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Live Your Life Without Permission Traveling Alone – Nataliya Makulova

Live Your Life Without Permission Traveling Alone – Nataliya Makulova

Nataliya Makulova is the Founder of Balanced Fashion, a Fashion Tech Consulting Agency providing strategic advice on business and technology development for fashion brands and fashion tech startups.

TravSolo aims to inspire through authentic storytelling, by sharing real travel experiences

When you hear traveling + alone what some things that come to mind?

Freedom! You do not need anyone’s permission to: do whatever you want, to be completely independent, to make decisions on your own and to be responsible for those decisions. There are some negative things, like if I did not like the food I ordered or how long it took me to get to one place, ending up in another city. It is funny that I always get lost in the cities I tend to go to. Taking responsibility for everything that you do and not blaming it on anyone else taught me so much.

How did you feel conquering your first trip alone & what inspired you to continue?

It was wonderful, enjoyed every moment of it. It did feel lonely in the evenings, but made plans around that time to make sure I am not spending too much time in hotels. Going out was dependent on how I felt & wanted, so it felt natural.

I know you to be a risk taker. What is the biggest risk you have ever taken, either it be personal, professional or even both?

To make decisions that are monetary that seem inadequate but they end up paying off. I spend a lot of money on travel; my money mostly goes into both rent and travel. So monetary risk, as I do not get paid for the workdays I miss but I just did it. I was able to do consulting on the side to be to pay for the trip to Spain, Portugal & Russia. Things flow once you allow it. To me risk is “Yes, I am doing it now but I know it is going to be okay”

So you look at travel, as an investment?

Yes exactly. I believe more in the experiences than day-to-day life that personally makes me feel stuck. My intuition tells me to travel three, four, five times a year in order to keep myself excited and alive, to feel alive. To me, I am actually afraid of flying!

 

“You are in control of your life without permission from your mother, job, boyfriend or girlfriend, from your friend. You are the only one; It is how life should be”

 

You are seriously afraid to fly? No way!

Yes way!

Any scary moments while abroad traveling by yourself?

It is funny, well it was not a planned solo trip. When I moved to the United States about eight years ago, my family planned a cruise with me boarding in Miami and I forget a crucial document allowing me to re-enter the country. They would have allowed me to pass but coming back without it was not guaranteed. I ended up staying in Miami and had a family friend to send the document, which takes about two to three days to receive and stayed there for about two and a half days. Considering it was a 10 day cruise, I had time to meet them in Jamaica. I bought a standby ticket and got in at the last moment. It was the scariest flight of my life, it was rainy & shaky and had to wait very long for my suitcase!

Getting a taxi was really creepy as there was just only one guy. He asked me if I wanted to smoke right away, considering I was visiting Jamaica. I declined & then he asked if I was okay if he stopped at his place to pick up his girlfriend, which was weird.

When he asked you this how did you feel?

Very scared!

What was your next step?

I am a very intuitive person, which helps me to get a feel of someone where I trust the person. I said “Ok, as long as you get me to where I need to go”. He picked up his girlfriend, they were really friendly people. The driving was bad though, you could tell the driver was stoned. I was holding on the car bar since the car kept shaking.

I knew deep down it was going to be okay, as I visualized myself ultimately being on the ship. I was very happy I got through the journey, it was about a two hour drive & it was raining like crazy. He would always try to speed up & would always end up on the left side (of the road), pretty scary! It was awful but at the same time we talked. When I started asking them about life, it was really this communication that kept me going and not completely freak out!

What inspires to you to travel by yourself more?

Traveling with other people! (laughing)

(laughing) Have you ever inspired others to travel by themselves?

I need to do that more. Hopefully I do it more. Hopefully through this interview I can! You are in control of your life without permission from your mother, job, boyfriend, girlfriend, from your friend. You are the only one; It is how life should be, once you are in a relationship it is going to be harder to be that kind of free person. Once you have a child or family, it is going to be a different story as you will have limited chances to travel more.

What advice might you give women afraid of traveling alone or looking to do so for the first time?

First, the fear is a concept — it is perspective, it is a perception even. If you learn to see your fear as part of your own feelings in your life, like feeling cold or feeling fear or feeling love or feeling uncomfortable you will be good. They are all part of your feelings — It is either nothing more nor nothing less.

Fear stops you from doing things, so if you notice the fear in you in little situations in life you will be fine. For instance you may be skeptical to come back home late in fear of being attacked, even though there is always a chance it could happen. One day you are going to come home and it will be fine and one day it might be bad. If these thoughts stop you from living your life to its fullest potential that is just sad. Your life is not going to be as fulfilling.

Say 20 years down the road, what title would you give your travel story book using only three words? Similar to ‘Eat. Pray. Love’

Love. Inspiration. Action.

Thanks for reading!

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By Cait Sarazin & Chizoba Anyaoha


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Showing Your Unique Light Traveling Alone – Qiana Martin

TravSolo aims to inspire through authentic storytelling, by sharing real travel experiences

What are your thoughts of traveling solo?

It forces me to immerse myself in the local culture. It also opens me up to the possibilities of meeting people and doing all sorts of things. Sometimes if you’re in a group or if you’re with your bestie or your boyfriend then it is like you’re so focused on making sure they have a good time and that you can stay in your comfort zone.

What goes through your mind when you travel by yourself with so much stuff, whether you are on the plane or heading towards your accommodation?

I find that I literally turn off my sensitivity radar for so many things because I’m a person of color, American and a female. So there is a lot of things you need to be cognizant of when you’re traveling outside the United States: the perceptions of you as an American, being able to blend in, and being a woman of color. So I always have a heightened sense of awareness. I like to do a lot of prep work in advance to make sure that I understand the neighborhood, understand the places that I’m going to be staying even if I’m winging it. Once I get there I kind of know the lay of the land, kind of know what some people’s perceptions are, of the place that I’m going to my destination and that I have safeguards in place, be it that I’m leaving certain information with people back here in the United States or that we have certain check processes and protocols. I do this so people know that if they haven’t heard from me within a certain period of time to kind of alert somebody else in the chain. Another thing I do is also register with the embassy website to make sure that if there are any notifications that I need to receive, while I am abroad in that particular location, that I could receive those in the event that something happens in my foreign destination.

When & where did you take your first trip alone?

First one huh? Let me think. I’ve been traveling on my own for a while. I would say, internationally, the first place that I went to was the Bahamas a few years back. I did a training down there and I’ve been there once before with a friend. This time around I was going there to train and everything was squared with my hotel but I accidentally left my credit card in the United States and even though the hotel room was paid for they would not let me check in. Fortunately, I actually knew someone there locally and they were able to upfront me the cash until I was able to get the cash back to them. On that particular island the mail wasn’t going to come until Monday, while I had to check in to my room Friday. Business was already done for the day so that was a pretty wild situation because I didn’t have copies of my documents in place where somebody could just fax over a copy of the front and back of my card. That really would have helped the situation and just allowed me to have a seamless process where I would not have need to get anyone else involved.

It does work out and you just have to really take three deep breaths so you can get enough oxygen to your brain, so that you could think clearly before you panic. Then from there you start to figure out ‘OK, what is my next best step?’

