Lucy Started Solo Traveling As A Way To Escape Her Daily Routine. 6 Years & 40+ Countries Later, And She's Still Going Strong!
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GAFFL connects solo travelers from 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.

17th Jun | 12 min read
“Feeling lonely or homesick can be horrible, but again, it’s a small blip and easily remedied with a phone call home. Long bus rides, exhausting days of travel, food poisoning, and I had a few bus crashes that were pretty rubbish. However, all of the challenges I have faced are what has made me into a strong, resilient and confident woman. I wouldn’t change a thing from the last six years – not even the worst moments – because every experience has made me who I am”.

Lucy is a solo female traveller from the UK who quit a nine-year relationship and her job as a journalist to travel the world. Armed with just her backpack, she left behind all the things the world thought she “ought” to be doing and instead took a year out for adventure. Well, over 40 countries and six years of full-time travel later and it took a pandemic to bring her home!

In addition to solo travelling full time, Lucy is also a travel blogger, photographer, and social media influencer, particularly through her Instagram Stories which allow her followers to really join in on her trips. You can also find Lucy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Why I Became A Solo Traveler

I had always wanted to travel, but I felt I couldn’t after university because I was one of the lucky ones who managed to find a job during the recession. Unfortunately after four years in that role, and as my relationship broke up, I reached burnout level and realized I couldn’t continue down this path. I realized there had to be more to life than just this work-eat-sleep-party-repeat routine. I decided I needed to get away and see the world. I asked one of my best friends to join me on the trip – we had talked about doing this while at university. But she was in a great job and a new relationship that she didn’t want to leave, I realized I could wait six months on the off-chance she changed her mind, or I could just go by myself! The fear of never travelling was far greater than my fear of doing it alone, so I went for it and soon realized how much I love travelling solo. It’s my greatest passion in life and six years on it’s still my favourite way to travel.

I’m Always On The Go

I usually travel or live abroad pretty much full time – just before the pandemic hit I was a few months into a year-long trip through Central & South America. I travel slow and prefer backpacking because it allows me to travel for longer while meeting more people. My style of travel is all about connecting with a place and the people, I have the luxury of working online so it enables me to slow things down and really delve into the culture. I love being active and chasing adventure so anything with an adrenaline rush is high on my list, I love hiking, climbing, and getting out in nature, whether that’s volcano hikes or national parks. I’m huge on camping, road trips, and getting off the beaten track. I love to balance this more active side with relaxing on the beaches, exploring cities, culture and eating ALL the street food. Then dancing the night away with the locals – there are lots of ways to have amazing cultural experiences and I love to embrace all of them!

I’ve Traveled All Over

I’ve visited around 40 countries and these range from tourist hot-spots to entirely off the beaten track – I much prefer to visit less touristy places and hidden gems. However, I also really enjoy visiting a more popular place and finding the quirkier and more unusual side to the place. Less focus on the main attractions and more focus on the people and connecting with the place on a deeper level. 

Most of my best travel memories come from the times when I have been travelling alone and have been invited to join the locals on adventures. These include hiking through the jungle to a secret beach party in Thailand with only the locals, or going fishing in Cambodia and swimming with the phosphorus plankton. There was the night I met a famous local artist in Thailand and was invited to join his family in his gallery where I sat chatting with him while painting with his daughters. There was a random night in Slovenia where I joined a group of locals and went to an underground bar where a local rock band was playing. Or the week I spent in Romania teaching English and getting to know a wonderful group of local people as they shared their culture and traditions. In Mexico, the locals hosted a guacamole-making class with Mezcal and a lot of laughs, before we went salsa dancing for the night. Over in Guatemala, I was blown away by the hospitality of my new Guatemala friends who invited me into their homes, took me for the best local food, and insisted we go dancing. I could tell a thousand more stories like this! Travelling solo really opens you up to meet the most incredible people.

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How I Decide Where To Travel Next

I definitely have a dream bucket list of places I want to visit, but it grows all the time. I think most of all, I really like to explore places that are either off the beaten track, or are considered more challenging for solo female travellers. Or I like to visit places that throw me in the deep end and really give me that culture shock. I love exposing myself to new ideas and new ways of living, to new cultures, languages and customs. Travelling across Asia and Central America have been my favourite trips so far because they really push you out of your comfort zone. Instead of doing shorter solo trips, I try to plan multi-destination longer trips to combine countries, eg. South East Asia or Central America. I find this works better both time and budget-wise for me, plus it’s much more sustainable and environmentally friendly as I can minimise the number of flights I take. So for instance, I would rather travel for a month around Europe and take buses/trains than book several weekend city breaks and fly each time.

When I’ve chosen a destination, I love to research activities and locations I want to visit in a country – key sights and experiences through blogs/websites. Instagram is a great source of ideas and visual inspiration. I normally start a list of places and once it starts to get long, I will organise it into a rough route for a country. I will often look into transport in a country to get an idea of the best methods for travel whether that’s buses or trains, and how long these journeys take – that can help me gauge how many stops I can squeeze into my timeframe. I only usually book the first two nights of accommodation before arriving in the country – but often I will bookmark hostels, Airbnb’s, hotels that I like the look of. Often I will organise partnerships with some before I arrive through my work as a travel blogger. But I like to keep as much spontaneity to my trips as possible so that if I meet people and want to change plans, I can always say yes to opportunities. After all, that’s when the best adventures happen!

