I thought I’d share some comments my family and friends have mentioned to me when I choose my next destination (Jordan). Here is my response to their questions:
1. Aren’t you scared of going alone? – No. I’m not. Let me note that I am also an introvert and extremely shy. Throughout the years, I have my go-to lines to open up and get to know people that I’ve met. Some go-to lines you can use:
– Where are you from? How long are you here for?
– Where were you before [insert city you’re currently in]? – This is a great way to plan out your own trip in your head and get advice from those who have hit the same major places you want to go to. This can also give you insight into some tips/tricks others have learnt.
– Do you recommend doing x,y,z [ex: bungee jumping to Kawaru Bridge or Nevis in Queenstown?]
– Are you travelling alone? With somebody? – If you’re comfortable with the other person and are going to visit the same spots, I’d tag along on their plan or vice versa.
1a. Isn’t it lonely? Doesn’t it suck to eat meals by yourself? – Truth be told, it can get lonely if you choose to make it lonely. Yeah, it can suck to eat meals alone at times but I have met the coolest people travelling. Trips that I have taken alone, ended up being extremely memorable because of people I’ve met. Also, eating meals alone gives you that break from the annoying dude at the hostel that wants to yak your ear off for hours and hours and hours.
In Sydney, Australia – I was staying at a hostel in Australia and my bunkmates ended up being 2 solo-travelling American guys. We ended up doing our free walking day tours together, ate meals together, partied at night together, looked out for each other. We probably had a solid 3 days together and we became the best of friends. By all means, be careful of who you make friends with but also don’t be a clam and avoid talking to people.
1b. You know there’s a war going on in x,y,z country/countries. You are going to die. – I would like to hope that I don’t die travelling to another country. I have seen the Canadian Travel Advisory and it does say use precaution when you visit there.. and precaution is what I will take. I am not going to die.
January/ February 2014 – I went to Cairo, Egypt while there were protests with the government and car bombings were happening at least once a week. For those who haven’t been to Cairo, it is like LAX on steroids. It is freaking massive and the areas I visited was no where near where the action was. I just wanted to note – no, I did not die.
1c. It is extreeeeemely unsafe for you to do this. I strongly feel you should not do this. Did you know x country is SUPER UNSAFE? HAVE YOU READ THE NEWS? – Remember to take note of who is saying this to you. I have a few aunts who said that I wouldn’t make it out of Vietnam in one piece but look at me now! I did Vietnam alone and came out in one piece. They still think that I was “lucky” that I wasn’t attacked or raped.
Dear Future Solo Female Travellers – Please do NOT let the fear of unknown travel scare you. Should you be careful? – YES! If you are in an uncomfortable situation, should you get out? – YES! Should you use common sense? – YES! Should you use MORE common sense when drinking? – ABSOLUTELY! Travel safety isn’t just targeted to women and don’t let it be! Use your travel savvy to get you where you need to go.
2. You are going to be harassed by men in different countries. – Umm hello! I get harassed by men in Canada too! I ignore them in Canada and I also ignore them in other countries. If I feel unsafe, I walk a bit faster or duck into a convenience store or shop to get a break from these people.
2a. People are going to target you because you are a young female. – That can happen and others can get targeted too. I do not think that women should be scared to go somewhere because they think they are going to be harassed. Different countries offer so much more (ie: food, culture, experiences, understanding, patience) than unwanted attention. Be respectful of the culture/religion/dress code/people and 99% of the times, you will be fine.
3. Why are you going to THAT place of all places?– When I met my old boyfriend’s parents, they told me that have never left North America. It’s not that they don’t have the means to, it was because they had zero interest in seeing something different from Pacific Northwest North American culture. They didn’t even want to visit beautiful places like Toronto, Montreal or New York City. [Shout out to my east coast readers!] He only understood vacations as all-inclusive hotel packages in Mexico/Dominican Republic and/or trips to Vegas and Reno. The world offers so much to those who seek it. If you’re teaching your kids to get wasted on a beach again for the 8th day in a row as how to “vacation”… Sigh, who am I to judge… to each their own.
I enjoy going to [insert “dangerous” country] because I want to learn more about the culture, the lifestyle, the people and most importantly eat the fooooood! I want to know what kind of horrific acts have occurred where I’m standing and what kind of effect it has had to the country. I want to understand why locals do certain things the way they do because of their religion. I want to experience eating food with my hands. I want to connect with people so far removed from my local community and have an strange and unbelievable bond with another person.
That’s the beauty of it all is that its like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of books. Which path are you going to choose?