My brother and I were only 13 months apart, so we fought. Often. Particularly during our long, summer, family trips abroad, where we were often confined to small hotel rooms. But there was one incident that simultaneously traumatized and bonded us. We were either in Paris or Madrid, and our parents went out on a date night. They left us in the hotel room alone. It was locked, so we were totally safe, but I think it was the first time we'd ever been left alone like that. The novelty of it quickly wore off and we freaked out, sobbing and hugging. I think we were still sobbing and hugging when our parents returned from their night out. The fact that we were seeking solace in each other meant we were really distraught. We must have still been in elementary school, because that would not have happened if we were pre-teens or teens.
It's funny to look back on that now, because I love traveling alone. Learning about new cultures and places makes me feel alive, renewed, simultaneously solitary and connected to humanity like nothing else. And for me, traveling alone doesn't mean that I'm alone the entire trip. It means I'm open to meeting other travelers, maybe sharing a meal, and people seem amenable to more meaningful conversations when you're traveling solo.
Yes, I do worry about safety as a solo female traveler, but I try to make informed choices about location and timing. As much as I'd love to go on a back country back-packing trip, I'd never do it alone. I know other women who have and I admire them tremendously. It's not about my own perceived limitations, but the reality of being small of stature, and female. I don't worry about wild animals as much as the male animal. I know, I know: not all males are predators but these are the things we women have to think about. It sucks. I hate it. But I'd never hesitate to explore a new city by myself, probably because I'm familiar with how to navigate that. To step out of my comfort level, I recently took 3 REI classes: back-country navigation, a wilderness survival, and back-packing the Grand Canyon. They've opened up my perception of my abilities, and I'm excited to put my new skills to use, albeit probably not alone.
I've been following REI's Outessa and Wild Women Adventures on social media. I hope to join one of their women-only trips next year. But first things first: graduate with my MBA and create a career.