A few years ago I decided I wanted to travel for a few months. I was old enough, I had some time before starting University so I started working in retail to save up for the big trip. At the time I was dating a guy and we agreed to go on the trip together, but after a year of going out we broke up. I knew I would go on the trip anyways, it was just a matter of finding a travel partner. None of my friends were available\willing so I started searching for people in my wider circles. Meanwhile, I started thinking about a travel destination, having in mind Asia or South America. I talked to a few women who travelled alone in India and my mind was set – I was going to India, by myself. I met another girl through an Israeli travelling forum, we bought a ticket and all was decided. Four and half years later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It wasn’t an easy decision. My friends and family weren’t on board, to put it mildly. I was scared but encouraged by the women I knew who travelled alone and something inside me was eager to do it. I was feeling a lot of pressure and wanted to take a distance from my everyday life.
Looking back, that trip changed my life. I learned a lot about myself, I fell in love, I got broken-hearted, I gained the confidence and courage to encounter the world. To encounter people. To live a little more freely then before.
I tackled my fears and learned that I was fine being alone and relying on myself, I even did a good job. I was stronger than I thought, than my surrounding made me think, and learned to believe in myself and do whatever I want whether the people around me accept it or not. I learned that people who are afraid project their fears on others, they shouldn’t keep you from doing what you want. I became more comfortable in my own skin.
A lot of people were worried that India is not a safe place for a woman to travel alone, but I believe that by taking some precautions you can almost eliminate the risk. Of course bad things can happen which are not up to you but they can happen while travelling in a “safe” place too. I was told that in order to travel safely in India, I had to travel with a man. That’s very restricting and problematic, because unless I’m travelling with a man who’s close to me, why would a strange man protect me? and why should I trust in someone to protect me other than myself? Most of the time I travelled with company, men or women, but there were times where I was completely alone and I was aware of my surrounding and took care of my belongings. Never travelled at night and was never alone with a stranger. I feel like people are more encouraging when a man travels alone than a woman, while I can understand their fear, at the same time it’s very restricting and from my experience ill-founded.
After two months in India my confidence grew and I crossed the border to Nepal, completely alone, a two day travel by bus (which is a story for another time). I met wonderful people, walked the Around Annapurna which was my first trek, and had the best time.
By writing this post I hope to encourage women who want to travel to go on and do it, whether alone or with a partner/friends. I loved India and Nepal and I will certainly come back someday.