Landing in Mexico as a Solo Female Backpacker

Mexico, 2008

MexicoLanding in Mexico for the first time as a solo female backpacker went surprising smooth, with the odd transition here and there. It was much easier than I thought it would be arriving at the airport and finding my way to the hostel (by myself—without speaking much Spanish). Prior to departing Canada, I spent so much time telling everyone how fine it would be with me traveling alone, yet it wasn’t until the airplane was making its descent for Mexico that I realized how scared crapless I was. My heart was racing, my hands were clammy, and I started thinking of the worst things that could or would happen to me. It was in that moment when I realized: this is real.

MexicoMy decision to backpack alone throughout Mexico and Belize in the summer of 2008 would become one of the biggest turning points in my life. I was tired of doing what everyone else wanted to do, going with the flow (other people’s flow), and not following my full potential. At that point in my life, I had never backpacked alone and had only done one backpacking trip prior to Honduras and Nicaragua, which was party a volunteer venture. This trip meant going off into the world alone, ready for whatever the world would throw at me, and ready for one of the best adventures of my life. This first trip to Mexico changed me (I’ve been to Mexico 3 times now). It instilled a desire in me to see more of the world and to make it happen. And I did. Mexico

When I landed in Mexico, alone with my backpack in tow, I took public transportation for a few pesos into Cancun city (not the touristy Cancun) with locals, and walked to the hostel from the central city bus station with illegible directions written on a scrap of paper. It’s no wonder nothing happened to me that very first day. With visitor stamped on my forehead, I naively traipsed through the narrow streets until I found my unmarked hostel after a few wrong turns. With sweat dripping down my brow, I was proud of myself that I accomplished something. I did it, without help from anyone. I took a chance that I could do something brave and out of the ordinary. This was the new me. Mexico

Exhausted, I landed at my first destination; the starting point of my adventure. Within minutes, I settled into the hostel and even found a grocery store nearby to pick up some things for my first adventure the next day to one of the many Cancun Island beaches. It wasn’t long before I was becoming friends with strangers who I had met in my room. I met four other girls, one of which was also traveling alone, and on that very first day we all went out for dinner as if we had been friends for life. How is it that you can meet someone for the first time in a foreign country and hang out as if you’d known each other your whole lives? That’s what traveling alone is all about! Those incredible moments of human connection. Mexico

Without knowing where I would go next or for how long I would stay, I knew that it would all work out somehow. I only booked my first hostel and only for two nights to get me started. From there, I had no idea what I would do (or what I would want to do). I decided that for the first time in my life that I would let chance and faith take control. I would attempt for the first time in my life to not worry about the planning, but let life happen. Life indeed happened, and it changed me.

This is the beginning of my Mexican diaries… stay tuned for more!


46 thoughts on “Landing in Mexico as a Solo Female Backpacker

      • There is no plan at the moment and acutally no time. I am too much involved in my projects, which I love! But I love a lot of things and seeing more of the world is one of them. Perhaps one day I can combine travelling with my seminars and books. That would be the greatest!

      • Let’s see how thinks develop. I am only in the beginning. But with my English book I reached out to a bigger world. Some seeds are spread and I wonder what will start to grow next year. I keep it like Wayne Dyer says: I am open to everything but attached to nothing. 🙂 I take what I get and things always connect more and more in my life as I experienced it in the past 2 to 3 years. It is a process and the beautiful thing about a process it, that is so exciting to see what, when and how things unfold.

      • I like the saying and might use it sometime! Wayne Dyer says: I am open to everything but attached to nothing. It’s all a journey. Enjoy the ride my dear friend Erika. You deserve it.

      • Thank you 😀 ! That’s very nice of you. I’d love to do that. Do you have a special wish? Would you prefer a travel post? Or do you have a topic you would like me to write about? Hmm, I could also do a combination 🙂 What do you think?

      • Wonderful! Suggest a destination and I’d love to add my impressions and/or photos! 🙂 With “combination” I thought about how travelling can change the look at life, gives insights and widens the horizon.

      • Yes, that’s exactly the type of post I’m hoping for from your. I’m open to destinations. Which destination have you visited that you have the most turquoise pictures of? Croatia? Greece? Montenegro?

      • Most of destinations were with my parents when I was a girl or teenager. So my memory is not that big anymore on that. But we could do England or Amsterdam for example. Also Paris. I also visited Turkey several times and of course the american east and westcost. What I could also do is Switzerland. And if you had visited Austria (not only driving through) that would be pretty fitting too.

  1. I tend to travel alone and people think I’m mad. I’ve never had any problems, though. In fact, the opposite is usually true – others avoid me because as a female travelling alone I must be the crazy one!

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    • Thanks so much Kamila, traveling is a wonderful thing. I can’t help but capture the beauty that surrounds me when I travel. With camera in hand, I travel (especially to turquoise destinations), and have fun along the way. What’s your favorite turquoise destination?

  3. I know what you mean about being scared! Having to rely on yourself in a new environment can be unnerving, even if you do it all the time at home. But isn’t the effort worthwhile?! I’m still giddy, thinking back on the trips where I stretched myself. It’s liberating and intoxicating to accomplish dreams, travel and otherwise. 🙂

      • I enjoy the contemplative nature of solo travel and discovering that I was only alone when I chose to be. Your first night meeting people from the hostel and chatting like you were old friends is also a nice reminder of humans doing what they do best.

      • Thank you so much for your comment. It was an amazing journey and one that is hard to put into words. It seemed as though I was always surrounded by people, even when I was traveling alone. It’s an odd thing–but a wonderful one at the same time. I realized I wasn’t ever “alone”.

      • Very true. It’s an interesting paradox and one I think needs to be promoted. I think worrying about feeling alone and helpless is what turns off a lot of people from travelling solo. It’s also so easy now to stay connected in some form, what with cell phones and internet cafes as a start. I still remember a 3-week trip to the UK as part of a group back in 1989 and I had two contacts with home: one brief phone call to say we’d made it and one shortish phone call partway through. We tried to send letters back and forth, too. Letters! 😀

      • Yes, the way we communicate has changed a lot in the years, so it’s extremely difficult to not feel “connected”. Those who choose to go off the radar are able to, and those who want to stay in contact with home/friends/family are easily able to do so, especially with Skype. That’s how I managed to make my relationship work while I traveled around the world for 14 months, while my boyfriends was at home working. I went home as often as I could, but sometimes I was away for up to 4 months at a time. Yet, we made it work with Skype, e-mail, Facebook, etc… Life goes on. You are never alone.

      • Very true. I was so thankful for Skype when Hitoshi and I started dating. We were living in different cities until the day we were married, which was also the day we moved in together. Now, we also saw each other every weekend for a year of our relationship so it wasn’t like it was horrible but! Skype meant we could chat every night for *free*. I thought it was the best invention. 😀

      • Gotta love Skype! I know the feeling of living apart. I am currently living in a different city (and province) from my boyfriend as he is a pilot in another province and comes home every 10 days for 5 days at a time (well one of those 5 days is a travel day). I see him about 8 days a month. I will probably move next year so we can be together.

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