Traveling alone can be both liberating and intimidating. Peru was my first solo international trip, and I can’t wait to take another trip by myself.
The Peruvian taxi driver peered at me in his rear-mirror as he navigated the jammed roads of Lima. I sat in the backseat quietly, warily aware that he was studying me.
I told him that I was meeting my friends at the hostel he was taking me to and hoped he believed my lie.
The truth was, I traveled to Peru alone. While I have gone to foreign countries by myself in the past, it was always to meet up with a group or attend a program, like when I studied abroad in Morocco.
The idea of traveling alone for the duration of my 8-day trip intimidated me, but not so much that I backed out. My job requires me to take my vacation time at very specific periods throughout the year and when the timing was right to go to Peru, schedules couldn’t be coordinated with any of my friends or family members.
So, that left me…and that was okay.
Traveling alone was empowering, exhausting and worthwhile. I started dreaming up my next solo-international trip while on the flight headed back the U.S.
I had the freedom to spend my money and time on attractions and excursions that interested me. I spent more time wandering through parks than drifting through art museums. I ate when I was hungry (Okay, let’s be honest; I ate when I saw something delicious.) I also didn’t have to apologize for choosing hostels instead of hotels to stretch my budget.
I did things that I never would have done in the U.S., like accept a dinner invitation from a man I didn’t know or meander through neighborhoods with no destination in mind.
One of my fears, however, was I wouldn’t have someone to take pictures with or take pictures of me. Maybe that’s vain, but it’s the truth. Strangers were wonderfully helpful at snapping a few pictures of me standing in front of something noteworthy or interesting. No one ever denied my requests.
As for someone to pose with, I ended up drawing in a stick-figure next to me using SnapChat. It was an idea that entertained me throughout the trip way more than it should have. Locals probably thought I was absolutely insane for posing in front of picturesque mountains with my arm slung around thin air. Little did they know “Bae” would be added into the scene later.
I’m not sure if my taxi driver believed I had friends waiting on my arrival, but it didn’t really matter. I had myself, and that was enough for a fabulous adventure.