Solo Travel Tips: 15 Things You Need To Know

Traveling alone was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After over a year and a half of solo travel, here are my best tips:

Solo Feamale Travel Tips: What You Need To Know

1. Don’t Be A Stress Mess 

I will be completely honest here – I had a MASSIVE breakdown in San Francisco airport, while I was standing in line to go through security, immediately after my parents dropped me off for the first flight on my never-ending solo journey around the world. I had to resort to taking deep breaths in my hands. If only I could tell my SFO-breakdown-self what I know now – take it one day at a time! After that initial round of questioning why you would ever sign up for this, you’ll realize how amazing and rewarding solo travel really is.

2. Carry the Right Gear

As a solo traveler, you won’t have any strong man candy to lug around those extra large suitcases, so try packing light. I carry only a 44L backpack, and a day bag. By packing carry on only, you’ll be able to easily carry around your own luggage, plus you’ll save on checked baggage fees – ka-ching!

Tortuga Around the World Backpack 44L

3. Stay Where You’re Comfortable

When I was traveling through Europe, I did Couchsurfing, and loved it. In Central and South America, I tried out hostels. I was not too keen on the large dorm rooms full of anywhere from 8 to 16 people, but I was a fan of private rooms. I can be a light sleeper, so though it was more expensive to get a private room, I was able to sleep. I’m now a huge fan of Airbnb, as they have some excellent budget options (and some crazy cool villas, if you’re looking to splurge). Sign up to Airbnb here to get free travel credit when you book your first place!

4. Don’t be Afraid to Splurge

When I first started traveling, I was a bit freaked out to see so much money going out of my bank account and not much coming in. This sometimes made me want to stay home all day and inhale mass amounts of baguettes and red wine. But remember – you may never come back to this place. Carpe diem, seize the day, mi amor! Take advantage of where you are and do all the things you’ve always wanted to do – it’s been scientifically proven that we feel best when spending our hard earned money on experiences, so why not book that coffee tour in Colombia or go to the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai?!

Solo Female Travel Tips: What You Need To Know

5. You WILL Make Friends

I’ve met so many people while traveling the world. I’ve made far more friends in the past year than I have in any previous year of my life. If you are looking to make friends while traveling, check out my video on the subject. Also, consider couchsurfing (you’ll become automatic bff’s with your local host), and private or dorm rooms at hostels (check out reviews to make sure it’s a social hostel).

6. Learn to Take Your Own Travel Photos

The number one mistake I made when I started traveling was being shy about asking people to take my photo. I was even shy about taking selfies. I was happy to be immersed in the place I was visiting, but now I have no photos to look back on of myself in those places. Learn from my mistakes and take your own solo travel photos.

Take Your Own Solo Travel Pics

7. Research Before You Go

I felt fully prepared when I left for my trip, because I had done hundreds of hours of research on budget and solo travel. I scoured the internet for weeks to learn everything I could about travel hacking, solo travel on a budget, solo female travel, couchsurfing, and what you need to know as a solo female traveler. If you want to save some time, consider downloading a copy of my ebook, where I’ve compiled all the info into one easy resource.

8. Know And Prepare for What Makes You Unique

Everyone has their thing. For me, that thing is veganism. Though it’s been surprisingly easy to find vegan food around the world, I’ve made it even easier by using resources such as the Happy Cow app and searching for vegan friendly restaurants before I get to a destination. (See my favorite vegan restaurants in the most vegan friendly cities in the world).

Finding Vegan Food Around the World

9. Get Inspired

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to read travel websites and blogs. Research the places that you are going, pick the restaurants you want to visit, and search on instagram to see some of the beautiful photos taken there of places you may want to visit.

10. Be Smart, Cautious, and Aware

I have quite a few tips on safety in my book, but the main point is to just be aware of your surroundings. Know which areas to avoid, don’t carry your phone in your back pocket, and if you’re in a busy place, keep an eye on your stuff.

11. Dress Like a Local

To avoid looking like a complete tourist, try dressing like the locals. This will help you blend in, and help prevent you from being a target of a mugging.

Tips for Solo Female Travel

12. Walk Everywhere

I always prefer walking over using public transport, because it’s usually a much more immersive experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still use public transport, but taking the long way has definitely resulted in finding more than a few hidden gems.

13. Try To Arrive During the Day

Believe me, this one will save you so much hassle. I’ve arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport at midnight, train system down for the night, with no way of getting to my airbnb. I ended up taking a very sketchy taxi. I would have felt much better arriving during the day when I would have had the chance to take the trains.

Tips For Solo Female Travel

14. Keep a Copy Of Your Passport and Important Documents

Maybe keep a few in a couple different places (suitcase, purse, money belt, etc). I also keep a photo of my passport on my phone and computer.

