Single Woman Travels! (SWT) is a place to inspire and motivate women (and men) around the world to travel. She did What?! is a monthly series of Q&A – asking women around the world to share their past travel experience. From this, I hope a few more women who are on the brink of expanding their world will be inspired and motivated to turn their dreams into reality.
Bio… Christine Belanger or @chomba on Twitter. I am a Graphic Designer living in Toronto, Canada.
SWT: Where was the destination of your first solo trip?
CB: England, with a stopover in Iceland.
SWT: How old were you?
SWT: Were you single or attached at the time?
CB: I was attached, but the flight was booked before we met. It was a very new relationship, and he was unwilling/unable to make the trip.
SWT: What inspired the idea?
CB: In 2009, I had a knee injury that had kept me from traveling for a few years, but after surgery in the summer of 2010, I was ready for adventure! During this time I had come across this piece of paper with predictions from a psychic reading I had had years ago. (This psychic had mentioned that I had a past life in Glastonbury, England in the Victorian era.) I Googled the city name, and whether I had a past life there or not, this small town was ridiculously fascinating!! It was tiny little English town that had a huge history with the Christian church as well as the Pagan faith, and they lived side-by-side. The ruins of the oldest known Christian church was built here, but i also was the home of many ancient sacred Pagan sites. Most people travel to this small town on a spiritual pilgrimage. I was currently in a spiritual transition as well, so this place fascinated me beyond belief.
SWT: What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)
CB: The cheap flight happened before anything else. I just booked it on a whim! I originally tired finding tour groups, or meeting up with family/friends as part of it, but most of this didn’t work out. This by default ended up being a solo trip, and meeting up with my cousin at the tail end of it.
SWT: What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)
CB: I stayed mostly at small town B&Bs, single hostel rooms, hotel rooms or my cousin’s living room.
SWT: How long was your trip?
CB: 10 days
SWT: Who looked after the logistics?
CB: That would be me.
SWT: If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?
CB: I was freaking out! People weren’t responding, I couldn’t find information online from England that I needed… at the last minute, the man that I was seeing at the time showed up with a book called “Europe on a shoestring” that he had purchased as a present. He had backpacked around India before, and the shoestring series had been his trusted companion. With this book, I had maps, listings, phone numbers, reviews, historical references, etc. It was my saving grace.
SWT: If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?
SWT: Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?
SWT: What would you do different – in hindsight?
CB: I wouldn’t have depended on meeting up with people so much, and just built a plan on my own earlier on. I would have booked more hotel nights in advance to save on the stress of not knowing where I would be staying the next night.
SWT: Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?
CB: I had moments where I was very nervous, yes. But overall, I felt very safe where I was traveling.
SWT: How much research did you do in advance?
CB: Quite a bit on the internet, but like I said, the book “Europe on a Shoestring” was my saving grace. It was a challenge to get the info I needed for touring certain parts of England until I was there.
SWT: What was the biggest surprise on the trip?
CB: Good surprises: How wonderful my sense of direction is. How many people were curious by me and wanted to chat with me. Bad surprise: Bed bugs.
SWT: What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?
CB: You surprise yourself with how strong you really are when you travel on your own. You return feeling completely empowered and smiling from your adventures.
SWT: Was there any close calls or run-ins?
SWT: Where is your next dream destination?
CB: Volunteer work in Central America.
Next time, we’ll hear from Christine again on why she chose to travel on her own…
If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