“One thing I could tell women about travel is that we’re all ambassadors in some form or fashion. As more people get to meet us more people get to see the unique light that is you”

What was the most let down travel experience you have had thus far?

I’ll say that sometimes you can forget that in the midst of being in such a beautiful place, be it Rio or Colombia, where I did some training there, that you are somehow immune from the realities of what is going on in that culture. So for instance I know I travel by myself so I like to hire a chaperone or hang with other players if I need to go somewhere. We went to a birthday party for our trainer at night and it was in the same neighborhood where we train; I was kind of debating about going just because I really didn’t feel up to it. But I gave them my word and I was like ‘it is his birthday I will go’, so they put me in the cab with my friend I train with who is on the Men’s National Soccer Team. We went about two corners and then the police pulled us over. As an American, as a woman, as a woman of color, you’re in a neighborhood that you don’t know although you’re with someone you do know when you encounter police and do not know what is going to happen next. You do not know whether it is going to be upstanding member of law enforcement or something else is going to happen. They asked me a lot of questions: “Why are you here? You’re American in Colombia? They looked at my passport which is why it is always important to carry a copy sometimes. So they looked through my stamps and saw that I have been in other places but the cab driver had something going on that we didn’t know about. I think he had drugs in his car and they looked under the hood of the car. They asked us “Do you guys have drugs?”, I was told them I literally have no drugs, then they took the car and the driver while we were left to walk to the next corner to try and find another cab. My first instinct was to get out of here and you have to make sure you’re calm enough that you don’t do anything that makes you look questionable — so that was a pretty scary moment.

So you have to be mindful, especially if you are going out at night. I usually take care of a lot of my business in the daytime because there’s a lot to see and do in these places, especially if the current landscape might be a little treacherous in certain areas.

Visualizing everything working out in my favor works for me because it is in this situation that you have to really rally yourself and not feel you have no control in this situation but what you can control is how you feel in this moment.

Do you have any fond moment meeting a traveler or local?

I have a lot of people that I’ve met along the way. One of the people that stands out quite a bit and every now and then I would send out a care package to this young lady. I cannot remember her name but she lives in Glasgow, Scotland, which was my first stop during the time that I was there during the 2012 Olympics and after. She helped me to understand how to book train tickets to be able to go out throughout the country. They do not have access to a lot of peanut butter, so she said she absolutely loves Peanut Butter Reese’s, Peanut butter Snickers which she did not know at the time because she didn’t have access to it (laughing). So every now and then I’ll send her a chocolate care package that includes treats with peanut butter in it.

Plan to travel solo again soon?

I love South America, so I’m going to keep working my way around the continent.

What is the biggest risk you have ever taken on a trip?

Living my dream. I think a lot of people underestimate what it takes to live your dream whatever it is and it can be something as small as singing for people in Times Square, because you’re afraid of the perception of others or going someplace that maybe someone in your family or in your country has never been. Oftentimes, we’re beholden to what other people think of us. Women are very communal and we care about what others think and so I think the greatest risk you can take is pursuing your dream to travel somewhere by yourself or travel for a period of time. The reward is so life-giving and beneficial for you to take that chance on yourself to live. You don’t have to do it overnight abd everything happened in baby steps. Find a place you want to go and don’t think about the price. Just find a place you want to go & construct a plan to go.

What advice might you give women:

Thinking of taking their first solo trip ?

You have the opportunity to learn so much about yourself. You just don’t know what that choice to take your flight to Mexico City or Barcelona in that you end up sitting beside someone who needs to meet you because you’re going to share something with them, that they could not have received from anyone else. One thing I could tell women about travel is that we’re all ambassadors in some form or fashion. As more people get to meet us more people get to see the unique light that is you — so it is a win-win for everyone. Oftentimes, people have met me and said “You know I have a certain perception about you Americans” and I always believe You are like me, we’re both humans. Yes we identify and grew up in different countries but we both have dreams and goals. Sometimes we’re both misunderstood but if we have a common bond, for me it is soccer, you can learn that we’ve had some familiar situations or we’ve had some similar obstacles and this is how I have overcome them. Then, you can learn from me and I can learn from you.

What about those afraid of being on their own?

I think you have to find little things that you can step out on every day. I’ll share this with you — I still have the fear sometimes of stepping outside to go and get something to eat. I am afraid that if I say something incorrectly, because I’m nervous, they’re going to actually know ‘Oh my goodness! She’s a strange arrow’ as they say in Brazil, meaning she is a foreigner, she’s an American or whatever else they’ve got to perceive about me. So for me necessity has forced me to move past my fears. You are in the middle of a country and you need to eat, you need to check in somewhere. You just have to try little things every day to get you out of your comfort zone.

If you were writing a book about personal travel story, what three words would you use for the title? Similar to Eat. Pray. Love.

For my personal story I would say. Manifesting. Soccer. Dreams

Thank you for reading!

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


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Getting Comfortable Taking Small Risks Traveling Alone – Clare Marie

Clare Marie is a storyteller, experience designer, and empathy activist. Her latest project, DateBetter.co, combines many of her passions to help you make more meaningful connections through profile optimization, coaching, and custom date design.

TravSolo aims to inspire through authentic storytelling, by sharing real travel experiences

When you hear traveling + alone what are some things that come to mind?

The first things that come to mind traveling by myself are meeting people, making friends and making connections, which is a lot more spontaneous. I’ve traveled a lot in groups, in pairs and alone in the past but traveling solo is actually my favorite way of traveling. This is because you can really be selfish and spend your time how you want to spend it. Traveling solo also has it’s stressful moments because there is nobody to watch your bag at the airport, there is nobody to say “oh wait, grab that” or “do the double check in the hotel room”. You don’t have a safety net there necessarily, so there is the possibility this type of travel comes with a little bit more risks. I still prefer to travel solo today in lots of ways (laughing), do not tell my fiancé.

I promise I won’t. When was the last you traveled with someone or with a group?

I just went to Portland with my fiancé and also went with my best friend to Ireland, for two and a half weeks, this past summer; those are the last two mini trip or bigger trips that I’ve done recently. I actually kind of avoid traveling anywhere with a ‘group’ group nowadays. Last time I did so was when I was in college probably about seven or eight years ago.

Do you find there is a lot of opinions expressed when traveling with others?

Oh my God, that is the other thing that bothers me! I am a planner and have a lot of friends who aren’t, so I get really frustrated when I end up planning an entire vacation for myself and somebody else and they don’t do any of the work for it. And then they complain about many of the things that I plan, so when I’m traveling by myself, it’s easier to be like “Well, if I don’t like it, I planned it.”

Now at what point did you decide to travel alone? Because it seems to me at one point you decided to venture out by yourself

So the two traveling types actually kind of existed side by side for a long time in my life, because I had the opportunity to travel with groups several times for study abroad opportunities from when I was 16 to when I was in my early twenties. I traveled alone internationally for the first time when I was 17 to Japan and met somebody when I got there, which was really only at the airport and did a couple of travel things by myself. I met up with a friend there who was a local, but it really empowered me to realize I can do this by myself and I can navigate certain things even in a foreign country, which in 2004 and 2005 did not have as much English everywhere and what not — I’m like ‘OK, I can figure this shit out’.