15. solo travel is Easier Than You Think

Most importantly, take that flight, explore, and have an amazing trip. Solo travel is insanely liberating and so powerful. Bring your positive attitude, embrace whatever comes, and explore to the best of your capabilities.

Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.

Check out my ebook full of tips and tricks for solo female travel!

How To Travel The World On A Budget

 




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Bradley’s Head: Sydney Hiking

One of my favorite things about Sydney is the great hiking. One sunny Saturday, I took the trek along the harbor from Chowder Bay to Bradley’s Head. I started out at Clifton Gardens, the park inside of Chowder Bay.

Chowder Bay

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Here, I found the tiniest coffee shop I’ve ever seen. The coffee shop is inside an old military bunker, and the patio outside makes for great scenery to sip on a hot cup of coffee.

Bradley's Head Hike Sydney

After I was all fueled up on my {favorite aussie coffee} soy cappuccino, I headed up the trail toward Bradley’s Head.

The Trek

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

The path is meant to take about an hour; it’s 2.5 km long. It’s one of the most beautiful walking paths I’ve found in Sydney. Stroll through the dense vegetation with harbor views to your left – the views on this walk are breathtaking!

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Bradley’s Head

At Bradley’s head, see a massive lighthouse, plus the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House!

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Once you get to Bradley’s Head, sit and have a picnic on the grass (if you packed one); the park is very cute. Or walk a few more meters to the ferry terminal at Taronga Zoo and take the ferry to the city. The ferry is super fun and I highly recommend it; Sydney has very cute ferries and the scenery isn’t bad, either.

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

This is a great way to spend a sunny Sydney day – get your runners on, pack some water and snacks, and get outside! Just don’t forget your camera 🙂

Check out the hike I did the following weekend: the Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach coastal trek!

 

 

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Getting To Machu Picchu: The Lost City of the Incas

Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – and for good reason. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

I visited Machu Picchu in May 2016; it was the end of my first trip to South America. I started off by spending a few days in Cusco, the adorable little city that acts as the hub for tourists to acclimate to the elevation before going to Machu Picchu, which is located in Aguas Calientes.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

I stayed in Cusco for five days before heading to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu. I didn’t think I had any problems acclimating to the elevation, until I took a flight of stairs to get to my hostel dorm. It was a bit tough to get up, but I’m not sure if that is from the elevation or the shape I am in 😉

I booked a tour from a local tour company to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu, which cost $200 USD and included the following:

  • Transport by van to the railway to get to Aguas Calientes (there is a 3 hour drive before a 30 mins train ride), and back to Cusco
  • Hotel room for one night (one room, two twin beds, shared with my brother)
  • Lunch, Dinner on day one; Breakfast on day 2
  • Tour guide for your exploration of Machu Picchu
  • Ticket entry to Machu Picchu

This tour did NOT include the following:

  • train service from Hidroelectrico to Aguas Calientes (a 30 min, $30 train ride, or about 3-4 hour hike)
  • the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (a 10 min, $18 bus ride, or 1 hour hike)

We left on this tour early in the morning on Day 1. We met at the city center, hopped in a taxi van, and were driven about 3 hours out of Cusco to Hidroelectrico. We had a pit stop to use the restroom and grab a coffee/lunch/snack if we needed it. We drove a bit more and then had another stop off for lunch, at an open concept, local restaurant surrounded by mountains.

We arrived in Hidroelectrico (where the road ends) at about 2:30 PM. My brother and I were interested in a little hike, so we strapped our backpacks on and began the trek along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes with the rest of our group.

Getting To Machu Picchu

Getting To Machu Picchu

The hike had some beautiful views, and took us about 3 hours to get to Aguas Calientes. We trekked up the mountain into the city just as the sun was about to set. We were assigned a room at the hotel, had a briefing with the tour guide, and then went to sleep, as we had an early morning.

Getting To Machu Picchu

We woke up at 4 am the next day to head up to Machu Picchu. My brother and I had purchased round trip tickets for the bus to get up to Machu Picchu the night before. Another option is to hike up the mountain; it’s a very steep, 1 hour hike, which you’ll have to begin at 4 am. I’m not a morning person, so bus tickets were worth the $36 round trip to me. Pro Tip: if you are in decent shape before going to Machu Picchu, you can save a pretty penny on transport by hiking.

We got in to Machu Picchu early in the morning and walked through the ruins with a guide. It was so foggy, but the guide said it could clear up before we left.

Getting To Machu Picchu

Getting To Machu Picchu

After our guided tour, which was very informative, we had a couple hours to wander. The llamas were all over the place. I actually had to jump out of the way while walking up some stairs to avoid getting stampeded by a llama!