How I Pack For My Trips

I’ve become an expert at packing light and yet packing well over the years. Living out of my backpack has really shown me how little I need to be happy and I love a minimal life. The key thing for me is to remember (especially as a woman) that I live differently when I travel compared to at home in the UK. I don’t style my hair or wear lots of make-up and my clothes are often lighter because I’m in hotter countries. I don’t mind wearing the same outfits over again or living in a bikini. For over-packers, these can make a huge difference! 

My must-haves for travel are:

  • My camera/laptop for photographing/writing/editing

  • Worn-in and comfortable hiking boots

  • A pashmina/scarf to keep warm in air-con or long bus rides

  • My Kindle – an entire library of books at my fingertips!

  • Sunscreen!

Safety Precautions That I Take For My Trips

As a solo female traveller – one of the things I hate the most is the fact that women do have to take more precautions than men. However, I don’t believe there is a single country in the world that a woman cannot travel safely. It just takes a little extra care, thought and preparation to make things as safe as possible. Particularly when heading off the beaten track, it’s important to remember that so much of what we see in the media is just fear-mongering and to realise the world isn’t as scary as we might be led to think. 

The key thing to focus on before you travel is research – look into the culture of the country you are visiting, read blogs, watch Youtube videos and ask questions of those who have travelled there. You don’t have to have everything planned out, but always know where you’re going and how to get there – that helps give you a sense of purpose and more confidence. I always make sure I arrive in a new place during daylight and never late at night – I find that even if you’re perfectly safe, it can really colour the way you see a place when it’s dark and you’re more likely to be targeted. Always lock away your valuables when you’re staying in a hostel/hotel etc and only take the minimum of cash out with you (always have a back-up bank card).

Really recommend Thailand (or South East Asia generally), Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Australia and Indonesia for solo female travellers – it’s easy to meet other travellers and the locals are always super friendly and helpful. I found often they would stop to ask if I needed help or directions if they saw me alone. When I was in Thailand, I met several locals who would invite me to join their families for dinner, or would offer to show me around the town, and even visit their homes. The people are so kind, generous and welcoming.

How I Manage My Travel Expenses

I’m a backpacker at heart and always travel on a budget. My budget is a lot more flexible now than when I first started travelling as I work online while I travel. However, I tend to budget around £1,000 per month for food, accommodation and basic living costs no matter where I travel. Then I under-spend in certain places like Asia/South America where the cost of living is lower and overspend in more expensive places like Australia/Europe. However, I also tend to work when I go to places like Australia/New Zealand and take advantage of working holiday visas so I can earn in the country’s currency. I always weigh up the cost of activities and only do them if I really want to, not because “everyone does them”. I love to find free activities as well – often they’re more unique and interesting. I will always choose to stay in cheaper accommodation eg. hostels and to eat street food over fancy dining. I prefer to spend my money on experiences instead.

Things That Prevent Me From Travelling More

Mostly the pandemic at the moment! Other than that, it’s mainly down to cost/time but to be honest, my life is quite flexible. I prioritise travel and I have been lucky that my work is mostly online so it means I can do it from anywhere. I know a lot of people are not so lucky, but it is also a choice that you make. I have sacrificed a lot in order to live a life of travel – I haven’t had a permanent home in over six years, I don’t get to see my family and friends as much as I would like, I don’t have an office or steady employer, I haven’t settled down with a family or kids. But as nice as all that is, it was never for me so although I have sacrificed these things – I’m happy that I have. Prioritising travel is the best decision I ever made.

The biggest challenge in travelling solo would definitely have to be the constant internal battle between knowing you have chosen the best life for you and feeling the pressure of society’s expectations. When you choose full-time travel, the world constantly likes to remind you that you’re “not on schedule”. Other than this, getting sick or injured when you’re travelling solo sucks – but again you find a way to cope and friends will always help out. Feeling lonely or homesick can be horrible, but again, it’s a small blip and easily remedied with a phone call home. Long bus rides, exhausting days of travel, food poisoning, and I had a few bus crashes that were pretty rubbish. However, all of the challenges I have faced are what has made me into a strong, resilient and confident woman. I wouldn’t change a thing from the last six years – not even the worst moments – because every experience has made me who I am.

My Advice To New Solo Travelers  

Just do it. It will be the most transformative and empowering experience of your life. Don’t listen to the haters, ignore the doubters and never take advice from anyone who hasn’t visited the country. Pack half the amount of stuff you think you will need and take extra money instead. Trust your gut and never ever be afraid to say no, or to leave any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Travel on your terms and don’t let manners get in the way of keeping yourself safe at all costs. Most of all, have fun and say yes to life! Don’t let the fear of “what could go wrong” make you miss out on actually LIVING!

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