Journey of Connections: Building Sisterhood Support Systems while Traveling
One of the perks of traveling alone is the connection with other lone travelers and their adventures. And if you are a woman traveler, in the context of a patriarchal society, you stir up attraction to other female travelers. It is not easy to travel alone as a woman. You might imagine that people confuse being alone and being available or perhaps not belonging to anywhere or anyone… Facing these challenges, we connect more to other women, forming a support system, a kind of a sisterhood, to make the travel adventure easier and safer. In my traveling this year throughout South America, I have been connecting with many women travelers. We help each other find safe places to stay; we engage in activities together; we take care of each other’s health and safety. Two weeks ago, I met Sofia while hiking in the region of Puno, Peru. We were visiting the Chullpas, the vertical cemetery of the pre-Incas. As we hiked up into the Andes mountains we talked. We shared our experiences and, as I was suffering from “soroche” (the Andean altitude condition), Sofia gave me some tips to alleviate my symptoms. At the end of the day, we exchanged phone numbers. That very same evening I received a message from Sofia with the names of some herbal teas that could help with my altitude sickness. We kept in touch. After several days passed, I wrote her explaining that I was returning to Lima, her home town. She immediately asked if I would like to stay with her for some days, a good way to save money while traveling. She also called her taxi driver to pick me up at the airport that evening, making my journey safer.
I have been a lone traveler for more than twenty years. Traveling has always had a transformative effect on me. When I travel alone, I discover more about myself as I have time to listen to my body, my thoughts, my wishes, all the while taking the time to reset my routine. Also, being in a different culture and meeting people who are so different from myself, has expanded my cross-cultural understanding and appreciation for diversity. Furthermore, putting myself out of my comfort zone helps me to strengthen my improvisational muscles and, as a consequence, I return to my routine with more flexibility and joy.
Beyond learning more about myself, I am fascinated by this sisterhood that develops and creates a support system as we encounter many touristic places, many destinations. As we support each other, we are building long lasting relationships. And for this, I am grateful!