On Her Own

Why we travel

Travel. I talk about it a lot because it’s one of the most common times when a woman might find herself on her own. Whether it’s the short trips across town as we commute or shop or the longer journeys for work or play, even those of us who live with others don’t always have someone we know with us in that car or train or plane. So often, though, we worry only about the dangers and think only about all of the safety issues we have to remember to address. It seems like it’s always about avoiding sketchy strangers and alleyways, locking the doors and staying quiet about where we’re from or the fact we’re alone. But what about the good parts? The reasons that we leave our homes and brave the hassles and the risks? While sometimes we go for chore or obligation, there are still positives to getting out there by ourselves.

It’s adventure. Some trips more so than others, that’s true, but consider the possibilities every time you go somewhere, anywhere. The negatives, for sure, but also the prospect of seeing what we might not normally see, doing what we might not normally do, meeting who we might not normally meet, experiencing what we might not normally experience. Even when we go to familiar places often, we have the opportunity to notice the new each and every time – and more so, when we aren’t with others who might distract us. For the bigger, more unusual treks, that becomes a greater possibility. That might even be the point. We might go somewhere specifically to seek what is unusual, to go to a place we’ve never been, to try the death-defying or at least the anxiety-provoking, to prove to ourselves that we can do incredible things. By going ourselves, we aren’t held back by what someone else might want to do instead, or their cautions or warnings, or the fear of embarrassing ourselves in front of someone we’ll have to face later. We can reinvent ourselves if we like, or simply be all of us, the all of us who is too much in our regular worlds. Scary, perhaps, but oh so exciting.

And it’s freedom. Not all that long ago and still not in parts of the world, women have not been and are not allowed to run daily errands unescorted, let alone travel the world by themselves. Each time we do is a small rebellion, a small show that we are capable and that we do not need permission to be our own persons. Having the ability to go where we can, when we like, is really pretty amazing when you think about it. It’s harder sometimes than others, and some of us have more limitations that can make it more difficult to get out there without an entourage, or even at all. We may have family responsibilities, unforgiving jobs, challenging disabilities, scarce resources. All of those make it the moments of escape dearer, more symbolic of the independence that we dream of, hope for, can have. When we are able to travel on the small trips and the grand journeys, they’re so very special when we had to work towards being able to do so. Maybe we had to learn how to drive, or save up for plane tickets, or overcome a crippling fear of leaving our nests, or wait for our kids to start school, but when we do, even when it’s just a step out to the back porch for a few minutes when we normally don’t or can’t even leave our homes at all…it’s a taste of liberty that few things can match.

Then at the end, it’s travel that makes home so comforting. Having adventures and having freedom is wonderful, incredible even. With it, we fly the highs of life. When we land, wherever and whatever it is that makes that place we end up “home,” we appreciate it that much more for it being the safe place where we can rest, from where we can then launch again. That feeling of belonging is never so fierce as when we come in from where we are merely visitors, so much so that like Odysseus, many of us spend years of our lives seeking it, are still looking for it. We might not know we’ve found it until we go away from it a time or three, then find ourselves with that ultimate secure and safe feeling of coming home. And that, that is why we travel the few feet or the few thousand miles from our beaten paths. All of it: the bright and shiny new, the escape from the mundane, and the discovery and rediscovery of home. With all of that, isn’t the risk of leaving your everyday worth it?

Hi, I'm Annette.

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