When people find out that I, a small little girl seemingly oblivious to the horrors that real life entails, love traveling on my own, the most often question I get is, “but is it safe?”
My peers are often afraid of the mishaps that will occur while traveling solo. Throw being a teenage girl traveling alone into the mix, and both my friends (and their parents), immediately start helicoptering, convinced I’ll end up dead or in jail or sold off to who knows who in who knows where.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definite precautions I must take while traveling alone. For the most part, being a solo female traveler presents more risk to those of traveling in general.
But to me, it’s all part of the experience.
Living in fear of the unknown or dangers of the world is something I hope to never do. Maybe it’s my 19-year old “I’m immortal!” attitude, or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m always looking for an adventure, but not exploring in some wicked unknown place is something I hope to never do.
There’s no use in having a nice phone if you’re never going to use it in fear of dropping it. There’s no point in owning a nice wristwatch if you’re afraid of it being stolen.
There’s no point in living life to the fullest if you’re afraid of pushing yourself and taking risks.
It’s all part of the adventure. Of course, there are places I will not go due to current political situations or dangers presented through differences in culture, but for the most part, I’ll take a plane ticket and fly anywhere.
Traveling to a place that isn’t the safest is the most important kind of traveling you can do.
Before you dismiss this as naive or ignorant, hear me out.
Traveling to a place that scares you (because of the people, it’s culture, recent history, etc) connects you to it. And while some may consider that a bad thing, I believe it teaches you that a country is so much more than how it’s perceived. The media alters the way we see our foreign friends and their homelands, and by visiting these countries, we are changing our view of it. Traveling to a place that isn’t deemed the safest and absolutely loving it only helps the country out. Next time someone says they’re afraid of migrants or refugees from a certain country, you can tell them about that one time you were in that country, and a local family had you stay for tea or the night. You can tell them about all of the wonderful children you met. You can tell them everything they would have never known.
When I say I want to go to Central Asia, people look at me like I tell them I’m going to jump off of the top of the Eiffel Tower.
“But it’s so… dangerous,” they’ll say. “I’d wait until a safe time.”
My main protest here is that Central Asia IS safe. It’s simply the “stan” at the end of the country that scares people. But even if it wasn’t safe, if I were to wait for a country to be even 90% secure before heading to it, I’d never travel. I would live in fear of the outside world, stuck in my little American bubble, knowing nothing about the world. I’d be living in a constant state of curiosity. I can’t think of a more miserable way to spend a lifetime. Your lifetime is supposed to be vibrant and exciting and wonderful, and there will always be some uncertainty that comes along with that.
I’ll say this now and I’ll repeat it until the day I die:
There will always be some risks in travel, and they are risks I will take again and again.