She did What!?! ~ with Doris

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…    Doris – living in Toronto, Canada.

SWT:    Where was the destination of your second solo trip?

D:        London

SWT:    How old were you?

D:        22

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

D:        Single

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

D:        Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP).

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

D:        Hostel and rent a flat to share with fellow SWAP mates and find work!

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

D:        Stayed in a youth hostel for the first 2 nights and then with 3 other Canadian girls, we rented a flat together.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

D:        2 months

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

D:        If I recall correctly SWAP organized the flight, work visa (VISA holiday maker) and first 2 nights accommodation at hostel.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

D:        SWAP organized the initial contacts and then once I was connected with flatmates we did some day trips together including Brighton Beach, Dicken’s Old Curiosity shop and I also did a few trips on my own including Bath, Leeds Castle, and a ferry from Dover to Calais with train to Paris.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

D:        I have interacted with a few travel agents that are absolute gems.

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

D:        I have booked trips online to Christchurch, New Zealand and San Diego, California with my partner (neither of us is computer savvy and the last trip we used Priceline and saved quite a bit on hotels).

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

D:        N/A

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

D:        Travelling solo was fine provided I had a destination to go to especially to meet up with people.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

D:        I read up the Lonely Planet guidebook.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

D:        N/A

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

D:        In the space of a few minutes I learned about what is important in life (and how easy it is to forget).

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

D:        N/A

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

D:        Nepal, Turkey or Machu Picchu

If you’d like to participate, please message me 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Christine Part 2

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?

CB:        28

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

CB:        Single

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?

CB:        N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

CB:        N/A

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! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Christine

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?

CB:        27

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?

CB:        N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

CB:        Yes

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?

CB:        N/A.

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! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Kristine

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…    Kristine Apostol, Toronto, Canada

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

KA:        California in 2008

SWT:    How old were you?

KA:        29

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

DC:        Married, so I usually go with my husband, but this time I went alone to visit family.

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

KA:        Fun times with family that I haven’t seen and a getaway! I was in a career transition.

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

KA:        Meetup with family/friends.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

KA:        Family-owned.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

KA:        2 weeks

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

KA:        Me…

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

KA:        Yes, definitely. I like planning.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

KA:        N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

KA:        Yes this one, but usually my husband does.

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

KA:        Research more on California and see where I want to go and sights I’d like to see… I just depended on family to take me places… which was still nice.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

KA:        Yes, no big deal.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

KA:        Not much.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

KA:        How much I missed my husband… I never went away solo before except for work trips, but this was different.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

KA:        That I can go alone… and much needed time for myself.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

KA:        Not really, except when family issues were brought up with other family members that I did not really want to do on my vacation.

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

KA:        Europe, Fiji, Spain… and Bahamas is one of my favourites – a feel good vacation – can’t wait to go with my family.

Next time, we’ll hear from Rhona who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Bellarock

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…    Bellarock

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

B:        Solo enough I guess without family – California on a student exchange for a month… Also left Australia to live in the UK at the age of 22 – did that one alone!

SWT:    How old were you?

B:        I was 16

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

B:        NOPE!

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

B:        Small town girl… looking for big things.

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

B:        I was in a group with about 20 other kids from all around Australia – the same age.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

B:        I stayed with a host family.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

B:        A month

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

B:        EF Foundation.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

B:        I do all that stuff now… Yeah, but that’s kind of my job. 🙂

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

B:        Annoying… you’re not a priority… they have many many other clients

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

B:        Yeppers

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

B:        Not a lot… Research and asking friends, family, strangers advice.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

B:        I always seem to – but the road sometimes feels more lonely than unsafe.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

B:        Lots.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

B:        Too many to count… but running into people you know in the most random places.. it’s happened so many times for me on public transport.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

B:        How resilient I am, adventurous, brave and independent I can be.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

B:        Depends on what close calls or run ins you’re talking about…

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

B:        Iceland or a road trip around the USA

Next time, we’ll hear from Kristine who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Alison

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…    Alison Bellaire, Toronto, 21st Century shaman, Future Academy award voter

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

AB:        Toronto

SWT:    How old were you?

