“Have you ever done something because it was what was expected of you? Lived your life in a socially acceptable way, even though it didn’t feel right?’
In early 2017, I was working a highly sought-after marketing job in New York City. The job provided good benefits, salary, and my co-workers were wonderful people. Life on the outside was really good, and I looked happy. Being in that job was what I was expected to do.
But in reality, life wasn’t good. I didn’t sleep at night. Anxiety consumed me, and yes, I cried in the bathroom a lot at work. I dreaded Mondays and celebrated Fridays. It was the vicious hate-my-job cycle people always talk about.
Rationally, I felt like I shouldn’t be responding to my situation that way. I was in a privileged position, living in Manhattan and working for a major corporation. Why was there a constant voice in my head making me feel like something was really wrong?
The one thing that brought me peace and excitement was thinking about traveling. I dreamt of seeing more of this beautiful world and even failed dozens of times trying to get my company to move me into a new position in London so I could easily travel around Europe.
About this time, I came across an Instagram profile of a woman who had left her job in California and traveled to Southeast Asia solo. She had been traveling alone for a few years making money along the way. Reading about her – it was the first time I realized I could do the same thing.
I took a leave of absence from my job and traveled for four months throughout Europe and Asia. Being on a super tight budget meant things like eating PB&J’s for most meals and staying in low-cost hostels, and it was so worth it. I slept through the night, every night. Even with 30 other backpackers in the hostel room. I didn’t have agonizing anxiety or the feeling of dread every day anymore.
Seeing the world – and seeing it alone – was something truly special that is hard to put into words. It made me stop and appreciate moments I wouldn’t have otherwise. It made me leave the conversation of family, friends, and work behind, and meet locals and other travelers as my authentic self. It enabled me to see the things I wanted to see, without making any compromises.
When I got home, I turned to the world of social media to learn more about other women who were also solo traveling. Up until my trip, I didn’t realize how many women were actually doing it. (I met dozens traveling alone, from all over the world, in each hostel I stayed in.)
I learned about their stories and was surprised to find even though every woman had a different story, there existed a common thread that strung them together: Women who solo travel don’t want to live the way others expect them to live.
Not all women want to have kids, or buy a house and ‘settle down,’ have an office job or wait on family and friends to book a trip with them. And sadly, many solo travelers say that they do not have a support system who actually supports them and understands why they travel alone.
The lightbulb went off: These women desperately needed a cheerleader. And I needed them just as much because it wasn’t just that my purpose was to not work in the corporate world; my purpose was to meet solo travelers, to empower them to feel proud of what they loved, and to bring them together in an intimate way.
The Lone Travel Girl was born, a community that celebrates solo female travelers. We share solo travel stories from women all over the world, empower women to continue solo traveling, and even make apparel that allows them to wear their love for solo travel. Our most popular design? A crop sweatshirt that simply says ‘solivagant,’ meaning, a solitary wanderer.
I am constantly in awe of the women I have met since starting this business:
- Those who work from their vans as digital nomads, traveling around their country full-time
- Those traveling on restricted passports and staying positive through the adversity
- Those who have spouses and children, who still prioritize themselves and book solo trips
What I’ve realized through it all?
Life is too damn short. It is too damn short to travel with people you don’t want to travel with. It is too short to not do what you love. It’s too short to not prioritize yourself.
So although this is a piece of my story, it’s really about the women in the world shifting expectations. And because I’ve seen what traveling solo does for women first-hand, I urge every woman who is considering solo traveling to do it once in her lifetime. It builds confidence, gives you the ultimate freedom to do whatever you want when you want, and allows deeper friendships to form with others who also have a passion to see the world solo.
And here’s my final nugget, which may sound cliche to some. Happiness comes from listening to what your heart is telling you and following it. These days, I don’t celebrate Fridays or dread Mondays. I even sleep through the night. There are tough days, but that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me something is wrong? It’s gone now. The only voice that remains is the one asking me where my next adventure will be.”
This story was written by Callie Gorman of Rochester, NY. You can follow her on Instagram here. You can also view her website, The Lone Travel Girl here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear about your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.