My Experience as a Woman Traveling Solo in Cabo
“You’re brave.” I heard these two exact words on four separate occasions, by four different people on my most recent solo trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The comment was first uttered to me by the gentleman working the Cabo transportation desk as I spoke with him about securing a seat on a shuttle so I could get to my resort.
The next time I heard it was on the second day of my vacation in Cabo. I was lured into a restaurant by the charming host who invited me to take a gander at the menu and promised that I would be pleased with their offerings and if not he said, “lunch is on me.”
I chose a seat outside so I could soak up the sun, people watch and enjoy my margarita and delicious pork belly tacos and fresh guacamole served with fried pork crackling (once you have guacamole with a piece of fried pork, your life is forever altered. How have I lived 48 years without this in my life?).
An older couple were soon seated at the table next to me. The wife, Haydee, struck up a conversation and soon asked if I was traveling solo. I responded affirmatively, “Yes, I’m traveling with myself.” It was then that she too said, “You’re brave.”
Given these words were said to me many times, once I returned home, I began to ponder what it means to be a brave woman who travels solo. Brave is not the word I would use to characterize my lone travels. When I think about bravery, I think about those in the military, mountain guides, firefighters, and women who give birth.
I’ve been in the delivery room, and let me tell you, mothers are brave souls. I have friends that would like to travel with me, but due to conflicting schedules and family responsibilities are unable to join me. My mom worries about me, but she doesn’t try to dissuade me from traveling solo. She tells me to be extra careful, to watch my back, and that she will be praying for my safe return.
I have traveled with friends and partners in the past and appreciate the shared experiences, and look back fondly on those memories, well, except the ones with the ex-husband, but that’s a whole different story. There is something special about being on vacation with loved ones, and I don’t doubt that I will have those opportunities in the future; however, in the meantime, I will continue to travel with myself.
It had been about 20 years since my last visit to Cabo. Much has changed and the town has grown immensely. The airport is bigger and nicer than I remember, tons of new resorts have been built, and the once small fishing village feel has morphed into a place that has a small city vibe.
What hasn’t changed is the tropical weather, the warm natives, and the fun that can be had at an all-inclusive, adult-only resort, where views of the Pacific Ocean meeting the Sea of Cortez are easily accessible.
Girls and women receive many messages, early and often, that the world is not safe for us. It’s normal to question our safety, but I choose not to be confined by fear or dwell in the negative space of what could happen when traveling with myself. So, if that makes me brave, then brave I am!
When I wanted to sit poolside in Cabo and immerse myself in a book or listen to Anita Baker’s greatest hits with my earbuds in, I could do so uninterrupted; however, even though I traveled solo, I was never really alone. When I was feeling a bit more social, it was easy to engage as people on vacation in a beautiful, sunny place are quite friendly.
I met lots of interesting people like Haydee and Julio, the charming couple I sat next to during lunch. They were visiting from Mexico City and emitted an aura that encompassed authenticity, kindness, and warmth. We talked travel, the importance of a world where people are open to others who are different from themselves because they can help us grow in some way; either expanding our worldview or reminding us that despite the news these days, most people are good people.
Haydee also shared that joy should be chased daily. She stated that “Life is too short” to live otherwise, and I agree. I found out that Haydee and Julio’s son, like me, is a Washington State University graduate. Go Cougs! What a small world.
I’m so thankful for this exchange and the many others I had on this trip with interesting, fun, and smart people, including the waiter who took me out for drinks and to listen to music, the couple I sat next to while enjoying the 80’s rock tribute band on the rooftop, and the masseuse who after his hard work, which left me feeling brand new, suggested a deep tissue massage next time to really address the knots in my shoulders.
Being in another country solo certainly made me keenly aware that I needed to trust my gut, watch my back, and be careful. These are the same rules to which I adhere when at home and on the hiking trail, or while just out and about. It’s about listening to my inner voice, using my common sense, and not being afraid to take some calculated risks, because you may end up having a fabulous time and with a good story to tell.
I love to travel and will continue to do so with myself, and as friends and loved one’s schedules allow, with them too. If you aren’t sure about taking the solo travel plunge, I encourage you to take the risk and face your fears.
Maybe start by booking a hotel somewhere nearby. Baby steps…you may surprise yourself. The concerns you have about being lonely or afraid may fade away. You won’t know unless you give solo travel a go!
Since my return from Cabo, I have found myself looking at my photos a few times a week. They are good reminders of my wonderful adventures and keeps at the forefront of my mind that I need to start thinking about where to go next.