AB:        21

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

AB:        Attached

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

AB:        Boredom and curiosity

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

AB:        Shopping

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

AB:        N/A.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

AB:        1 day

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

AB:        I did.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

AB:        N/A

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

AB:        N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

AB:        Yes

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

AB:        I would have bought more things.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

AB:        Yes.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

AB:        Zero

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

AB:        How fast cash runs out.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

AB:        I like expensive things.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

AB:        No.

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

AB:        ?

Next time, we’ll hear from Bee who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Serena

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…    Serena Jaye, Melbourne, Australia – HR at Monash University – This is my dream job! I love working with people 🙂

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

SJ:        Africa and Egypt

SWT:    How old were you?

SJ:        27

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

SJ:        Technically single but as it always happens, I had just met a guy and we were dating for about 3 weeks prior to my departure.

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

SJ:        When I was a child, I used to play with a stone carving of the Sphinx my great grandmother brought home from her trip there years earlier. It was passed down to my grandmother and then me when I was 25. After hearing about the pyramids and the history of them it became my dream holiday. Naturally, my love of the African continent grew the more research I did, so my desire expanded to wanting to do a safari as well.

The dream became a reality when I came into a large sum of money from a work bonus. I had a mortgage at the time and thought this was the last opportunity for me to make this dream a reality!

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

SJ:        I have backpacked around Europe and Asia previously and prefer the rough style of travel. It’s cost effective but I think you get more to the nitty gritty of the country and heart of the people traveling this way. However, being safety conscious I decided to see Egypt and Africa predominantly on low budget tours.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

SJ:        The accommodation was arranged through the tour companies. Mostly hostels or low star hotels.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

SJ:        3 weeks

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

SJ:        I looked after the logistics. I basically wrote down the tourist sites and places I wanted to visit and then reviewed the tours available within my budget and time frame.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

SJ:        I loved this part of the process. It builds excitement for the places you want to see and also opens you up to other places of interest you may not have been aware of. It can however be quite heartbreaking if there is something that logistically you can’t make work in your time frame or budget. For example, something not on a particular tour but everything else is, or tour dates don’t match up, flights are not available when you need them! Then there is the decision making process of what you will have to miss. I usually find there is one of these things on every trip. In Egypt, it was Mount Sinai and Cape Town in Africa.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

SJ:        Once I had a rough idea of my plans, I handed them over to STA Travel. I worked completely via email with a fantastic travel agent who booked everything perfectly for me. She got me some great flight deals and the overall price for flights and tours were well under my budget.

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

SJ:       I have booked other trips myself around Asia and found this to be really easy. I always ensure I research the local transport systems before departing and have a copy of a Lonely Planet handy.

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

SJ:        Nothing – loved everything and met fabulous people!

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

SJ:        I did feel comfortable to be honest. I recall walking through a market in Luxor late at night and feeling completely safe. Sure, the men call out to you and ask to marry you but the attention was not harmful. It was actually quite funny and part of the atmosphere of these places.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

SJ:        I spent about 6 months researching before I left. Reading online and Lonely Planet guides in particular.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

SJ:        Getting sick from the water in Egypt! I managed to go nearly the entire trip without drinking their tap water but one morning, I had an orange juice at my hotel. Little did I know they fill juice with half water there, so within 2 hours, I was sick as a dog and bedridden for 4 days.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

SJ:        I learned that I can do anything. That I can get from A to B alone and without a man. That as long as I have my wits about me and don’t do anything silly, I can enjoy the world and meet new people. Traveling alone for the first time single handily changed how I saw my independence.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

SJ:        When I flew from Egypt to Africa, I flew into Zambia. The Zambian airport was quite small and remote so I organised a transfer from my hotel before I left Australia. As it turns out, my transfer didn’t arrive. Within a few minutes, a lovely local asked me where I needed to go and directed me to another driver who was passing my hotel. I had a moment of panic but generally people do try to help you.

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

SJ:        My next dream holiday is South America. But I think it will be a few years away yet!

Next time, we’ll hear from Alison who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Bela

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…   Bela, I’m in Johannesburg South Africa and I’m a Compliance Officer but I’d rather run an institution for Holistic healing

SWT:     Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

B:          India

SWT:     How old were you?

B:          37

SWT:     Were you single or attached at the time?

