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 second solo trip?
CB: Belize and Guatemala.
SWT: How old were you?
SWT: Were you single or attached at the time?
SWT: What inspired the idea?
CB: I love to volunteer travel, and I signed up for 10 days of volunteering in a small Mayan village in the mountains of Guatemala. The flight prices surprised me when I was looking to fly to Guatemala around Christmas. I found a much cheaper flight to Belize and decided to travel down and see many sites along the way.
SWT: What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)
CB: Backpack. (My first time backpacking.)
SWT: What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)
CB: Single rooms in hostels and cheap hotels. (Accommodations were quite inexpensive in Central America) When I was with the volunteer group, we stayed with local families.
SWT: How long was your trip?
CB: 24 days
SWT: Who looked after the logistics?
CB: I did.
SWT: If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?
CB: With my trusted companion of “Central America on a Shoestring”, the entire planning process became incredibly exciting! There wasn’t the time to do everything I wanted!!
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 traveled over the Christmas holiday. Flights are much more expensive and traveling the day before, and on Christmas day can be dangerous in a third world country.
SWT: Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?
CB: Yes and no. Other people who worried for me prior to me leaving made me even more nervous. But when you’re backpacking, and staying at the hostels, you attract travel buddies. It is amazing how fast you buddy up and connect with fellow travelers. You are hardly ever really traveling alone. Luckily I chose single rooms in hostels, and being in backpacker-like hostels made it easier to meet fellow travelers in the common areas.
SWT: How much research did you do in advance?
CB: I did as much as possible and the book helped a lot. I also asked friends who were from there, traveled there, and other backpackers: What do I wear to look like the locals? What are the rules on tipping? What’s the best way to pack when you’re backpacking? etc.
SWT: What was the biggest surprise on the trip?
CB: In Belize: How safe some of the coastal cities were. Guatemala: How everyone is curious about you (as a foreigner) and wants to try to speak to you even though you have minimal Spanish. They want to know everything possible about your foreign country, what you think of their country, etc.
SWT: What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?
CB: Most of my learning came from the volunteer portion. That is another experience unto itself. The local experience was really the best part.
SWT: Was there any close calls or run-ins?
CB: I had an overnight bus that broke down. Although a fancy bus, the situation made me a little nervous. I’ll avoid overnight buses from now on.
SWT: Where is your next dream destination?
CB: Teaching Buddhist monks English in Laos 🙂
Next time, we’ll hear from Doris who chose to travel on her own…
If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