Why You Should Travel Solo

worried monkey - you're doing whatConfusion, shock, pity, disbelief and worry are just a few of the reactions that I’ve witnessed in response to an announcement of one of my many solo travel adventures. Most commonly, I get “but won’t you be bored?” or “aren’t you scared?”. Though very valid concerns, I can never find an adequate explanation because I can’t imagine feeling that way – only after having done it a few times, of course. In all honesty, I think I’ve spoiled myself: travelling solo has been such a life-changing experience that I’m afraid that travelling with a companion or a group will pale by comparison.

 

Why do I love solo travel? Here’s 5 reasons:

1. Full control of your schedule

Undoubtedly a no-brainer. Not having to consult or compromise your itinerary with anyone, and most importantly, not having to apologize when a seemingly good idea turns sour. The ability to travel freely – quickly or slowly, with a rigid or loose schedule, to any destination of your choice without fuss, is truly liberating.

2. The invaluable ability it affords you to befriend perfect strangers

Thanks to my first solo trip way back when, I’ve had several years to perfect the art of making friends with locals, fellow travellers, or anyone willing to give me the time of day. So, my answer to those who ask me if I’ll get bored or be lonely will always be a resounding no. The ability to communicate with strangers, especially with those who don’t speak your native language, is an important skill that stays with you forever and helps you in ways unimaginable. Meeting people on the road expands your horizons to different cultures, lifestyles, and beliefs, and it also provides great company, to boot! The best part about befriending perfect strangers is that there is absolutely no obligation to spend time with them if you don’t want to – because after all, they are just strangers! It can be whatever you want it to be – some of my encounters have led to long-lasting friendships, and others have amounted to nothing more than a 5 minute conversation.

Santorini
Santorini

3. Being able to fully engulf yourself in a foreign culture

I hold this one at a particularly high value, yet I find it a bit difficult to explain. To me, being able to absorb and authentically immerse myself into local culture is the essence of travel. The seeing of sights is important, but if I can’t experience the crux of local life and truly understand what it’s like to live there, then I haven’t gained much. Don’t get me wrong – this can certainly be achieved in group or companion travel, but I find it so much easier to ditch my inhibitions and immerse myself in local customs when I’m on my own.

4. The life-changing confidence and empowerment that remains with you forever

Yet another item on my list that I hold at a particularly high value, mainly because it is an enriching quality that will change one’s everyday life. When you arrive in a foreign country alone, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone into the unknown and somehow find your way. No matter how much research you’ve done, or how many guide books you’ve consulted, it’s never like the book – and that’s a good thing! The ability to learn about customs and local etiquette through trial and error can develop into a unique confidence – a confidence that will endure anything, even the things that you once found impossible.

5. Being able to get lost, in both the figurative and literal sense.

I think it’s nearly impossible to travel to any destination for the first time and not get lost. When you’re alone and you are forced to find your way using only a map and a few locals who don’t speak a lick of English, it can be so satisfying to find your way! For those who are somewhat lost in life, remember that “taking a year off to find yourself” isn’t just a silly cliche – it actually has some merit to it. As described above, solo travel can help you discover things about yourself that you never thought existed!

 

 

Photo Credit: [monkey]

6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

Sugarloaf_edited-1Expressions of worry and panic are the types of reactions I got when informing others that I was going to Brazil. Once I went on to explain that I was going alone, the worry began to fade and utter confusion set in, because apparently, it was inconceivable that I could even do such a thing. In their defence, however, the notion of a young woman travelling alone to a notably “dangerous” country could be a bit mind-boggling. Although I’ve never been one to be easily influenced, the combination of the worrisome reactions and warnings from online travel forums began to make me apprehensive.

Concerns for my safety in Brazil were weighing on my mind.

Read more

Guest Post: Smart Packing Tips for Women

smart packing tipsAnd we empathize, women. I’ve never encountered a man who’s having trouble packing light. Usually, it’s the ladies, myself included, who find packing daunting. And let’s admit it girls, clothes and beauty regimen paraphernalia take the most space in our packs.

Here are a few packing tips to lessen the load:

Think practical.

Before packing those clothes in your bag, think carefully whether you’ll be able to “really” use them, and some, repeatedly. Pants and shorts can be worn again, for one. As much as possible, choose those that can easily be paired such as neutrals. They are versatile and can be transformed to a whole new look simply by adding accessories.

Consider washing.

Extend the life of your wardrobe. Dedicate at least 10 minutes of your time every night to wash clothes and then let them dry. They must be ready for use the next day or the day after that. In this regard, it helps that you pick garments that dry easily, or that which do not require ironing to look decent. By looking into recycling your clothes, you also minimize volume of wet clothes you’re packing to back home. Your luggage will no doubt be lighter.

Study itinerary.

Many travelers I’ve met attest to using itinerary as an effective packing guide. They are able to see clearly which items to bring and are better left home. If you are scheduled to watch plays or operas then you will need at least a collared shirt and slacks or skirt, or a dress. If you will be spending most of your time in water then the lighter your luggage should be. Swimming attires are known for their fast-drying features.

Look into customs.

Are you going to a conservative place where women are expected to cover up?

You need not attract unnecessary attention. Again, your skin may already be a clear sign you’re not from the place. Baring too much skin, in addition, can only cause you problems or inconveniences when going up and about. For example, wearing shorts may be acceptable in the area. Still, you are likely to receive second glances. Blend in  with the locals by wearing pants or skirts that are at least just above the knee. Skip minis as much as possible.

The same goes for your tops. Beware of dress codes. You might not be allowed entrance in some areas when you’re showing off your shoulders or legs.

Overall, you will do well as long as you’re not offending anyone. Comfort is also another factor worth considering. Couple with manners, and you are most likely good to go.

Accessorize.

Worried about looking dull or lifeless?smart packing tips

Use scarves, pashminas or scarves to accentuate your outfit. Cardigans as well do not only make good layers. They can also be worn as is. Forget about flashy jewelries. They have no place in your belongings during travels. Chances are you will only feel worried about them being lost in transit, thus getting in the way of you fully enjoying the travel experience.

Author Bio:

Nettie Gray loves collecting scarves and pashminas not only because of their beautiful designs but also due to their versatility. She’ll forget her essay writing drafts but, never would leave the house without a scarf in her bag.

My Top 10 Travel Memories

My Top 10 Travel Memories

After travelling for so many years, it’s a bit difficult to single out my favourite travel memory…

I managed to narrow it down to my Top Ten Travel Memories:

Twelve Apostles - Melbourne, Australia
Twelve Apostles – Melbourne, Australia

Read more