Welcome back curious one. This post is part 2 of a series of posts that talk about traveling with a tour group or not and if you should take the plunge and travel far at all? In my last post, I advocated for creating a balance between tour groups and going at it alone. Create your own adventure versus letting someone else do it for you. I mean, c’mon planning is half the fun and you are going to just let someone else do it for you?
#2 Should you travel alone or with others?
This question, as in most questions is a personal one for many. For some, the thought of travelling alone terrifies them. The big unknown is always a fear factor, even for the most experienced traveler. Managing that fear level with information and confidence is what separates the strong lone travelers from the rest.
I believe we are often very influenced by our backgrounds which includes experiences alone or with others. These experiences have summed up to conclusions and have resulted in our subsequent decisions. Those decisions include asking ourselves how far we are willing to travel away from home, if at all and why? Since I was young, travel had weaved its way into my DNA through trips alone, with family and friends. I often believe the urge to travel comes from within. A yearning for more that keeps itching at you until you satisfy it by clicking that airline reservation confirm button in order to book that next adventure!
Whether you are single or with a partner, traveling alone can have its soul benefits. When you travel alone there is a peace that comes with it. That peace brings with it clarity that develops throughout the trip and long after. There are a few aspects to traveling alone that I think is important to point out.
First, the thought of going far far away from home alone can be scary for some. This fear can stem from observing negative news in your environment. The news mentions shootings, gang activity, robberies, rape culture and terrorist attacks, and you no longer want to travel away from home. When in reality its not as bad as you are thinking. Actually not even close. Is the world a big and scary place and you should always use caution no matter where you are? Yes, most definitely. Not only should you always use caution, but using common sense and conducting your own thorough research about a particular location should always be at the top of your list when it comes to travel.
When I research a place I would like to visit, the first thing I do is check for travel advisories on the U.S. Department of State’s website, second, I visit other travel blogs and forums where I can learn from the personal experiences of others. I usually gravitate to solo female travelers because they have, like me, experienced a particular destination and have stories to share. Third, I begin to research more about a particular city both on their official tourism website and on travel booking sites. On hotel booking websites it’s often easy to learn quickly about the different neighborhoods in a city and what other travelers have shared when they have stayed in those neighborhoods. Were they safe and family friendly or not? Once I pinpoint my desired city, I then begin making my plans including sharing my trip dates and location information with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
After all your research, you can still decide to go with friends if you aren’t quiet sure if you’ll be happy traveling to a particular city alone. Traveling with friends often helps eliminate the fear in being alone no matter where you are traveling to. At home or away. Learning to be alone is not easy, but has many benefits that most never experience and miss out on. I will share more on this specific topic in another post. In the meanwhile, I’d recommend finding one or more friends who you would trust enough to travel with in order to make that next trip happen. Remember, you can always travel with friends to a far off place, then pre-plan with your friend that there are some places during the trip that you will be going off on your own before meeting back up with them.
In summary, don’t remain closed off from the world and not experience the wonders it offers because of reading or watching a negative sound bite only. There are many more factors that go into safe traveling and I have only scratched the surface for you. Stay tuned as I share my personal safety tips on a future post!
Stay tuned till my next post “Must you really SEE everything? Part 3 of 3″ where I discuss the craze that surrounds traveling to every city in every country and why you don’t have to see everything.