I am also a Type 1 diabetic, so there is a lot of planning that goes into me traveling because I have to have enough insulin, supplies and all of that for the duration of my trip. I have to have something set up with my mom where she will be able to send me a supplemental box at certain points along the trip. So I think I really became addicted to solo traveling when I was 21 and did a spring break by myself in the south of France; I had a really great time and some really crappy times too. Learning how to balance those things but also learning how to be alone has always been a priority for me.

How did you feel coming back from your solo France trip?

It was really empowering to go alone, especially as a woman. I don’t really have one trip that stands out that was like super transformational. I grew up in a really ridiculously isolated place in Montana, my college admission’s essay was called “90 miles for Groceries”. It is this tiny town found in the middle of the main entrance to Yellowstone National Park and the closest city is 30,000 people 90 miles away.

I’m an only child and was an artsy person in not an artsy place, so I have always had this need to escape. I came to NYU when I was 18 and have always been striving and going away and going toward; travel just really fulfills that for me. Getting more comfortable with solo travel really empowered me to not have to wait for opportunities and to make them myself. I realized if something is falling off, or feeling stifled and want to go away I can just hop on a plane to Iceland for a few days or whatever.

What is your fondest solo travel moment abroad? I know that is one of the hardest question to ask a traveler because so much happens along the way.

I was in Dublin almost three summers ago from now and was dating somebody back home. I had finished my MFA and bought a one-way ticket to Europe before I fell in love with this person. I still decided to go on this indefinite trip to Dublin, which is one of my favorite cities to see “Once” the Musical — which takes place in Dublin — written by Glen Hansard . The show is so beautiful and it is about love, obstacles and all these things, which made me just glow. I saw Glen Hansard when he came out and the audience sang with him, making my evening a magical one. Coming out of the show I got a text from my boyfriend that he had met somebody else.

I felt I was just on top of the world and then it all crashed! I called my friends while crying, walking along the River Liffey and went back to my hostel. I didn’t sleep at all that night and had to get on a plane to Portugal the next morning. Then I spent three days in Lisbon, Portugal at ‘We love fucking tourists hostel’ — I am not making the name of that hostel up (laughing). I think they mean we fucking love tourists, but it is called the love fucking tourists. I had this really healing delightful-like party while there.

I always recommend to anybody if somebody breaks your heart to get on a plane to Portugal because everybody’s going to tell you how beautiful you are. All these Portuguese men are just wooing me, so I just let myself completely go and experience those three days. I really experienced heartbreak and got drunk with these new people in the hostel to really feel things. It was amazing how everything just felt right because I was by myself in a country that was not my own, within a few hours. I had these highs and these lows alone with myself and had to kind of finally just let myself feel that.

“I think for me it is not the greatest risk, it is getting comfortable with small risks so that you build up a tolerance to it.”

So let us talk about the opposite now. What is the scariest moment you have had traveling alone?

I have had sciatica for awhile and I woke up one morning in London, collapsing on the floor and could not walk. I was in all this pain and I didn’t know why until I realized I slipping a disc in my back. I was subletting my friend’s apartment, so I didn’t have anybody in London to offer me immediate assistance and ended up at the emergency room. Over the course of a couple of weeks I visited three different hospitals and had to go under anesthesia, having to get a steroid injection into my spine. I was completely alone and could have called my parents, whom would have helped me out a little bit financially. When I saw the hospital bills, it turns out even private health care in the UK is pretty affordable. I was in the worst pain in my life, alone in a foreign country which was really hard.

Being by yourself, you are not like “Well, maybe someone can help me”. What was your process getting through all that you went through?

I’m really self-reliant, so it is nice that I have my parents whom are incredibly supportive. Neither of them were about to jump on a plane and come help me, because they knew I didn’t need them to. If I had really needed them to, they probably would have — I was like “Well I can call a cab or hobble my way to the trains”. If all else fails, I’m in one of the politest cities in the world and could just really ask a stranger on the street for help. Weirdly enough, some of the people that I reached out to were guys that I had been talking to through online dating. They offered to step up and help me, people I had connected on the Internet who I’d never met before, who sensibly were just looking to get laid (laughing)- they were like “Oh wait, like you actually need some help. Can I help you with something?”.

The majority of the people in the world want to help people and generally want to help each other. It is similar on the subway, as I have felt more alienated alone and endangered on the subway in New York that I ever had traveling internationally in my entire life. It is just a matter of context and how you are looking at the world. I am not saying “Oh I can just walk through whatever country in the world I want as a woman and be fine” — that is not the reality. Being socially aware is important, but also realizing the people who are around you are people, they have friends and families that they care about.

This might be the hardest question to answer. What is your favorite destination?

Can I have two favorite places in the world?

Sure!

My favorite place in the world is London. I really like the speed of the city, all the green space and find it to be very welcoming. It is also really diverse, has really great food, great arts — making it my favorite urban environment.

My favorite rural environment is Donegal, Ireland. Most people when they travel in Ireland go to the south of Ireland, Donegal is at the North of Ireland, it is not northern Ireland, but it’s the northern most part of the Republic of Ireland and not as many tourists go there. You kind of need to rent a car to really get off the beaten path there. In Donegal & Sligo I’ve met some of the most amazing people and it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The people are absolutely incredible and feels more authentic in a way. I ended up singing in a pub with people, just ended up falling into a session and it was the kind of moment you kind of try to manufacturer when you travel a little bit. This is the place where I feel those magical moments happened for me when I’m traveling there.

Do you have a next destination in mind?

So I’ve kind of had a big shift as I just got engaged. I just propose to my fiancé.

Wait, you proposed to your fiancé??

YES!

Congrats!

Thank you! He is jazzed that I proposed, which is awesome too. I decided to flip the script on that one a little bit as I didn’t really ever think I wanted to get married (laughing). I started thinking about me proposing and that I had met a man who was cool with that and was jazzed about that. So now I think solo traveling is going to be a little bit on the back burner for a while because he and I have only ever traveled in the U.S. together.

So now I think my next travel adventures will be learning how to factor in a partner while retaining the feeling that I have about traveling by myself and the spontaneity of it. He knows I’m going to need to travel again by myself at some point in our relationship (laughing).

It is part of the marriage requirements.

Yeah (laughing), I love doing this! It is one of the ways I connect with myself and he is totally cool with that. Now I’m going to learn how to travel with a partner, which is always good for budgeting. It is really great because you can split up the bill and you can graduate from staying at hostels to hotels pretty easily when you’re splitting a room.

What is the greatest risk that you’ve ever taken?

I feel I’m pretty comfortable with risk, so nothing jumps out to me entirely. I think for me it is not the greatest risk, it is getting comfortable with small risks so that you build up a tolerance to it, like saying “yes” to the opportunity to go to Japan when I was 17 by myself to meet up with my friend, taking the job that I have now, embracing study abroad opportunities, moving back to New York on a whim and doing grad school abroad that were exciting but a little bit uncomfortable. I was in the arts for a long time and I got offered this job in financial technology; it was way outside my comfort zone but decided to try it.

