Suddenly Alone in Europe. Is my Trip Over?September 18, 2017
She Roams Solo Ladies – MariaSeptember 27, 2017
Hi, my name is Chiera, I’m 25 years old and I started my blog, Young and Undecided, in March 2016. Initially it was just to let me look back on my travels, but after the first few months I was hooked. Through blogging, I have been introduced into an amazing community and met some really incredible people! I would also say having a blog has motivated me even more tot travel and to also explore more of my home in Scotland. So far my travels have consisted mainly of ‘holidays’, the longest being 3 weeks, but as of yesterday I am officially jetting off to Australia in November for a year of exploring the land downunder.
Tell us about your first trip alone overseas? What emotions you felt, scared, happy, excited, was it a mixture of everything? How old were you? Where did you go?
I have flown alone overseas many times but usually to meet a friend on the other end. My first time that I was going to be alone/with strangers was in Romania last year when I taught English at a summer camp. I was so excited to be going to Romania as I had developed quite the fascination with the country, but I was also really nervous. I remember in the weeks leading up to the camp I would email the organiser, asking what I should bring, what my lessons should be like, should I bring games etc. She literally replied with the subject line “Don’t Worry”. Actually meeting a few of the other trainers at the airport and getting acquainted was surprisingly fine for how nervous I had been about it. I remember I was actually really calm about the whole thing until we arrived at the hotel in Romania and I was hit with a massive migraine. It must have been just a build up of stress but I don’t’ really have any memory of that first night. Thankfully I calmed down after that and grew to absolutely love my time in Romania!
How have your experiences travelling alone been compared to travelling with someone? Do you have a preference on alone or travelling with someone?
I think to travel with someone you have to be a good fit. You could be the best of friends with someone but then go on a trip together and it just doesn’t work. I’m lucky that I have a found a good few people that are perfect travel buddies. We agree on most things and bounce off each other really well. Solo travel is different though. It can be stressful and a bit overwhelming for someone who is quite shy and introverted like myself, but in a strange way also kind of perfect. When you travel alone, you don’t have to check with anyone what they want to do. You don’t have to even have to socialise if you don’t want to! Don’t get me wrong, meeting people is great, but having the choice to just have a nice quiet day to yourself is lovely. Very freeing.
What are your thoughts on traveling alone as a women and the issue of safety?
Living life as a woman is just as dangerous. Not to be dramatic, but the problems you face as a solo female traveller are the same you would face walking the streets of your hometown. The only difference is the lack of familiarity, and maybe you stand out more when in a foreign country. I think it’s important to try and enjoy yourself, but I am sometimes cautious to a fault. Give me a perfectly safe street, but if I’m there at night I am on edge instantly. It’s a shame that this is something women need to deal with on a day to day basis, but when you are travelling and meant to be having a good time, it sucks. As for protecting yourself, take a self-defense class (or youtube video, save some money !), know key phrases if there is a language barrier (Help, police etc), know the emergency number for the country you travel to (i.e 999 for UK, 911 for US). It’s, unfortunately, part of our lives, hopefully, one day that will change.
"Travelling alone has taught me to be more open. That life is vastly different all over the world and to have the privilege to visit these countries and experience a new way of life, even if just slightly different from your own, is amazing. "
Tell us a story about your best travel experience (with or without someone else)
I don’t know if this is my best travel experience, but I was particularly proud of myself for it. As I mentioned before I am quite a shy person, I need to really make an effort when meeting new people to not seem closed off. I was recently in China visiting my friend and we travelled about for a couple of weeks. One of our stops was in Shanghai. We wanted to go for a night out but accidentally chose the most expensive club in the city. As it turned out, another group of travellers had done the same thing. After seeing the hefty entrance fee, we all decided to bail and find somewhere else. That didn’t end up happening. We instead found a 24/7 shop, stocked up on beer and watched the sunrise over the Shanghai Skyline. It was an incredible night. We met up with the same people the next night for a proper night out, which was equally amazing. I was proud of myself for basically just putting myself in the position where I had to meet people. That may sound stupid, but hey ho, that’s how my brain works. My friend and I got separated for most of the night, and the fact that I was completely comfortable with my new friends, and the thought of making own way home didn’t faze me at all. It showed me that long term solo travel probably wouldn’t be as scary and lonely as I had previously expected.
What are your top 3 favourite countries you have traveled too?
