The saying, “A stone’s throw in a pond creates a ripple effect…” feels true of the moment. As of recent I have been juggling a lot of weighty decisions about travel, making it more of a lifestyle and what happens when you have no travel partner.
My GRRRL Traveler Challenge #1 : Become a female solo traveler of developing countries.
My GRRRL traveling dreams and the courage required to embark upon them don’t magically create themselves, without some effort on my part to rub two stones together! I rub and I rub and ask myself- Why would I want to travel alone? That little voice inside says- “…because you love to travel…You love to explore new cultures and have adventures . Why WAIT on someone else to allow you to do that? Go for it -or – regret not trying ! And there you have it.
For me, solo travel is an opportunity to continue my travels, without being :
a) at the mercy of friends’ work-vacation schedules or luxury budgets
b) searching for travel buddies to match my wish list of developing countries
c) dealing with others’ fickleness
While twiddling my thumbs waiting, often I feel like I’m standing out in the rain, praying for lightning to strike me into two people! Solution: solo travel.
Proving to myself that I CAN
While I’m super excited to be continuing on with my travels, I’m invariably nervous also. Being a Pacific Asian USA gal, backpacking through non-Western and developing countries is one of my more weightier challenges. I see it as requiring a rugged and worldly survivalist spirit. I’ve always been sheltered, a bit naive and the kind of gal that accidentally wanders into trouble!
Also, until this point, I’ve not gone “full commando” as a soloist. My trip to India and Nepal last year, was an “accidental crash course” in navigating solo and through very challenging and chaotic foreign territory. While my Solo counted- I also had a safety valve of friends that I either started with or joined up with periodically and I’m not confident I can do it again. This GRRRL Traveler challenge- I will be backpacking and roughing it entirely on my own, working with a tight budget, staying at hostels and guesthouses… earning my hobo confidence!
How do you hurdle the FEAR of traveling a developing country A.L.O.N.E ?
If I knew the sure-fire answer to this question, I wouldn’t be asking it. Soloists love to regale the joys and freedoms of traveling as ONE. No one actually lets you in on HOW they hurdled their first-time “fears”. It’s like no one has them. As such, soloists are still a bit of a mystery to me.
I can only imagine that you gain the confidence of a expert female soloist after you’ve Jack Keroac’d your way through several developing countries, acquired powerful squatter legs from the lack of western toilets, rode all forms of transport down to hitching a bull cart, experienced a variety of scams, Delhi belly and… an entire list of frightening things no beginner soloist wants to think about.
With over 30 countries under her traveler’s belt, my GRRRL Traveler friend, Regina, is going on her first solo RTW trip and she will do so without the aid of guidebooks (maybe a peek at a Lonely Planet page here-&-there; but in general, she doesn’t DO guidebooks). Instead, she says her biggest effort planning her trip is figuring which countries to see. A part of me really wants to believe some people are born fearless. I also think there’s a trick to this…
This upcoming backpacking trip will certainly test my GRRR! and allow me to discover the truths and myths of solo travel. With U.S. domestic travel- traveling solo for me is a snap, as I’ve grown up with a largely westernized lifestyle and outlook. Work-wise- if tomorrow I were flown out of country alone with my camera for a shoot, I’d probably have a super-human travel confidence because sometimes, money turns us into fearless soldiers! Traveling developing countries solo for personal reasons- quite a different story and I can be just as big a baby as anyone else!
So let’s get this GRRRL Traveler challenge underway!