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Exploring the World on My Terms – DeAnna Taylor

Exploring the World on My Terms – DeAnna Taylor

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?

I’m DeAnna, a criminal defense attorney who now works as a freelance writer. While I’m technically still a licensed attorney, writing is my current love. I write for Travel Noire, CharlotteFive, and I’ve done a few pieces for XONecole and even Medium.

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

To me, solo travel means freedom. It means letting go of anything that holds you back and simply living. It also means courage to step into the unknown.

What inspired you to take your first solo trip?

My first solo international trip was to Cuba in early 2017. It was on my bucket list before the restrictions got too crazy and I didn’t really have any friends that could go when I wanted to. So, I made the decision to do it on my own. Best decision ever. I read tons of blogs befor hand to get a feel of what to expect and how to prepare. Luckily they were all very accurate and to this day Cuba is still my favorite destination.

When I’m alone I can truly take in the sights and sounds of a place in my own way.

Favorite International Meal?

Hmmm that’s a tough one. I would have to say the pad thai in the streets of Khao San Road in Bangkok. You can get a plate for less than a dollar and cooked to order at a tiny little street cart. It’s delicious.

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

I think my biggest let down happened recently in Amsterdam. I was solo and I ended up booking an Airbnb out in the suburbs to save money. But, I didn’t do my research on transportation prior to and I ended up wasting/spending so much money on trains and buses to get into central Amsterdam during my short stay. Next time I will just spend the money to stay in a more central area.

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

One of my most memorable experiences was riding the train in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was heading to see the Batu Caves and I heard the girl next to me listening to my church’s worship CD. She was a local and I was amazed that my church’s music had reached so far across the world. We struck up a conversation and she was amazed that I go to attend Elevation Church in person.

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

That would definitely be in Cuba. I randomly met two young Cuban guys and they asked me to come hang out with them. They didn’t speak much English and my Spanish is only intermediate. Also, the wifi in Cuba is very limited. Yet, something about them didn’t make me feel afraid so I actually hung out with them and had an amazing time. We went to this random rooftop spot where they taught me how to dance salsa.

What inspires you to travel more alone?

I enjoy the ability to move at my own pace and explore on my terms. I’m somewhat of an introvert so I need time alone to recharge and operate and my highest level. When I’m on group trips sometimes I start to get really agitated and I shut down. When I’m alone I can truly take in the sights and sounds of a place in my own way. This helps me to appreciate the trip even more.

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

My advice is to do your research on your destination prior to going. Have a general idea of things you want to do and see and then try to stay in an area that’s close by to the majority of them. Also, don’t count out the locals. Sometimes they give the best recommendations.

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

Release (your fears) Grow (as a person). Enjoy (the freedom and time alone).

You can check out DeAnna’s many solo travel trips on Instagram @brokeandabroadlife.

Thanks for reading!

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By Chizoba Anyaoha

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

Learning To Focus And Put Myself First – Lotte Huijsman

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?

Before I left home in January of 2018, I used to work for the Dutch government as a business consultant in HR and procurement. It was a comfortable life and I had a great time with my colleagues. However, I felt that there was more to life than that. Now I am a full-time solo traveler! I do take on freelance writing and editing assignments from time to time. On top of that I write for myself While traveling I also try to make myself useful by doing work exchanges by teaching yoga.

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

More than anything else, solo travel is a journey of personal growth for me. Especially when it is long-term. I have been on the road for about 15 months now. Over that period of time, I have experienced, learned and grown more than I could have ever done while living a more traditional life, in my home country. Solo travel has taught me to let go, get to know myself better, to live more in the present moment, connect to others and to take care of myself.

What inspired you to take your first solo trip?

For many years, I used to travel with my ex-boyfriend. When we broke up, I found it a bit of a challenge to match my interests, budget and availability with that of my friends. Eventually I decided to book a retreat at an ayurvedic center in Sri Lanka. From past experience I already knew most people attend these kind of retreats alone. That made it a more suitable destination for my first solo trip. In the end, retreats are all about focusing on yourself anyway. Something inside of me, assured me that I would be fine. My inner voice was right: it turned out to be an amazing experience that sparked my love for solo travel.

“I have come to realize that the people that I have met have made my journey more memorable, than any destination out there ever could.”

Favorite International Meal?

I am obsessed with Indian food. In a few months I will be back in India and I cannot wait to have good dahl (lentil curry), palak paneer (spinach curry with cheese) and butter chicken again.

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

After so many months of solo travel, it is hard to pick just one experience. Some of the highlights are definitely the first yoga class I took in India, seeing orangutans on a jungle trek in Indonesia, getting my massage certificate in Thailand, learning salsa in Cuba and watching the pros surf Hawaii’s gigantic waves.