Getting To Machu Picchu

Getting To Machu Picchu

We walked up to the top of the mountain for the best view – but it was still a bit foggy.

Getting To Machu Picchu

Overall, it was a great trip. If you’d like to see Machu Picchu, I’d highly recommend going sooner rather than later. The tour guide mentioned that the tourism at Machu Picchu is causing some erosion of the mountain – meaning that it could be shut down to tourists as soon as two years from now!

Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu: 

  • Save money by hiking versus taking expensive transport
  • Bring food into Machu Picchu – there is one restaurant there and it’s very expensive
  • Don’t overpack – this will make it easier to hike and get around in general
  • I would recommend not booking a tour, or booking a 3+ day tour, to get the most amount of time at Machu Picchu (I was only at Machu Picchu for about 4 hours total; not very much time considering how long it took to get there)
  • Bring water
  • Wear layers, as it gets very cool and windy
  • Bring an umbrella and rain poncho even if you don’t go during the rainy season
  • If you have time, spend a couple days in Aguas Calientes. It’s a cute little town and full of natural beauty – take a soak in the hot springs or take a hike outside of the town to see waterfalls

Machu Picchu

 

 

 

 

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Day Trips from Melbourne: Great Ocean Road & Twelve Apostles

On a cloudy Wednesday morning, I woke up, packed a lunch, made a to-go coffee, and hopped in the car. A friend and I were off to drive down the famous Great Ocean Road!

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

The drive was estimated at 4 hours, so we planned to be at the Twelve Apostles by 3 PM, after leaving at 11 AM. We had snacks, we had water, I had a large supply of black coffee. We were set.

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

We took the long way, driving to Torquay, along the ocean. The cliffs and beaches reminded me a bit of home in California, but the color of the ocean here is so much lighter.

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, AustraliaGreat Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

It’s fall in Melbourne right now, and as typical of Melbourne weather, we had a bit of wind, a bit of rain, and a bit of sun. Luckily, we were able to get some sun at all of the places I had wanted to stop off.

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

We drove past Torquay, through Anglesea, and along the jagged cliffs of the ocean. The road was beautiful, though it could be a bit rough if you are prone to car sickness. Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Australia

We stopped to take photos at a few places, and ended up cutting our time pretty close. The sun sets at 5:30 PM in Melbourne during the fall. Luckily, after a bit of stress, a bit of car dancing, and a lot of snacks, we made it to the Twelve Apostles at 4:45 PM – just in time for the sunset! Twelve Apostles, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia 5

It was freezing cold and super windy, but the view of the cerulean ocean and the steep, jagged cliffs made the long drive completely worth it. I was blown away by the natural beauty of this magical place.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Day Trip from Melbourne

We took the shortest way possible home, singing in the car, dancing, and eating potato chips all the way back to Melbourne. It was a wonderful ending to an unforgettable day.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Day Trip from Melbourne

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Day Trip from Melbourne

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Day Trip from Melbourne

Let Me Know!

  • Have you ever driven the Great Ocean Road?
  • Would you add it to your list?

 

 

 

 

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Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you are considering a trip to Thailand, you can’t leave out a visit to play with elephants outside of Chiang Mai. I’ve been to Chiang Mai twice, visiting the elephants both times, and each time that was the highlight of my trip. Elephants are the sweetest and most playful creatures, and spending a day with them is guaranteed to become a memory you’ll never forget.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai Thailand

The sad truth about elephants in Thailand is that so many places will torture and abuse the elephants to make it possible for the elephants to be ridden. An elephant’s spine is not naturally strong enough to carry a little hut for humans to ride in, and they have to go through so much pain and abuse to be able to carry those.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai Thailand

If you’d like to visit and play with elephants without contributing to their abuse, I would highly recommend visiting a sanctuary! I’ve visited two elephant sanctuaries, my favorite being Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai Thailand

When you book a trip with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, you’ll have the opportunity to play with elephants in a loving and caring environment. You’ll have the chance to feed them bananas and sugarcane (their favorite!), pet them, bathe them, and take loads of photos with them. These elephants have been rescued from the abusive environments of parks, and now have a loving home.

You get the option of many different tour packages with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, the most common being a half day or full day. You can even stay multiple days if you have the time! I opted for the half day, but that quickly became a regret, as I only was with the elephants for a few hours (the park is about an hour and a half drive outside of Chiang Mai). I would recommend splurging on the full day tour (still only about $70 USD). The tours usually include a ride to and from the park, and a meal, plus a couple bottles of water per person.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai Thailand

The elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary are well taken care of and happy – you can see it on their faces. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, I highly recommend booking a tour with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary!

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai Thailand

For more info on Chiang Mai (and to see why I made it my home for three months!), check out my Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai.

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