They tell you to never travel alone. Especially if you’re a girl. Especially if you’re only 21 years old. It’s not safe. It’s dangerous. It’s irresponsible.
And they’re probably right.
But what they fail to consider when they tell you that well-meaning advice is that is not an super realistic way to live an entire life. To never be alone. To be so limited by by gender. That I must change my habits because others cannot change theirs. And it is often unavoidable. A flight delayed, a ticket booked for the wrong day, meeting a friend in a different country.
Wo this is not your mom giving advice now: if you have the chance, go it alone every once in a while. It is the most liberating and terrifying feeling in the world. To know not a single other soul in an entire country. To figure things out for yourself, by yourself, with only yourself to revel in the success. To get from one country where you don’t speak the language to another where you don’t speak the language. That is what strength can feel like.
And you will realize how good the world can be.
This is an open thank you to the old woman in the Philly airport who told me she would pray for me, to the friendly man in the Milan metro station who showed me how to buy a bus ticket, to the nice lady on the airport bus who told me this wasn’t the right stop to get off at, to the airport worker in Columbus who asked me if I was okay because I was tearing up saying goodbye, to the kind woman in Copenhagen who pulled over to help because we looked so confused. There are so many good people.
When you travel solo, you never really travel solo. There are people pulling you up and out and whatever direction you need to go. When they tell you that you shouldn’t be alone they’re right. Because I never felt like I was.
I have never made it anywhere completely by myself. It is with the help of an entire planet.