8 Harsh Travel Truths for Women
I'm not usually one to talk in absolutes but here are some of the #traveltruths that have stuck with me as a solo female traveler.
1. All relationships have an expiration date.
You can meet tons of people when traveling and especially when traveling solo! I often refer to these as 5 hour friendships. I've explored a new city with someone I've met on a bus or in a hostel and I've gone on road trips with people I've just met and had the time of my life, only to say goodbye 3 days later. When you part ways and go to your next destinations, there's a good chance you won't keep in touch and if you do it may likely fizzle out. With so much distance in between two people it's simply too hard to keep up with each other's lives. Some of the best friends you'll ever make will be those you'll never see again. It's good practice to try and live without attachment so you can enjoy the time you spend with someone without desperately trying to make it last longer.
2. Nobody else will care about what you've done.
When you get back home most people will not want to hear about your crazy off-roading adventure in South Africa or that romantic encounter in Valparaiso...they just won't care and in the worst cases it will make them feel uncomfortable and even inadequate. Live your life for YOU and no one else.
"I'm a big believer in winging it. I'm a big believer that you're never going to find a perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I'm always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary." - Anthony Bourdain
3. Its not going to be perfect, and if you do it right it wont be smooth at all.
You will make mistakes, and bad things will happen. When dreaming of travelling we often come up with fantasies where everything is just right- in reality everything can go wrong and most things will! Life is not fully lived on an itinerary. Flights get delayed and trains are missed. At the end of the wrong road taken is where life begins. These mishaps are what breed serendipity. The journey is often the most fulfilling part, rather than the arrival. Memories of comfort fade fast, tales of a trip gone awry are the first to come to mind when looking back.
4. No one likes country counters
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is solely focused on collecting stamps in their passport, tagging a new location in each Instagram post, and bragging about the number of countries they have visited. Yes it's fun to travel as much as you can but don't you want to learn about the place you visit? You have never 'done' a country; you've only experienced it at that moment, at that time and through your own interactions and perspective.
5. You are not invincible
Buy the travel insurance. Accidents happen, one day you will die. I get it, you're all excited to plan a big trip and travel insurance is very unsexy but if you travel long enough you will probably need it at some point and nothing is worse than being stuck with a huge hospital bill on what was supposed to be a vacation.
6. You are alone
When traveling solo, you are your home and your own best friend. Codependency has no place in travel, even if you are traveling with friends or partners. No one is going to hold your hand or prod you along- but the best feeling is knowing you can make it alone. I'm a firm believer in that you can always find a friend when you travel alone, whether you stay in a hostel, join a walking tour, or go to an expat meet up; there are so many ways to meet people! However, travelling alone means that you have to be you're own rock. When things go wrong there isn't always someone to immediately turn to for help or advice and you just have to figure it out.
7. Your love won't last
Now before you close this window, hear me out. Finding real and lasting love while traveling is totally possible and it does happen, but more often than not it may come to a close sooner than you expected. Romantic trysts and flings while abroad are very common and its easy to get swept up in the fantasy. When you are travelling abroad and life feels free, exciting, and full of adventure-it's easier to love yourself which means its easier for other people to love you (especially on your first trip). When shit gets real and you have to figure out visa extensions, where you want to live, moving away from your home country, and long periods apart that's when you find out if this is made to last.
8. Less is MORE
When reflecting on your travels you will not remember that perfect outfit (that isn't even in style anymore) for your Instagram photo of in front of the Eiffel Tower -- but you will probably remember trudging there in 4 inch heels running up stairs and tripping on cobblestone streets. I love fashion and taking beautiful photos but believe me, the longer you travel with an overpacked suitcase the more you will just want to through it off a cliff. You just dont need all of the clothes and shoes you might think you do. Bring a few key items of clothing that you can mix and match and most importantly dress for the activities you will be doing. Things do get lost and you will want to buy souvenirs. Leave space in your luggage to collect a few a keepsakes.
Having a lot of stuff with you also slows you down, there may be a cheap flight to a neighboring country but when you tack on the cost of checking your bag, it skyrockets or you wanna hop on an overnight bus but again there is an extra fee for your bag and maybe not even enough space for it. One time I found some travelers to share a ride from Romania to Hungry in their tiny European car, you can imagine my embarrassment when my suitcase took up 1/3rd of the trunk space and everyone else had backpacks!
Forget the clothes, collect memories instead and make the most of every trip you take!
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