When I used to teach theater classes, the motto of the class was ‘Yay for failing’. I think that people are so afraid to fail big, that they suddenly became afraid to fail small. I have missed a train and a flight, those things seem catastrophic in the moment but you get used to those things, getting used to failure is a really good thing. Missing your train in the morning when you are commuting, getting used to it and not freaking out over every little frustration. Failure allows you to do things like pick up and move across the world. and If you don’t fail small then you don’t give yourself the opportunity to win big.

What actually inspires you to travel more?

Meeting people and, most of all, meeting myself, because I have met different versions of myself, especially in different countries, cultures and situations. Also the friends that I’ve made traveling, the friendships I’ve deepened traveling with people, and the people I’ve met in hostels. My through line of life is connectivity — how am I connecting with the world, with people, and with myself.

Travel gives you the best of the best and the worst of the worst, it heightens those sorts of things in your life. I’m actually trying to learn how to recreate that feeling in my normal life because it is expensive to live in New York. So I can’t afford to travel as much, but I’ve never been to the Bronx, that is a travel opportunity! I realized that we have, especially in some place like New York, opportunities to travel here and there without ever having to take anything other than the Subway.

Have you ever inspired someone else to maybe travel more?

It is really easy to directly inspire people being a teacher, especially my students. I also have a lot of friends who are seven to 10 years younger than me and I’m always encouraging them to travel. I encouraged my friend to move back to Japan recently to live with her dad a couple years ago. A lot of people were telling her “No, don’t do that” and I was like “No, go do that!” (laughing).

I think not pushing yourself too far out of your comfort zone too fast is important. When I was 20, I had the opportunity to go to Martinique on a study abroad trip and there was something that just told me I was not ready for that yet. There were a lot of different reasons I made the decisions like having an eating disorder at the time and being a diabetic.

In terms of finding travel opportunities, you don’t have to go backpacking through South America as your first solo traveling experiences. You could go to New York, London or Seattle, honestly it doesn’t even have to be international. Traveling has different forms, such as taking a weekend by yourself in a new city or going to a nice town pretty similar to where you live now is a good way to get your feet wet. Just because there are people like me who are outliers who are like “Yeah, I’ll go jump on a train to Bristol, to meet some guy I’ve never met” does not mean everyone should do the same. I could do those things because I did a lot of other things and I laid the ground work first.

Getting comfortable with the biggest first step is most important. Most of my female friends will not even go out to dinner by themselves. I recommend taking yourself out to dinner with a book as your companion and not with your phone. Try going out to dinner by yourself, wherever you live, get comfortable with your own company because you won’t be able to travel by yourself and actually have a positive experience unless you can take yourself out to dinner (laughing).

Say 20 years from now you decided to write about your travel story, what are three words you would use as your title? Similar to ‘Eat. Pray. Love’

I already have a title for my travel blog, but it’s not three words — so I’ll give you that and then I’ll give you my three words. My current book that I’m working on very slowly is “Crossing the Dateline: Swiping Right for Adventure” which is about online dating and traveling. My three words would be: Listen. Dance. Connect. ‘Eat’ is implied so I’m not going to steal her ‘Eat’, but eat everything everywhere!

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Afraid to Travel Alone? Here’s How to Start Slow

People have one of three reactions when I tell them that I am an avid solo traveler:

“That’s so cool, I wish I was brave enough to do that.”

“You travel alone? Isn’t that dangerous? What if something happens, you’ll have no one to fall back on?”

“I love traveling alone; it’s the best isn’t it?”

First off, anyone can travel alone with proper planning and the proper mindset.

Second, most cities in the U.S are more dangerous than large cities abroad-we’ll get into that in detail later. Third, having people around in a crisis can actually make it more difficult to be decisive and take action quickly.

So now that we’ve debunked those myths, if you are afraid to travel alone, what is holding you back?

Let’s take a deep dive into it and talk about some strategies to overcome these hurtles so you too can be that cool girl that travels abroad.

You Are Afraid of Being Alone





“But isn’t traveling alone boring without anyone to talk to? Don’t you get lonely?”

Let me ask you this, when was the last time you spent a significant amount of time alone? I cherish the time I spend by myself. It’s a moment to reconnect and meet different versions of yourself, which is crucial in maintaining a balanced life.

Concerns about being bored or lonely often stem from a fear of spending time alone. You’re worried everyone is going to think to themselves “That girl is by herself, what a loser”. Or “What am I going to do with no one to talk to, stay on my phone the whole trip?”

Why not give it a try and see if that’s true.

Start with something small like going to a concert, comedy show, or new restaurant alone to build up confidence. You’ll quickly realize no one actually cares or pays attention that you are by yourself {oftentimes there will be other people riding solo there too}. You may find that a minute to yourself can be a nice change of pace. Once you are more comfortable with your new solo status, take a weekend trip to Boston, Philadelphia or neighboring towns. Considering treating yourself to a staycation and take a local trip to the Bronx, Coney Island or Long Island.





“Okay, I’m comfortable doing things alone, but I don’t want an entire week alone. I’m not the kind of person that is outgoing and can make friends easily”.

You definitely can! It just takes some practice and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Try going to a networking event in your niche; it’s a great way to meet new connections and to practice introducing yourself to new people.

Does the idea of attending a networking event make you cringe?

First, try a less intimidating space, like a concert or comedy show and make a goal for yourself to talk to at least five people. Build up to talking to more people and attending a networking event solo. This will give you the confidence to approach people at your hostel or out and about while you are abroad.

“But I’m going to a country where no speaks English, won’t that automatically isolate me?”

Spend some time before your trip learning some basic phrases of the local language. You could even look up a local language meet up where you can practice your conversational skills before you go. Keep in mind that there are other travelers in the same boat as you, so definitely seek out hostels and other places where you can meet more people speaking the same language.

You Won’t Have Anyone to Fall Back On If You Get Into a Sticky Situation





This was one of my biggest fears that deterred me from traveling abroad.

Four years ago, I found myself in Beijing with a friend of mine. As my first trip outside of the country I was beyond excited. The first morning I woke up at 6am ready to hit the streets but my friend was less than thrilled. She wanted to spend the day in the hotel room playing video games and grab dinner later on at night {true story}. So I was faced with a dilemma — venture out into this foreign city alone, risking getting lost or maybe being kidnapped or play it safe and stay in the hotel room with my friend.

I chose the former — so I grabbed a business card of the hotel I was staying at and departed for the subway. My phone didn’t work in Beijing {I didn’t know anything about SIM cards at the time} so I wrote down directions/addresses on a piece of paper. And you know what happened? I had a really awesome day.





I ended up exploring an outdoor art gallery, visiting a museum dedicated to the afterlife, and wandering through the night markets. Traveling alone in a foreign country was nothing like I expected it to be. It was liberating to walk the streets of Beijing alone. I felt so connected to the world around me — I vividly remember standing in the middle of a busy shopping district soaking in the energy from the crowds passing by. That trip gave me the confidence to take my first solo trip to Thailand the following year and it was the beginning of my solo traveling lifestyle.

You will may run into situations that feel unsafe, you may lose your passport or your phone but all of these things are manageable with proper planning. The reality is these things can happen even if you are with other people — it’s just overcoming the mindset that you can’t do it. But guess what, you definitely can!

Don’t believe me? Test it out.