B:          I had just asked for a divorce and had a lover ( jaw drop)

SWT:     What inspired the idea?

B:          The need to spiritually understand my connection to all that is Indian

SWT:     What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

B:          Not much of a Back packer but I have no real preference

SWT:     What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

B:          4 star hotels in Delhi, 3 star in Rishikesh (Ganges), 7 star in Goa (The Marriott). Although, it does not matter if it’s rough it’s an adventurous experience, the point is to see a different place and if you can’t afford luxury then do it anyway.

SWT:     How long was your trip?

B:          Two weeks

SWT:     Who looked after the logistics?

B:          Go India Tours – I was on my own with a driver and a tour guide would meet me at every location.

SWT:     If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

B:          Yes

SWT:     If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

B:          They were great at helping out with the itinerary tweaking here and there to accommodate my needs and affordability.

SWT:     Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

B:          I now travel with friends so it’s a joint effort.

SWT:     What would you do different – in hindsight?

B:          Nothing.

SWT:     Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

B:          Very much so yes, it gives you confidence.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

B:          Not much just the average internet searches.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

B:          My Ganges blessing experience, done on the male side which was unconventional but my driver escorted me.

SWT:     What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

B:          I can do anything I put my heart and soul into.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

B:          A bomb in Delhi just after I left.

SWT:     Where is your next dream destination?

B:          Tuscany – Italy

Next time, we’ll hear from Serena who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Diane

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…    Diane Chung www.drdianechung.com, Toronto. I’m living in the dream, baby… 😉

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

DC:       Europe (France, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands)

SWT:    How old were you?

DC:       19

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

DC:       Attached

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

DC:       A boy–that’s all I am saying…

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

DC:       Urban backpacker. Wanderer/adventurer. Allergic to tour groups.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

DC:       Combo of backpack/hostel, staying with friends and 3 star hotels.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

DC:       3 weeks

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

DC:       I did logistics when alone, friends handled some when staying in their cities.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

DC:       Yes… fun and all part of the adventure, journey, experience… though it did take time.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

DC:       N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

DC:       Yes

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

DC:       I wanted to make sure I got the “most” out of my trip and made up an itinerary that covered all the major sites, museums and galleries = tourist fatigue. In hindsight, I would’ve left more times open and fluid for spontaneous detours, surprises and discovery.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

DC:       Yes… though homesickness did start to set in after the 2 week mark.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

DC:       The Lonely Planet guidebook was my bible—I poured over it, dog-earred and highlighted it for nearly 2 months. They didn’t have the interwebs back then…

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

DC:       How easy it was to travel on my own, that people tend to be helpful, and that I over-prepared. I realized afterward that I would’ve been fine with less prep, and even potentially could have had more spontaneous fun, had I not planned quite so much. That said, all that prep as a first time, single woman traveling did give me a lot of peace of mind.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

DC:       My own level of initiative and courage.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

DC:       Missed the last train to a relative’s house in the suburbs of Paris because I was out just a little too late. Had the giant Metro gate close right in front of me while I was changing trains somewhere in the outskirts. Had to take an expensive and dodgy cab ride the rest of the way.

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

DC:       Iceland…or Peru

Next time, we’ll hear from Bela who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

She did What!?! ~ with Danyelle

Single Woman Travels! (SWT) is a place to inspire and motivate women (and men) around the world to travel. She did What?! is a  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…    Danyelle. Toronto, Ontario. Real Estate Agent.

SWT:   Where was the destination of your first / favorite solo trip?

D:          Asia

SWT:    How old were you?

D:          25

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

D:          Totally single.

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

D:          My father had been in 1979 and came back with the most awe inspiring photos of Thailand, India and Malaysia. We had National Geographics in the house and I remember spending hours reading them and then looking up countries in my atlas, thinking I’d like to experience a culture very different from my own one day.

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

D:          It started out teaching English in Taipei for one year and it turned into living there for 3 years and later backpacking around Asia for 6 months by myself.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

D:           Hostels, family run guesthouses, bungalows on the beach.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

D:           6 months of actual travel time.

