Have you ever longed to travel the world? Or visit this dream destination you had in mind for years? Maybe you already booked your flight and start telling everyone about your plans. Probably at some point on your journey someone will cross your path explaining you should really take care traveling alone – especially as a woman. Others will be simply impressed that you have the guts to do this by yourself – leaving for a place where you might not know anyone, maybe don’t speak the language and where it might be dangerous.
If you are completely unimpressed about other people’s opinions – great! However, in case you start doubting your plans or even get scared – don’t panic. It is normal! On most of my journeys (especially when leaving Europe) I kept thinking in the beginning about all these nightmare stories I had heard before and all the things which could go wrong. Being mindful about getting robed and other dreadful scenarios is not necessarily a bad thing since you stay alert and careful. However, to dwell in your room because you are too scared of what could go wrong or even not taking the journey is a pity. Amazing things can happen, especially when you are alone . Just like it happened to me, for example when I traveled alone to Jordan in the Middle East.
When I planned my trip I really did not know what to expect and I was scared, to be completely honest. But since I had an internship in Israel, visiting Jordan was a Must-Do. I initially planned to go there with my flatmate but he cancelled because of work. So I had the choice: have another week in Tel Aviv where I was in my comfort zone, hanging with my friends and enjoying the party lifestyle OR going to Jordan; a country I knew very little of. There were mixed opinions from people, some told me it was a great thing to do; others warned me that it was dangerous and women are treated badly. My fascination and curiosity for Jordan was bigger than my doubts and afterwards I could not have been happier about my decision! It was one of my most intense and awesome trips I had in my life. And while I don’t want to sound like a Christina Aguilera copycat – this experience really turned me stronger and made me believe more in myself and what I am capable of. So girls, here are my tips on how to prepare and act on a trip when you are alone without making yourself crazy:
1.Trust your instincts
For me this is a very important factor. Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to decide whether you trust another person or not. In Jordan for example a Bedouin guy kept talking to me when I visited Petra.While being annoyed in the beginning, I ended up having a conversation with him. At some point he asked me if I wanted to see less touristy places around Petra (for free). For some reason I really had a good feeling about him, so I got on the back of his horse called Shakira and saw some unforgettable places I would have normally missed.Whereas I really do not recommend taking off with any guy, my point is rather that sometimes you need to trust other people. I have trusted several strangers on my way and I am aware that many things could have gone wrong. Still, my guts told me it is alright and so far my instincts have not disappointed me.
2. Stay open minded – Not everything people warn you about is actually true
When I took off to Jordan people warned me that it is dangerous to travel in the Middle East. The fact that Islam is the main religion in Jordan did not really help to reassure my Mum that everything would be fine. Media often transports a certain image of a country or culture – but in my experience this is not necessarily true. I could have not been more surprised when I saw 5 men fighting over the last 3 seats in a minibus. Suddenly 3 women appeared and without hesitation the men made space for them. The guys ended up waiting for the next bus. The culture and the way females are treated is for sure different than in Western countries but I was so often impressed by the friendliness and warmth I was treated within this country.
3. Be considerate about other cultures and values
Jordan and its people were simply great. Still, I was visiting a Muslim country in the Middle East and their culture and way of life is very different compared to ours. While it was evident that I am a foreigner because of the way I act and look, I tried to respect their culture. This means that I left my shorts and tight shirts at home and chose comfortable wide clothes instead. As much as I would have loved to wear a skirt, I knew it would be offensive or simply an open invitation for locals because they are not used to see females running around like this!
4. Ask locals about tips and security matters
If you are not sure whether you should take a night bus or walk in certain areas alone – ask locals. They know the best what to do and it can help big times to stay away from trouble.
5. Learn from other backpackers’ experiences
In addition I always get very useful information from other backpackers who already have some travelling experience in the respective country. This is true for behaviors but also places which are worth visiting (or not).
6. If you really feel insecure – connect with other travelers
You will always meet other travelers – wherever you are. If you don`t feel confident or are simply tired of traveling alone – reach out to them. Often you will discover that you have the same route. Also, this might be the beginning of a great new friendship 🙂
So a big shout out to everyone out there who is dreaming to travel (alone) but is afraid to do so: Believe in yourself and amazing things will happen. From meeting friends for life, getting to know yourself and what you are capable of, learning what really matters in life or simply collecting non-forgettable memories you can tell your grandchildren.