Fear. Self-doubt. Anxiety. This is usually the feelings that go through a woman who is traveling alone for the first time. Whether going abroad or staying local, solo travel represents giving a first step towards confrontation with your own demons and the judgment of others. But the fact is that traveling by yourself may help you in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.
In a world where the patriarchy is a rule in many societies, women are the fragile part of any relationship – whether business, familiar or romantic – and therefore should not risk breaking the world by themselves. Thereupon, it is not rare to see the face of surprise when I tell people that, not only do I travel alone, but this is actually my favorite type of journey.
Having visited 21 countries so far, I can honestly say that my best memories are from my solo travels. Not because trips with friends were not amazing – they were – but it was when I had to deal with my own mistakes and successes that I learned what I know today.
I discovered how strong I can be, as a woman, as a journalist, as a traveler, as a feminist. I realized I do not need anyone else to achieve my own goals or meet my dream places. Most important: I understood that the only person I need to please is myself, not society with its rules and deadlines.
At the age of 21, when I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I had a job, a boyfriend, and lots of plans in my head, but I was not satisfied. Then I realized that I had a choice: I could either satisfy others or myself. I chose the latter.
Nowadays, when I think of these old projects, I feel proud for having chosen a different path. I know so much more today than I did nine years ago. So much more of the world, of life, of people. I grew up in nine years what people take 20 to do. And that was the best choice I could have made: growing up.
On the other hand, all of these experiences just showed me I still have a lot to live and experience. There is so much ahead, so many languages to learn, so many countries to visit, so many people to meet, so many songs to hear, so many loves to live, so many flights to catch, so much of everything.
The truth is solo travel for a woman is different than solo travel for a man. Even more when traveling to specific countries where violence or gender roles are different from our own. Thus, solo travel may demand extra effort in research, information, and networking, but you will be as safe as in any other place in the world, as long as you respect the costumes and traditions.
As a feminist, my goal is to empower women to live life to the fullest, be brave and face their fears. I acknowledge this is not an effortless task and demands courage, but the results make it all worth it. As a Brazilian who arrived in Russia without knowing a single soul in the country, a single word in the language and a single thing about what to expect, I leave eleven months later with a big package of friends, self love, respect and as a even greater feminist.
I wish everyone could open their eyes to this huge world we live in and realize that we are just a piece of it; accept that life is very fast and it is not worth trying to please others; believe that changes and taking risks are necessary; understand that happiness is the journey, not the destination.
But do not be mistaken: solo travel only means being alone if you want to. In my case, it is about spending time with myself, but also meeting new people from all over the world. I want to empower as many women as I can to find acceptance, love, invest in dreams, meet the world. Solo travel is an act of feminism and this is just the beginning.