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

D:           I did. I think. Or I used a travel agency to buy plane tickets to Bangkok only. From there, I improvised and bought tickets from various travel agencies depending on what I felt like doing. I used Bangkok as my hub because tickets were cheap to other countries. I had a Lonely Planet guide to get an overall idea as well as talk to other travelers returning from destinations that I was interested in. I never booked a hostel beforehand because I wanted to see it for myself and go somewhere that looked appealing.  For safety’s sake, I made sure to arrive during the day, and not at night, when landing in new cities. Once arrived in a new city, the taxi situation is always scam. They never want to take you to the destination you ask for. They are paid a commission if they take you to a specific one. You’re new, you have a backpack, therefore you’re a target and so you feel somewhat vulnerable. Sometimes we fought it, sometimes we just went along with it, stayed for one night, and the next day found something we liked better. ( I say we, because I traveled with different people along the way.)

Another way around the taxi scam is to book a room with a guesthouse that has airport pick up for the first night.  That way, someone at the airport greets you with your name on a placard and all that disoriented airport stress goes away. Once you get your bearings and you know how things work, you can switch hotels or stay if you like it. I did this in Phnom Penh when I arrived alone and I totally was grateful for it.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

D:           I had no itinerary. I want to be free to go where my curiosity took me and leave when I felt it was time.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

D:           It was adequate. I was just buying tickets for transport.

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

D:           Yes, especially now with the internet.  I don’t like being committed to a preset list of cities and hotels. Saying that, on my last trip to China and Cambodia, I did use a travel agent specialising in Asia to book flights because my route was complicated and she was able to get me a great deal. I found my own hotels though.

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

D:           Nothing. I don’t like planned group travel. Although, doing group day trips is a good idea sometimes. i.e., horse riding in the mountains, snorkeling, going to see gorillas, etc.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

D:           Yes, it’s my preferred way of travel. It leaves you open to new experiences and meeting people. If you’re with an old friend or spouse, you’re buffered from what’s actually going on around you in a sort of home culture bubble. If you’re alone, you’re more approachable and it’s you and the world. Plus, everything seems more intense.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

D:           I pored over books, asked around to people who had been, watched documentaries, and asked questions on the Lonely Planet website.

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

D:           That things work out. No need to stress if things go tits up. Just have a positive attitude, things will work out, and you’ll draw people of like mind and good experiences to you.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

D:           Life can’t always be exciting when you’re out on the road. Life is life, no matter where you are. Some days can be lonely.  I learned to be content with my own company. A great book feels like a best friend on rainy days. Sometimes you might feel the pressure to see all the major landmarks and museums in a city because you SHOULD.  But nah, you don’t. There are many ways to experience a new culture and for me it’s mostly about feeling it, observing, talking to people, eating what local people eat.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

D:           Yes. A few. The most memorable one was in Kathmandu. I can’t believe I was so stupid. At that age, I was usually street smart and was aware of what was happening around me.  A group of friends and I befriended a bartender in a local pub. At closing he invited us to his place to continue chatting, but he said to go on ahead outside while he shut down the bar. I went to the bathroom while my friends exited and I didn’t see where they went. As I left the bar, a man, who had been in the bar all night and had talked to my friend the bartender, beckoned me to follow him because we were all going next door. It sounded right because that was the plan. When I asked him where the rest of my friends were, he said they were coming along soon. He led me to a closed hotel next door with people sleeping on the floor and woke up the attendant and asked him for a key. Alarm bells went off. Duh. I repeated again, “where are the others?”  He said they were coming and we should just go upstairs. If not and I went outside, the cops would handcuff me because it was past the curfew in Kathmandu. (Did he think I was that stupid? Well, I did trust him to follow him there.)  I knew I had to get out so I pretended that all was normal and I asked him about his wife and job as I edged myself towards the door. Once there, I just said, “BYE, gotta go! I’m tired!”   And I ran out just in time to see my friends returning.  I yelled to them that I was here and where the hell had they been!?  (They had gone back to our hotel room to get a sweater.) Phew. Was I glad to see them!

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

D:           Laos. I never managed to go when I was nearby in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It was on my list, but I just got swept up in other plans and then I ran out of time. All the women I’ve met say that they loved it and that it was one of their favourite countries in Asia. It was safe. People are friendly. Food was fabulous.

Next time, we’ll hear from Diane who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