How Traveling Solo Gave Me the Confidence Boost I Needed
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
The one thing I've missed during this pandemic and will never take for granted again is traveling! Travelista's, can I please get an amen?! Before the whole world shut down, I had just renewed my passport and started making a list of all the places I wanted to visit. Lately, I've been reminiscing about a solo trip I took to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2012 and how it changed my life. I'd traveled solo before, but this trip was the furthest I had gone by myself.
What prompted the solo trip, you might wonder? Well, I had initially planned on traveling with my sister. She was in grad school at the time, and unfortunately, finals week fell during the time we had initially scheduled. Due to the timing being so last minute, rather than see if anyone else wanted to go, I decided to make it a solo trip. After I had purchased the ticket, I remember feeling like I had made a mistake, and I became terrified. Of course, naturally, safety concerns were at the top of my list, but so was the thought of being alone, so far from the people I loved.
Suddenly, the thought of a woman traveling in South America alone did not sound so appealing. I remember diving deep into research on women as solo travelers, and for the most part, what I discovered, is that most of these women had pleasant experiences. For them, it was life-changing! I thought if these women could do it, so could I, besides, it would only be for seven days. It was time for me to buckle up, step out of my comfort zone, and face my fears!
Why Argentina of all places? I have to admit I was inspired to visit the country after discovering Evita Perón, the First Lady of Argentina from 1946-1952. Local Argentinians either laughed or rolled their eyes when I mentioned it to them, locals have mixed opinions of her. What can I say? I loved the musical Evita, and I was drawn to her story. Strong, powerful women will and have always held a special place in my heart.
A solo trip can be a powerful, reflective life-changing experience. For me, it was a huge confidence boost! The more time I spent by myself, doing things alone, the stronger and more confident I became. It also forced me to get out of my head and face my fear of talking to random strangers. Before I left home, I promised myself I would speak to as many people as possible. I started on my connecting flight and forced myself to strike up a conversation with a woman from Washington, D.C.; I ended up having dinner with her on my first night.
I wanted to meet the locals, learn from them, listen to their stories. Every day, around noon or so, I would sit out in the local park near my hotel in the financial district to have lunch, and people watch ( I later learned that this was the Argentinian thing to do). Let's be real, a black girl sitting in the park in Buenos Aires sticks out like a sore thumb, and people were curious and wanted to talk to me. Sometimes, the conversations would start awkwardly due to the language barrier, but I enjoyed them for the most part!
I made sure I said hello and had random conversations with the hotel clerks and workers. They were lovely and looked out for me by giving me restaurant and transportation recommendations. I joined a local organization called Spanglish Exchange, their events pair native Spanish speakers with native English speakers in a series of conversations, think of it as language speed dating. I made so many connections that night.
Traveling solo allowed me to discover who I am. It allowed me to figure out what I cared about and what I wanted to do with my time without my family or friends' influence. I returned a changed woman, more empowered; people took notice. Who else has the travel bug right now? Have you ever taken a solo trip abroad, how did it change you?