I’m the kind of person who closes the closet door, checks under the bed, and turns on a night-light before going to sleep, so when I told friends and family that I was taking a trip alone to Mexico, they were shocked, to say the least. The most common reactions were: “I’ll pray for you,” “ Are you sure that’s a good idea?,” and “You have to be careful! I heard it’s not safe in Mexico!” But can one truly be “safe” anywhere? I was once mugged at a Walmart in an upscale Florida neighborhood thought by many to be perfectly “safe.” I therefore decided that I would ignore the warnings from well-meaning family and friends. After all, there are way better things to see in Mexico than there are in a suburban Walmart!
I have always wanted to visit all of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World, so the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzáwere definitely on my travel wishlist. When I found a flight to Cancún for only $82, I couldn’t resist. After all, Cancún is only a short two-hour car ride from Chichén Itzá. Since I’d racked up some awesome Expedia points to pay for my hotels, I really couldn’t pass up on this trip—even if it did fall on Thanksgiving weekend.
As the day of my departure grew closer, friends and family expressed more doubts about my trip. What if I got lost? Sick? Hurt? Mugged? Kidnapped and held for ransom? Although I thought these scenarios were fairly unlikely, I did start to get a little bit apprehensive. After all, while travelling alone can cause anxiety for anyone, it can be especially worrisome for women. However, I reminded myself that I am a 29-year-old independent business-owner who can handle pretty much anything life throws at her. Why should this trip be any different? A solo vacation to Chichén Itzá was not something to be worried about—it was a reason to get excited.
Despite this pep talk, I was indeed fairly nervous for the duration of the flight to Cancún. My anxiety began to get worse once I landed. My plan was to rent a car and make the two-hour drive to Valladolid. This seemed like a safer option than getting into a taxi with a stranger. This plan completely fell apart when I arrived at the Hertz kiosk, where I learned that while the rental was a mere $35, the insurance was $350 and there was also a required $800 deposit. Since the low cost of the plane fare was what had initially spurred this trip, paying all of that money to rent the car seemed preposterous. I found myself back at the airport looking into my options: I could either hop on a shuttle bus or take my chances with a taxi.
After some thought, I decided that the bus was a much safer—and thus much better—option. It ended up being a wonderful decision: not only was the bus trip safe and enjoyable, it also led me to meet several wonderful people. One of the women I met gave me some amazing ideas for other places to visit the next time I was in Mexico. Two Australian backpackers shared the highlights of their journey through the country. I was both inspired and put at ease by their stories.
The closer I got to my destination, the more relaxed I became and the more I began to realize that I could trust my instincts. I spent the next few days truly enjoying my time as a solo traveler. I people-watched while sipping coffee. I sat on a blanket and read a book in the sun. I struck up conversations with fellow travellers. I had strangers take my picture as I stood in front of one of the new seven wonders of the world. I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely. I was relishing my experience as a solo traveller.
It takes courage to travel alone, especially as a female. But despite my initial anxiety, I know for certain that this trip has made me stronger and more confident. It taught me to trust my intuition, to fend for myself, to think on my feet, and to enjoy my own company. Most importantly, it taught me that I am far braver and more adventurous than I had ever thought possible. I am definitely looking forward to my next solo trip … after all, there are still six other new wonders of the world to check off my list!