On the third night of a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I ran away from the cabin tour and crouched over the wastebasket, wondering what the heck I was doing here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—alone. We were rocking back and forth on a 16-person catamaran in the rough Pacific Ocean waters near the equator, and all the Dramamine, pressure point wrist bands, and Transderm Scop patches couldn’t save me from giving into the seasickness.
I laid down, trying to find some solace in the cool sea air and stared out into the big black nothingness, realizing just how far away I was from the world I knew. Not a single trusted friend or family member was on the same continent, or even in the same hemisphere. And in addition to that deep nauseating feeling, my suitcase, stuffed to the max with my material comforts, was lost somewhere between New York and Ecuador.
But then I looked up and saw stars—something I rarely see back home in the Northeast—and remembered why I was here. Ever since I read about the islands in a middle school textbook, I had promised myself I would see it with my own two eyes.
And boy, did I. Even with my animal phobias, I had spent the last few days snorkeling with penguins, hiking alongside hundreds of iguanas, and waddling with fur seals and crabs. On top of it, I did by myself, for myself.
Related: 19 Hacks for Mastering Solo Travel
Fortunately, I had thought ahead to this scenario and booked the itinerary with the shorter amount of time at sea. Within 12 hours, I was back on solid land without a hint of the queasy feeling.
What makes a particular trip challenging for one person may be different for another, but whenever you’re traveling (and especially alone), it’s important to known your limits and proper precautions to ensure safety of both mind and body. We recommend Registering for the State Department’s STEP program and staying tuned to local media for the latest news. And splurge on security when necessary—feeling safe is what will allow you to fully enjoy your solo travels. For more on solo travel, click here for our list of the best places for women to travel alone.