1. You are never alone.
Traveling abroad solo can be anxiety inducing, but it can be so much fun and rewarding! I look back over the nine months I was gone and say, “I did that”! I wear it like a badge of honor, because not many [black] women travel solo! When I boarded my first flight from LA to Fiji, I was like what am I doing? But once the flight took off my worries seemed to dissipate.
Once I landed and got to my hostel, I made fast friends. Hostels are a great way for solo travelers to meet other people and hang out, go see the highlights of the city, and/or go grab some food with! They may have been in a city that you’re headed to and can give you pointers, or they may be headed to the same city or country as you and you guys decide to travel together! Instant travel buddies! I was blessed enough to have met three girls while in Bangkok, Thailand that I ended up traveling with for about two weeks. My first day in Bangkok, we all went to lunch and we talked about what we wanted to see in Northern Thailand, and before you knew it we made plans to travel together! My time with these women (1 Italian American & 2 French Canadians) was completely priceless and I will never ever forget our times together. We tried new foods, got a mani/pedi on the street, got $5 massages together, and I even learned some French, but don’t ask me to speak any full sentences lol!
2. You may be independent but you still need help.
Nobody ever thinks it’ll happen nor can they fully prepare for it, but I ended up in a hospital for 8 days as soon as I landed in Auckland, NZ. Mind you I was only in my second week of traveling, and I found myself at the furthest point away from my family and support system! I’ve never been hospitalized before and to be in a foreign hospital can really play with your mind. I was embarrassed and sad, but like my family told me it was time for me to slow down and let someone take care of me.
I had some pretty awesome people to help me along the way during my recovery! Like my new found Swedish friends, that I met in Perth, Australia said, just let us help you in any way we can! And believe it or not, they stayed true to their word! They took me to the grocery store, to the doctor, and to some pretty awesome beaches! I’ll always be grateful to them for helping my recovery and keeping my spirits high! Moral of the story…don’t shut people out! You could receive an unexpected blessing of lifelong friendship,because you cannot plan for the unexpected and sometimes you just have to laugh at life’s lessons!
3. You become an expert Accountant & Financial Advisor.
Well…maybe not a total expert, but if you quit your job like I did to travel with no income you will become the Budget Master! I promise, if there is a will there is a way! It took me about four years to plan this trip, so I wanted to make sure I had enough saved up for some “oops” moments (like getting ripped off by a taxi driver or misplacing money) and also some splurge moments! Did I NEED a sari or traditional Vietnamese dress? No, but I did have some wiggle room to get it! And might I add…I looked amazing in my sari at the Taj Mahal! 🙂
4. You do what you gotta do!
Whether that’s staying in a cheap hostel, Couchsurfing, eating $1 street noodles, walking a couple blocks until you find that AMAZING deal on some clothing, you will make your trip as good as you want to make it! There were somethings that I wanted to do or see, but decided against it because of the cost. Knowing your budget and sticking to it, is nothing to be ashamed of! I actually extended my trip three different times, because I realized I had the funds to do so! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
5. Keeping an open mind & be in the moment!
Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and ride the waves that come your way. You may find yourself in uncharted territory, like eating noodles on the side of the road or listening to an old monk talk about life. It’s awesome moments like these, that if you don’t open yourself t,o you will miss. If you keep an open mind, you may befriend the local Vietnamese noodle woman or hear war stories from a former Bosnian soldier. I can’t tell you how many life-enriching stories I heard, how many friends I made, or how many free bowls of noodles or fried rice I consumed because I just allowed myself to be in the moment! Give a stranger the chance to possibly change your outlook on life!
6. Have fun!
I was on an extended vacation…don’t forget to have fun! Traveling long-term can start to wear on you, hopping from bus to bus, or sleeping on hard wooden floors, or eating weird foods that may mess up your stomach can be tiresome after awhile; but I had to remind myself that I was on a trip of a lifetime! Even though there maybe some glitches and unexpected things that happen, you must remember to keep smiling and remember life happens! Try to enjoy the good and positive things that happen on your trip! Go out and meet new people, try new things, something that you might never have dreamed of doing…now is your time!
Try new & weird foods, go tubing (and drink) down a river in Laos, go ride camels at the pyramids of Giza, or take that random trip to India and go see the Taj Mahal in your sari! The point is…JUST GO! Have fun while doing it and you’ve got the power to make your trip an absolute blast, and be something that you will truly always remember and cherish!
I know 2016 was one of the best years of my life, and here’s to 2017 being even better and achieving new dreams and goals! Be blessed!