Try spending a day in your local city without your phone (or turn it off) to test your ability to think on your feet. You’ll be surprised at how well you cope. Or if you are feeling brave, take an improv class (UCB and Magnet Theater offer free courses) to help you get used to dealing with the unexpected.

“But isn’t it dangerous to travel alone as a woman?”

Safety is relative. Detroit has a higher crime and murder rate than any city in Colombia. If you always listen to your gut reaction, you will more times than not steer yourself out of dangerous situations. That being said, you still need to take some precautions, especially as a woman traveling alone such as not going out at night alone. Make sure to research online other solo travelers that have gone to your destination to see what their experiences were. Also look into safety, crime rates, and travel adversaries on the Bureau of Consular Affairs before you choose a destination.

You’ve Never Planned a Trip Before and You’re Worried About the Logistics of Traveling Abroad





One easy way to combat this is to keep things simple and do as much planning in advance as possible. Stick to visiting one city and book one hostel in advance as a home base, which will keep the logistics simple. Research things you want to do (Nomadness Travel Tribe, Nomadic Matt and The Blonde Abroad are great travel blogs for solo female travelers) and create a loose itinerary. That way when you get there, you don’t get as overwhelmed. As you get more solo trips under your belt, you can start adding on multiple cities /countries to your trip and plan less of the trip in advance. Especially as you start meeting people traveling, you are going to want to keep your plans loose to switch gears based on other traveler’s recommendations and travel plans.

A lot of the nitty gritty logistics pieces you can easily knock out in advance. Make sure to renew your passport (or get one) well in advance, even if you do not have a trip in mind yet. It takes about 30 days for this process and there are some countries that won’t accept a passport that expires within 30 days of entry.





Start to think about how you want to use your phone abroad. You can either get SIM cards (for unlocked phones) for each of the countries you are traveling to, you can rent a mobile WiFI device, or you can purely rely on local Wifi. Think about how much you are willing to spend on having access to a phone and research how reliable the Wifi connection is in the country you are traveling to. For example, most public places in Thailand have Wifi so you can easily get by. Conversely in Iceland, not only is there no Wifi on the Ring Road, it is a necessity for emergencies to have a working cellphone.

You may want to invest in a new backpack or set of luggage for your solo adventures. This should be done to gradually put your mindset in a closer position to travel alone. Consider what you’ll need to bring with you. I would also highly recommend getting quick-drying towels and clothing so can you wash them while you are on your trip to avoid over packing.

In life you may not have everything figured out, but as long as you are taking the steps needed to prepare and visualize yourself traveling alone, you will eventually go.

You Don’t Know Where You Want To Go Or Where To Go As a Solo Female Traveler





First, brainstorm any countries or regions of the world that you want to visit. If you don’t have a specific country or region in mind, start with thinking about what kind of trip you want. Do you want to be in a city, in a rural area, or a balance of both? Do you want a trip that’s active, adventurous, relaxing, or something in between?

Once you figure out what you want out of your solo adventure, research the best cities to visit as a solo female traveler.

One major thing to consider while doing this is your budget. Traveling to South America or Asia is going to be cheaper than going to Europe. But Europe is easier to navigate as more people speak English. You’ll also want to consider the season you are traveling in — you’ll want to avoid visiting parts of Asia during monsoon season or during the summer so make sure to look into the best travel times for your destination.

One you have a location picked, now is the fun part! Start to visualize what it is going to be like traveling alone to your destination. Better yet create a Pinterest board of all the places and things you want to do to get yourself pumped up for your trip.

Your Friends/Family Think It’s a Bad Idea





When I decided to take a last minute trip to Colombia, almost everyone I know thought I was crazy. “Isn’t it really dangerous?” “Isn’t there a massive drug problem and lots of kidnappings?”

While your friends and family have your best interests at heart, these concerns are really projections of their own fears with traveling alone. Many people also make assumptions about a location based on movies, tv shows, outdated or biased information so make sure to seek out people –whether virtually or that you may know, that have been to your destination as a solo traveler.

Share what you find with your friends/family along with your itinerary to make them more comfortable with your plans. Without meaning to, people around you can often hold you back from venturing out of your own comfort zone. You have to trust and take a chance on yourself. You never know where it may lead you.

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By Cait Sarazin & Chizoba Anyaoha


Have any tips for first time solo travelers we didn’t cover? Tag us on IG @travsolo on your solo adventure and hare in the comments below.

How to Plan Your Perfect Solo Adventure Based on Your Travel Style

You finally found the courage to plan a solo trip, but then you realize you have no idea what you’re doing (we’ve all been there on our first solo trip). You realize that without having to negotiate with other people for what to do, you have no idea what you want out of trip. What do I even want to do with my time? What would be my ideal trip?

Don’t worry, we got you.

We break down how to plan and get the most out of your solo trip based on your solo travel style

The Spontaneous Traveler





Do you shy away from committing to plans?

Do you like to the fly by the seat of your pants and see where the day takes you?

Do your friends know you as the person that would jump on the train to Philly to see a concert?

Do you love to wander into small shops and local restaurants without checking them out on Yelp first?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you are a spontaneous traveler.

Here’s how to plan your ideal trip:

Go to Cities

Especially major cities in Asia and Europe, you can get away with planning less because there are so many options at your disposal. You’ll have countless restaurants, nightlife, museums, and art galleries that you can bop in and out of at your leisure. You can also spend your days wandering the streets and seeing what you run into — Tokyo is one of the best cities for this.

Take Advantage of Last Minute Deals

Travel Zoo and Travel Pirates, two companies specializing in flash sales {think a getaway to Punta Cana for $168}, are a gold mine for spontaneous travelers. Also keep an eye out for JetBlue flight flash sales that often feature one-way domestic flights for under $100.

Another great tool if you’re looking to explore all your flight options is Skyscanner. You can search for the cheapest flights for an entire month or for the entire year. You can also enter a specific location or search the entire world for the cheapest flights for the time period of your choosing. For the spontaneous traveler, this may be your new travel addiction.

Invest in Renting a WIFI Hotspot or SIM Cards





Although I always recommend not relying on WIFI when traveling abroad, if you intend to do little planning for a trip it is crucial to have access to the internet both for looking up things to do as well as keeping yourself safe. While traveling to a new country without a plan can be exciting, without as much research, you aren’t as informed about the safety and culture so it’s crucial to have a working phone in case you get into a dangerous situation.

Stay in Hostels

Even if you can afford to stay in nicer accommodations, I would recommend staying in a hostel to meet other travelers. Find a hostel that has a large communal area to hang out in or that serves food onsite so you can easily make new friends. Other travelers are great resources for ideas for things to do that you may not have thought of or places to avoid. You may end up meeting people to travel with on your journey and without set plans, you are free to pivot and join them.

The Travel Planner





Do you make detailed itineraries for trips {maybe down to the hour}?

Do you research everything you want to see and do in advance?

Do you book everything possible before you land and leave nothing up to chance?

Do you watch an extensive amount of videos and look up images of everything you want to see and do?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you are a travel planner.

Here’s How To Make the Most of Your Trip:

Figure Out What Style of Trip You Want Before You Start Researching

Do you want a relaxing vacation laying on the beach or do you want to be trekking through the rainforest? Do you want to be in the heart of a bustling city or relaxing in a hammock enjoying the view on top of a mountain?

