- Jes Bellamy
Have you ever heard the lyrics, "I'm like a bird, I only fly away?" Yes, the one by Nelly Furtado, and yes... kind of cheesy. Well, that song has always resonated with me and wanting to travel… but in my head, it was more like, "I'm like a bird, I only fly away,"...but the world is dangerous, or what if I get taken? And Lord knows Liam Neeson is not my dad, so good luck being found. In other words, fears from not only myself but the media and others scared me into avoiding traveling. Not saying awful stuff doesn't happen while traveling, but I've learned that I can't let fear rule my life, especially the fear imposed by others.
I love my family, but I would be lying if I said some of them didn't play a role in me not traveling alone. I come from a very old-school family, where women are treated differently than men. So, all I've ever heard was, "If you travel, you need a man to go and protect you" or "women shouldn't travel alone." Not to say that they are wrong for trying to keep me safe in this crazy world, but one has got to question, is that all there is in this world? Crime, hatred, fear? After asking this question, I realized I would never know until I went!
Fears from others kept me back for a long time, and it wasn't until I was 24 that I decided to take a leap of faith. I got a new job as a Flight Attendant for a major airline, moved from California to the Big Apple, and next thing you know, I was on my own (physically, at least). I am now 27, have explored this world, and still have a great deal of traveling to accomplish.
The first time I traveled solo, I had no choice because it was for work. So I'm just going to tell you about my first trip to London and exploring solo. If you are new to traveling solo, I highly recommend London as your first place to go (or anywhere that speaks your native language and is easy to get around). Before going to London, I did a lot of research; I wasn't going to step into a country as a Black-Female American and not know where I was going (mama didn't raise no fool). London, however, is pretty safe, so I wasn't too concerned.
Now, I don't want to get into the "what to do" stuff because you can find what to do in London anywhere on the internet. However, I will mention that I mainly walked everywhere and only took Ubers to and from the hotel. Also, The food was pretty pricy (and not that tasty). What I really want to focus on is that traveling alone isn't super challenging. If I can do it, so can you! I specifically enjoyed it because I could do everything I wanted without being slowed down or sidetracked by other individuals. It allowed me (an introvert) to open up and ask locals questions while also giving me the confidence to walk around looking like a tourist and not care. One thing I did, was just sit on a bench near London Bridge and study the people and their actions… people watching is the BEST! (just don't look like a creep).
Ultimately, I realized while in London that people are just people. They are the same human beings as the ones here in America (just with accents). They breathe the same air, smile the same as we do, cry the same way we do, and just want to be happy like us in America or anywhere in this world. This helped me connect to the environment even more and realize I can absolutely travel with a group or alone and be okay. So, as Nike says, "Just do it" (I'm a big fan of corny sayings). Get out there, take that leap of faith and fly like a bird. Now, traveling solo to countries that don't speak your language probably won't be as easy as going to a place that does. However, if you prepare, do your research, take lots of safety precautions, and go with a fresh outlook, I am sure you will find yourself just fine!