Why I Started Traveling Solo & Why I Love It
I took my first solo trip in 2009 to Dublin, Ireland. I spent years dreaming about traveling and found out about a program called Students Working Abroad (SWAP) through my university in my first year. I wasn’t loving university, so I decided to take a gap year and move to Dublin!
That trip changed everything for me. It opened my eyes to the world of backpacking and normalized solo travel for me once I saw so many other people doing it. After that year, I was hooked on the feeling of solo travel and haven’t looked back since.
Crossing borders, meeting new people, learning languages, trying new goods, navigating a new transport system - it's all so addictive!
Even though I travel solo 99% of the time, I always end up meeting other locals and travelers during my trips and doing activities with them - you are very rarely alone, even when you’re traveling solo. My favorite things to do when I travel are outdoor adventures - whether that’s hiking, diving, or looking for wildlife.
How I Choose Where To Travel Next
I want to visit every country in the world, so I’m not too picky about where I go next as long as I’m traveling. It’s often based on where the cheapest flight is! I’m a full-time traveler and digital nomad, so I typically spend 2-3 months in one location and then take shorter trips around the region while I’m living there.
Honestly, I don’t spend much time planning my trips these days other than booking accommodation for the first few days and looking up the best nature activities. It’s become second nature to me and I realized over time if you leave yourself open exciting things will come your way!
How I Pack For My Trips
I live out of a 40L bag, so my wardrobe doesn’t change much throughout the year. Some of my must-have items are my giant portable battery for charging all my electronics, hiking boots, a kindle e-reader, and a reusable water bottle.
One of My Favorite Travel Moments Was a Chance Encounter With a Local
So many wonderful memories! When I was traveling solo in Africa, I was traveling overland from Malawi to Zambia. I was taking public transit and feeling somewhat nervous but met a local from Malawi in one of the shared taxis.
He helped me navigate the border crossing and then ended up traveling with me to my destination in Zambia, even though it was past where he was originally going. He just wanted to make sure I got there safely and show me some places along the way. People tend to think the world is this scary, dangerous place but the lesson I learn time and time again is that people are kind!
Why I Started My Travel Blog
I started my blog in 2018 to document my round-the-world backpacking trip and share it with my family and friends. At the time, I didn’t realize you could actually make a living from travel blogging!
Now, it’s grown from a diary of my travels to a helpful resource that people can use to plan their trips and get information on how to live a life off full-time travel and be a digital nomad.
In 5 years I see it growing into an even bigger resource on these topics. One of my biggest challenges right now is not having enough time to write all the content I want to have on my website, so I’ve got some big plans for how it will look in the future.
Challenges I Have Encountered While Traveling Solo
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is other cultures not being used to women traveling alone. Sometimes men can be quite pushy if you’re alone (especially if you don’t have a wedding ring). So in some countries, I am very mindful about where I go out alone and will get a guide if I don’t feel safe or just want to avoid unwanted attention. As a general rule, I don’t walk alone at night.
How I’m Able To Fund My Travels
I financed my travel using my savings at first. I started saving as soon as I got my first job out of university. At the time I thought I was saving for a down payment for a house, but I’m so grateful I spent it on travel instead.
Eventually, I started making money from my blog and freelance writing and can now sustain my travels as a content creator which is incredible, but it took a few years to get to this point. I’m very glad I had savings to support me before then.
Savings are a great way to sustain traveling for the short term, but the most sustainable way is to make money online. So many jobs have now gone remote that it’s easier than ever to travel full time while working. Or start your own side hustle - you never know what it will turn into.
Now that I am making enough money online to support my travels I don’t do as much budget travel as in the past, but still love a good money-saving hack! My two biggest ones are using points and miles for flights (travel hacking through credit cards) and housesitting to save money on accommodation. I love animals, so it’s a double win for me to watch someone’s pet and get a free place to stay!
Countries I’ve Traveled To So Far
I’ve been to 60 countries so far! My goal is to visit every country in the world so pretty much every destination is on my bucket list, but one of the biggest ones is going to Antarctica.
How I Manage Work And Travel
It’s a tricky balance to get right and it’s something I am working on all the time. I tend to binge work or travel, so if I’m staying in a place with good WiFi and don’t have a lot of travel coming up, I’ll go into work mode and create a lot of content to schedule out. Then when I’m traveling more intensely or in a place that doesn’t have great WiFi, I can just relax and enjoy myself.
How I think GAFFL Can Help Solo Travelers
One of the main concerns people have about solo travel is that they will be alone, so GAFFL can play a great role in alleviating this by connecting you with new travel friends all over the world before you get there.
My Advice To New Solo Travelers
My main advice would be to just start making steps towards it. So many people get stuck thinking about what-ifs that are probably never going to happen. Make a plan for how you’re going to fund your travels whether that’s finding a remote job or using your savings, pick a destination that’s popular with digital nomads such as Lisbon, Portugal, or Chiang Mai Thailand so that it will be easy for you to meet other people and jump into the lifestyle, and book that ticket! Once you get some initial experience you’ll realize how incredible and easy it is and wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
What I Wish I Had Known When I First Started Solo Traveling
I wish I knew how life-changing it was! Solo travel has helped me gain confidence, make amazing friends all over the world, and open my mind to new perspectives. I have learned so many valuable lessons through traveling the last decade, but one of the biggest things for me is that on the whole, people are kind.
It’s easy to feel depressed reading the news these days and even feel scared of the world. But time and time again, I’ve had complete strangers go out of their way to help me, invite me into their homes, and remind me that no matter where I am, I am never truly alone. The world is full of amazing, kind-hearted people, and I am grateful to travel for that constant reminder that keeps my spirit high.