She loves to travel. It’s always been in her blood. Maybe she got it from her gypsy soul mama, or perhaps from her adventurous aunt. She’s always had a dreamer’s mind and one day realized she could put it into action, and has never really looked back. She follows the wind and the stars and lets her heart lead her toward the next adventure. And she has almost always traveled solo; she hasn’t really known another way. But lately something has been on her mind…differences in how you and she travel solo.
She loves her yoga pants. They are quite simply the best travel pants. They don’t drag or get caught, and are so comfy and lightweight. But when she travels, she never wants to wear them, even though nearly all the local women are dressed the same. Because for her, these pants inevitably cause unwanted attention. She ties jackets around her waist, even on the hottest days. It doesn’t help. Beeping, whistling, shouting, mumbling slang too quick to understand…she is not flattered. She is disgusted, and she hurries by. She silently turns to stone.
She gets her period the night before a big trek (yes, we just went there. It’s ok, you can deal with it. She does, every month). It puts a major damper on her plans. Her energy is low during the hike; she tires easily and has to take frequent rests. She is constantly worried about the location of the next bathroom, and how she’s going to take care of business out in nature. And if her clothes might get ruined, and how to cope without completely embarrassing herself out on a mountain trail or in a hostel room full of strangers.
She’s wearing shorts because it’s laundry day. She thought she’d go for a leisurely stroll while she waited for her clothes to finish drying. She smiles at an elderly man as she walks by. He grabs her hand and leers at her legs, laughing and gesturing. She hurries back to check on her laundry. She feels her walls grow stronger and higher.
Her yoga class runs later than expected, and it is dark when she leaves. It’s in a rural location, several blocks away from town. She races back to civilization, her ears primed like a feline, listening for footsteps. She pulls her hood up over her hair, hoping someone will mistake her for you. At home she’d have keys placed between her knuckles, but here she has nothing. She curses herself for being so stupid, and swears never again to be out alone after dark.
She misses the bus for a day trip, and heads back to the hostel, bummed. You tell her to hitchhike instead. She shakes her head emphatically. No way. A new friend volunteers to come with. And so off they go, and they meet a handful of the friendliest locals. The end destination is filled with beautiful, breath-taking scenery. She and her temporary travel bud smile at each other with relief; they would’ve missed this. Neither one ever would’ve hitchhiked alone.
You relay your travel stories of sleeping in a hut on the beach, or in a cave, or a hammock, or under the stars. She listens with envy and agrees that it sounds amazing…all the while silently hoping she’ll meet a travel companion as she heads in that direction. Because that’s not something she could ever do alone. She’d be too exposed, an easy target. You look slightly confused when she echoes this sentiment, and tell her you never had to think about that before. She already knows.
She loves meeting fellow travelers. That is why she’s staying primarily in hostels (although she sometimes feels about ten years too old to be doing so). When she first meets you, her new roommate, she is warm and friendly and welcoming. But, as night descends and she realizes it is just the two of you for the evening, she questions your character for just one irrational moment. And, although she feels guilty, she doesn’t wear earplugs that night.
She books herself a single room, just to get a break from the dorms. But then she finds out the door doesn’t lock. And so she places little barricades and “booby traps” against the door so that she will be forewarned if anyone enters. She doesn’t get much sleep that night. When you hear about this later, you tell her she’s paranoid and maybe just a little crazy.
She meets a nice local guy. He is sweet and funny and they hang out all day, hiking and laughing and sharing stories. But when he walks her home, he expects more. Hands are everywhere. She’s not amused, and tells him no. Luckily he listens, but she thinks she might not be so lucky next time. He apologizes the next day, but she never speaks to him again. She completely closes herself off. She is wary of meeting anyone new.
Yes, there are things she knows she’s missing out on. But she trusts her gut and her intuition, and would never want to look back with regret on something she knew wasn’t safe. This doesn’t mean she will ever stop traveling solo (she won’t). She is not afraid. She is prepared. And she is always, always aware. But these things that she has to think about on a daily basis have probably never entered your mind.
Please don’t misunderstand. She doesn’t wish that she was you. She is proud to be herself. But sometimes she wonders, just for a minute, what it would be like. To travel solo as you do. Carefree? Worry free? She is sure there is another side to this, and would love to hear your story.
Maybe she won’t post this. She is a non-confrontational spirit, and hates to stir up any sort of sentiment that could be construed as controversy. But this post has been on her mind for several weeks now, and so she had to write it, just to get it out of her head and into written words. Maybe it will float around forever in the ether, never to be read by anyone but her. Maybe she will continue to hit “preview” again and again until it somehow encompasses all she wants to say. But she’s hoping, one day, she’ll find the courage to click “post”…so that you can finally begin to understand.