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Female Traveler

Advice Solo Travel Travel Health & Wellness

5 Ways To Get Over Your Fear Of Solo Travel

Have you ever lusted over photos of people traveling around the world? Have you noticed the huge boom of people (not just millennials) transitioning their jobs and lifestyles to lead a more remote life? It may seem impossible to do, but it’s not as intimidating as you may think.

I’ve known for the last 15+ years of my life that I wanted to see the world. But, let’s be realistic… does anyone in their late teens/early 20’s think to themselves; I’m going to go by myself across the world and just see what happens. Actually, I’m sure that a ton of people do. But they’re much braver than most people are, myself included.  

Being a solo female traveler specifically can seem a little daunting, especially if you’ve read some of the horrific stories spiraling around the web these days. But on the flip side, there are also SO many wonderful stories of solo travel, for both men and women.

It’s all about having some basic street smarts, and a whole lot of open mindedness.

Personally, I never thought I would enjoy traveling solo. When I was younger, I never enjoyed doing things by myself. I was always the person who was surrounded by friends and entertainment.

In addition to that, I was always more quiet around new people. I always listened much more than I spoke (which is still true for the most part) and was talked over by many people in my life.

I hated being alone for the majority of my pre-teens until I was about 22 years old. That’s a really longtime to not be able to enjoy your own company, let alone to not even truly know yourself.

I remember actually having to force myself to do things alone, and it felt a little unfamiliar.Eventually, I grew to love it. More than love, I grew to crave it. I feel drained when I socialize too much and don’t have enough time for myself.

I think of myself as being an extroverted introvert. I am fully capable of being extroverted and communicating with people and socializing, but I also crave the days where you wander aimlessly just to explore on your own with no one else but yourself experiencing the moment.

I quickly learned that meeting people is no problem at all, in fact, I actually had to purposefully set time aside for myself because I had met so many fun, interesting people that I barely had any time otherwise!

These are a few sure fire ways to meet people traveling solo just like yourself…

Join A Walking Tour

Not only is this a great (and often free) way to get your bearings in a new city, but the nature of walking tours lends to easy conversation. Stopping for a group meal or drink also presents a great opportunity to socialize. 

Sign Up For An Organized Group Travel Tour

From day trips to multi-day adventures, small-group tours offer travel experiences that you aren’t able to access as an independent traveler, as well as an opportunity to form friendships — that can be lifelong — with the people you share the journey with. There are lots of highly affordable options, where you can choose your age group to travel with, well as your own custom tour of where you want to go.

Participate In A Few Touristy/Group Activities – Bar Crawls, Surfing, Yoga, Etc.

You may be able to find some fun group activities through social media, but also checkout what your hostel is hosting. A lot of times hostels will have sort of a community board or a big schedule where they arrange a day of surfing for everyone at the hostel, or a bar crawl throughout the town. It’s a really fun way to meet people and feel comfortable knowing that everyone will end up back at the same place.

Connect Online

There are now loads of apps designed to help travelers connect on the road. Tripr and Meetup help you meet people ahead of time who will be traveling to the same destinations. The Meetup community has almost 30 million members in 184 countries, so there’s a decent chance there will be an event of interest during your visit. EatWith allows you to attend a dinner party hosted by a local chef and can help you find and connect with other travelers willing to share advice, meet up or host you.

Stay In A Hostel

Look for hostels that have a cool shared space, as these can be great places to meet other travelers over a beer, while cooking meals or simply hanging out. Using apps and websites are great ways to find cheap hostels with photos and reviews!

Remember…magic happens outside of your comfort zone.


The Secret Lives Of Tan Lines: One Woman’s Story Of Finding An Adventurous Life

My eyes roam over the skin browned from months of sun and starkly patterned with tan lines around the shoulders. I’m standing in front of a mirror and I’m not sure if it’s my reflection that I’m looking at, so I stare for another minute. I wonder how I feel about it. I’ve been on the road with my partner in crime for 6 months and so much is different now, even this shade of tan that I’ve never been and don’t quite recognize.