Figuring out the style of the trip you want before you start planning allows you to narrow your focus to find activities that will create that style of trip. If you start randomly researching whatever you find interesting, you may end up creating a trip where you are running around a city site-seeing when you really wanted to also spend time in nature.

Make Your Own Pre-Vetted Yelp With Google Maps





Google Maps has the fun feature called MyMaps, where you can create specific points of interest on a map and add in descriptions, color-coded icons for different categories, and even add multiple layers (just in case you want to make a Plan B itinerary). It’s a great way to have all the possible things you want to do that you’ve pre-researched at your fingertips. That way if you get to a location and are hungry, you can pull out your pre-created map and see if any of the places you researched are nearby.

Start with Booking Hotels/Flights First

I always feel committed to a trip and less stressed once I book my flights and hotels. These are the two major anchors of any trip and once you have them secured, you can breathe easy that the hardest part is over. As the trip gets closer, then you can start planning out specific things you want to do and tours/activities that you want to book.

Research People That Took a Similar Solo Trip

Hearing first hand-accounts from people that have already taken the trip that you are planning will give you more insight into what you are getting yourself into. It will help flesh out a mental picture of what your trip will be like. Oftentimes these travelers will have ideas about what not to miss, what to avoid, and any other relevant information that will help you get the most of out of your experience.

The Experimental Traveler





Do you love trying new things?

Do you crave experiences within a new surrounding?

Do you have no preference on what you do, you just want do it all?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you are an experimental traveler.

Here’s how to make the most of your trip:

Seek Out Major Cities

Major cities have a constant stream of fun and interesting things to do to satisfy the dynamic city dwellers. Whether you want to go to a museum, see an improv show, go to an art gallery, or go bar hopping, you can find it all in a city. Not only will you find more new and unique experiences in a city, you’ll also find there is a never-ending supply of new things to do.

Research Travel Guides Made by Locals

To get the most out of your trip and have the most new experiences, look into guides made my locals. They will have an insider perspective on what things are worth going to and what are worth skipping so you can make the most out of your limited time.

Blend Elements of Planning and Spontaneity

With your goal of getting the most new experiences, there needs to be elements of planning and elements of seeing where the wind takes you.

Book your flight in advance and the first hotel you plan to stay at, but leave the rest of the lodging until you get to your destination. This will allow you to get a feel for your first destination and adjust accordingly if you find another location where there is more to do. You can easily get last minute lodging at hostelworld or booking.com.

Research what things you absolutely must do and book them in advance. Also have a list of things that you may want to do depending on time but that you don’t book in advance. This allows you to prioritize the experiences that are most important to you while also giving you the ability to be flexible with your future plans.

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


What travel type are you? Tag us on IG @travsolo on your solo adventure.

Sola Travelers: A Friend in Every City

The woman who warned me that “las mujeres nunca están seguras,” when I inquired about how safe it is for me to walk around at night in San Jose is not just the owner of an introspective quote for a blog post. Yogurt isle lady from the Automercado is part of a tribe of women who understand what it is like to walk around in our bodies. How we rarely feel safe in streets, no matter if the sun shines. Despite what Vice-President Mike Pence believes, women play a greater role in the workforce than temptress, so we often travel for business. Other times, we travel for pleasure — to discover what else that is out there. When we want to explore; go out at night, lay out on the beach, read a book in a sunny park, dance to music from a new culture, or perhaps shop, get our nails done, find a sexy dress, we do not always feel safe doing it alone in a foreign country although as long as we are women our native communities also do not offer complete safety.

That sad reality is why Founder of Sola Travelers Valeska Toro started her company Sola Travelers a few months ago; to give women a friend in every city in case they want the safety of companionship.

“During one of my travels last year, a stranger at a bar harassed me. I didn’t think that it would affect me that much, but the next day, I was still pretty upset about it. That day, I met a woman over lunch and told her about the incident. I had never met her before, but she understood exactly where I was coming from. It was in that moment that I realized that women around the world share a common understanding and connection. It made me think about a world where women could support each other and help each other travel.”





The man who assaulted Valeska is not unique; he is also part of a band, this one is made up of sick men who believe a woman’s body is made to please them. These men have hands that know no limits, dirty lips that cat-call, and eyes that search for vulnerabilities. This gang is one many women fear.

So what’s the solution?

Women, like myself, enjoy travel and there are times when we prefer to or have to do it alone. There are countless articles out there about how to stay safe in a foreign country — I read quite a few on BuzzFeed, TripAdvisory, Travel Noire, Independent Traveler, etc… before booking my trip to Costa Rica, my first solo viaje. If you plan to travel alone, I suggest you do some research as well.

There’s also Valeska’s budding company, Sola Travelers. It is now based in four locations: New York City; Orlando, Florida; Washington D.C.; and Costa Rica (San Jose and Playa Hermosa).

“It’s interesting. During one of the women’s marches, we found a picture of a woman holding up a sign that read ‘I don’t want to be afraid to travel alone’ and when you think about it, it doesn’t have to be this way. We, as women, have the power to change this. With Sola, we want to give women a platform to become an Insider and help other women travel to their city while at the same time earning extra income on their terms. Alternatively, we want to give women around the world the ability to travel freely and have piece of mind knowing that they have a network of amazing women to support them.”





Given Valeska’s vision and the tribe of intelligent women she has on her team, I’m sure Sola Travelers will find a way to keep you safe, empowered, and exploring wherever you are as the company continues to grow.

My experience with Sola Travelers

Sola Travelers has recently expanded to Costa Rica (San Jose and Playa Hermosa), and I was their first trip. What are traditionally tour guides, Valeska has deemed Sola Insiders, women who consult, create an itinerary for you, and/or take you out. My Sola Insider is Andrea Pacheco.





The beauty of Sola Travelers is that it matches you with a friend in every city. It truly feels like I have company in Andrea. Before taking me out on Saturday, she and I Facebook messaged and spoke on the phone. From our conversations, she determined my interests and sent me three options for our field trip. This social media and phone personalized process was unique to me. Normally, travelers will go to Sola Travelers’ website, find what they want to do, and book it there. The Sola Insider then reaches out to the Sola and they plan from there.

After Andrea and I hung out on Saturday, we stayed in touch. I’m the kind of person who likes to go with the flow in my personal life so I don’t have a solid itinerary. When I see something interesting, I forward it to Andrea. Typically, she’ll tell me whether that area is on the safer side, how accessible it is by taxi or Uber, and whether she knows a friend nearby. If you prefer consulting before you arrive to your respective city, that can also be arranged through your Sola Insider. How cool is all this, right!

Andrea and I at Irazú





That’s great, but how much does all this cost

According to Valeska, Sola Insiders have control over what they charge and it varies by city.

“Our experiences currently range from $50–300depending on what city you’re in and what you’d like to do.”

No matter what experience a Sola chooses, she will receive real-time support from a Sola Insider during her stay.

My afternoon with Andrea

Andrea picked me up from the Feria Verde Organic Market where I spent my morning eating, strolling, speaking Español, and writing.

