Six years ago this week, I quit my job and booked a one way ticket to Rio to embark on a Latin American adventure. I didn’t know at the time that the solo trip would change my outlook on life forever. This was before I knew about groups like Nomadness Travel Tribe and Travel Noire. It’s now much easier to connect with likeminded travelers to share stories, tips and encourage one another.

Back then, when I told people I’d planned to travel solo around Rio and Salvador, the reaction was mainly negative:

Who do you think you are? Don’t travel alone, it’s dangerous.”
“You’re staying in a hostel? Hilarious! Take a picture as proof.”

Sigh. Seriously?! I quickly realized just how limiting and easy it is to let other people’s fears prevent us from truly going after the things we want to pursue. Had I listened, I’d still be sat wondering what if. I knew I had to step into the fear.

Salvador, Pelhourino: A local Bahian woman in traditional dress and me

I’d always been curious about Brazil. Salvador in particular had a spiritual pull to me because of its historic ties to Africa. As a teenager, I remember watching Michael Jackson dance through the cobbled streets of the historic, Pelhorino district. I fell in love with Brazil’s rich culture through the screen. I had to visit. But I was afraid.

I’d never traveled alone before. At the time, it just wasn’t the done thing within my circle of friends. It was as if I’d been conditioned to believe that I needed to be dependent on someone else to live my life and have fun. Ridiculous as that may now sound.

Rio, Copacabana Beach: Cold water at your service

Since facing my fear of solo travel all those years ago, it’s now much easier for me to make other life changing decisions. When I’m feeling scared or anxious about making a big change, I think back to how I felt when deciding to travel alone to Brazil. I remember all of the wonderful friends I made on the trip and how great it felt to wake up each day in a foreign land, knowing I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese but somehow had to find my way around.

Today, I no longer run from things that scare me, instead of move towards them. Life is much more exciting that way.

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