When I was a little girl growing up in Malaysia, I remember being scolded for playing in the sun. I couldn’t help it, I loved the waters and roller skating. I loved handball. I loved running around the playground for no reason at all. But whenever my skin turned darker from being outside, everyone would comment on it. If I ever had a fall, everyone would worry about whether it’d leave a scar. I understood those intonations then- that darker, marked skin was somehow frowned upon, and that fairer, smoother skin was favored, maybe even loved.

As a very shy little girl, I absorbed those messages quickly and my introverted soul pulled me indoors. I loved on my books, my dolls and my computer games. I stopped cycling after a big fall and hated cycling ever since. I hid away my skates and I don’t remember ever climbing a tree. I never went outside ‘just to play’ and heaven forbid that I ever got a ‘tan’ – I didn’t even understand that word.

But life has a way of teaching great lessons. I moved away from home to Australia in pursuit of higher education, which I had thought at the time was a degree in Psychology. As I adapted to a new culture, I started to see that life was much bigger than my reality.

Here in Australia, going to the beach for a tan was the topic of the season, outdoorsy girls were viewed as fun and if you ever broke a bone (and survived with a scar), you were revelled as a superhero.

First, I was amused, then confused, before I became very curious. I started going to the beach. I said yes to rock climbing. Sometimes I lied on a big open lawn just because. Before I knew it, I found myself spending less time in the shadows and more time in the sun, wondering what else was out there in the world. It started to occur to me that my higher education came from outside the lecture halls.

New dreams came to me slowly at first, then all at once. Initially, all I wanted to do was to lie in a park with a book in my hands. Then I wanted to hike. I wanted to dive. I wanted to learn new languages so that I can speak to people from different countries. I wanted to cycle around a city in those different countries even if it meant falling and getting scars.

And sometimes, I wanted to be outside – just to get a tan. Imagine that.

Gosh, how I wanted to see the world. Yes, I wanted to see the world! I wanted to see her round edges and sharp curves. I wanted to see how others lived and how tall mountains can be. I wanted to see all different kinds of animal and every shade of blue. I wanted to be stuck somewhere so rural that I’d wonder what I’d have for dinner but be able to stand there and say, “Wow, isn’t this amazing?”

So, here I am. 6 months living out of a backpack with my husband and changing homes every few days. I didn’t meet another Malaysian backpacker all through the way.

The journey wasn’t easy – there were sick nights, sick weeks, intense loneliness, terrible foods, vividly scary moments and bus rides so long they generated more sick nights. But what we got in return were life changing.

We saw the remains of ancient civilizations and corkscrew-like skyscrapers. We saw the edges of seas and curves of multi-colored mountains, some which we even hiked amidst hail storms. We drove through the highlands where guanacos fed and fought. We swam with penguins, sea lions and sharks. We sailed the seas where orcas dived around us. Once, we were in the middle of a Bolivian desert poking at our meat, wondering what it was, but woke up the next morning to watch every shade of blue turn into light as the sun rose over the Uyuni salt flats. We were ‘seeing the world’. I, was seeing the world.

It’s almost hard to believe who I’ve become. Now I’m the one who says, ‘let’s go!’ when I see a wall of rocks we could climb. The one who looks for ways to jump into the water from a cliffside. The one who shoves hiking maps under my husband’s nose. The one who is looking for our next dive spot, even if diving took me some time to warm up to. The one who tepidly suggests something crazy but secretly hopes that others would say yes so that I have partners in crime.

I still hate cycling and maybe that will never change. I have new loves though. I love the jungles that call to me and the night skies that blink at me. I love the deep seas that throw me and snow-capped mountains that envelope me. I’m madly in love with wild animals because they know my soul in a way that I don’t. I can’t even recall how all of that happened, how I’ve changed. Was it like my dreams- did it happen slowly then all at once?

