Why I Feel Safe Traveling Solo Abroad

Cartagena, Colombia

I sometimes get flack from my friends and family about some of the decisions I make as a solo traveler. I go to faraway places, alone. I go to places that some would consider questionable or dangerous. I go to places where I don’t speak the language; where I don’t have cell service. I sleep in hostel dorms with other people. I’ve gotten into cars and stayed with people I met on Couchsurfing.

To some, it may seem like risky behavior. But I operate under the mindset and worldview that almost all people, everywhere, are good and kind.

I know, it’s a pretty bold statement. I assure you, I’m not oblivious or ignorant to the terrible things in the world. Nor do I think I’m immune to inconvenient or unfortunate things happening to me. I keep my wits about me and practice street smarts. I listen to my gut, 100% of the time. It’s never a bad thing to stay alert, and you should too.

But what I’ve learned during all of my travails, is that really, truly, most people are good. They’re not out to get you or me. And because I believe that wholeheartedly, I’ve seen the generosity, hospitality, and grace that exists all over the world.

It’s a much more positive outlook than the opposite. Holding the opposite view, while it may keep you “safe,” forces you to live in a shelter of unsubstantiated fear — keeping yourself from truly experiencing a place and the people that live there, closed off to connections and friendships.

Here are just three examples of kindness in action:

  • In Ecuador, when I fell off a moving bus, I felt a stranger’s kindness from a street vendor who gave me a free bottle of water
  • Somewhere between Venice and Salzburg when my train was severely delayed well into the night, and I was almost in tears with panic, a French couple saved the day by allowing me to connect via their mobile hotspot to get in touch with my Couchsurfing host
  • My Couchsurfing host was so sweet and gracious and came to get me from the train station at 2 a.m., which was a relief beyond words. Press play to hear the whole story!

What do you think? Do you agree? Leave me a comment!

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7 thoughts on “Why I Feel Safe Traveling Solo Abroad

  1. I’ve actually been pondering this for a couple days before commenting ; I want to see things that way, but I find myself (as is often the case) unable to forget about the exceptions long enough. I can’t seem to shake a suspicion of most people long enough to let loose and enjoy life.

      1. I think you’re right, and without being intentional I believe I’ve been chipping away at it.

      2. Well, nothing up there with a solo trip, but I’d say I’ve stepped out enough the past few years to have built my comfort level up with adventure and strangers. Ive been in a long distance relationship for about two years now; that took a lot of faith on both our parts I’d say. I developed the courage the eat out or see a movie alone, which never would’ve happened in the past. I always wanted to get into martial arts but hid behind my mom as a kid; I finally gathered the courage at about 30, and here two years later I thoroughly enjoy it. I even switched places without problem when my former teacher stopped doing it. I believe it’s been one of the best mental health decisions I made.

        I suppose at some level courage is courage right?

      3. Doug – absolutely. I really appreciate your candidness. Life’s a journey, and if we’re not growing or trying to grow, we’re doing it wrong. I hope you’ll appreciate the message of this video: https://youtu.be/jo5IONWJK1A
        Thank you SO much for reading and commenting on the blog!

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