During my stay in Salone, i remembered how beautiful travelling solo was. I have travelled alone most of my trips and i think it is one of the best decisions i ever made.
The experiences i had were positive and negative but i have to say that most of them are positive.
Even though sometimes you may feel lonely and lost, i prefer travelling alone because it helps me grow, be independent, teaches me how to be happy no matter what and figure out how to solve problems by myself.
Some people don’t see it. Travelling alone just seems crazy and boring for them. I disagree, why?
- People are nicer than we think. Yes, they are. People have this idea that people in other countries are mean and just horrible. They think any place outside of their comfort zone is a war zone and just hostile. Not true. People in other countries do this crazy crazy stuff called living their lives and minding their business. Thinking that as soon as you leave your city/country everyone is out to get you is a sick idea. People have better things to do than to wait for a tourist to bother. In general, when you go to a different african country as a black african, most locals won’t even know you are a foreigner until you speak so it is easy to blend in. Toss the idea that everyone is out there to hurt you. Stop thinking that people in other countries are very different from you, that they are monsters who want to eat you alive. No, they are not. You think they are the dangerous ones and they think you guys are the dangerous ones and none of you have given each other a chance. See how crazy that is? We need to stop this. People are nice, and normal. Not all of them are nice, true, but most of them do not have the need to go look for and bother tourists. People have bigger issues than that, you are not that important in their lives. And when they help you, they will go above and beyond. One experience i would like to share is the one i had in Saniquille (Liberia). I was supposed to cross the liberian-ivorian border that day but it was dark already so the bikers advised me not to go because it was dangerous. They told me to sleep in Saniquille and cross the border the next morning. I accepted and had no hotel to go to so one man proposed i sleep that night with his family. I always say this: when you travel (as a solo female traveller) never stay at a guy’s house unless you know him/already sleep with him or want to sleep with him/ or there is a woman already in the house. This is for safety. I was gonna reject the offer but he told me he lived with his wife and 4 little girls, everybody backed it up, they all knew him and when i heard he lived with his wife and 4 children (girls), i accepted. They treated me like a daughter. They gave me everything i needed and more, and i will always be grateful for them. And no, they did not ask for money, not even once. This is the african spirit, this is an example of african hospitality. People may have less than you have but will give you all they can. And this doesn’t happen once, it hapens all the time when one travels.
- Travelling alone is not as terrifying as people make it seem. People will try to tell you not to do it, that you will get lost, people will treat you badly for not speaking their language, you won’t have anyone to talk to. Not true. You will end up speaking with anyone and everyone even if your languages are different, especially if you are a charlatan like me. I am grateful for speaking many languages but if you do not speak, you can make it work somehow. Remember that as a black african, if you travel through Africa, most locals won’t be able to tell you are a foreigner until you speak, show your passport or do something crazy so it is easy to blend in.
- You will be smiled at by strangers. They will, for no reason, and i think it is one of the sweetiest thing to do. And i am not talking about creepy smiles (you shall get a decent amount of those as a woman) but genuine ones. Be nice and smile back.
- People will talk to you more. When i travelled with friends/family/boyfriend nobody ever talked to us unless we talked to them first. Since i travel alone, my experiences are much better, people approach me to have any type of conversations and they also invite me to things (to go have some food, kids asking me to play with them, they invite you to their homes, they introduce you to their people, etc). I remember a crazy conversation with a man who looked like Marx (looking like he just finished his revolutionary speech) on his way to court. That never happened to me travelling with others. I feel like being alone while travelling makes you more approachable and willing to talk than someone who is already with someone. People see +2 travellers as a group with a plan who don’t want to be bothered but solo travellers look more open because they have no one. This is the best to have a local experience and learn about yourself.
- People will help you if they see you struggling. As i said before, people are not out to get you. People can see if you are a foreigner in trouble. Once they notice, they will feel pity and help you however they can. I remember i had trouble getting a ride close to Kosovo (still in Serbia) and 3 guys went out of their way to take me to a better hitchhiking spot to go to Prishtina (capital of Kosovo).
- It is not that dangerous to travel alone. Of course, you have to be careful but don’t travel thinking you will be raped and killed. You don’t need to travel to be raped and killed. You can be raped and killed in your own city/country like many other people have so toss the idea that you can only be in danger in a foreign country and live your life to the fullest. And if you think your safety is in jeopardy, just don’t go. Use your brain. I wouldn’t go take a walk in Somalia right now because they need to chill. So yes, travel BUT take your brain with you.
Still, you have to remember that most of the time you will have to rely on yourself and your skills. People are nice but try to take care of yourself without needing any help. Try to learn the language, smile, be nice and read the countries no no’s before you go to avoid problems.
That being said, don’t be scared. Just do it. Even if you’re scared now, you will be fine in the end.