Estela lived in Germany for work, but she never came to feel like home. She then she thought it was time for a change of scenery. Going back to Spain, her native country, was not in her plans, so she thought it was a good time to finally put into practice those two ideas that were running through her head: traveling alone and getting to know Argentina.
I had already traveled Europe with friends, partner, family, and had been reading blogs of girls who traveled alone and recommended it, gave advice, chose destinations and had positive experiences; So, he began planning a six-month trip to South America. “I started reading about more places and plotting the route. And it motivated me more and more. People told me I was crazy, that it was dangerous; in 2016 not many people were known to do it. There was not much talk, but then I did find many who had experienced it for a long time, ”he says.
Backpack on his shoulder, he toured Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. The result was a success, and two years later Estela’s desire, which had arisen from the inspiration of other women around the world who were encouraged, became her passion and her new job. In 2018 she founded #QuieroViajarSola, a project to encourage all women to travel alone, which includes a blog (quieroviajarsola.com) with a lot of information and a huge community on social networks, where women from all over the planet provide support to lose fears, feel safe, sweep away prejudices and embark on the adventure.
According to a survey by the Solo Traveler site (solotravelerworld.com), 46% of the women consulted travel alone because they seek freedom, independence and the opportunity to do what they want when they want; 22%, because they are not willing to wait for others, and 15%, to challenge themselves and gain confidence. In the large number of pages and accounts on networks dedicated to this topic, practically all of the people who have gone through the experience recommend it, even despite the eventualities. So, why do we still find it strange or question that someone decides to take a trip or go on vacation alone and much more if she is a woman? What reasons lead us to think that she doesn’t have friends, gets along badly with the family or that she does it because she doesn’t have a partner? As open as we think we are, let’s be honest, a question mark still appears when a friend tells us that she is going on vacation alone or someone tells us that an acquaintance asked for a week at work to visit, without company, the north of the country .
Julieta (42) made her first solo trip a month after separating from her husband, after twenty years of relationship. One day she booked a ticket to New York, where her cousin lived, but her impulse was so great that she didn’t even ask him if she was going to be there on that date. It turned out that she was also traveling and her roommate took advantage of her absence so that her family would visit her. So she, she still decided to go ahead and it was a wonderful experience. “There is a modesty when someone travels alone. I felt looked at, judged, by what people might think of me, that ultimately I had no one to be with. I already knew the city, I think that was a plus, but I discovered it in a different way: at my own pace, at my whim, I did and undid as I wanted. The following year I repeated, I went to Machu Picchu, another ideal destination to visit without anyone and meet many people along the way. People told me that something was going to happen to me, that I couldn’t walk the world alone as a woman and I also faced those who accused me of not having friends or a partner. All these prejudices did nothing but help me to have more confidence in myself, ”she assures.
Being alone, without company, is a pleasure when it responds to a desire and a choice. It is a time for introspection, self-connection, creativity, concentration and even relaxation. On the contrary, feeling alone is related to negative emotions and unwanted circumstances, with dissatisfaction in interpersonal ties that generates discomfort. The same happens with being alone, with oneself for a specific moment, and loneliness, which can be a distressing and lasting feeling. Although we also confuse it as a state and loneliness as an emotion. To face this subtle but immense difference, and exalt the virtues of being without others, there is honjok, the Korean art of learning to be happy with oneself, enjoying the moments and the advantages that the desired and chosen solitude brings us. In this way, what he proposes to us is not to learn to be alone for no reason, but to do it in a meaningful way, enjoying moments in which we dedicate ourselves to ourselves.
As a philosophy of life, there are also other movements in the world that seek personal reconnection, such as nesting (the art of doing nothing, staying at home and disconnecting), lagom (a Swedish concept that promotes less is more) and hygge (which, in addition to creating a comfortable home, explains that we can seek happiness in the little things).
After the pandemic, from which we were emerging not so long ago, we all went through transformations and many of us saw our priorities reoriented. Traveling was one of the most affected activities; We were forced to stay at home, without being in contact with others and at most to move around our city. As restrictions gradually eased, the natural reaction was to get together, plan group vacations, increase gatherings, make up for lost socializing time. But, in addition, for certain people, the fact of having experienced tranquility for a while made them reaffirm the enjoyment that this generated in them and how comfortable they felt with themselves.
“As soon as the borders were opened, I went to Rio de Janeiro for the fifth time, always alone. I didn’t doubt it for a moment, even though my family didn’t understand why I preferred to spend the summer like this and not at the house in Pinamar with everyone,” says Luciano (37), a physical trainer for a soccer team in Buenos Aires, single. and with many friends, but since he tried this experience he not only repeats it but recommends it. His environment doesn’t quite understand him, but they practically don’t give an opinion anymore because they realized how happy he comes back. Even during the next trip he has planned to Europe with her sister, her husband and her three nephews, he first cleared 15 days to tour Croatia and Greece alone, and only later agreed to meet them in London. . “Time for me is non-negotiable. It is pure personal growth. I need it on every trip and it is also the best way to be in contact with local people, to get to know places off the beaten track and eat in the best places. The need, or the ease, to talk to people when traveling alone opens fantastic doors for you. You have to fight the stigma of going alone”, he concludes.
Many girls write to Estela on the networks in search of advice. What they ask him the most is about destinations, the language and what to take in the suitcase. “I usually go with very rare things; the more you go out you realize that you put unnecessary objects ”, she advises them. There are more and more who want to travel without company and more and more are doing so. According to Solo Traveler statistics, women travel more alone than men: 85% of solo travelers are women. And they do it at all ages. Despite the fact that perhaps there is the idea that the youngest, between 20 and 30, are launched to discover the world, there are many 60 or 70 who are also encouraged.
One of the advantages that Estela took into account when planning her first trip to South America was the language. That she spoke to herself in Spanish helped her relate better. Despite this, as she gained experience, one of the places she enjoyed the most was Turkey. “It’s a friendly destination to begin with. There is the idea that they are closed, because of religion, or that it is dangerous. Wherever you go, people will try to help you. It is easy to get around because everything is very well connected. Also in Italy, Spain and Portugal they have a lot to see and it is easy to get around; people are very open and friendly,” she explains. Regarding the difficulty of the language, in the less touristic places where they did not speak English, Estela used the Google translator. “Technology is an advantage and not speaking the language of the place should not be an impediment,” she recommends. One of the maxims that Luciano follows is to stay in hostels and Estela suggests the same. Not only is it cheaper, but there is the possibility of chatting with others, joining group tours and cooking something quick at night, since perhaps dining alone in a restaurant is not the most entertaining thing in the world. “You are almost never alone and that is one of the most beautiful things,” says Julieta.
Traveling through Argentina is a good option to start with, because of the language, the familiarity of the country, the currency, the friendliness of the people and because there are many destinations to travel alone, especially the more adventurous ones, such as Patagonia, Mendoza, Jujuy or Missions. Unless the idea is to completely disconnect, read a lot and rest in the most absolute sense of the word, perhaps a house in the mountains of Córdoba is not as promising as trekking in El Chaltén, diving with sea lions in Puerto Madryn or sailing for the Mocona. One of the routes that Estela is consulted the most, in Spain, is the Camino de Santiago, a series of Christian pilgrimage routes of medieval origin with different stops that are covered in several days and where it is easy to combine moments of walking alone with the company of other pilgrims.