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I'm a Solo Female Traveler. Here's What I'm Sick of Hearing

by Nicole Sunderland Sep 29, 2016

“Oh, you’re traveling alone? That’s sad.”

No, actually it’s fantastic. I get up as early as I want, eat all the desserts with no judgment, take hundreds of photos of things many people would find otherwise boring, laugh with new people, and most importantly — I get to spend time with me.

“Don’t you ever want to settle down?”

I am married — is that not enough? My husband is quite amazing in that he loves that I love to travel solo. He isn’t big into travel and I find it awesome that I get to have this second life that I can come home and share with him. I am settled down — this is my job and I love it.

“You know you can’t pack all your shit in a carry-on!”

One year ago I would have agreed with this statement but lately, carry-on is my style. Thanks to an airline who couldn’t deliver my luggage in the middle of winter, I changed my packing habits. All the stuff in my suitcase is just that — stuff. I’m traveling! I don’t need shoes and jewelry for each day — hell, when I am at home I don’t even swap that often. You get creative with your packing styles and bring clothing pieces you can mix and match. I prefer to do laundry once versus paying to check luggage/risk the chance of losing it.

“Aren’t you afraid to die alone in those countries you visit because terrorists are there?”

Yeah, no. I’m from Detroit and now I live outside Washington D.C. Terrorists are everywhere, even my own backyard — I can’t live in fear and refuse to. I don’t go to places that are on high warning lists because of danger there; however, that doesn’t mean I won’t visit the surrounding countries. As a United States citizen, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan have been on the travel warning lists for years. In that time I have been to Turkey twice and traveled extensively over the country and visited the United Arab Emirates, seeing both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And guess what? Both countries I fell in love with.

“You must not have friends.”

That may be half true — but that’s not because I suck at life but because of the life path I have chosen. I’ve been in school for nearly 10 years studying criminology and law and now I am finishing my MBA. In addition, I have worked full-time and perused traveling in my free time. When I am not doing any of those things, I am with my husband and dog spending every free minute with them. I have met a lot of wonderful people in my travels though and we keep in touch. I don’t need 50 friends — that’s 50 sets of drama, 50 people mad at me for not being around constantly, 50 people who want to see you when you are home — it’s excessive. I believe in quality over quantity and I have the right people in my life.

“What if you get robbed?”

Then I get robbed. I can get robbed at home anytime — why does traveling elevate the likelihood? Because I’m a woman? I’m a bad-ass woman and it’s going to take an army to rob me. But seriously, the world isn’t all bad — in fact, it’s mostly good. The media just chooses to highlight the bad and that’s where opinions come from.

“Doesn’t anyone want to travel with you, you must be horrible?”

I prefer solo travel and it’s not because I dislike people, but because I do it for work and have grown to like doing things my way. It’s liberating. I do travel with my husband, family, and/or friends sometimes, but everyone has their own things going on: work, kids, school, bills, etc. I don’t expect anyone to drop everything and travel with me — otherwise I would be waiting to travel. I am so horrible to travel with — ask anyone who has traveled with me; they are usually inexperienced travelers who have relied on me to help them with passports, plan the trip, get us from place to place with ease, know where everything is, and to make sure the experience was good. I definitely can see how I am horrible.

“Aren’t you bored and/or lonely?”

Heck no! The first thing I learned was to love myself and be comfortable with my company. Second — how can I be bored exploring a new city? Even if I spent a week there I wouldn’t get to see and do everything. If you are bored when you are traveling, you may be doing it wrong.

“Why would you go there?”

Why wouldn’t I? I want to see everything the world has to offer, experience new cultures, meet new people, taste new foods, see new holidays and traditions — and that is why I want to go everywhere. The world is more than Europe and spring break in Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, I love both places, but I beg you to experience more. It is then that you will see how wonderful life is and make you grateful for your own.

“So when does this phase of your life end?”

Oh honey, this isn’t a phase. This is my LIFE. This is something I am fiercely passionate about and I have no plans to end it. While you are at home judging my lifestyle, just remember that I am having the time of my life experiencing the world.

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