This Recent College Graduate Chose A Life Of Travel Instead Of Pursuing The “American Dream”
What is GAFFL?

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.

Shalyn is a recent college graduate, but she realized the traditional 9-5 "American Dream" wasn't for her, so she’s been hustling to try to make her digital nomad dreams a reality.
20th Jun | 7 min read

Table of Contents

    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this article, we are featuring Shalyn, an inspiring solo traveler from the United States.

    Shalyn is a recent college graduate, but she realized the traditional 9-5 "American Dream" wasn't for her, so she’s been hustling to try to make her digital nomad dreams a reality. Travel is Shayln’s whole life, and the reason she jumps out of bed every morning is the excitement and prospects of that great big beautiful world out there just waiting to be explored. You can follow along on all of Shalyn’s adventures on her blog and Instagram @shalynvukich.

    Join The GAFFL Newsletter

    Join our subscriber list to receive the best tips on solo travel, helpful travel guides, inspirational travel stories, and more. You can unsubscribe anytime with just one click.


    Why I Solo Travel

    There is so much to see, and if I sit around waiting for someone to come with me, I'll be waiting forever. I'd much rather experience things solo than not experience them at all. Plus, solo travel is the best way to find yourself and really get to know who you are - strengths, weaknesses, the good, bad, and the ugly.

    I Travel Often

    I try to go somewhere once a month, whether it's for 2 weeks or just a long weekend. One of my favorite things to do when I travel solo is to just walk around the city, taking in the sights and people watching. I try to imagine what it would be like to live there, not just be another tourist. I always pop in quirky local shops and cute cafes.

    How I Choose Where To Travel Next

    I have a huge bucket list, and some things are definitely higher on my list than others, so I'm trying to cross off my big-ticket items first. I also look at the weather. Pictures are super important to me, so I don't want to go anywhere during the super rainy season, although that's when you get the best rates - so I try to travel places during shoulder season. My trips can range from a few days to a few weeks; it all depends on how much I want to see in that destination and if I've been there before. Before each trip, I make a super detailed itinerary for each day of the trip. I figure out where and when I want to take photos and what restaurants I want to try in advance.

    Read more: Here's How Kate's Siblings Inspired Her to Travel The World

    How I Pack For My Trips

    Sadly, I am not a light packer. I always bring a giant book bag on the plane with my chargers, laptop, entertainment, and stuff to help me sleep. I usually have trouble sleeping on flights so I always have some movies loaded on my iPad, new songs on my phone, a book to read, and some snacks. I also bring a little suitcase with all my camera gear. Then I usually have a big huge suitcase with all my clothes, makeup, hair products, etc.

    Read more: Here's How Estela Travelled To 40 Countries And Found The Kindest People In The Most Dangerous Places

    Safety Precautions I Take When I Solo Travel

    I think remaining cautious and vigilant is the most important thing any traveler can do, solo or not. I am super protective of my stuff because it seems like theft and pickpocketing is the biggest issue travelers face. If I ever get into a precarious situation, I also have a keychain that will scream insanely loud if you pull the little pinout.

    Read more: Kelly Started Traveling When She Was 23 And Has Been To 35 Countries And Counting

    Countries I’ve Visited So Far

    I have been to 19 countries so far, and that number will increase to at least 21 by the end of the year. I think Spain and Portugal are amazing for solo travel. I felt very safe in both of those countries, and they had a very welcoming atmosphere. I lived with a host family in Spain for four months, and that was absolutely incredible. I never expected to find a second home while traveling, so I'm really grateful for that experience.

    Read more: Here’s How Arimo Spent 777 Days Around The World

    Apps That I Use When I Travel

    I use lots of Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and Google Maps. I do a lot of research on Pinterest and various travel blogs, like The Blonde Abroad.

    Why I Started My Travel Blog

    Ever since I returned from studying abroad in college, I couldn't stop thinking about and talking about my adventures and how badly I wanted to keep making more. I discovered some other female travel blogs, and just knew I had to start one, too. I just like to share my experiences and recommendations so hopefully, it makes the planning process easier for others. I want everyone to fall in love with travel like I have.

    Read more: Here's Why Naomi Dropped Out of University To Travel the World

    How I Manage My Travel Costs

    It depends on the trip. Sometimes I go on an all-inclusive vacation to a beach resort, and it's pretty boujee. Other times I'm eating a piece of bread for every meal and using UberPool. I try to plan my trips as far in advance as I can and figure out how much money I will need. Then, I increase that by 30% just in case there are unforeseen complications or unmissable opportunities.

    Read more: Pam And Her Daughter Alex Are Travel Hackers Who Use Miles & Credit Card Bonuses To Travel The World For Free

    One Of My Coolest Travel Experiences 

    My most surreal travel experience was riding a camel in the Sahara Desert. I grew up always hearing about the magnificence and grandeur of the Sahara, never thinking it was a place you could even go, let alone somewhere I would ever travel to. I'll never forget the feeling of looking out at that vast landscape, the kind of thing I'd only ever seen on postcards and pictures, and just being utterly speechless. It was like an out-of-body experience. If I didn't have so many pictures and videos from that day to prove it happened, I would never believe that I actually lived it. It all felt like a dream.

    Read more: Queenie Started Solo Traveling By Accident Even Though She Has Always Been A Wanderer At Heart

    How I Manage To Work And Travel

    All my work is remote. I do a lot of teaching online, and I can set my own hours.

    Biggest Challenges With Solo Travel

    Lots of people struggle with loneliness or homesickness, but I've always been super independent and self-sufficient, so honestly, those don't affect me much. Feeling safe is probably my biggest challenge because we all know there's safety in numbers, which solo travel strips from you. Other than that, I have to take my own pictures when I travel solo or ask strangers. It's much easier when someone else can help me out.

    Read more: Sheree’s Adventures Winging The World All Started With A Teaching Job In China

    Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Solo Traveling

    I wish I had known how it would make me feel - I would have started sooner! I've definitely learned the importance of picking your head up and noticing your surroundings, both for safety reasons and just enjoyment. When you travel by yourself, you can't just have your nose shoved in your phone. You have to let yourself get lost in the experience and wrapped up in the culture and people.

    New to our blog? Here are some of our inspiring solo female traveler's stories worth checking! 

    Other cool travel stories you might enjoy! 

    Join The GAFFL Newsletter

    Join our subscriber list to receive the best tips on solo travel, helpful travel guides, inspirational travel stories, and more. You can unsubscribe anytime with just one click.