Many of you have been following Empowered Wanderer from the beginning, others know me and my story personally, while others still are new to the community.
Today, nearly 10 months after launching Empowered Wanderer I want to remind you why I chose solo female travel as a lifestyle. I want to talk to you about the joy (and in small part the struggle) that comes with traveling alone as a woman. And most importantly I want to share the way Solo Female Travel has empowered me beyond my wildest dreams!
So… let’s jump in!
Why Solo Female Travel?
In 2016 I graduated with my BA. I finished school a year early with the intention of moving to Australia with my then-boyfriend. That’s right, you heard me, I was planning to uproot my entire life and move to a continent that could most easily be reached by 20+ hours of plane travel.
But why the hell not? I was young. I had always loved travel. And I thought I could use a little more sun in my life.
I’ll tell you why not. I wasn't planning the move for myself. Instead, I was planning the move for a boy, who, spoiler alert: turned out to be incredibly toxic.
Long story short, I didn’t move to Australia.
Instead, I planned a trip all about, you guessed it: ME!
3 months backpacking through Europe.
I hugged my mom goodbye, hopped on a plane and didn’t look back, all the while knowing I would spend my 22nd birthday alone on a separate continent.
And I haven’t spent a birthday at home since.
Why? Because by the time my 22nd birthday rolled around in October I had fallen madly and deeply in love with myself. I discovered a strength deep within me to navigate cities I’d never traversed, to wander boldly into unknown mountain passes on foot, to care for myself in hospitals where nurses could not speak my language. I uncovered my ability to write powerful messages on my journal pages once again, my strength to carry myself and my pack through winding streets at the end of 12 mile days. And solidified my love of traveling solo, because damn, I was incredible company!
So with that, the deal was sealed. Solo Female Travel was my MO.
Or so I thought…
Finding My Way Back
When I returned home I spent two years popping in and out of relationships, going on backpacking excursions with partners, camping trips with friends, sharing living space with various different roommates.
But my happiest moments were found on my solo hikes. Dancing freely in the mountain air, singing my favorite songs aloud, laying down in the dirt to write endless and enchanted words.
Nonetheless, I quieted my longing for solo travel.
My then-partner and I planned to move into my van and trek across the states together.
And when he reconsidered, a door opened for me and suddenly everything fell into place.
My travels have always been about me. About empowerment. About growth. Self love. Connection to mother nature.
My travels are meant to be shared after the fact, but not during.
It all clicked.
I found my little car home Luna, I let my soul-sucking job go, and once again, I left; hugging my mom goodbye and not looking back. Two hands on the steering wheell, knowing I would spend my 24th birthday in the mountains far from home.
People always ask:
“What about the holidays?”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
“Do you want me to meet you somewhere?”
“How do you stay safe?”
In reality folks, solo female travel is likely harder for some than others, but I really love being alone. And when I need human connection I call a friend, seek out a stranger in a coffee shop, a loving pup at a campground, or rejoice in the spirit of the nature around me.
The real challenge in my mind is actually maintaining my solitude — there are people everywhere. Holding on to my own personal journey is the trick (and sometimes it’s just that — tricky.)
Why Maintain Your Solitude?
Companionship is super important, human touch is required for us to thrive (and ya’ll know I am totally obsessed with hugs). 100% it’s important to make connections as we travel, to have touchstones of connection (some of these for me are dance, or meeting family and loved ones along the way).
However, there’s a certain beauty that comes when we are able to maintain our solitude, and really embrace what it means to be solo.
I read another solo female travelers words the other day and she put it perfectly:
I’ve driven back roads solo with wind in my hair, the music up and no service on my phone
Sometimes the thought passes through my mind that I could break down or something bad could happen…Rather than pushing that thought away…I look to the road and to myself and say: “That could happen, and if it does, I will figure it out. I am strong, capable and resourceful.”
So, the next time you see a solo female traveler, do not ask them, “Why are you traveling alone? Don’t you get scared by yourself?” Tell them they are strong…Help them feel brave and prepared for anything.
And that’s just it ya’ll. As a solo female traveler you learn that scary shit can and probably will happen, but you also learn in a new and powerful way, that you can handle it, you come prepared with a plan, you know your strength, you know your power, and you carry on fueled by an unmatched belief in your ability.
So, here’s what I’ve learned.
When you travel alone you have the power to choose
Choose the breakfast you eat
Choose the time you go to sleep and wake up
Choose the location you’ll move to next
Choose how fast you walk, and when you stop to pee (very important for me)
Choose who you invite in, and who you simply don’t have time for
Choose to follow the call of what you love, the activity, city, or adventure that will truly make YOU happy
When you travel alone you have the ability to observe
You might begin to see the world around you without distraction or disillusion of another
You might begin to notice how few people wander alone
You might begin to discover hidden gems by listening to locals
You might be able to watch babies lovingly kiss their mothers in every corner of the earth
When you travel alone you have the opportunity to discover your own power
Your power to say no
Your power to say yes
Your power to claim your voice, your space, your body
Your power to leave
Your power to stay
Your power to navigate every new situation, street or person
Your power to climb mountains, swim in seas, and ski down hills
Your power to heal
Your power to grieve
Your power to console and comfort yourself
Your power to listen to yourself, acknowledge and learn
Your power to kick ass
Your power to dance your own dance and dance it BIG
Your power to love yourself wholeheartedly
So, again, Why Solo Female Travel?
Let me wrap it up for you.
I chose solo female travel as my lifestyle because it has given me gifts unlike any I’ve ever known. It has given me unmatched strength, tears of immeasurable joy, confidence in my abilities, unforgettable memories, and an unbreakable love for myself. And here’s the beauty, because I’ve chosen this lifestyle, because I’ve done it one my own, “it” has not simply given me these gifts, I have in fact given them to myself. And damn, if that isn’t beautiful, I don’t know what is.
I wish you all love and light in your own wanderings. Know however you choose to wander I support you. My choice may be different than yours. Each choice is just as valid as the next, so long as it brings you joy!