Introduce yourself! Who are you? and which country do you come from/ call home?
My name is Elaine. I’m originally from Los Angeles, CA, USA, but I’m currently calling a small city in Ecuador home.
Where have you been (name the countries you visited)
This will be a long list…
Americas: Canada, USA, Mexico, Ecuador, Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile
Europe: UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Turkey
Asia: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea
Oceania: New Zealand, Australia
What has inspired you to start travelling solo?
I wanted to see the world but got tired of my friends flaking out on me.
What was your family’s reaction to your travelling idea?
They freaked out. I come from a very traditional family, and they just didn’t understand why I would travel by myself.
Many people are reluctant to travel solo because they feel like they’ll be alone and won’t meet anyone. What’s your experience?
I consider myself an introvert. The first time I went abroad, I decided to stay in hostels to force myself out of my comfort zone. It made travelling less lonely. Since I began travelling on my own, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way. Even if we were only friends for a few days, I got to learn myself as well as other people.
In how far do you think travelling has changed you and your view of the world?
Travelling has made more open-minded to different cultures and ways of thinking. It has also made me learn to be more adaptable. Things never go according to plan.
The biggest concern for travelling solo as a female is safety. What would you tell women who want to travel solo but worry about their safety?
I always do a bit of research before heading to a new location to find out which areas I should be more careful of. When I’m out, I try to walk confidently. If I’m lost, I go off to the side to have a quick look on my phone before I start walking again.
What should every solo female traveller pack?
Besides my backpack, I always have the following: plastic bags, a jacket, a scarf, multi-purpose shoes, flip-flops, and of course, my passport.
How do you afford your travels, and what tips can you share for keeping costs down while on the road?
I’ve been living and working abroad for the better part of 10 years, which helps with the travelling. I set a budget and use the app Travel-Spend to track my spending.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
My expectations are the only ones I need to meet.
Do you ever think to yourself, “Shit, what am I doing? Shouldn’t I be back home now and own an apartment or house or something?”
Not really. Every time I go back to my hometown, I feel out of place. All my friends have gotten married, are buying homes, and having babies. Maybe at one point in my life, I will do that. But there’s still so much of the world to see and experience. I’m not ready to settle down just yet.