This is a little insight on what it’s really like to travel alone as an African female. In this blog series, I share the inspiration behind it all, what spawned this fascination and how my solo trips actually went. I vow to leave nothing out. I hope this can motivate some of my readers to book a flight and journey into unfamiliar territory.
⇔ INSPIRATION ⇔
My goal in life is to conquer the world, not in the same perspective as the evil characters in movies; instead I want to travel to every corner of the globe and explore every single feature.
I would prefer to share this journey with someone I loved, a friend, a sibling… anyone who aspires to see what else is out there. It sounds simple, two people packing a bag and setting out into the unknown, but it isn’t. Those that get to travel in pairs might be the lucky ones.
Finding someone suitable to travel with is more difficult than making the decision to travel alone.
⇔ BECOMING ⇔
The first time I was left companionless in a foreign country, was in Krabi, Thailand during the year 2017. I was traveling with a group of friends from Koh Phan Gan to Krabi and unfortunately a thief made away with more than half my travel money. (click the links above to read more)
I won’t dive into details but I was left with $100 to my name. I made a conscious choice to stay in Krabi for a few more days while my friends went on to Phuket, because it was cheaper, and I needed to wait for financial aid through Western Union.
Staying behind in Krabi turned out to be the best week of my travel. I was gifted with the freedom of choice and made a new friend everyday. I didn’t know it then but subconsciously, the solo traveler in me was born.
January 2018, I was spirited, willing and ready to set out on an expedition to Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. I remember the exact day I decided to travel solo and voiced it to my close friends, it went exactly like this, “What? Why? Is that wise? Is it safe? Have you really asked everyone you know? Alone? Are you sure you’ve asked all your friends? Why would you ever think of doing it alone? You’re crazy! No, I forbid it! You’re not going alone! What if something happens?”
All the questions and exclamations that came flooding in my direction were either so negative or discouraging that I began contemplating canceling my tickets, but some stubborn spirit within me kept pushing me to go forward with it, or it’s probably because my tickets were non-refundable.
I bought a small, hard-cased suitcase, packed light and bid my roommate goodbye. Standing in Beijing capital airport Terminal 3, ticket in hand and backpack in the other, I took a deep breath and turned to walk towards immigration. That’s when the fear crippled me. I started panicking and turned back towards my partner. I sobbed for a good ten minutes, and after a short prayer and some encouraging words, I said goodbye.
As I walked away from him, a part of me felt numb, the other, gut wrenching excitement. I was overwhelmed with emotions, nostalgic even; felt as if I was making a mistake. A whole month by myself, my biggest fears were getting lonely, or something bad happening to me.
“Be strong Mary” my inner conscience said, “This was your choice, so embrace it, learn it and enjoy it.”
My mum only found out that I was in Vietnam when she called and exclaimed that someone in Hanoi, Vietnam had downloaded something using her icloud and she knew it could only be me! My father also went ahead to claim that if he ever saw me climbing Mount Everest on TV, he wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
To be able to make the decision to pick oneself up and travel solo in itself is a courageous mission. One has to be strong, fearless, optimistic and cautious. It creates room for creativity, opportunity, learning and personal time. One also needs all the support from family and friends. I’m glad that I have a strong support system at home.
This is how my trip went…
VIETNAM (2 weeks)
Ho chi minh
SINGAPORE (5 days)
VIETNAM AGAIN! (One week and a half)
I was surrounded by new friends 90% of the time during the trip, and was lucky enough to retain a few friendships till date. So, dear readers and fellow aspiring female travelers, it can be done.