It may be time for ladies to gather round and get in formation, but declaring your independence as bold as America on the Fourth of July is all the rage right now. There’s nothing quite as empowering and enlightening as embarking on a solo trip across a city, state, nation or the globe. A 2014 survey by Booking.com found that 65% of women say they feel more confident when taking a trip by themselves. It’s a journey all women should enjoy, s-o-l-o.
In February, it was my time to shine on a six hour flight from Newark, NJ (SIGH) to North Wales for a little adventure that was all my own. My time in North Wales reignited my friendship with an old college pal, strengthened my love of Cadbury chocolate and introduced my eyes to majestic castles. As a public relations professional in the busiest city in the world, it was a luxury to slow down and just think.
When I reunited with my college friend, I talked to her without being distracted by text messages, Instagram notifications, emails and other miscellaneous life obligations. I realized when you’re not constantly being bombarded by meaningless distractions, you can truly make a wonderful impact on those around you.
After a short stay in North Wales, I took on Scotland with Braveheart swagger. I headed for Edinburgh to stay at my first Airbnb and explore Scotland at my own pace. My curiosity and need for happiness led to a long hike up Arthur’s Seat, afternoon tea, thrift store shopping, strolls through Princes Street Gardens and dinners for one.
Through this solo adventure, I learned that a dinner alone is not lonely, and I can handle any social situation that awaits. Women grow up learning the “pack” mentality. We must always stay together and walk around in groups. Even as grown women, when we want to do something on our own, we often turn to our female peers and ask things such as, “Will you come with me?” or “Will people think I am weird?” These thoughts stem from a young age.
According to a National Report on Self Esteem, 98% of girls feel there is an immense pressure from external sources to look a certain way, which is a feeling that never truly leaves many of us. This pressure from society can leave women always wanting to fit in, thus not feeling encouraged to explore the world on our own as imperfect human beings.
When I told my female friends I was going to Europe by myself, most of them were in awe, yet excited. A few women said they could never do that. The truth is, you can, and you should. I decided to adventure solo as a way to challenge my personal skills and reconnect with my own (forgotten) goals. When do you only spend time with yourself and gain a little perspective? Hardly ever!
For my fellow ladies who are considering travelling solo, just do it! In order to prepare, I surfed Google for solo adventure tips, talked to my well-travelled pals, researched safe areas and refused to listen to my nerves or negative thoughts. Ensure your safety by practicing street smarts in your own city/town before your adventure. Take a few self-defense classes, brush up on the native language of the place you’re visiting, pay extra attention to your surroundings and always let someone know where you are. Also, consider staying in an Airbnb, which will allow you to save money, stay in a “real” home, meet locals and develop a relationship with your host who can provide travel tips (i.e. areas to avoid as a lone female traveler, affordable restaurants, etc.). I went out on the town with my host and enjoyed going to authentic spots locals head to.
The idea of wandering around a foreign country or city is daunting, what if you get lost? What if a stranger follows you? What if you get sick or hurt? What if someone steals your bag? What if your Airbnb host is creepy? What if you misplace your favorite shade of lipstick? It’s okay to be weary, but don’t let your weariness hold you back from adventure. Life is a grand time to learn to stand on your own and share all you have to offer with the rest of the world. If you can’t learn yourself and above all, love yourself, how are you going to be able to lead like Hillary, work like RiRi, inspire like Malala or dominate like Bey?
It’s crucial to be in formation, create and build positive relationships with fellow females, but it’s just as vital to explore your own self and highly recommended to do so in a foreign place. And with Cadbury chocolate.
Bridgit Kasperski is a public relations professional living in Brooklyn, N.Y. She enjoys cuddling with pugs, listening to Beyonce, dancing in public and occasionally Netflixing and chilling. Feel free to join her as she takes on life as fiercely as possible across Twitter and Instagram!
April 1, 2016