Solo travel is not just all highlights. Like that time I ended up in an Indonesian hospital with a bad stomach infection (barely anyone spoke English) or when my suitcase got lost at an Indian airport. I have also felt lost and homesick plenty of times. But that is okay, solo travel has taught me that these moments always pass and that I am capable of taking good care of myself.

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

Solo travel keeps surprising me by introducing me to the most amazing people. Somehow, I usually tend to meet people the very moment when I find myself wishing for someone to hang out with. I am currently in New Zealand and I have learned a Moari proverb – “What is the most important thing in the world? The people, the people, the people.” I have come to realize that the people that I have met have made my journey more memorable, than any destination out there ever could.

I have shared good (and bad) times with many people from all over the world. However, I have never befriended so many locals as I did in the south of India. People there are so curious and hospitable and have never felt alone. After several days I was already invited to an engagement party. It was quite the experience: me as a tall, blond girl in a saree and everyone wanting to take a selfie with me. I cannot wait to see my Indian friends again later this year.

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

Solo travel is a bit of a risk in itself. I believe in the good in people – without being naive or reckless. That has worked out pretty well so far. Looking back, some situations might sound risky. Like when I got on a motorbike (no helmets in India) with a guy I had only met once, going horse-back riding through the mud in Cuba right after a cyclone and going out by myself to dance salsa in Colombia. I trust my gut feeling in situations like these. It has never let me down.

What inspires you to travel more alone?

My own curiosity keeps on leading me to new travel destinations. I am intrigued by other cultures and nature never ceases to amaze me. The world is soo big and there is so much to explore! So far, solo travel has been such a rewarding experience. It inspires me to keep on going.

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

It is better to have regrets about what you did do than about what you did not do. If solo travel is on your mind: go for it! There is only one way to find out if it suits you. I have never met a single person who went on a solo trip and hated it. If it makes you nervous to book anything; pretend to be booking it for a person that is dear to you. Arrange the bare necessities such as a visa, vaccinations and your first accommodation. Outside of that, I would recommend leaving as much room as possible for chance encounters and unexpected adventures. You will be positively surprised.

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


Meditate. Meet. Move.

Thanks for reading!

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By Chizoba Anyaoha

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

How to Start a Travel Journal for Solo Travelers

Why start writing a travel journal as a solo traveler you ask?

As solo travelers, we experience so much on our own and are free to do whatever we please. But sometimes it is hard to share your story with family and friends in a more digestible way, especially if you do not have someone to back it up.

Starting a travel journal is a good way to write about the many adventures we take and share it with others. You can have a place to write about your stories, cultures and customs you experience, observations, and a way to remember your travels and reflect on them down the road.

Know your reasoning for writing

Ask yourself what is the journal really for — It is a personal account of your travel experience to reminisce later on? Looking to share your experience with your family and friends? Or a mixture of both? This will help you understand what style and tone of voice you want to use, what to add in and leave out.


Think of what you want to include

When starting to write a travel journal consider adding your itinerary, intended routes to explore, people you have met throughout your journey, favorite meals, best areas, surreal moments, new experiences, the good, bad and ugly, photos and captions for each. Be opened to writing about the sounds you hear, the food you taste, things you smell, your intuitions, & the vibes you get.

Get something on paper ASAP

While you are experiencing new things, while traveling alone, you may not have time to write full paragraphs about your journey right in the moment. Jot down a few words to help you remember your thoughts as they come.

Choosing when to write

Writing, as you move from point A to point B, is the best because you have idle time to observe and write while you wait to arrive at your destination. Grab a seat, either on the train, bus or taxi — another option is to find a nice cafe or restaurant to enjoy a meal and write after. Start writing about everything that comes to mind!

Date your entries

Make sure to add dates for each new writing entries, to help you distinguish on one day to the other.


YOU control the narrative

Travel is about living in the moment and is the most important part of your journey. Don’t feel pressured to have to write about everything. We all have those experiences we know will never be forgotten. You control what you feel or don’t feel like writing about. We are all the writer of our own story!

Enjoy yourself and writing

Focus on having the time of your life. You are going to do exciting things and writing about your experience should be too! It may feel like a chore sometimes so try thinking of ways to to make it more enjoyable, like shortening your writing entries to a few sentences or writing when you feel inspired to.

Thanks for reading! Create your travel journal with us by signing up when we are ready to fly off!

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By Chizoba Anyaoha

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

Moneyless, Homeless and Making Travel Happen – Michael Blaney

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?

I tend to change jobs like most folks change their pants. Usually I’m in a restaurant cooking or bartending but I find myself in hostels from time to time. Recently I’ve been doing more catering work and a little acting as well. I tend to get itchy feet after being too long in one place so I see my way out pretty quickly.

