Introduce yourself 🙂 Who are you? And which country do you come from or call home?
I’m Stephanie a soon to be 45 yr old advertising professional based in NYC.
Pretty much a tristate area girl as I grew up in NJ for the majority of my life but also had some stints in another part of the east coast. High school PA, College MA, Maryland, Austin and Rockland County before landing in the boroughs of NYC. Where I’ve since called Brooklyn home for 12yrs. NYC and I have a love/hate relationship, I Iove the opportunities and friendships it’s given me but I tend to get pretty exhausted with the ever-annoying train issues, overcrowding and noise. Which is why I adore travelling because time away definitely gives perspective.
Where have you been?
Israel, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Iceland and Portugal.
I started travelling out of a need to heal and celebrate.
What has inspired you to start travelling solo?
I have battled with depression and anxiety for many years and after the loss of both my parents to cancer. I had some really dark times, in the process of trying to push through and I would watch a lot of movies as a form of healing. And I would watch many times a foreign film and fantasize about seeing these beautiful countries and started noting where I would go if I could. Along with that, I decided I wanted to make a new tradition for the holidays and my birthday, I was born on Mother’s Day. Instead of spending those times home crying, I travel! I travel to heal, experience culture, learn, luxuriate and celebrate life in memory of my parents along with pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
“I’ve learned you can’t control how people act or think but you can control how you respond”
What was your family’s reaction to your travelling idea?
Many friends and strangers alike seem to see me as “brave”… which I think is odd. I didn’t cure cancer. I booked a flight and decided to explore the world, so I can live out loud. I get a bit unnerved when anyone makes it seem like a female travelling alone is such a faux pas. Women can do anything we set our mind too, and so that’s what I do.
Many people are reluctant to travel solo because they feel like they’ll be alone and won’t meet anyone. What’s your experience?
Every time I book the flight and accommodations, I’m overcome with excitement! I start daydreaming of food, culture etc and then as the trip nears my nerves kick in and there’s little voice that says… are you crazy!? How are you going to pass your time, what are you going to do when it’s mealtime etc.? Then I arrive and it’s all excitement and minimal fear. I meet people at random, I experience the kindness of strangers and I learn so many lessons. You can’t imagine how proud of yourself you’ll feel to navigate a Portuguese or Germany subway system not speaking either language.
In how far do you think travelling has changed you and your view of the world?
I always get nervous that my travels will have me experiencing the racial intolerance that the states are known for. Also, being a woman by myself will there be males lurking to take advantage of me. I’ve had minimal intolerance issues which normally are bouts of staring at me like I’m a zoo exhibit or science experiment. I’ve learned to read energy pretty well and I know right away if an establishment is welcoming or if a person is genuine. Bottom line, I’ve learned you can’t control how people act or think but you can control how you respond. I have no room for any negativity, so I think that my guardian angels and my gut instinct help me gravitate towards the right people and places.
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?
Don’t let others fears become your own, trust your gut and always have your wits about you. Research the areas you plan on visiting so you have an idea of what the place is known for. That way you know ahead of time if it’s a bit of sketchy area where you should try to tour in a group or someplace you can leisurely stroll through alone.
“I travel to heal, experience culture, learn, luxuriate and celebrate life in memory of my parents along with pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”
What should every solo female traveller pack?
Always, bring female products regardless of how your cycle works. Travelling tends to trigger weird reactions in the body so one minute you may not be expecting your period and next it’s there. Compression socks are your best friend for long haul flights. Make yourself comfortable and functional, especially if you have layovers etc. We all want to look our best but no one wants blisters on their feet or body pain from overpacking or not thinking about proper footwear. Pack your carry-on with at least 2 days of clothes and a pair of shoes with toiletries in case your baggage is lost. It’s been the best advice because you’re always ready and still move forward with your trip despite lost luggage.
How do you afford your travels, and what tips can you share for keeping costs down while on the road?
Shop, research and be patient. I personally plan very far in advance (I’m currently monitoring rates for my birthday trip in May) so that way by the time my trip approaches I have it either partially or fully paid off. I set alerts for price watches and sales, use sites where you can book and then pay upon arrival if necessary. Putting away some of your tax return for travel planning is always helpful too.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
Don’t book tours or activities until you arrive. I made that mistake in Amsterdam and fell in love with exploring so much I missed 2 tours I booked in advance. Now I just make a list of the places I want to go, the tours and or Airbnb experiences I’d like to attend and go from there.
Side Note: I highly recommend Airbnb experiences! They are a great way to meet other solo travellers and just good fun people in general. You’ll also get the real good local secrets for food and sights.
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?”
Honestly, never! I’m an only child, no significant other and in no competition with anyone else in my age group. I do what works for me and being a homeowner is not as high on the list as seeing the Almafi Coast.