Solo Traveling – Just Do It like Nike
When people find out that I do a lot of solo traveling, I frequently receive shocked expressions. I, in fact, prefer it. People typically ask, “Aren’t you scared?” My answer is usually, “No.” And I silently wonder if people would ask me the same question if I were a man?
I don’t deem this sexist, but understandable. Men truly are one of the greatest threats to women. Even if ill intentions are not there, cat calling, whistling, and things of such nature do not bode well for a woman’s sense of security, especially in a foreign land. So, yes, I understand why people exhibit worry when I tell them, “I’m going to Peru by myself.”
I use good judgment, otherwise known as common sense. I read a lot of forums prior to my travels, paying special attention to the ones that involve other solo, female travelers. Heeding their recommendations, I take into account situations that might render me more vulnerable such as arriving to a train station after 11:00 at night when my hostel is a mile away. I shouldn’t walk and I won’t. And I plan, as previously mentioned, sometimes right down to the minute.
“Mi esposo esta aquí” (My husband is here) became my favorite proclamation while walking around Cusco’s bustling square. On more than once occasion, gentleman approached me in an attempt to gain more than just a polite, “hola.” Said men informed of my fictional husband’s existence were, thankfully, respectful of the “facts.” This actually led to my making acquaintances with a couple of them I ran into on multiple occasions, creating a sense of security should I need any sort of assistance.
“Mi esposo esta aquí.”
I was picky about who I informed of my solo status. This revelation was usually reserved for females, a couple fellow travelers, and some service industry personnel, AKA the professional bartender making my pisco sours at Museo del Pisco in Cusco. If you don’t know, pisco sours are the designated national Peruvian alcoholic beverage (They’re dangerously delicious – you’ve been warned).
It’s unfortunate that the act and admittance of traveling alone can create unfortunate circumstances. In a perfect world, rather my idealistic one, it’s a celebrated experience! I felt very proud whilst traveling another continent by myself. I wanted to express my ability to travel alone as a bold accomplishment! It is something I believe every person should experience at least once in his or her lifetime. The cliché exists for a reason – solo traveling changes you. It opens your mind, expands your empathy, and can even transform your purpose among many other things.
I landed in Cusco, Peru on Christmas Day 2016, and my 32nd birthday. I stepped off the plane, exhausted, though thrilled by my unknown surroundings. The prospect of experiences that were certain to be a part of my life, moving forward, gave me energy.
En route to my first hotel, Hotel Monasterio San Pedro, the driver who picked me up at the airport was using Google Translate on his smart phone to conversate with me. Semi-fluent in Spanish, this still rendered itself extremely helpful as it still isn’t my first language. I was grateful for the effort and willingness to accommodate.
One of the many benefits of traveling by oneself is the ability to do as one pleases. There is no consulting with another person’s desires, needs, wants, priorities – it is all about you. You come and go as you please, eat when, where, and as often as you like, and sleep at three in the afternoon if that is what your body is telling you it needs. You visit a local café and indulge in drinking chocolate while writing in your journal never having to worry that your travel companion is bored. It can also get you onto the Machu Picchu bound bus well ahead of a long line of coupled tourists! The advantages far exceed any fears that solo traveling may impart.