Solo travel, solo travel, solo travel. It is a common phrase found on blogs and discussed on podcasts. Female solo travel is no longer uncommon but the same doubts, concerns, criticisms follow this concept. As my family drove me to the airport all of the hidden fears from societal views crept into my mind and went on loop.
“Is this crazy? Why am I doing this? Will something bad happen to me? Something bad will definitely happen. I will be alone and a female and how will I get help? I shouldn’t do this.”
These pressures and doubts that are engrained into us growing up seem to always present themselves right in the moment that you are taking the leap. So was I afraid? Yes I was. I was nervous about traveling alone and not speaking Spanish well and being on my own. However, once I arrived to Peru I was reminded that I was strong enough to be on my own. I was on my own and I made it to my hostel and then in the morning I was still on my own and I made it to the bus terminal. Solo travel shows you how resourceful and resilient you can truly be. I felt free, completely free because the whole world was in front of me.
Traveling solo makes it easier to meet new people. Without a traveling companion I was forced to figure out how to get from one place to the next which entailed talking to people. It forced me to use every single Spanish word I knew to describe my thoughts and questions. What I found out is that people are inherently good and want to help but you have to be willing to ask for it as well. Being from the United States we are taught to be independent and talking to strangers is not common but sometimes asking for help is the best way to meet people and discover incredible places.
This solo traveling brought me to the cloud forests of Peru. Living at a sustainable conservation station I have participated on research, construction, and sustainability projects. This has included research with two frog species that little is known about, building a dorm for students to visit the center, and reforestation.
At the station I met two other female solo travelers whose career goals encompassed conservation and sustainability. Being like-minded and curious about the world, we decided to hike in the National Park. Happily ascending to the top of the mountain we were fascinated by the new species of invertebrates, plants, and birds we encountered. We discussed everything from politics, environmental consciousness, to our own personal ambitions.
Once at the top we had a 360-degree view with never ending mountains in the distance caressed by clouds. The silence and breathtaking landscape washed away all my fears, doubts, and societal pressures. Here in the mountains I was strong and was honest in my dreams and goals. It is my dream to continue my career in wildlife biology in developing countries creating connection of sustainability and preservation for everyone.