Solo female travel is rapidly trending across the globe. Women from all over the world and from different backgrounds are are no longer waiting for anything or anyone in order to see the world. They are also starting to quit their stressful corporate jobs in favor of working remotely so that they can fully focus on new countries and experiences.
I’m not too far behind these women. It’s quite bizarre to me though that at the age of 29, despite having traveled to 20 countries, living in 3 different countries and traveling around Australia and the USA alone, I’ve never attempted a solo trip to a foreign country. Whilst it has been lingering on my bucket list for several years, fear of the unknown and the ‘what ifs’ tended to hold me back.
Fortunately, things manifested perfectly and when I was invited to come study Spanish for 1 week at the Casco Antiguo Spanish School in Panama, it gave me the opportunity to finally travel solo.
Despite my excitement to get out of my comfort zone and travel alone to Panama, I was met with natural concerns from my caring mother and some friends. “Is it safe?” “What if something happens?” “I am really nervous for you” were just some of the things I heard prior to traveling. Momentarily, these worries took me from feeling an array of excitement and curiosity to feelings of nervousness and questioning my decision. However, the ticket was booked, I had created a contract with the school and I was too committed to back out now. I couldn’t do anything else but trust it’d be fine.
Upon arrival, Panama City felt like any other city as far as safety. There’s a mix of the nicer, generally safer neighborhoods and then there are areas that you simply avoid. As long as you avoid the sketchy areas and remain assertive of your surroundings at all times, you shouldn’t run into any problems. One of the best and safest neighborhoods is Casco Viejo, which is incredibly popular among tourists and expats. I even walked around alone at night in random alleyways and never felt like I was in danger (I don’t necessarily recommend doing that, I’m just a little insane and also, I hope my mum doesn’t read this paragraph!). I felt safest in Casco Viejo because the presidential palace is here so there was always an abundant amount of police every few blocks.
Additionally, the Casco Antiguo Spanish School is located right in the heart of Casco Viejo so if you choose to study Spanish here, you can trust that you are in a safe area. The neighborhood is a wonderful blend of old and new buildings and there is a decent amount of construction occurring which means that it’s becoming more modern and attractive to tourists. I should also mention it has some of the best restaurants, rooftop bars and multiple tourist attractions.
To be very honest, my first day of walking in the streets and trying to find the school was a little nerve wracking because I felt so beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t know the streets (and didn’t want to have my phone out just in case), I didn’t have anyone to lean on and being a curvy blonde in a Latin country doesn’t exactly help you blend in. However that all subsided after the first day and my confidence grew with each day.
Along my travels I also met so many inspiring female solo travelers who love traveling solo because they have full freedom in their itinerary and can go at their own pace without having to compromise. Meeting them all reinforced that this is how countless women are choosing to travel nowadays and I realized that I had made the right decision.
Initially, I thought that traveling alone might be a lonely, fearful, possibly unsafe experience but trying new things is always a little scary and I kept reminding myself of this. Once I got over the fear, solo travel actually opened me up to new friendships, conversations, experiences and gave me a newfound confidence.
If you’re debating going on a solo trip but are nervous to dive in head first, I’d suggest signing up for a professional tour so that you are around other people and a tour guide. Or why not learn something new in the process and study at a language school like I did. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you will meet new people and have the support of the school network.
If you’re STILL wondering if you should go somewhere solo, just DO IT! It will be one of the most challenging, liberating, terrifying and hilarious things you ever try! It will teach you to think on your feet, go with the flow, take charge of your plans and trust your gut.
Life is short and there is a beautiful world out there waiting to be explored and as a solo female traveler I recommend starting with Panama!