Current Events, Going Solo

To Travel Solo: My Flawed Words


I heard of the tragic death of Sarai Sierra on the morning news last week while traveling solo in Miami.  Since then, I’ve been reading reactions from every side.  Many are quick to blame solo travel; many go so far as to say that women should never travel solo–as though having external genitalia somehow makes the world a safer place.  Fortunately, the travel world has spoken out against this too-quick finger-pointing–you can read one blogger’s thoughts here, along with a fabulous list of other posts on the topic.

But there’s one person who will never get to share her thoughts on solo female travel–wife, mother, photographer, and traveler, Sarai Sierra.  The world–and, sadly, her family–will likely never know the full details of what happened.  Like so many tragic lives cut short, Sarai Sierra was made the symbol of a cause she may or may not support.  We will never know her thoughts; we will never know who she blames or what she would (or would not) have done differently.

Everyone reacts to tragedy differently.  Some seek to find the cause so as to avoid a repeat incident.  Others offer prayers; still others launch awareness campaigns or fundraisers.  Personally, I think about how I would feel in that situation–and, because words are my thing, I think about what I’d like to say.  And so I bring to you ‘that which I’d want the world to know, were I in this position’.  Not because I truly think there’s a  possibility I won’t return from my next–or twelfth-from-next–trip.  I’m sharing my thoughts now because Sarai Sierra can not.  And I know that, were I in her place, I would want the chance to speak.

If I do not return from my next trip, I want the world to know that:

I know am blessed to live a life that allows me to travel, solo and otherwise.

I am thankful to have been able to see a bit more of the world than that which lives right outside my door.

If I had waited for someone to accompany me on every trip I’ve taken, I’d have seen far less of that world.

Travel–and especially solo travel–has made me the person I am today.  I am proud to be this person.  She is strong and confident.

If traveling is the last thing I ever do, I will have left this life doing the thing which I love the most.

I never want to be made an example of ‘what not to do’.  I love traveling, and in my last breath I would encourage others to travel.

The world is not a scary place.  Yes, there are scary people in the world.  But they live everywhere.  Do not let fear determine your path.

These words are, of course, my own.  And they are flawed.  I do not pretend to be able to imagine Ms. Sierra’s thoughts or beliefs.  But I can–and should–share mine, now.  That’s a lesson she taught me, and for that, I am grateful.  May her family find peace.

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