I selected option 3: a trip to Irazú Volcano in Cartago and a late lunch. The drive up to Irazú was about 40 minutes. On the way up, Andrea and I spoke about our experiences traveling, work, culture, family, and Costa Rica. One of the benefits of going on a trip with a Sola Insider is that you get a one-on-one course on the city you’re exploring.

















When we arrived at Irazú, I actually had no idea I was inside of the volcano; Andrea made that known. She showed me where the craters are, told me about the Coati, a small animal that lives in the area, took photos of me, and when I wanted room to roam alone and write, she gave me my freedom.





On our way back down to San Jose, we stopped at Linda Vista, a local town restaurant best known for its delicious food and walls covered in business cards. At Andrea’s recommendation, I had a sweet cup of warm agua dolce and we shared a plátano maduro con queso. I topped that off with a lomito encebollado.

















Andrea had also planned a nighttime outing for us, but I decided to skip out given I have been fighting a cold all trip. What’s important is she was prepared to continue our day as planned.

As Andrea drove me around, she answered difficult questions with facts and passion; I got the feeling she truly believes in Pura Vida.

“I really like my city and my country, and by showing it to others I think it makes me be grateful. Its a reminder to not take things for granted.”





Want more of Sola Travelers?!

https://www.solatravelers.com

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By Flose Boursiquot


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Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

At TravSolo, we’re on a mission to spread the word about the joys and excitement of traveling alone. Whether you’re hoping to shop, museum hop, or day drink with locals, we want you to go for it. And while traveling solo offers the benefits of freedom and self-discovery, the unfortunate reality is that being alone in a new place requires you to take extra precaution. Being alone and foreign are enough to make you seem like a target to the wrong person. Additionally, taking all of the necessary precautions doesn’t mean you won’t end up in a bad situation.

With that said, we put together a quick list of safety tips to make sure you don’t end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.





Research

Learn as much as you can about your destination before you go. Read travel forums, ask friends and family who have already been, and use social media to find out more. Learn the neighborhoods, city layout, and public transportation options so that you know where you’ll feel comfortable going and how you’ll get there.

Internet Service

You can expect most metropolitan areas to have adequate access to WiFi, however, rural areas likely do not. Reach out to your carrier to find out about the coverage at your desired destination. If you’re traveling out of the country, consider purchasing an international SIM card or phone plan to ensure you can reach someone in case of an emergency.





Travel light

Packing less is a game changer. The less you take with you, the less you have to worry about being taken from you. Once you get to your destination, only carry what you need for the day, including cash and credit cards (pro-tip for those on a budget!).

Be a Chameleon

Find out how locals speak and what they wear so you can try your best to blend in. Take time to understand their mannerisms, daily activities, and local customs so that you can be respectful.





Stick with the Crowd

Try your best to blend within your surroundings. For starters, it is safer and you’re more likely to meet other travelers and make friends. After you’ve gotten a feel for the touristy parts of town, decide if you’d be more comfortable traveling to a more localized area.

Follow the light

Even if it means taking a longer route back, stay in well-lit areas at night. It’s okay to take alternative routes to avoid areas where you may be harassed.





Secure your belongings

Look for rooms with safes, especially if you’re sharing a hostel room, to ensure that strangers don’t have access to your valuables.

Set a drink limit

Even though alcohol is enjoyable, it inhibits your ability to make rational decisions. Enjoy yourself while avoiding to overdo it! You don’t want to be the drunk tourist who looks like a target.





Some last notes

The reality is that bad things can still happen when you’re prepared and when you least expect it. Some things really are out of your control. Trust your gut! If something feels wrong, then don’t do it. It’s good practice to keep a friend or family member in the loop of your location and itinerary.

All of this said, you still have to live your life. Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t travel — there’s danger everywhere (including your hometown). Let the fear of danger be what motivates you to prepare and take precaution. Safe travels!

Editors: Chizoba Anyaoha, Rachael D’Addezio & Audrey White

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


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How to Budget While Traveling Alone





Looking for new places to go while on a budget? Glad you are!

But I want to travel alone. Still possible to save? Absolutely, as long as you focus on the key essentials!

Traveling, whether it be to a new town, city or country, requires money to book your flight, reserve a room or eat the finest cuisines your new surroundings has to offer. We all want to experience everything we can without feeling guilty, ashamed and regretful when checking our bank accounts — regretting every financial decision made post-trip. We all have been there where you try to find the cheapest items on the menu, in order to save a few buck without feeling you are missing out. While traveling alone allows you to completely make money-saving decisions on your own, it can be a bit more expensive at times.

Here are some things to consider when planning to save for your next solo trip.

Figure out how much your trip will cost you.





Pick out destinations you want to visit, see how long you want to be away for & see how much the trip will cost you in total — It is reasonable to cut your ideal trip by a few days if your budget is a bit low.; a flight to Vietnam or Indonesia may be expensive but the cost of living is pretty low — costing about $10 to $15 per day. From there, do your research on more local areas to stay in; they tend to be cheaper compared to touristy ones. Set up a daily allowance based on how much you need to spend on accommodations, food, & transportation — the top necessities for any trip.

Staying at a Hotel or Hostel





Just like choosing a new apartment, each option has their pros and cons. Hotels offers privacy, quietness you may need while Hostels provide the social environment to easily meet other travelers. While the latter is much cheaper, you’ll ultimately will be sharing a room with strangers who may or may have the best hygiene or mannerism. The former is more expensive, provides less social activities, & less likely to meet other travelers. Another option is to split a couple days between the two & see what works best for you. If you are truly looking to save I suggest staying at a hostel. Another option to strongly consider is an Airbnb rental, where you get the privacy you need & option to hang out with the local who rented you a room, if they are free to do so.

Getting Around





While there are many ways to get from one place to the next, some are more expensive than others. Using public transportation is by far the best way to really save, it may not always be the most reliable but at least you will have more money to spend for food, drinks and activities. Use this as an opportunity to sit back and view the scenery. If you find yourself in an unsafe area or feel uncomfortable late at night, a cab ride might be worth the few extra bucks

While some places do have cheap services such as South America, wish we can say the same for Europe. Good thing is Europe has some of the fastest & cleanest metro systems out there, with with easy commute. Hop on the train, bus or scroll around on a bike, great opportunity to ride with the locals, experience what they experience & check out new spots from different angles.

Food





We can all agree this is the most important part of the trip, because we all have to eat at some point right? No pressure to splurge on every restaurant you come across! Figure out how expensive meals are, many times you want to eat out, decide on your food budget & how often to cook inside on some days (easier to do at a hostel).

Activities





Choose what you are actually interested, rather than going to all of the places everyone is going to. Remember, your budget is different than other people. Just like food, we want to experience everything we possibly can & have the best time possible.

While there are free events around, the options are pretty limited most times. Google search “Free Tours” in the destination of choice  & a couple of names will pop for you to sign up. Check out hostels in your areas, as they usually throw free weekend activities. Put aside some money to try out new activities, you are in a new city so you should give yourself time to try out new things!





Final Thoughts

Even though you are less likely to split the bill with someone else you are able to control how much you want to spend, without worrying about a second opinion, feeling guilty about spending more or less than your travel buddy and feeling like you are not allowing yourself to have the best time possible. Once you have set up a budget you are able to understand your needs versus your wants — only thing left is to prioritize your happiness. You have come a long way planning your solo trip alone, jumping on a plane into the unknown & venturing off into a new culture — so ENJOY IT!

