For some reason, this is a freaking international mystery to some people.
I can already hear Regina George saying, "So, you think you're pretty?" and can imagine the amount of "Is this b*tch seriously complaining about being pretty and traveling?" comments this post will inevitably attract. But trust me, I've gotten worse things inferred about me when I travel alone.
You would think it would be commendable for a young woman to work hard to pay for her own travels, then have the balls to go to another country on her own. Nope. It's like a freaking international mystery to some people.
Let me solve it for you: I travel alone because I can; I don't really like waiting around for other people to go with me. I certainly haven't figured out how to use my face to purchase a plane ticket online, and although many random creepy men have offered plenty of free ones to me, I always decline, because I'd rather travel alone than be used for decoration.
So, to clarify:
1. No, I'm not a prostitute.
Pretty girl traveling alone in another country typically automatically translates to prostitute. Not joking. If I wear makeup, if I wear anything that shows skin, if I wear leggings — or God forbid, if I wear a bikini — I always get the most opinionated stares from people assuming I'm looking for my next customer to pick up.
Not only is it beyond irritating and embarrassing, especially since it's typically accompanied with snickers and whispers that I can hear, but it's disappointing that people seriously don't think that a young, "pretty girl" would be traveling alone, solely for the sake of traveling.
I met a German guy on a beach in Cuba a few months ago who confirmed that most people think a pretty girl traveling alone is a prostitute. In fact, he said that the locals even warned him about the "pretty Cuban girls who walk up and down the beach, looking for tourists to talk to," and that it happens in almost every country as well. No wonder why people look at me like I'm going to steal their husbands.
2. No, I'm not recovering from a breakup.
While traveling solo to get over a bad breakup is a genius idea, it's typically not the reason why I travel alone. And by "typically not," I mean, "it's not." I don't expect every random human I come in contact with to automatically know my relationship status or extreme love of traveling, but don't automatically assume the reason why I'm alone is because my relationship just failed and poor little helpless me needs something awesome to distract me from it.
I get it, a lot of people think a 27-year-old girl should be in a committed relationship. Well, it's 20-f*cking-16, and the only commitment I have at the moment is traveling the world, and I think I'm doing a pretty damn good job at it by myself.
3. Yes, I paid for my trip.
From the questionable glares to the inevitable "Who's taking the picture?" comments on social media, it seems like the number one thought on a lot of people's minds is "Who paid for it?”
Well, to answer your question, Hi, my name's Alyssa, I have a job just like you do, and I choose to spend all of my money on traveling. There's no secret sugar daddy, I'd never ask my parents for money, and I didn't start a crowdfunding campaign or win a contest. I paid for it.
Just because I'm a "pretty girl" doesn't mean I'm not capable of earning money and saving it instead of shopping. In fact, I have a motto: "I'd rather buy a plane ticket than a purse." And I always do.
4. Yes, I'm judging you right back.
In my eyes, everyone is equal... until you go and offend me with your toxicity by sending negative vibes my way. I didn't immediately judge your tacky, unnecessary, decked-out hiking gear that you wore to climb a hill before I noticed you gasping and whispering about my Lululemon-like (I would never pay that much for Spandex) ensemble. Now I'm going to judge you as not only a tourist, but as an ignorant person as well.
5. Fine, you actually just think I'm pretty.
I know, I know, I sound like a huge b*tch for complaining about people starring at me when I travel alone when I really should "be glad that I'm lucky enough to look this way." But it's only because I really do work hard without using my looks in order to travel, so it offends me when people judge me because of them.
But I have to be a big girl and also acknowledge that not everyone is toxic and evil; some people really do just think I'm "pretty," and that's very nice of them. They probably don't think I'm smart, or hilarious, or that I run my own charity, but hey, I guess that's better than assuming I'm a prostitute.
Alyssa is a self-made travel blogger who specializes in solo adventure travel tips and photography. She's been to 37 countries and 6 continents so far, and tends to opt for activities like cliff jumping and chasing waterfalls. Her goal is to inform and inspire aspiring travelers to take the plunge into wanderlust, so any questions about travel, just ask! Instagram: @mylifesatravelmovie
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.