In my latest Travel Blogger Interview, I catch up with Solo Female Traveler Shaïnah Casseres who is originally from the beautiful Caribbean island Curaçao. Shaïnah shares insightful travel stories, tips and talks about empowering women to adventure solo.
Who are you and which country do you come from or call home?
My name is Shaïnah and I currently reside in Prague, Czech Republic. I am originally from the beautiful Caribbean island Curaçao.
Where have you been?
Throughout the years, I have travelled to the Caribbean and North America. In the year 2007, I moved to Europe and I have been trying to travel as much as possible, mostly throughout the EMEA. I have visited Belgium, England, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Egypt and Morocco. 😊
What has inspired you to start travelling solo?
My inspiration for solo travelling came from one; I can be a bit of a loner sometimes, I enjoy solitude. I like to have my own program and to be free to do as I please without (as rude as it may sound) taking anyone else into consideration. And two because sometimes it is difficult to get a travel buddy, or a friend whose calendar, budget, taste, willingness, openness and drive for the unknown/adventure aligns with mine. Also, my life motto is: if not now then cuando? I just couldn’t sit and wait around to travel with someone, I just pack and go.
What was your family’s reaction to your travelling idea?
My family lives 8505 kilometres away from me; they are always pleased for me when I decide to take on an adventure on my own. Also, they are used to me being unpredictable and spontaneous. Honestly, sometimes I don’t tell my parents at the beginning. Just my sister, who is always so supportive of me and my travel bug. I usually “surprise” them by sending a picture of myself at the destination with the caption: “Greetings from …” the reaction is always positive! 😊 In a way, they get to see the “world” through my eyes (or lens in this case) and they really enjoy it.
Many people are reluctant to travel solo because they feel like they’ll be alone and won’t meet anyone. What’s your experience?
My thoughts behind travelling solo are that you must be OK with being alone. You never know what can happen, sometimes you meet people sometimes you don’t. When you do it is so great, you get to share tips and tricks and meet people from places you haven’t even heard before! Although, for me, that is not the main reason for solo travelling. Of course, it is always a plus to meet people, which I sometimes do. But if I don’t, I am totally fine with that too. I have discovered that I get to meet myself time and time again during these moments of solitude, and honestly, THAT is the greatest souvenir of them all.
In how far do you think travelling has changed you and your view of the world?
Travelling has opened my eyes to new cultures, ideas, food (especially food😊) and has made me realize how much alike each of us is. More than we think! It has made me more open-minded, understanding, and appreciative of all the people that I share this planet with. It has made me resilient, and strong and more independent. When you are travelling, especially on your own, you are completely dependent on yourself, it is scary, yet so liberating! It has made me trust myself more and put myself out there and has brought with it a whole lot of courage. Travelling alone makes me feel proud, courageous and free.
“Had I known how liberating and fun solo travelling is, I would have started a long time ago!”
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?
Safety is on the top of my priority list when travelling, alone or accompanied. First, I always recommend doing a lot of research. Wherever it is you are going, do your research! Always ask your host or the hotel staff, or wherever you are staying at, to provide you with points of contact (i.e. phone numbers, nearest tourist information kiosk, or even police stations, tips and tricks etc. they know their country and or city best). My other advice is, keep your poker face game strong, especially in countries where you feel overwhelmed or you can be easily ripped off (this is a scary feeling). Act local! Act like you’ve been there before like you know what you’re doing. Always carry your belongings close, and be alert. Let’s be honest, if something “bad” should happen, it can happen in your hometown as well, you know what I mean? Always be alert to your surroundings.
What should every solo female traveller pack?
Having your picture taken by a stranger or not having people around to take your picture is one of the worst things that can happen when you’re travelling right? My suggestion is, invest in an all-in-one selfie stick. It is a must item I pack when I travel. It is a selfie stick that converts into a tripod, which has a Bluetooth remote that you can link with your phone! Genius, right? No need to bother anyone or have a “bad” picture taken! 😊 In paper form, I always take copies of my identification, boarding passes, hotel reservations and other important documents I might need during my travels. Believe it or not, not all countries are digital, and it is always helpful to have copies of everything just in case! Emergency contact card – I have 2, one with my family and one with my best friend (who lives in Europe) details on it. I carry them like business cards.
POWERBANK – I can not stress enough the importance of always having your devices charged! I get mini panic attacks when my phone’s battery hits 20%, no really, I do. I also take a small emergency kit with me, that contains, band-aids, medicine, sewing kit, feminine products etcetera. You can buy these ready to use as well, but I have created my own, I have this 90% of the time with me, during trips and on a daily basis.
How do you afford your travels, and what tips can you share for keeping costs down while on the road?
I work a 9 to 5 job at a software company (sounds really fancy, I know! lol), so I have a fixed income, which I am truly happy about and blessed to have. I save as much as possible and since I am a one-person household, I do not have a lot of expenses. I don’t tend to go out often, and when I do it is never to spend a whole lot of money. My biggest indulgence is online shopping, cosmetics and buying books – but I am weaning myself off this as well as it breaks the bank. And by the bank I mean my “travel piggy bank” 😊. Maybe this sounds a bit cheap, for lack of better wording, although I prefer smart, and on budget. But there is no shame in my game! Depending on which airline and the length of the haul I am taking, I take my own snacks on the plane with me, and also snacks in my luggage. I never go hungry on a trip let me tell you that! I try to eat as local as possible because A. it’s simply the best! And B. it is never overpriced! I don’t overdo my souvenir shopping, and I try to find the best deals for excursions. Walking, taking local public transport or biking keeps the costs low or free when it comes to transport, rather than taking a taxi or an uber.
“When you are travelling, especially on your own, you are completely dependent on yourself, it is scary, yet so liberating!”
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
Had I known how liberating and fun solo travelling is, I would have started a long time ago! When I was a bit younger with more stamina lol! I wish I knew how capable I was of doing all these things on my own. I am capable and courageous, and those are some of the crucial things I learned. If you never try, you never know.
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?”
The social pressures get to me sometimes. Yes, I do have thoughts during my travel reflections that I am perhaps not doing what I am supposed to be doing. But heck, I push those thoughts away real quick! Experiences, memories and adventure will always trump tangible objects! I do not want to live up to anyone’s expectations except my own. Regardless of what society, my parents, or my friends think of what is expected of me as a young woman, I do me, and I suggest you do you, too!
Enjoy laif! And remember if not now, then cuando? 😊