1. Why did you choose to be a solo female traveller?
I actually didn’t want to be a solo female traveller. When I decided to take a career break I wanted my boyfriend of 5 years to come with me. After a year of trying to bully/cajole/beg my boyfriend to come with me, I realised it wasn’t his dream. We broke up at the airport before I went through security.
2. Tell us about your first solo trip. Where did you go? What were your challenges/reward?
My first solo trip was long before I left for my career break. I was changing jobs and felt a little burnt out so I decided to go to London and Italy for ten days before starting my new job. None of my friends had vacation time so I went on my own and loved it.
When I decided to take the career break and travel for a year or two on my own I was petrified. But I wanted to travel and as scary as it was to go out on my own the fear of missing out on life and travel was greater. Solo travel can be lonely at times but it also instils such a sense of accomplishment and independence.
3. What destination was the most challenging? Why?
I don’t think there are any destinations that are uniquely challenging to solo travel. It would be nice to have someone to travel with in Europe or New Zealand to split the cost of a hotel room.
4. As a solo female traveller have you been in a situation where you felt unsafe? What did you do?
Although I spent 18 months travelling in Latin America and continue to travel it solo I actually find I am safer as a female travelling alone. Because I’m not with someone speaking English locals help me out. I’ve been at bus stations at night where old women will wave me over to speak to them and bus drivers will take me to a cab they know is safe. Those things would not happen if I were speaking English with another person.
5. How do you handle the curiosity/stares/leers/advances from local men when you travel?
As a foreigner, I think you get a lot of stares from everyone, not just men. To avoid unnecessary attention I do watch what women wear. For example, in Central America, it’s not usual to see a woman wearing a tight top bearing lots of cleavage, but with jeans. I like to say that boobs are okay but knees are not. It varies from country to country.
But honestly, it bothers me that there is a stereotype that women need to be careful in Latin America because men will rape them. Yes in Central America men will whistle at you but I never had one invade my personal space or approach me in a dangerous way. When you travel you need to understand there are different cultural norms and yes a man whistling at you is annoying but it doesn’t mean he is trying to scare or harm you.
6. Solo female travel has come under fire recently if you had everyone’s attention, what is the one thing you would tell them about being a solo female traveller?
My personal perspective is that solo female travel is no different than solo male travel. You need to trust your gut and be aware but every form of travel has its dangers and terrible things have happened to groups, couples and solo travellers. It is unfortunate that we focus on solo travel as the issue when it is simply that no matter where you are, home or abroad, something may happen to you.
7. Have you ever been sick or injured while travelling? What did you do?
I haven’t been injured but I have been sick from time to time. The best thing to do is get a private hotel room with your own bathroom until you get better. I prefer to be sick and alone – preferably with wifi and cable.
8. What is the BEST thing about being a solo female traveller?
The best thing about solo travel, male or female is that when you travel solo you attract other solo travellers and you meet far more people than if you were travelling with anyone else.
9. What should EVERY girl pack before travelling the world solo?
A journal to document the independence of travelling on your own.
10. How do you treat yourself (create a special ‘me’ day) when you’re travelling?
Spa treatment with a pedicure. Flips flop really do a number on your feet.
11. Name one guilty travel pleasure/indulgence you have.
I travel with a hair dryer. It is a small compact one but I hate waiting for my hair to dry.