Many woman who brave travelling alone find that the experience is one of the best in their life. In this week’s Your Best Adventure Yet, we join Melissa Douglas on her journey through Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt.
July of this year saw me setting out on an adventure that I had been counting down the days to for quite some time: my solo female trip around Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. I would explore Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt independently, crossing borders and navigating from one city to another using public transport.
I am quite an experienced solo female traveller and I had travelled to the Middle East before (though admittedly that was before the Arab Spring) so I didn’t feel overly nervous about this trip, however when I announced to my friends and family that I would be exploring the Middle East alone, many of them were horrified at the prospect of a woman there by herself and considered it foolish. When I remembered back to my previous travels in the region, the only things that I remembered were the warm, welcoming people, the incredible food and the breathtaking scenery, so I couldn’t really identify with people’s worries.
Solo exploration of Israel and Palestine
I flew into Israel which was quite a liberal country in comparison to those that surround it. After travelling cross country, I arrived in Jerusalem and made the decision to cross over to the West Bank of Palestine and travel there alone also. I had been uncertain (and quite nervous) about this part of the trip beforehand since I had never really known anyone to visit the West Bank, however when I arrived in Bethlehem after my bus bypassed the 25 foot concrete wall that separates Israel and Palestine, I realised that my worries were unprecedented. As I walked around exploring, locals were approaching me to make conversation, give me directions, and thank me for visiting their country. When I walked into a local restaurant for lunch, the owner insisted that I ate for free and sat with me telling me about life in Palestine. It really made me sad to reflect upon how misunderstood this part of the world can be and after exploring the West Bank, I couldn’t believe in hindsight how nervous I had been to visit Palestine.
Female solo exploration of Jordan and Egypt
Arriving back in Israel, I crossed the border to Jordan and explored fascinating cities and ancient ruins, including Petra which I had always dreamed of visiting. Tourism in Jordan has dropped dramatically over the past year amid terrorism fears worldwide and it was quite heartbreaking for me to be often exploring tourist sites and only being the only person there, while surrounded by local vendors who were struggling to make a living due to the reduced number of visitors. In Cairo, I explored markets, haggled with vendors, and sipped tea with locals and had nothing but positive experiences.
I believe my solo trip to the Middle East was my best adventure yet because I feel as though it really gave me the opportunity to challenge myself. I travelled to a region that is not common for solo females to explore alone, and I am proud of myself for managing my own itinerary, transportation, etc. I hope that by sharing this story, I can encourage more women to travel in this region and assure them that it is not as scary as sometimes the media makes it appear.
Melissa Douglas manages the travel blog www.highheelsandabackpack.com . Through this blog, she focuses on solo female travel in non-conventional locations and aims to push the boundaries of solo female travel. You can also check her out on Instagram.
If you are interesting to read about more female solo travel in the Middle East, check out Naomi’s trip to Iran. What has your best adventure yet been? Please let me know in the comments or submit yours today.