People often assume travelling is restricted to people with over-generous parents or a lifetime worth of savings, and although it does take an initial spurge of money on a plane ticket, it doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Hostels, local living and excursions can be cheap if you plan ahead and shop around, and there’s nothing to say you can’t get a part time job while you’re out there, anyway.
Plus, swapping your takeaway for eating in once a week or your Pret coffee for a homemade one each day for a year? Could save you enough to get you started.
‘You can never switch off when you’re alone’
‘You’ll be watching your back the whole time’, ‘you won’t be able to relax’, ‘you’ll constantly be worried about your stuff’ etc etc are probably things people have told you or have crossed your mind, but it’s not necessarily true.
Anyone that’s been a solo traveller will tell you how quickly you make friends and bond with other travellers – and seeing as you can do a quick Facebook sweep and stalk their Instagram when they’re not looking, the chances are they’re not the creepy weirdos your mum is terrified you’re going to meet.
You’ll be mixing with people j.u.s.t.l.i.k.e.y.o.u. Twentysomethings who wanted to see the world, make friends and be safe.
While it’s easy to think being a solo backpacker limits the things you can do, that’s just not the case at all. Not only are their options to join larger tours to put you in touch with other travellers who might want to do similar things as you, but you can do things on your own, too.
Be confident in your ability.
‘I can’t take the time off work’
Before you stick a big fat metaphorical NO sticker on the travelling dream because you can’t afford to leave your job, you can travel the world without leaving your full time employment. It IS possible. You can request sabbaticals, consider going freelance or look if you can transfer elsewhere.
Either that, or take the time to seriously consider whether your current stable job is worth missing out on the chance of a lifetime for. Of course, money and budget is a huge consideration, but so is the opportunity to go away for an extended period of time. That means saving as much as possible, looking for jobs with start dates in 6 months time and exploring different credit card options (fun).
‘People back home will forget about you’
This common misconception doesn’t even bear thinking about. Think of your normal routine at home, and question whether, nine times out of 10, you’d trade it in for a spot of island hopping, snorkelling, full moon parties and seeing bits of the world you’ve never been to before. Was the answer yes? Thought so.