- Romania: Living in the middle of the Romania forest really was an experience. It may have been a 4* hotel, but they would put left over food out for the bears. Yes, you read that right. I could stand 20 meters away from a family of wild young bears and they ate their dinner. Granted they must have been used to people being around as they didn’t bother about us at all. But that was truly an incredible experience. I only saw the mother once, but that was from the bear tower, and even that was too close!
- China: China is the farthest I have ever been, and the biggest culture difference. It was crazy to be standing in Tiananmen Square and on the Great Wall, all these places I had never dreamed of seeing in person. When I first arrived, with lost luggage and armed only with the address of my hotel, I had no idea what to do. How do I navigate China? Turns out it’s just like every other place I’ve been. Wait in the taxi queue and tell the driver where you want to go and hey presto, you’re on your way. It was a massive travel learning curve and I can’t wait to go back and explore some more.
- New York City: I won’t say USA because I’ve only been to 2 cities, but I first visited NYC when I was 21 and absolutely fell in love. I went back again this year and nothing has changed. I’ve heard so many negative things about NYC. It’s dirty, it’s smelly, it’s overcrowded. In spite of all that, I feel so at home there. If it wasn’t so ridiculously expensive I would move there in a heartbeat!
What are your least favourite experience or country traveled too?
My least favourite travel experience. That’s a tough one. I’ve had bad moments, but not bad enough to ruin a trip. I went to corfu for a week with my friend a few years ago, and while it was an incredible trip, we were staying in a pretty small town. So small in fact, that we saw the same guy every day of our trip. Every day he followed us somewhere and asked us if we wanted to go for a drink, every day we told him we were leaving the next morning. It put a slight damper on the trip that whenever he would show up it would just ruin the moment and get uncomfortable. In saying that, it never felt dangerous, just annoyingly persistent and if anything a bit creepy.
Let’s play a game, give us the first word or sentence that pops into your head around these words. (Think experiences on the road).
FUN – Friends
TRAVEL – Life!
FOOD – Italian!
MEN – Ruin everything (just kidding. Kind of)
EXERCISE – Hard to get into but makes you feel amazing
INDIA – I want to build up a tolerance to spicy food before I visit so I can enjoy the cuisine!
AMERCIA – Route 66 in a mustang!
PACKING – always done the night before a trip
JOB – pays for travel.
ALCOHOL – Cannot handle more than a few ciders.
DANGER – Will Robinson!
TAXIS – Easy but sometimes too expensive
BED BUGS – Hopefully something I never encounter!
LOVE - Yourself
FAMILY – Will always be there for you
NEW FRIENDS – the benefits of travel is getting to make friends all over the world
OLD FRIENDS – knowing you will always have that base support back at home (or wherever they are)
SWITZERLAND – those mountains are TO DIE FOR!
"So sometimes, the nerves don’t go away, but the feeling of accomplishment when you do it, and your arrive, and you’re there, is the most rewarding thing. Push through and enjoy yourself!"
What has traveling alone taught you?
Travelling alone has taught me to be more open. That life is vastly different all over the world and to have the privilege to visit these countries and experience a new way of life, even if just slightly different from your own, is amazing. It’s made me curious, and to be a little bit more assertive. To not be so worried of what people think of you and just enjoy yourself.
Lastly what advice would you give to someone who is looking to travel alone but is too scared?
JUST DO IT! It’s really the only advice you can give. I still get nervous every time I jet off, but once you realise it’s not as daunting as your brain was trying to convince you, you’ll be fine. Or maybe that’s just me. I stress about the unknown. Travelling to a new place and having no idea what it’ll be like, so there is literally no way for me to calm down about it until I’m there. So sometimes, the nerves don’t go away, but the feeling of accomplishment when you do it, and your arrive, and you’re there, is the most rewarding thing. Push through and enjoy yourself!
"I still get nervous every time I jet off, but once you realise it’s not as daunting as your brain was trying to convince you, you’ll be fine."
I couch surfed with a family in Hangzhou in China. It was only for a night but they were the most lovely family. The host, Linda, could speak fluent English, and her 3 year old daughter was pretty good as well. Her husband and parents couldn’t speak English, but we all still seemed to be able to communicate fine. In fact, when Linda told her husband that we were from Glasgow in Scotland, his face lit up and he said “Glasgow? Rangers?” (which is a local Glasgow football team). To think I travelled all the way to a relatively small city in China and ended up staying with a family who supported a Glasgow football team. It really is a small world.
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