By Tara Boedeker
One of the reasons Bobbi and I started this business is to have an excuse to travel and get connected with people in interesting places and walks of life. In a week and a half I am headed to Colombia to meet with the artisans who make the cool, ecochic watches I fell in love with on a previous trip. My first field trip for KinShop! Yay, exciting, I’m living my dream!
…Oh, and I’m going ALONE (echo, echo, echo). Wait. What? Am I crazy?!?!
I am a wife to a wonderful husband, a mother to two small girls I adore and who need me. Is this really a wise thing to do at this point in my life? When I told my parents last month that I had decided to go Colombia by myself, they sighed and told me they didn’t want their grandchildren to be motherless! Obviously, I don’t want that to happen either. I am a well-traveled, sophisticated, independent, creative woman. I make friends easily and 98% of the time I have received kindness and help from strangers around the world, even in a few places with shady reputations. Still, I have to admit that my parents’ flippant comments frighten me and my imagination runs wild with images of catastrophe befalling me on my travels or tragedies back home while I’m on my selfish and naïve solo adventure to look for cool products and good causes. After all, didn’t I get that out of my system before I had real responsibilities? Oh boy. Does this sound familiar to anyone!
Catastrophic thinking aside, what often causes me the most anxiety about solo travel is filling the hours with myself. I’m an extrovert and of course I prefer to travel with good company. Being with people offers me a feeling of protection and validation that others want to hang with me (totally needy I know).
By contrast, being by myself in public places often feels vulnerable, especially as a woman, like it’s an invitation for creepy guys or unstable people to harass me (this happens back home too). I tend to feel self-conscious going to restaurants or cafes alone. I hurry through meals as if my solitary presence offends the atmosphere, announcing to the world that I am not worthy of company. Irrational? Of course, but that doesn’t stop the insecurities from creeping in.
So, with this trip I’m planning to embrace some hours of public solitude as well as make an effort to reach outside my comfort zone, strike up new relationships with interesting people and see where it leads. I’m making part of my mission this trip to leave the lonely, vulnerable, "poor me" feelings in my suitcase and turn up the volume on the inner voice that says "I am actually kind of a bad-ass for doing this"!
Here's to all the women solo travelers out there!