Recently, I traveled to one of my bucket list destinations, Cambodia — by myself. Can you imagine all of the criticism I got for traveling alone to a third world country as a young female? The answer is, a lot.. But I also got a lot of praise for doing so as well. I was seen as “brave” which was really odd to me. Whenever I told a friend of mine who is Cambodian that I was going alone, they would say something along the lines of — “I’m Cambodian and I would never go there, it’s not safe. People can kill you. I have family there and I’m still scared.” “Too many bad things happen” BUT.. Let’s be really really real. You can get hurt anywhere at anytime. I live in the United States and although this is a developed country, I could easily get robbed or assaulted just for walking to my car at night. I think it’s just a matter of being aware of your surroundings and taking the necessary precautions. (AKA when I rode the tuk tuks in Cambodia, I always kept my bag wrapped around my body/arms)
Was that intimidating? My bad. I wouldn’t want to sugar coat anything when it comes to being safe. But let me tell you how liberating traveling alone is. I LOVE IT. I loathe tour groups.. They take way too long, there’s too many people, and there are too many limitations. Traveling alone, I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was great. You learn a lot about yourself. I will admit that there were times when I wish I had a companion to talk to for the down time and for the times that I was off exploring the local area alone.
Highlight of my trip — My tour guide, Saven and I bonded a lot during my stay in Cambodia. I told her about the work that I do with my community back home and she had mentioned that she volunteers at a local orphanage in Siem Reap. On my last day in Cambodia, we were able to go to this orphanage called the Children’s Improvement Organization (CIO) home to 39 orphans. The kids gave me a tour of their home, showed me their school area, watched them prepare dinner, and taught me some traditional Khmer games. I was really taken back by everything. I had an absolute blast spending the entire day with these kids. They are a blessing. If I had been with a large tour group, I would have never been able to meet these kids.
Everyone needs to travel alone at least once in their lifetime.