30 July 2019 by Louise Johansson
I had never been anywhere on my own, fear had always dictated my choices and I was told that backpacking as a single female traveller was to be avoided at all costs. I understand these stereotypes, they are there to protect and keep us safe. However, the alternative is much more scary, confining yourself to one space or only having a chaperone is not what dreams are made of.
One hot summer after what felt like months of drudgery at work my stress levels were elevated and I felt stifled and trapped in my own life. My friends were all too busy to travel with me and our tastes were different. I decided to go it alone. Recklessly within one hour I booked a one-way flight to Marrakesh in Morocco, a mysterious city that piqued my interest. I felt a rush of excitement flood my veins and counted down the days until my trip.
When I landed in Marrakesh all my senses were heightened. Stepping out into the Jemaa el-Fnaa I felt the sizzling heat on my skin, the smell of the tagines cooking nearby, the sounds of market sellers calling out their deals and the clack of donkey hooves moving through the street. I spent my first days wandering the streets deliberately getting lost and taking photographs of the beauty that seemed to show itself in everything. I explored ancient forts and tasted delicious new dishes. I loved not having to compromise on where to go or to plan my days around someone else.
This led to a spontaneous trip to the Atlas Mountains to hike under a waterfall and to travel down to the coast of Agadir to attempt surfing for the very first time. I met fascinating strangers and experienced a romance that took me completely by surprise. This first ever solo trip awakened something in me that I have not been able to silence since. I learnt to be a better friend to myself and to silence the fear that so often stops us from taking the plunge to travel and explore this beautiful world of ours, on our own terms.