Traveling by myself is one of the greatest challenges I face on a trip like this. However, I also think traveling by yourself can be a very positive and rewarding experience.
I purposefully titled this post Traveling Solo instead of Traveling alone because even though I came to South America with only a backpack I have rarely been alone. Whether it is other people in the hostel, my classmates, or my host family there is usually somebody around and somebody new to meet. Meeting new people and learning about them and their culture is one of my favorite parts of traveling. It can be exhausting meeting new people so frequently and it can even be depressing when you have to say goodbye to new friends that you have shared so many memories with. I became very close with my host family, my classmates, other travelers, and some of the locals that I met. In just this past week I have made countless connections that make saying goodbye so difficult. Yesterday, I had to leave them and start over in a new city to make new friends. However, I am still thankful that I am pushed outside of my comfort zone to meet new people. When I travel with a close friend or family member it is easy to cling to them and not go out of my way to meet new people.
But there is also another side to this…it’s not called getting out of your comfort zone because it’s comfortable or easy. I think about this when I sit on a rooftop terrace and I see a rainbow alongside a beautiful sunset but have nobody to share it with or as I sat on the bus next to a driver that made me feel uncomfortable because I was a solo female traveler. That is the downside of traveling by yourself. For example, yesterday my bus driver asked me to sit upfront next to him on the bus. I wasn’t sure why, but I figured maybe that would make it so some people traveling together could sit next to one another. It wasn’t long before I realized that was probably not the reason. Throughout the four hour bus ride this driver made several inappropriate advances and comments that made me very uncomfortable. I ended up getting off the bus early because at one stop almost everyone had gotten off and I did not want to be alone with him. He insisted that I stay on the bus with him alone, but I refused.
I am telling you this because I believe that as I share my experiences and adventures it is my responsibility to do it with honesty. I don’t mean this to be a negative post. I share this with good intentions, to let you know both sides of my experiences on this trip. I want to keep this blog a positive place, but not everything is what it seems. Sometimes traveling solo can be very difficult, but I would not change it for anything.
I cannot promise that it is easy, but I can promise it has been worth it to take chances like this on my own.