SOLO TRAVEL: ALONE BUT NEVER LONELY

Aren't you lonely? Do you feel safe? What do you do at restaurants?

Those are just a few of the questions that I get asked regularly while traveling alone. I realize that I am new to the international solo-travel game, but so far, I am quite pleased with my decision to experience the world solely with the company of me, myself and I.

I'd like to address the questions that I commonly get asked, and debunk some stigmas about traveling solo:

  • Aren't you lonely?

The truth is that I am rarely alone. In creating the itinerary for this trip, I padded my stays with EatWith dinners, Flytographer sessions, Viator tours, free walking tours, stays with locals through AirBnB (where I've been invited out to parties by my hosts), and a month with a host family through WorkAway.

Now there are also apps that make it even easier to travel alone, but never feel lonely. Tourlina is an app for female travelers to meet other female travelers, Vayable hosts tours with locals, Couchsurfing allows budget-friendly travelers to crash on a host's couch for free, MeetUp advertises events for those with common interests to join a group outing....and there are many more!

I have opened myself to the social circle of the world and it has been a gracious host. I have ended up engaging in conversation during most dinners, volunteered to take photos for other couples on tours, I've had drinks with people I've met at meals, and I've shared cabs with couples going to the same destination that I was headed because I overheard them asking for a price quote.

There are actually very few times that I am alone, and during those times, I enjoy my time to write, watch movies, catch up with friends through texting, and Facetime with family. While I do realize that there is a distinct difference between being alone and lonely, the support that I have received in taking this journey has never once left me feeling isolated.

  •  Do you feel safe?

I have yet to be in a situation where I genuinely felt unsafe. Have I felt uncomfortable? Fortunately, I can't say that I have! I will say that some men (particularly in Italy) are extremely confused by solo female travelers and consider this as fair warning that this does attract some attention (although, who knows...this may be a positive for some!). A simple grin and passive nod tends to give off the "thank you but no thank you" vibe. I'm never rude, but I don't entertain interest either. I'm an overly (sometimes skeptical) cautious person , so I am always watching my bags, speaking very directly, and staying alert. So far, so good (crossing fingers and praying it stays that way)!

  • What do you do at restaurants?

I eat. No really...I make a reservation for one and I enjoy a bottle of wine, appetizers, a full meal, and usually dessert and a cappuccino. Anyone reading this probably knows that I love to eat...and so I make a point to enjoy myself just as I would if I were with someone else. After all, I am one of my favorite people...so why not spend an evening enjoying a good bottle of wine with myself? It's pretty liberating...you should try it!

* One thing that I should note: I commonly cork the bottle of wine and take it back to my apartment to finish up while catching up on emails. It is important not to over drink if you are traveling alone. Safety first...and staying alert and competent is key!

If you are debating on whether or not to take the plunge on booking your first solo trip, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like traveling at your own pace?
  • Do you trust yourself with directions and logistics (or trust your phone's GPS)?
  • Do you feel confident in communicating with strangers?
  • Are you comfortable eating and walking alone in new settings?
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If you answered yes, I think that you should go for it! The biggest plus that I have found is that I can stop when I want to, eat where I want to eat, nap when I need to rest (which is rarely), and just follow my instincts towards my next adventure. Sure, I have wished that my husband, friends or family were with me from time to time (I think it would be concerning if I didn't). However, I have met people that I never would have spoken to if I were within a group, I have seen things that I may not have seen if I had a tighter itinerary, and I have experienced things that I could have missed out on if I were not traveling alone.

Travel is changing me for the better and I am welcoming this evolution with open arms. I am more confident, competent, and cultured all because I trusted myself to be the best company possible, and you may be surprised how traveling alone could shape you!

Have you traveled alone? I'd love to hear about your experience!

 

 

REASONS WHY AFRICA WILL CHANGE YOU FOR GOOD

I know exactly what you’re thinking, ‘this chick is crazy. She’s obsessed with this continent (Ok. Maybe I am, just a little)’ but trust me after reading this post you will be too! I’m sure anyone who has traveled anywhere in Africa can attest to the fact that this is one of the most thrilling places you will travel to, and I’m not lying!

