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A female junior colleague mentioned to me this week that she’s planning solo travel to Turkey. Instead of reacting as I guess many other people are sure to, reminding her that the world is a dangerous place for women to travel to, that wasn’t an American woman murdered there fairly recently, or spouting some other outdated opinion, I just smiled and congratulated her.
I do think the world would be a better place if everyone, males included, took off on a solo trip. To me, it’s almost a rite of passage, a very small step towards learning what you truly like or dislike.
My first solo trip came when I was 20, a two week trip of backpacking across Greece. Having studied Greek art and architecture, I was pretty much in heaven when it came to all the ancient temples and ruins, and easily spent hours in the museums. Somehow, travelling with anyone else would have tarnished that special trip, having them moan about standing around in a pile of old ruins, or jostling with people as we visited the Acropolis in Athens for the third time that fortnight.
Instead, I was liberated. So what if I didn’t have anyone to have dinner with? I stayed in my hostel, procured a tub of tzatziki, a chunk of bread and proceeded to gorge myself senseless on delicious Greek food. I would eat out at lunchtimes, taking up a whole table outside on the patio with nothing but me, the sunshine, my moussaka and Lonely Planet guide for company. And if the waiter snidely asked, “Table for two?”, referring to my invisible friend, I would just smile sweetly and say proudly, “No – for one”.
Actually, I would say that moments from that trip are still more memorable to me now than some that I have been on with friends or partners. Still shots are captured in my mind: the giant tortoise that poked his head out from behind a magnificent ruined temple of the Cape of Sounion at sunset; the mysterious shadow patterns that the clouds cast over Delphi; the time I got lost on the bus but was helped out by some friendly old Greek ladies; riding the metro into Athens on my first day, so proud that I had arrived and had made it.
Would I trade all that, just so that I could be someone else’s version of ‘safe’? Never. Just because you are a female doesn’t mean that you are incapable of looking after yourself. Nor should it mean that you sacrifice your chance to travel, just because your friends can’t afford it, your boyfriend/ husband doesn’t want to travel to that place, or you’re single. It’s a cliche, I know, but travel does make you richer, opens your eyes, inspires you.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and stop being afraid.
Image cover source: Huffington Post
Guest post by Hannah Pearson: Hannah is the marketing and community manager for Sedunia Travel, a travel agency based out of KL. Originally from the UK, she has also lived in France and China, giving her a truly international outlook. Hannah loves to give travel advice to all travel newbies and swap stories with the travel pros. LinkedIn. Google+.