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

Freedom. Possibility. Adventure. There are a few better feelings than arriving to a new country where you know no one and everything feels like it could happen at any moment; it is life in HD. Everything feels new, intense, and you can do whatever the hell you want. Nothing like it!

What inspired you to take your first solo trip?

I grew up being told travel and adventure stories. My dad used to tell my brothers and I about his misadventures during his solo bike tour through the Southwest US, my favorite high school teacher would share his tales of hitchhiking through Ethiopia, Palestine, and the United States. It was always so alluring that I wanted to have these kind of awesome adventures of my own. I remember noticing that people who traveled and came back seemed different; it was the way they lived and looked at the world. I wanted to be like that when I got older too.

After my first time overseas visiting family in South Korea, I was hooked! All I wanted to do was travel and I wanted to do it on my own terms. Years later when I was old enough and had just ended a 5 years relationship, I immediately bought my first one way ticket to Paris.

Favorite International Dish?

Being a chef I could go forever back and forth about what international meal might be my favorite so for the sake of everyone involved I’m just going to go with the first one that popped in my head: Bacalhau Com Natas. It is a Portuguese dish of salt cod baked in a rich cream sauce with potatoes, onion, and a boatload of garlic. It’s incredibly decadent but you can never seem to get enough no matter how full you are. I learned to make this from my ex after a day of hiking and we ate the entire pan that should have fed six – it’s that good.

What was the most memorable and/or let down experience you had while traveling?

Running out of money and accidentally moving to Portugal is pretty up there for me. A few months into my first jaunt in Europe, my bank deactivated my card because I had completely neglected to notify them of my travel plans. I was on my way from Ireland to Portugal so I arranged for my brother to send my replacement card to me in Lisbon. Now stuck with only the cash in my wallet before my card was sucked into a Dublin ATM, I was left with six Euros and about two weeks until my card came to Lisbon.

I landed in Lisbon on Thanksgiving day. My feast that year would be some pastries and bread I had found in a dumpster, eaten in the rain. A few more cold nights went by sleeping on the street and eating what I could find when I realized I’d have to make a better plan than this. I went to a few hostels explaining my situation to see who would trust me to pay them, when my card finally came in. Eventually one hotel receptionist, after giving me what felt like the first hot coffee I’d had in forever, told me not to worry and it will be figured it out. A few months later, I found was still in Lisbon working at the hostel and dating the receptionist. We lived together until I left over half a year later to continue my travels. It is hard to describe what it feels like to show up to a country not knowing anyone, nor the language or culture. Then depart later, leaving behind new friends, lovers, and a place that had become home.

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

I spent a month and a half in Busan, South Korea working as the cook for a language exchange cafe. When I was set to leave, I decided that my goodbye party would go like this: eat some great food, barhop until all were sufficiently wasted, and climb a mountain to watch the sunrise over the sea. While sitting in a tree up on the mountain, watching the sun come up completely plastered with a bunch of strangers from all over the world 40 something days ago, I felt such joy, love, and belonging among these friends-turned-family. I have yet to see a prettier sunrise.

What’s the biggest risk you have taken on a trip?

Probably running out of money a million times and just leaving with little traveling cash. It feels apocalyptic the first few times but eventually you get used to it. You learn to survive and trust that things will eventually work out. You find somewhere to work in exchange for room and board and after some time paid work seems to come on by. It’s a little uncanny how serendipitous it can all come together.

What inspires you to travel more alone?

I get little travel pangs daily. This little restless feeling, mixed with an insatiable curiosity. It is an ever present desire to move and explore. I’ll just be going about my day and find myself making mental notes about flights to look up, & places I need to go that I haven’t thought about in a while. I’m still not sure if it is something you can get out of your system or if each trip just makes you more restless. I’ve found that so far it is the latter.

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

It may seem cliché but just fucking do it and you’ll be fine. If you’re afraid of being on your own it’s probably exactly what you need to do. You’ll make friends and it is amazing to discover that the people you needed to meet seem to come your way. You’ll also learn to stare down loneliness and work with it. All the emotional, mental, spiritual shit that has been hiding beneath your routines, distractions, and comforts back home will come up in a big way and force you to deal with them.

You’ll have a lot of shitty days, mishaps, and the occasional disaster or breakdown, but you’ll learn to become stronger for it. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to become some enlightened Buddha figure because you went backpacking, all your problems won’t be solved by your new worldly perspective, but you will grow, you will meet some amazing people, build some beautiful friendships, and you’ll have an absolute blast doing all this.

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

Learned. Lost. Looking.

Thanks for reading!

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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?!


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By Flose Boursiquot

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

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?


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??



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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By 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

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By Chizoba Anyaoha

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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.

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By Cait Sarazin & Chizoba Anyaoha

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