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

So I want you to take a minute…think about a few destinations of where you want to travel. I’m sure your list includes places like London, Italy, Germany, and Greece. Mine sure does! However, I feel like you’re missing one important place…a destination that will change you forever while placing an imprint on your heart that you’d never expect- Africa. 

First flight to Africa in 2015 

First flight to Africa in 2015 

I know it’s intimidating, and can be scary, but you’re thinking too much. Africa took me in with open arms, and not once did I feel unwelcome or like I didn’t belong. Have you always wanted to go on a safari? Do you like to climb mountains? Surf? Skydive? Scuba dive? Market-lover? (I know you’re out there.) Foodie? Have a history obsession? If you just answered any of those with a head nod, then I suggest you walk towards the idea of traveling to Africa ready for it to grab your hand and take you for a whirl.

 I think some people are afraid of what Africa has to offer, and that’s because they don’t know what exactly she does have to give. It’s ok to be scared, but I want you all to start using that fear, the fear of the unknown, and trust that fear so much that you start to wonder ‘why am I afraid?’ Then go after that fear and discover it; unfold it.

I thought up a short list of 5 reasons I think Africa and you are going to be besties. I limited it to 5 because I could probably go on forever about my time there...so check ‘em out.

View of Table Mountain from Blouberg, South Africa 

View of Table Mountain from Blouberg, South Africa 

Sunset in Cape Town, South Africa 

Sunset in Cape Town, South Africa 

  1. The locals I encountered in South Africa as well as other parts of Africa are kind, caring, hospitable, and so willing to share their culture with you. They are there for you and make you feel like you’re never alone. You’ll learn an unbelievable amount from them; whether it’s tips for what not to do, or the best local spots to hit up on a Friday night, they’re your go-to peeps. Infused with tradition and history, you’ll be amazed and never want to leave the conversation with them (especially when you hear their accents ;) )
  2.  The sunsets. They say there’s nothing like a South African sunset, and I will ditto this ‘till the day I die. No matter where you are, the colors that merge together paint the sky like you’ve never seen before. It’s a different type of sunset and brings you all the feels when you’re reminiscing on how amazing your day just was. The best thing to do is grab a bottle of wine, some snacks, and hike up to Lion’s Head or Signal Hill, chill at some bar in Ponta do Ouro, or sit around the campfire in Namibia. Oh, and don’t forget to give your mates a ring, because the company make it all the better! You’re going to catch yourself saying, “wow, I’m actually in Africa” and I promise once you see it you’ll know exactly what I mean.

  3. Lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!) Well, maybe we should say lions, giraffes, and zebras instead! Safaris here are such a phenomenal experience. If you’re lucky you may see 3 of the Big Five, and now that’s something to send a post card about! Make sure you do your research before deciding which company/location you're going to use when you do go. When I was in South Africa I went to Kruger National Park and had the most amazing tour guides who were experienced and knew how to answer every question I threw their way. 
  4. Let’s all melt in a pot, mix it up, and call it Cape TownI only spent 3 months here and I wish it had been longer. After a few weeks I already knew in my heart I wasn't going to want to leave. Cape Town has it all and is for everyone. You name it and it's there! My favorite thing about this city is how different every single person is. You have people from every corner of the world and it just makes my heart so happy. Cape Town is another home for me, and definitely a must see if you're ever in Africa. 
  5. The wine…and beer. I barely have to say anything here. I know we all love a good glass of wine (or two..maybe three!), and for all those beer lovers out there a.k.a. me, Cape Town, ZA is your place to be! There are tons of wineries and super fun local breweries that will make your day. Groot ConstantiaFranschoek, and of course the infamous Drifter Brewing Company are just a few of my favs. There’s plenty to drink and you definitely won’t leave thirsty. 
  6. Just one more for good luck: She changes your life. Whether it’s the people you meet, the things you see, the volunteering you participate in, or the way it makes you feel at night, this is the place that changes your life. That airport in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Mozam, wherever you end up, will see you cry. Not just tears rolling down your cheeks, but the tears and cries filled with emotions that you can’t even put into words. Africa is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Start with the flight, then go from there. You’re going to love it. You’ll go back, because it’s now a piece of you forever.
Volunteering in Cinsta East, South Africa 

Volunteering in Cinsta East, South Africa 

Africa stole my heart, and I have a feeling she might steal yours too.