Every woman should travel alone at least once in her lifetime. There is a sense of freedom and confidence that comes with mapping out a new adventure on your own. The ability to set your itinerary, turn off the noise of your day-to-day life, and turn your focus inward is a feeling everyone should experience. When I started traveling alone, I was fresh out of college. I was ready to experience cities I'd dreamed of, but I was met with resistance from those that worried about my safety. The argument I heard over and over was, "It's not safe for you to travel alone as a woman." I was open to listening to the advice but chose not to let the fear of others keep me from experiencing new cities.
While traveling, I have had encounters that made me wonder if my loved ones were right about the dangers of seeing the world solo. On my morning run about a year ago in Nashville, I noticed a man hanging out on the street. The street was oddly quiet that morning, so I spotted him right away. There was a voice in my head saying he's just hanging out. No need to be afraid. I was even tempted to smile, as women often do out of habit. But my gut was saying, "Bianca, take out your earbuds and pay attention." Just moments after I passed him, I heard pounding on the pavement. I glanced behind me, and he was almost close enough to my to grab my shoulder. Next thing I knew, I was running and screaming. Now, he could have meant me no harm, but if I hadn't listened to my intuition, the story I just told might have had a different ending. Whether you're visiting a city you know, running your favorite trail, or exploring internationally, your instincts won't steer you wrong.
I refuse to let fear make me retire my passport. There is far too much world to see.
While your intuition is your most trustworthy travel companion, seeking help from those around you can play a pivotal role in your safety. Last May, I took a two-day trip to Miami to see Beyoncé open the Formation Tour. After a night of cocktails, dancing, and singing to the top of my lungs with my friend Shakira, I was ready for some beauty rest. As I approached the elevator, a man was getting off. I stood to the left of the door to let him exit, but as I stepped into the elevator, he turned to get back on. This was another moment where my intuition kicked me in the gut, and I immediately got off the elevator and went to the bar.
I sat at the bar for 30 minutes hoping the creepy elevator guy had left for the evening. As I walked up the stairs to the hotel living room, he was sitting there, waiting for me. He spoke to me, but I ignored him. I walked to front desk and whispered to the welcome agent, "I think that man is trying to follow me to my room. Would you mind walking me upstairs?" "Yes, of course," he said. He made a point to take a look at the man I was speaking of and had a manager sit down with me the next morning to take my statement. If you're in a public place, let someone around you know what is happening. It can be awkward walking up to a stranger, but odds are they won't mind helping you if you feel you're in danger.
Of the nearly 10 years I've traveled alone, these are the only two encounters I have had that made me question my solo travels. But I refuse to let fear make me retire my passport. There is far too much world to see. What I do know is to always to trust my gut and pay attention to my surroundings. When you travel alone, you have to capture each moment on your own. That means spending a lot of time engaging with your phone or camera. Staying alert is just as important as listening to your inner voice. Take out the earbuds, edit and upload your photos over a cup of coffee, and keep the texting to a minimum. Not only will you keep yourself protected, but you'll also get to experience your travels in real time.