Introduce yourself! Who are you? and which country do you come from/ call home?
My name is Michaela Simone. I have many nicknames. People abroad usually call me “Micha”, but my close friends know me as ‘Mickey or Mick’ I consider the world my home, although I was born in Farrell, Pennsylvania, USA, a small town outside of Pittsburgh. I’m a country girl at heart and I moved to Los Angeles when I was 17. There I completed my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and began teaching. I currently work for an online education business as a student/school support specialist.
Where have you been so far?
So far I have visited Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Spain, Guatemala, Thailand, Hong Kong, Mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, U.K, France, and Italy.
What has inspired you to start travelling solo?
I think being from such a small I always had a desire to travel and see the world. I did many road trips throughout the states as a child with my family and I was used to flying alone. I enjoyed seeing new cities and new places. The first big trip I did solo was to Port of Spain, Trinidad. I didn’t want to leave. I literally cried on the plane home. When I became ill with a tumour a few months later at 24, it made me want to start travelling more. I learned then that life is short, relationships are fleeting, and you can’t delay your dreams.
What was your family’s reaction to your travelling idea?
Overall my family and some friends have not been very supportive. It has been hard to maintain relationships with friends and family. Many feel I am wasting my time and money. My mom insisted it is the reason I am not married and that I am doing myself a disservice. It has been hard with dating since most men don’t like a woman who leaves constantly. You meet people on the road, great people, but there’s often an expiration date on the relationship. It teaches me to enjoy the moment and create great memories.
Many people are reluctant to travel solo because they feel like they’ll be alone and won’t meet anyone. What’s your experience?
You will have times of loneliness on the run. It is natural. I remember when living in Qingdao, China having a hard time and feeling homesick. It’s hard to call people at home an explain how you’re feeling when they don’t have the context or experience themselves. Some of the best ways to combat it though are to stay busy with work and hobbies. Go out and meet new people. You’d be surprised at how many expats have the same feelings and are some of the best shoulders to lean on. A lot of the women I meet abroad became really great friends who I talk to regularly.
In how far do you think travelling has changed you and your view of the world?
Travelling has made me more conscious and open to my beliefs. I look at people differently and appreciate the rights we have in the USA. On the flip side, I have learned from countries like Japan and Mexico. Every place has something to teach. It important to keep your heart and mind open so that you may gain the wisdom. I also tend to live in the moment more and not stress. I have got into some troubles abroad many times and seen bigger problems play out. I know that things will always be okay and turn out for the highest good.
The biggest concern for travelling solo as a female is a safety. What would you tell women who want to travel solo but worry about their safety?
With a few exceptions, you are just as safe abroad as you are at home. Use common sense and remain aware of your surroundings. Men will often try to approach you and lure you. Listen to your intuition. Be respectful with of your body, dress consciously depending on your environment. When you have options for Female only dorms in hostels, take it! Same with the trains in Japan. Oh, and please don’t get too drunk. Know your limit, drink one less than that. Know how to use a map in case google crashes. Always have your OWN way to get home.
What should every solo female traveller pack?
Always pack a dress that makes you feel beautiful, your favourite hair products (in travel size), and a positive attitude.
How do you afford your travels, and what tips can you share for keeping costs down while on the road?
I have taught abroad in three different countries. This is a great way to earn money if you have a background in teaching. Now I work online, so it easy to maintain my salary while travelling. To cut cost I cook at my hotel/Airbnb. I buy my alcohol at the market and pregame whenever possible. For a flight, I book early to avoid paying a high price.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
Some people are going to approve others will not. Such is life. Ignore the negativity and follow your heart. I also wish I would’ve known about all the programs available to high school and college students. I always felt like my finances and lack of support held me back. Once you take control, you realize there are many opportunities and it’s affordable. Also don’t be afraid to go solo… If you wait to have a travel companion. You could be waiting forever!
Do you ever think to yourself, “Shit, what am I doing? Shouldn’t I am back home now and own an apartment or house or something?”
The short answer, Yes. I am also positive that if I was back in LA with an apartment, working at a school 9-5, I would be miserable, wondering what life would be like if I took a chance.