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


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Embracing the Path Less-Traveled  –  Michael Hsun





TravSolo aims to inspire through authentic storytelling, by sharing real travel experiences

Tell me a little bit about yourself: What do you do for a living?

Officially, I am the VP of Business Development for Next Gen Summit. In short, I’m responsible for partnering with organizations who bring value to our community of young founders and entrepreneurs, helping them find success in their personal and professional ventures. There’s nothing more I love doing than helping other young, aspiring entrepreneurs take their businesses and ideas to the next level and I wake up every day feeling like I have the best job in the world!

Solo Travel: What do these two words mean to you?

Freedom and ownership. Freedom, because you’re unconstrained by the needs or preferences of anyone else you travel with. Ownership, because you fully own your travel experience. I sometimes think of solo travel through the lens of the industry I live in — startups and entrepreneurship — where successful founders truly take advantage of the freedom they have to own their future.

What inspired you to take your first solo trip?

My first solo trip was to Kazakhstan. Being the travel hacker that I am, I chose Kazakhstan because Almaty was the furthest city away from Pittsburgh (where I went to college) that I could get to at the lowest cost per mile. I asked all of my friends if anyone was interested in backpacking through Central Asia with me. Unfortunately, it was the end of the academic year and everyone I knew was more interested in the classic euro trip than a trip through countries most people couldn’t identify on a map. Nobody came through, so I ended up, rather unintentionally, solo for the trip.





Favorite International Meal?

I grew up abroad so this answer is biased, but chili crab in Singapore is simply unbeatable.

What was the most memorable and/or let down travel experience you have while traveling

My most memorable travel experience was my first trip to South America — specifically, to Iguazu Falls. I love the outdoors and visiting the falls had always been a bucket list item for me, but the memory of walking through the rainforest and seeing the waterfalls appear before my eyes stunned me in a way that I had never experienced before. I think it took me a good five minutes of standing in silence and awe before I was even able to move. No picture, magazine, documentary or story can do the falls justice.

Coincidentally, my biggest let down was when I crossed the Argentina-Brazil border after visiting Iguazu Falls from the Argentine side. I was taking a bus from Puerto Iguazu on the Argentine side to Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side, and because I was the only non-Argentine or Brazilian passport holder on the bus, I was dropped off at the checkpoint to get my passport stamped and instructed to catch the next bus that would take me from the border to town. Unfortunately, I just so happened to catch the last bus of the day so there was no “next” bus, which left me stranded at the border for two hours before I hitched hiked my way on another bus that brought me into town. Being stranded at a border crossing is definitely not a good feeling.

What is the most memorable moment you had with a traveler or local?

In North Korea, one of the stops on my group tour was a bowling alley in Pyongyang. The three other members of my group were all retirees and had no interest in playing a game, so I was the only one who ended up bowling. Of the two guides who kept an eye on us throughout the entire trip, the senior guide stayed back in a restaurant with the rest of the group while the junior guide who was about my age joined me in a game. As we made our way down to the lanes, my guide ran into a group of his college friends and we were soon invited to bowl with them.

To this day, I will never forget the scene where I, the lone foreigner, ended up bowling with a group of North Korean students who did not care if I was an American. We shared beers, talked about our favorite TV shows and music, and complained about school and work. We saw each other not by the cover of our passports, but by our shared curiosity of who we were as an individual.

What is biggest risk you have ever taken on a trip?

My first trip to Ukraine in 2015 was barely a year after the Ukrainian revolution that overthrew the previous government. Ukraine remained highly unstable after the ousting of the president and the annexation of Crimea, causing its economy and currency to collapse. As an outsider, I saw Ukraine as an amazing opportunity to pick up flights (priced in the severely devalued local currency, the Ukrainian hryvnia) on the cheap.

Little did I know until I set foot in Kiev was that the country was still unstable. But because everything was cheap and there were so few other tourists, I had an incredible time. Everyone else I met were either as brave, crazy, or oblivious to the state of affairs of the rest of the country — and that created friendships that last to this day.





What inspires you to travel more alone?

My solo travel inspiration is a bit unconventional. I travel based on the cost of getting to a place I haven’t been to before. In other words, I don’t pick a destination before I plan my travel. As a result, I often end up in places that are not necessarily on someone else’s travel bucket list.

I’m inspired to travel alone because I have a desire to see every country in the world. And because not all countries are created equal, I’m in constant awe at what I see that most people often miss out on when they travel to more popular corners of the world. The road-less-traveled is my traveled path.

What advice might you give people afraid of being on their own or thinking of taking their first solo trip?

Don’t overthink. Plan less and embrace spontaneity. And when things don’t go your way, know that there remains a lifetime of experiences waiting to be discovered.

If you were writing a book about personal solo travel story, what three words would you use for the title?

Live. Learn. Love.

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


What travel type are you? Tag us on IG @travsolo on your solo adventure.

9 Reasons Why You Should Never Travel Alone

Solo traveling is something everyone needs to experience in their lifetime. Once you travel alone for the first time you are likely going to want to do it again. But just like skydiving or eating vegemite it is not for everyone.

Here are some reasons why you should not travel alone.

You have a have a hard time being selfish

Traveling alone is going to be all about YOU – your interests, wants, needs, how long you want to stay up, how early you want to wake up & owning your traveling style. You get to do you 24/7.

You have a very hard time eating alone

Eating alone can be a tough pill to swallow, especially when you are surrounded by people sharing meals, laughs and creating memories together. Good chance you will eat most of your meals alone.

You avoid meeting new people

Maybe you are fine with the friends you already have back home. Traveling alone will force your hand to socialize with strangers from across the world from different cultures.

You are comfortable being completely comfortable

Traveling alone will force you to face some adversity you may not be used to experiencing, like having to deal with times of loneliness in foreign land. You may even end up talking to people with very different personalities you are not used to, trying new things for the first or eating foods you are unfamiliar with.

You shy away from making decisions on your own

There is no one else to help you plan where to eat, drink, sleep & go while you take a step back. Everything you do or don’t do is entirely up to you.

You are responsible for ALL Expenses

Thinking of splitting the hotel, cab or food bill? Guess again! Every cent will come out of your wallet for sure. If you are looking to save you will have to do a better job budgeting for your trip.

No one to take Instagram-ready photographs

We all have friends who become our “professional-but-not-professional” photographer, taking our pictures with every type of lighting and angles they can find to get the best Instagram-ready photo to post. Selfies are easy to get but it would not be your ideal photo for those looking to impress. It is harder to set up a tripod around tourist attractions. You would be lucky to find strangers who can take a decent picture for you.

You worry too much about your safety

Traveling alone usually does not have any safety nets, especially without having family or friends looking after you. You are responsible for being aware of where you go,  your surroundings, taking safety measures & watching your back during the night.

You have a hard time saying goodbye

You have met some of the most amazing people on your solo adventure, created long-lasting memories and shared personal stories with each other, connecting on a really genuine level. Strangers who you have become friends and now it is time to say goodbye? Traveling alone can be like that.

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By Chizoba Anyaoha


What travel type are you? Tag us on IG @travsolo on your solo adventure.