When I graduated from college I remember flying shortly after to France to meet Alex, where I had plans to spend 3 months exploring the country with him. Having only known him for a few months, the notion seemed crazy to my family and friends yet thrilled me to step outside my comfort zone.
After a transatlantic flight from Chicago to Paris, I remember exiting the terminal and feeling a rising sense of panic as I didn’t see the familiar faces I was expecting at arrivals. Without a working phone, I felt my mind race to the conclusion of I am alone…in France! I ran through a million questions in a minute–where would I stay? What about the language gap? Did I have enough money? Do I know anyone in France? Before I could succumb to the growing panic rising in my chest, Alex and his mother appeared in the crowd to whisk me away to their home and hospitality.
I sometimes think back to that moment in the Charles de Gaulle arrivals terminal and recall feeling both thrilled and scared about being in a foreign land alone. Today, the notion of solo travel among women has taken on this irresistible appeal–while some praise the soul searching nature of wandering through a destination alone, others seem to shudder at the risks. In a recent article in The Huffington Post, Amandah Blackwell writes about her experience of traveling solo through Edinburg and touts the benefits of stepping far outside one’s comfort zone. In her experience, she found the solo travel trend as a great way to discover self-confidence, side step co-dependency and really open oneself up to a destination. With her article, she praises the kindness of strangers and even the money saving benefits of taking a chance to explore a new city sans partner.
While the idea of traveling solo has always existed, as of late it seems to have reached a fever pitch as women embrace travel and all its intricacies with open arms. Rather than fear strangers and the dangers that may live abroad, women are staying savvy, street-smart and open to the experience of discovering themselves against the backdrop of an exotic location.
Recently, I have been presented with the impromptu opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires to explore partnership opportunities for The Pin the Map Project and cover the local culture and food scene. Rather than fly with a gaggle of girlfriends or my usual travel companion, Alex, I will have to board the 10 hour flight alone and walk the streets of Buenos Aires solo. I have longed to visit Argentina–a country I feel is the epitome of passion, good food and appreciation of life–but to visit it alone? I find myself thinking back to that moment in the Charles de Gaulle airport in France and am both thrilled and repelled by the idea of venturing towards the end of the world on my own.
When I was growing up I once read a quote that read “life begins where your comfort zone ends.” While the author of the sentence has long since slipped from my memory, the sentiment has infused my mind and used to inspire me in college to venture beyond what I felt comfortable with. The quote inspired me to fly to France after graduation and eventually move to New York City on my own. The truth is that life does indeed begin where our comfort zones end and that opportunities and experiences aren’t found a foot away from our beds, but are discovered beyond our front doors. As I work out the details of my upcoming Buenos Aires trip, I look forward to stepping far outside my comfort zone and exploring the trend of solo travel against the backdrop of Argentina.