When I was hiking in beautiful Patagonia’s glacier park, I met a mother hiking with her daughter. We were hiking the same trail, and the mother kept smiling at me every time our paths crossed. The daughter was in her early twenties, and I was in my late twenties, and the mom eventually asked me if I’m hiking alone. I answered that I came to Argentina alone, and that it’s my first solo trip.
Her smile grew, and she said “good for you!”, she was so excited and happy for me, explaining that her daughter dragged her to this trek, because she none of the daughter’s friends were available or interested in traveling to Argentina! Sounds familiar?
Why did I decide to travel alone?
There were so many moments in my life, when my friends were too busy, or simply in a very different place in life. That’s why traveling solo was the best decision I’ve ever made. A woman traveling alone is a rare thing for women in Israel, simply because we are used to doing everything in groups. Yes, life is happier when you are part of the gang, but traveling solo is such a liberating, and exciting experience for women, regardless to your origin or destination.
Things that I’ve learned when traveling solo: Why every woman should go on 1 solo trip?
Discover the Wonder Woman in you
As women, we often meet more challenges in our personal life, and in our careers, than men do. But, when I planned a 2-month trip by myself, found my way in a foreign country, climbed Fitz Roy, and climbed down, without breaking a leg – I’ve learned there’s nothing I can’t do.
When I was in Peru, I decided to climb up Machu Picchu mountain. I wasn’t sure if I will succeed, and If I have the physical energy to climb at that time. I had already traveled for 3 weeks, hiked a lot, and was a bit tired, but if I was already there, I simply couldn’t skip this, and maybe regret.
There was heavy rain that day, and so many people in their rain coats waiting for the gates to open, to hike up and see the marvel of the Inca empire from a 2,430 meters height. So, I signed my name in the park’s visitors’ book, and had 5 hours to hike up 2,200 stairs and down. I thought no problems! But then I started climbing, uneven steps, stone slippery steps, some steps bigger than my step (I’m petite), when it kept raining. There were so many moments that I just wanted to stop, sit and give up. It was too difficult, I couldn’t catch my breath, and other hikers kept passing me. However, I decide to continue, take a step at a time, and just focus on the closest step, and see if I can make it up.
I made it to the top. You can decide if to be your own personal cheerleader, or be your worst enemy. Every time I feel like work is too much – too many tasks, pressure, deadlines pouring down on me, and expectations to high too for me too reach – I remember Machu Picchu.
Before traveling alone, I didn’t know that it’s actually very common around the world, for women to travel solo. When I stepped out of my comfort zone, I met so many women, brave, independent, strong women that packed a bag, a bit of courage, faith and good hiking boots, for a life-changing journey. I met women from Argentina, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, and Spain, and found a special connection to every single one of them. We talked about work, traveling, life, what inspires us, struggles, beautiful places, while drinking a glass of wine, hiking, or watching the sunset.
When you travel solo, you allow yourself to be open to other people. Women that dare to dream, break boundaries, and learn that there are women around the world, that are brave, that choose to follow their dreams, not listen to what friends, family or people around think, and being uniques.
Live in your own pace
Traveling with friends is great, but it means you are traveling in their pace. When you travel solo, you pick the restaurant, lunch time, how many sites you visit today, when to wake up and when to slow down. You learn about the things that make you smile, likes and dislikes, and what works for you – only for you. I think as a woman, it is crucial to know yourself: the things that motivate you, passions and interests, strengths and weaknesses, because there will always be people in society that tell you how a lady should act, what you should want as a woman, the roles that are destined for you, and above all there will be voices that will whisper “that’s not the right way to think, behave…”.
When you go out for a dinner alone, go to the movies, or go up that plane to a new and exciting destination, you learn to listen to that intuition, she is on your side. Nobody knows best that you do, and every new thing you try alone will show you that you can do anything you set your mind on.
Find what makes you smile
The best thing I’ve discovered about traveling solo, is that I can make myself happy all by myself. There were little things that make me happy – like a delicious pancake breakfast in Prague on a rainy day, a rainbow after a stormy night when I was camping in Peru, a gelato on a humid summer day in Italy, being kissed by a Llama in Cusco. Happiness is made of small moments, little surprises that come your way, compassion and love from the universe to show you there’s always sun after a storm.
Oh, the places you’ll go!
Sometimes you’ll reach the clouds, or that breathtaking view point, or just find a nice wooden bench to sit back with your coffee and reflect on the day. Sometimes you’ll turn the wrong corner, and need to walk back, find your way again, and you’ll think you’ve lost so much precious time. But, then, you’ll get there eventually, where the band is playing your song, and there are only happy tunes, and those bumps along the way will make the journey even sweeter.
The first step is the hardest, but you have to wear comfy shoes, that will carry you beyond your greatest dreams. Yes, comfortable shoes are the secret to every adventure, so you can walk in confident steps, even when you need to walk back, turn around from any point on your journey that looks like the wrong direction.