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She Roams Solo Ladies – Rebecca

She Roams Solo Ladies is a series where we interview members of the community and get inspired by their travels and adventures. If you would like to be interviewed or even tell your story, get in touch

Rebecca Da Silva is a small business owner (seriously, she’s very tiny) and freelance writer. She is the founder of Zero menstrual cups and spends her time breaking the taboo around menstruation. Visit www.zerocup.co.uk to learn more about sustainable period products. Rebecca enjoys living out of a tiny backpack, calling new places “home” - for a short while, at least - and slow, long-term travel. You can follow her journey on Instagram @_becular or stop by her blog becular.wordpress.com.

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?

My first flight alone was when I was about 12 - I flew to France to visit my grandparents and since then, I have always had a taste for travel. The majority of my travel experience, up until 2014, consisted mostly of short get-aways around Europe.

My first overseas trip completely by myself was in mid 2016, when I went to Thailand. I left the UK with a friend of mine, but we parted ways a few months into the trip to go our separate ways. She went on to start teaching English in Northern Thailand, whereas I continued backpacking around South East Asia and eventually decided to found my own company, Zero.

As I had plenty of travel experience already under my belt, the prospect of travelling alone didn’t phase me at all. Solo travel has been a truly invaluable life-lesson and shaped me into the person I am today.

solo-female-travel

How have your experiences travelling alone been compared to travelling with someone? Do you have a preference on alone or travelling with someone?

My experiences travelling alone have largely been very positive. Solo travel offers you the freedom to be decide where to go, what to see, and all on your own time. There are times when you can feel lonely, but of course, you can still feel lonely whether you’re travelling solo or in a group.

If you’re travelling with someone else, then you really have to consider their particular travel style. For example, budget is usually the most divisive topic: does the person you’re travelling with have the same budget constraints? It’s just not going to work if one of you wants to stay at cheap hostels and eat street food whilst the other wants to stay in swanky hotels and taste fine dining. Plus, not everyone has the same travel time frame. You might find that you prefer to explore the hidden depths of a bustling city, but your travel partner may be keen to lounge around the beach, sipping cocktails. When you’re travelling solo, you don’t have to compromise at all.

When I am travelling by myself, I am completely present in the travel experience: all decisions are my own and I am not accommodating someone else’s preferences. I feel that travelling by yourself also opens you up to meeting locals/fellow travellers easier. Solo travel gives you more freedom and flexibility in your travel plans. I usually don’t plan my travel destinations too much because you never know how you will truly feel about a location until you’re actually there.

"My experiences travelling alone have largely been very positive. Solo travel offers you the freedom to be decide where to go, what to see, and all on your own time."

What are your thoughts on traveling alone as a women and the issue of safety?

I believe that whilst it is important to exercise a level of caution and be aware of your personal safety at all times, it shouldn’t be the only focus of your trip.

Having said that, I have never felt unsafe or threatened whilst travelling, especially in South-East Asia. Just by employing the same level of street-smarts as I would back home, I have always felt safe - even if I am in an unknown location all by myself.

solo-female-travel-beach

What are your top 3 favourite countries you have traveled too?

Thailand, Vietnam, and Denmark.

solo-female-travel

What are your least favourite experience or country traveled too?

I have enjoyed each and every country I have had the privilege of travelling to. Though I did get a terrible case of food poisoning in Myanmar which did slightly taint the trip!

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).

FUNhostels

TRAVEL – backpack

FOOD – fresh flavours

MEN – human

EXERCISE – hiking, nature

INDIA –paneer

AMERICA – junk food

JOBZero, writing, freedom to be location independent

ALCOHOLintoxication

DANGERfear

TAXISconvenience, uber

BED BUGSitchy

LOVEtravel, exploration

FAMILY - consistency & strength

NEW FRIENDSlaughter, journey

OLD FRIENDSpatience, time zones, connection

SWITZERLANDneutral

PACKING – packing cubes, minimalism

solo-female-travel

"Travelling solo is something every woman should do at least once in their lives. The experience has taught me so many transferable life skills such as budgeting, confidence, self-awareness… I could go on listing the skills that solo travel has taught me, but I think it’s better to travel by yourself and discover it all for yourself. "

What has traveling alone taught you?

Travelling solo is something every woman should do at least once in their lives. The experience has taught me so many transferable life skills such as budgeting, confidence, self-awareness… I could go on listing the skills that solo travel has taught me, but I think it’s better to travel by yourself and discover it all for yourself.

Travelling alone also teaches you how to make friends quickly. It makes you highly adaptable and gives you more self-confidence. Conversely, solo travel also invites you to close yourself off from getting close to people. Perhaps this might sound a little jaded, but in my opinion, one of the hardest parts of travelling solo is that you will meet amazing people, but of course, it is only for a short while. Everyone is on their own travel path, and so it does get sad repeatedly having to say goodbye to people, never knowing if your paths will ever cross again. I like to think these situations have taught me resilience and self-reliance.

Lastly what advice would you give to someone who is looking to travel alone but is too scared?

Fear should not stop you from travelling alone.

You have to really think about what is specifically making you afraid of travelling alone. Is it fear of loneliness? Safety concerns? Worried you won’t make any friends? Once you are aware of what exactly it is you’re afraid of, you can work towards overcoming the fear through practical reasoning.

In terms of practical advice, I would suggest joining nomad/expat groups on Facebook for the county/city you will be visiting, so you can ask any specific questions you may have and just get a feel for it. I would also suggest downloading the couchsurfing app and using the chat function to meet up with fellow travellers if you feel lonely. (* or ask on the She Roams Solo platform - I totally put that in myself*)

Make sure you’ve got enough money for an “emergency return home fund”. This will put your mind at ease - you can always go home if travel is not for you.

Your preference on how to travel, by which modes of transport?

Your preference on how to travel, by which modes of transport? I like to travel as slowly as possible, which means taking buses and trains where possible. They’re usually the cheapest way to get around, and you get to travel like a local! I do like taking flights if I am pressed for time and need to get to my destination quickly, though!

How would you describe your travel style in under 50 words?

My travel style can be described as minimal, fuss-free, and lightweight. I like to travel with as few possessions as possible (eg. versatile clothing, multi-use items), and only carry a 22litre backpack with me. I take pleasure from travelling slowly and spending lengthy periods of time in destinations. In order to get a true feel of a city/country, I think it’s important to spend a few weeks.

solo-female-travel-interview

Hostel/Hotels/Camping/Airbnb/Couchsurfing?

Each method of finding accommodation is great in its own way. Hostels are fantastic for an inexpensive way of meeting new people, as you’re forced to share a room with strangers - it’s so easy to start up a conversation with fellow travellers. Hotels are good if you’re burnt out from meeting people and need some alone time. AirBnB is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a location, as you’re staying in a local person’s home. It is especially great if you’re sharing with some friends, as you can split the cost between you. Camping & couchsurfing are great for free/cheap ways of getting accommodation. I have had some good couchsurf experiences where I’ve met some great hosts who are so friendly and accommodating

In terms of practical advice, I would suggest joining nomad/expat groups on Facebook for the county/city you will be visiting, so you can ask any specific questions you may have and just get a feel for it. I would also suggest downloading the couchsurfing app and using the chat function to meet up with fellow travellers if you feel lonely. (* or ask on the She Roams Solo platform - I totally put that in myself*)

Make sure you’ve got enough money for an “emergency return home fund”. This will put your mind at ease - you can always go home if travel is not for you.

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