I just came back from a five-week trip to Japan, during which I spent about a week traveling on my own.
Biggest theme of the trip? Trust.
I’d forgotten what it was like to travel alone. I was nervous about doing it, again, in a foreign country, particularly when I only knew three whole words of the native language (hello, thank you, and sorry!).
I’m really glad I went.
And I’m really glad I didn’t talk to anyone who would’ve tried to convince me it’s too unsafe to travel alone as a woman.
When I came back, I felt stronger. I’d been feeling so unsure of my environment, previously. The trip reminded me that I can trust myself. It was a reminder of my body’s strength, of the power of my intuition, of my ability to use context to discern meaning. I was the context-clue queen that week and it was so empowering.
As I traveled, and when I came back, I was reminded of my womanhood whenever another women asked with surprise: do you really travel alone?
Yes, I travel alone. And I love it.
But I don’t just travel alone when in a foreign country. I travel alone anytime I decide to explore a new neighborhood alone. I travel alone whenever I walk alone at night, anywhere.
There’s so much power in solitude when you’ve been told most of your life, “Women don’t do that. Women can’t do that.”
Yes we do. Yes we can. Yes we should.
Want to know your power? Travel alone. Want to gain greater trust in yourself? Travel alone. Want to get in touch with your intuition? Travel alone. Want to get out of a rut? Travel alone.
Do it. Take back your right to feel strong. Here are 3 ways to make traveling alone happen this year.
1. Start small, if you’re concerned.
An odd thing I’ve noticed: people walk their dogs, but rarely seem to walk themselves, apart from when they’re exercising. If you haven’t experienced the fun of walking aimlessly in a new neighborhood, just for the heaven of it, make that your new goal for the week.
Walk for the pleasure of your own company.
In discovering fun in the silence, you’ll learn to (gradually) get comfortable being alone. To travel alone, you have to learn to be alone, first.
While you’re walking, feel free to reflect on how great it feels to be alone and feel safe.
2. Trust your intuition.
Many a well-intentioned folk express concern when I say I’m traveling alone. “Make sure you’re safe…carry mace…don’t walk down dark alleys.”
You’re smart. You know all this stuff. I don’t have to tell you.
What I do have to tell you is you know more than anyone when you’re safe, in the moment, or when you’re not. You may just listen to your body processing that information.
When I was in high school, I read a book called The Gift of Fear. The author opened with stories of women ignoring their intuition when danger lurked. His biggest message: your body is processing tons of information every minute, a lot of it coming back to you as intuitive messages. Listen to your intuition.
This isn’t just for avoiding danger, either. I can’t tell you how much FUN I’ve had when I’ve listened to, “go this way,” only to discover a laughing couple, an adorable animal, a dream house, or a cultural festival.
The first time I traveled alone, at 18, I walked in a straight line for 20 minutes, in order to not get lost. That was before the proliferation of smartphones (and, therefore, handheld GPS).
Now I have the dual-GPS system of my smartphone and my mind/intuition that allow me to go all sorts of ways. Whichever way I want.
My 18-year-old self would be amazed to learn how I travel now. She’d be SO happy to learn how many great things I got to see in Japan. How I was comfortable jumping on trains alone and going to random places, walking to wherever felt right.
I experimented a lot along the way, and intend to experiment the rest of my life.
Travel alone, Peaceful Dumplings. Give yourself the pleasure of knowing your own company. Give yourself the gift of knowing your own power.
One of the many beautiful things I saw on my solo trip in Japan.
Get more like this–sign up for our newsletter for exclusive inspirational content!
Also by Amparo: On Dealing with Your Former Self
Also in Travel: What I Learned From Traveling with a Friend
Photo: Amparo Vazquez