Kelly Started Traveling When She Was 23 And Has Been To 35 Countries And Counting
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GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

21st Jul | 6 min read

Table of Contents

    Kelly is an avid solo traveler from New York City. She loves to travel the world and has lived in Seoul, South Korea, Vietnam, and London. You can get the inside scoop on all of her latest shenanigans at Girl with the Passport

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    What Inspired Me To Start Traveling Solo And Why I Continue To Do It

    I first started traveling solo because I got tired of waiting around for other people to do the things that I wanted to do. I felt like if I didn’t go it alone, I’d spend my entire life waiting and missing out on a ton of amazing things. And so, at the age of 23, I moved to South Korea and started traveling alone through Asia. 

    And I’ve been doing it ever since because I love the freedom it affords me. I can do what I want, eat what I want, and see what I want whenever I like - no discussion necessary. I am also more open to meeting new people because I’m alone and need to look outside the world for companionship. 

    Before the Pandemic, I Was a Digital Nomad

    Before the pandemic, I was a digital nomad. So, I was always traveling, but on a more long-term basis, since I was working remotely. Therefore, I’d usually spend between one to three months in a given country. And while I was there, I would do everything, including white water rafting, visiting local museums, ziplining, visiting local cafes, visiting local temples, trying local cuisine, and more!

    How I Choose & Prepare for My Next Travel Destination 

    Because I work for myself, I have a lot of flexibility built-in to my travel schedule. Therefore, I generally choose my travel destinations based upon when I can get the cheapest airfares. So, how long I stay and where I go really depend on flight and hotel costs. I also try to prioritize traveling to places that I haven’t been before whenever possible. 

    Once I decide on a location, I like to research safety concerns to help me determine if this is a place that I can safely travel to as a woman on my own. If so, I’ll then look into local customs and ask other travelers about issues they face to blend in and be prepared for anything that arises. I’ll also look into top sites and must-see places so that I don’t miss out on anything during my trip. 

    How I Pack and Must-Haves I Carry When I Travel

    I never check-in a bag and always use a small backpack that I can bring on the plane with me. This just makes my luggage easier to carry and helps me avoid any excess baggage fees or issues with lost luggage. 

    I always like to pack a power bank, an international adaptor, a collapsible water bottle, and an inflatable neck pillow in terms of travel must-haves. I also like to buy a local sim card for my cell phone and typically pack comfortable black leggings and neutral-colored tops so I can easily layer my outfits while traveling. 

    Safety Precautions I Take When I Travel Solo

    When I travel solo, I always try to let someone at the hotel/hostel front desk know where I am so that if something happens, they know that I’m missing. I also practice constant vigilance and try not to stay out late at night on my own. 

    I also never carry all of my cash/credit cards with me at any given time. Instead, I only bring what I need for the day and then leave the rest of my valuables back in the safe at my hotel. I also try to limit the number of valuables I bring with me on any trip. This way, if something does get stolen, it’s not a huge deal. 

    I’ve Visited 35 Different Countries and Enjoy Hidden Gems

    So far, I’ve visited 35 different countries and enjoy traveling to hidden gems as well as more touristy spots so that I can enjoy iconic world attractions. I also have many fond memories of meeting locals in rural China. I actually met a chef from France and a dancer from Argentina and the three of us met up with some locals one night and attended a party in their house. It was a fun and fascinating experience that was made even better by the fact that no one spoke English. But, the experience gave us a real insight into what local life was really like there. 

    My Favorite Travel Apps & Websites

    I like to use Skyscanner to book flights, app to book hotels, and Google maps to help me get around for solo trips.  

    What Inspired Me To Start My Blog 'Girl With the Passport'

    I started my blog after my mom died of ovarian cancer without realizing her dream of traveling to Rome. I saw the despair and regret in her eyes and didn’t want that to happen to anyone else. And so, the Girl with the Passport was born. I strive to help other solo travelers let go of their fear of solo travel by giving them insider tips on how they can travel better and smarter.

    Some Cool Solo Travel Stories

    There are so many since I always get into the funniest situations when I travel alone. One of my favorites, though, was when I was at the airport in Barcelona and accidentally left the airport about 30 minutes before my flight was set to depart. I had accidentally followed the wrong sign and then had to race through security and the airport to get to my departure gate. 

    Thankfully, though, I made the flight just in time and everything worked out. 

    The Challenges That Prevent Me From Traveling More

    I think the biggest challenge for me is money. I work in the travel industry and so this last year was a bit of a challenge. I also find that solo trips can be a bit more expensive since you don’t have anyone to split the hotels' costs. But if I had unlimited funds, I’d definitely travel as much as humanly possible. 

    My Advice to New Solo Female Travelers

    Just do it. Yes, you’ll probably be nervous and uncomfortable at times. But it’s so worth it. It’s also not something you can ever fully prepare for. So, my advice would be to just do it and see if you like it. 

    I know I’ve learned so much about myself and others from solo travel that I don’t know how I would travel any other way. But even if it’s not for you, it’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should try at least once in their lives.  

    Other cool travel stories you might enjoy!

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