Here I am with this tan now that’s my badge of honor – my proof that the last 6 months was real. Proof and reminder that somewhere along my life, I made a choice and I chose myself.

I went and walked on Incan ruins, drove the dessert of Dali, swam in seas with sharks and climbed the mountains of condors. Whilst I didn’t stop being scared, I started being brave.

So, I can only I smile as I trace my tan lines – a secret map of where I’ve been and who I’ve become. I feel strangely proud of how brown I am. I suppose this is one of life’s many great lessons; realizing that how I look and what I do doesn’t determine if others love me. Others will love me for who I am, once I love myself first.

Advice Journal

How To Be A Millennial But NOT Travel Like One

Wanderlust is more than a trend. We are a rising generation of young globe trotters who are growing up with a greater global perspective than most of our predecessors. We’ve seen more places than most people get to see in their whole life time, and for some of us (myself included) the number of countries we’ve traveled to exceeds our age.

But let’s not let that get to our heads. Let’s be mindful of the extravagant privilege we have, let’s not take for granted how easily accessible the world is today, and less steward this opportunity well.

Here’s how to be a millennial, but not travel like one!

Be Present, Don’t Post

For real, put the phone down. Your followers don’t need to follow you here. Let your trips and travels be for you, not for likes and comments and attention. This doesn’t mean don’t take photos, you definitely should take pictures and videos so to commemorate the trip and remember it for years, but I challenge you to not post until you’re home.

If you can’t manage that, or your mom demanded that you post at least once every few days to let her know you’re alive, don’t you DARE scroll through the feed of other people’s posts!

I guarantee you, there is nothing happening back at home that is more exciting than where you are right now. It took a lot to get where you are, you invested time and money into this trip, don’t dismiss this opportunity to truly leave home behind and embrace this new part of the world, this new reality.

Everything happening to everyone back at home will still be there when you return. Be where your feet are. Don’t let social media rob you from fully experiencing a place or enjoying a trip. Choose to be present over posting.

Ask Locals, Not Google

If you ask Google or Siri where you should get dinner in Rome, you’re not going to be directed to the best food.

We all know about the power of digital marketing nowadays, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that SEO (search-engine optimization) and paid ads are causing the money-making businesses to come up first in our online searches. I hate to say it, but these places are not the ones with the best food. You’re far better off asking a local.

Ask your Uber driver where to drop you off at their favorite restaurant. Find someone on the street and ask them to point you towards the best street food. Go into a local business and ask the worker where all the locals hang out.

You’re guaranteed the most ethnic food and exciting experience, plus it will most likely be less busy than the ‘tourist trap’ restaurants that show up online.

Take Advantage Of Your Youth

Do it all. Even if (especially if!) it scares you. From experiences to food to adventures to cultural traditions, just do it all.

Try the paragliding in the Swiss alps, sleep in a hostel and meet other travelers from countries far and wide, do the advanced hike for the best view, taste the street foods that you see all the locals eating, and most importantly: walk! Avoid Uber and taxi as much as you can. The best way to explore a new place and feel like a local, is to travel by foot. There will come a day when you aren’t as mobile, aren’t as daring, and aren’t capable to do all the things you can do right now while you’re young. So just. do. it.

Be Considerate

It’s up to us to preserve places for generations to come. By being a considerate traveler,  keeping the natural wonders natural and free from litter, respecting the reverent sites that hold ancient history, and contributing to the efforts that are in place to conserve them, we can give generations beneath us the chance to enjoy them as much as we have.

Take Home More Than You Left With- And I’m Not Talking Souvenirs

Go out into the world on all your endeavors with an open mind and receptive spirit. Go with the intentions of learning, growing, abolishing stereotypes, and overcoming bias. Press into the things that are different from what you know, lean into things that are outside your comfort zone, and really foster the chance to come home with a broadened perspective.

Take this mindfulness with you back to your home town, back to your university, back to your office, back to your family and friends. Let’s be the generation that makes empathy and inclusivity the norm.