***Author’s Note: This article, “The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler,” was originally published in the Huffington Post, & documents both my hesitation prior to traveling to South America, as well as the worries of my family & friends.  It tells of my struggle to find accurate information online from REAL women, about their experiences in Peru.  And it ends with a video that actually SHOWS our experience, as female travelers, in Peru. 

I hope you enjoy!  

The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler

 “If she can do it, so can I.”

Before I traveled to Peru, I got warned by all kinds of people that, because I’m a girl ~ & especially because I’m blonde, I would be hassled, bothered, & potentially even kidnapped, during my South America travels.  The fear we have, in our society, about travel to places we’ve never been, particularly ones that seem very “foreign,” is REAL.
My mother was so worried, that at one point, she suggested I purchase a dark, black wig ~ particularly for my travels in Peru, because “she’d heard things” about blondes traveling there.
A dark wig?? Really?

Even if you’re a confident traveler, these (well-meaning) messages of fear can start to play in the back of your mind. Late one night before my trip, with worried thoughts stirring, I sat up in bed & typed into Google:

What’s it like to travel in Peru as a blonde girl?”

The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler, Girl Who Travels the World

The author in Pisac, Peru ~ one of her favorite places.

The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler

I mean, I’m sure Google gets all kinds of random queries at two in the morning.
Unfortunately, my search didn’t produce much.  I came across Trip Advisor forums that weren’t too helpful, with scared foreigners looking for future travel tips.  I found one blog though, from a fellow female traveler, that began to set my mind at ease. She wrote of her South American travel experiences in a no-nonsense kind of way, filled with practical advice.  Compared to the random warnings from strangers, friends, & family (99% of whom had never been to Peru): this was a godsend.
Hearing just one woman’s account of her journey in South America made me feel more confident about my own travels there. I began to feel that exciting, familiar feeling of:
If she can do it – so can I.”
I’d never read a blog until I went to Peru.  And then I became fascinated reading the stories, tips, adventures, & musings of other travelers.  They started to feel like kindred spirits.  The more I read, the more I felt:
If they can do it, so can I.
And that kind of positivity starts to build momentum.  And momentum begins to set you on a course.  Visualizing yourself in new situations gives you the confidence you need to handle those situations. And the best way to begin that visualization process, often, is by emulating people who have gone before you, & been successful.

You’ll start to feel how you felt as a child, reading Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  Instead of the world seeming small & scary, it begins to feel infinite & big again, even benevolent. 

It begins to feel like a place where rainbow mountains may exist, in some far-off, exotic land.

How to Get to Rainbow Mountain in Peru, Girl Who Travels the World

Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

The more you travel, the more you want other people to look at your journey & say:
If she can do it, so can I.”
Which is why I felt compelled to document my travels to Peru, via this “Journey to Machu Picchu.”  I wanted to show the experience of two female travelers on the road to this beautiful & wild place, one of the Wonders of the World.

Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler ~ Video!

 Why document this journey?
Well, as I think back to that night at two in the morning, of desperately searching Google for signs of encouragement about travel in South America ~ words are great, but there’s something different about seeing someone doing what you want to do.  And knowing that not only did they survive: they THRIVED.  That night, if I’d stumbled upon a video of two girls hiking Machu Picchu, not only would it have eased my mind, but I would’ve been able to start putting myself in their shoes: to see myself in South America ~ hiking, laughing, having adventures.

I would have been more clearly able to say:

If they can do it, so can we.”

The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler, Girl Who Travels the World

Me & Zsa Zsa, sunrise at Machu Picchu.

The Journey to Peru as a Female Traveler

Too many things in life tell us what we should fear. About all the things that could go wrong.

And that’s a large reason why I created this video: as an antidote to that fear. I wanted to document my actual experience in Peru: which was beautiful, challenging, & just as it should be.  I want to tell other women: it’s okay to travel.  I want to give them permission. And I want to tell them: it’s not that scary
I’ve been there. 
You can do it.
But above all, I want to show them: not what could go wrong while traveling.  Instead, I want to show them all the things that can go RIGHT while traveling in South America, as a girl.
Even if they don’t have a dark wig handy. 

xoxo Noelia