“Who are you traveling with? Noone?! Aren’t you scared to travel by yourself? I couldn’t do it — don’t you watch the news?!” No, no, and definitely no. Pushing aside my negative views on our corrupt mainstream news programs… It’s an invigorating, demanding and beautiful, beautiful world out there.
Facebook and Instagram are constantly saturated in “goals” photos and videos of ridiculously good looking couples traveling together. The Follow Me To Project is just one example of how traveling this beautiful world is embraced by two people, literally hand-in-hand. The more images you see, the more your heart flutters then turns to desire and jealousy. Being the diehard romantic I am, this series of photography makes me wish I was swept off my feet to elope.
Your average solo backpacker isn’t going to capture the symbolic images of wanderlust.
Unless you stroll Bangla road and ask for a photo from the man yelling “Motorbike?! Motorbike?! Transport?!” You could be Rhonda, and Ketut could be the next Murad Osmann.
The Follow Me To Project
You don’t need a significant other holding your hand jumping onto or off a plane. You can do everything the same (if not better) by yourself. You can carry your own backpack; you CAN reach that blind sunscreen patch on your back if you try hard enough! Traveling by yourself is terrifying, challenging, confronting, but one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. If boarding a plane to Kathmandu is leaping too far, then a three day trip to the closest beach or forest is enough to stimulate your solo senses.
You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
When planning a holiday the word “itinerary” sends shivers up my spine. The thought of a day to day plan with time schedules makes me want to run away, preferably to the closest airport. Traveling alone gives you a rare opportunity to do whatever you want to do. Want street crepes for dinner? Do it. Want to take a gondola ride by yourself? Do it. Want to see a Ping Pong show? Do it.
Be selfish. You are the only person you need to make happy, and that’s almost impossible in this insanely connected world.
You have no one to answer to, no one telling you where to go or what to do. Unless you’re on a planned tour. It’s probably best you listen to your tour guide and get your hungover arse on the bus for the next seven hours. 15 countries in 21 days doesn’t sound so great now you’re stuck next to Kate from Manchester who listens to podcasts and laughs to herself.
Meeting new people
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Social media is your cover, and our addiction gives people a perception about you before even meeting. I was on a first date recently, new to the dating scene — shy, nervous and uncomfortable. But he was so confident! I loved it. Then he popped the question… “So did you just get out of a relationship?” Following my answer with “Yeah, I stalked your Instagram.”
That night as I deleted all my past relationship photos from social media, I wondered if I it was possible to meet someone who knew nothing about you. Traveling gives you the opportunity to expand your horizons outside the 160km Tinder radius. Hopefully the new people you meet at The Bounty Hotel pool bar in Kuta haven’t already stalked your profiles.
You can be whoever you want
This doesn’t mean to start the double life of Hannah Montana, or try your luck of a Scottish accent. You will meet a lot of people, and you will also spend a lot of time in your own company. You will discover who it is you are, or who you want to be without a fear of what people think. The “real world” of your home city is full of pressure, anxiety, and judgment. People are scared to express themselves. There is a fear of changing people’s opinions of you. No one is there to judge you at the Taj Mahal if you suddenly want to start dressing Gothic. Put on some black lipstick, and celebrate with a samosa — you have found yourself.
Traveling by myself allowed me to find my inner Bridget Jones. A new love of writing, an obsession with romance and well, nearly everything the revolutionary character embraces.
Me too Bridget, me too.
You don’t need to be single to travel by yourself, and you don’t need to break up with your significant other to temporarily run away. Embrace the empowering movement of our generation. We are young, independent and confident individuals who don’t need no man to see the world. Here’s to the Don’t Follow Me project. Purchase a selfie stick, and be your own “boyfriend of Instagram”.
How to spot the single girl at the Eiffel Tower? Selfie stick.
On a personal note: I’m off to solo backpack for the next four months. I wonder what dating apps I’ll find in Laos? Iflix and chill?