Solo Female Traveling

I really like traveling by myself. Spend some me-time with this person who I spent most of the time with anyways. But there is usually no time to think about stuff which is bothering me or celebrating life. I love to wake up, stretch and breath, watch sunrise and get a coffee. I do not need to speak to anybody in those thirty minutes. I do not need to see anybody. I brush my teeth without anybody watching. I like to be rushed by none but myself. My me-time is precious to me. Although, I might turn into that old cat-lady (without cats) over time…

Lucie in France
Dress up, make the most out of yourself. © Lucie Täubler, 2018

Three big questions which you will get asked before you depart on your solo trip:

Why do you travel all alone?

If you have ever considered traveling by yourself you have learned quickly, that you’re never traveling alone. There is always someone coming along. There is always someone sitting beside you on the plane, at the airport, at the bus stop, on the bus or the train. There is always a person at the reception, who cares about you (or is not at all interested in what you are doing).

I feel more open-minded if I travel solo. The minute you spend time with a friend, your boy- or girlfriend, a family member or whoever you decide to travel with, you are making compromises and you are always focused on questions like, What are we doing next? Does he/she want to go there? What should we eat? Do not get me wrong, I like those kinds of travels as well and I appreciate to spend time with friends and family. But this openness to share and to let things happen is probably easier to reach just with yourself. You are making all the decisions.

Aren’t you afraid traveling by yourself?

People, especially female friends tend to ask me out of curiosity and anxiety. My typical answer, very courageously put is usually, No! Why should I be scared? But honestly, I am excited to bits. Sometimes I cannot sleep for several days because I am thinking about what will happen and how everything will turn out. Then I read a lot of literature – travel books and guides, blogs and whichever publication comes to my mind – to calm down.

Another thing is, that I have never been in a dangerous situation while traveling. I never felt lost, was never threatened. I generally trust in people and in the good in them. Maybe I was really naive spending over 100 euros for a (illegal) taxi in Santiago de Chile from the airport to my Air BnB. I just hopped in that person’s van and we had a great chat, after which I was ripped off. It sucked. But on the other hand, I felt safe the entire time and I hope he got to spend that amount of money on something worth it. Or there was this time in Washington D.C. where I decided to try to couchsurf and couldn’t get in touch with the person who accepted to share her room with me. But it all turned out well. I had an awesome space to stay at and a wonderful time to spend with people I would have never met otherwise.

Lucie in France
Get yourself a bike, a car or whatever you want to travel about. And explore where you are! The world is yours. © Lucie Täubler, 2018

So no, I am generally not afraid traveling solo.

Do you ever eat out alone then?

Funnily, I think about eating out in restaurants or grabbing a drink at a bar often when I am back at my homebase in Vienna. How would it be? Should I just head out? What would people think? I am in my comfort zone-mode and it is quite hard to take a chance and just change your point of view. I have just finished reading Kristian Ditlev Jensen’s book Ord I Orientekspressen who tells his stories about riding exciting trains throughout the globe. One chapter talks about eating alone in a restaurant and REALLY enjoying it.

I share Kristian D. Jensen’s problems he refers to in his book:

  • Shame whenever you ask for a table for one in a restaurant you are kind of pitied. The waiter feels with you. You are unloved. There is no one you can share your table and food with.
  • Strangers whenever you are eating alone, you are not alone. Like I already said, you are never just by yourself. There is always someone sitting next to you or seated beside you. There might be awkward situations. Sometimes you find yourself in intelligent, nice conversation.
  • Care whenever shame turns into disproportionate care it is very hard for someone to enjoy the food you have ordered. If the waiter (like in the US) asks you Is everything alright? all the time, you tend to doubt yourself if you are alright.

I like the way Kristian D. Jensen also talks about eating out alone as a feast for yourself. I love the way he puts it. You have to learn to go across borders and enjoy eating out alone. Forget about staring into your phone or try to read a book (seriously, who can turn pages and eat at the same time, I have never really got that!). Focus on the food you are served. What are you having? What’s it smell like? Where does it come from? How is it processed? Do you miss anything? There are so many questions to ask yourself while celebrating this feast with yourself.

To be honest, I have enjoyed eating out alone maybe once or twice. But I am not tired to learn. I feel strange and tend to feel ashamed too. If there is anybody sharing the table with me I like to talk to that person. Although it would not be necessary.

I would like to say that I like to eat by myself in a restaurant. Still learning though. That’s what it is all about while traveling solo.

Of course there are many blogs and articles about female solo traveling and how to get on with it (plus which gear to pack if you want to be prepared for any situation):

Janice and Tracey’s Female Solo Travel Tips, find them online and in a book. I really recommend to read through their adventures. Two lovely women I have learned a lot from.

Nomadic Matt’s Female Travel Advice, is very helpful too and you can get sucked into all the information given. Be careful 🙂

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A Trip to Porto and Camino Portugues

Excitement and anxiety meet when I think of my trip to Caminho Portugues with my mam coming up. It’s the ideal birthday present, I thought last year and picked Elena’s very helpful links to surprise my mam. Excitement!

IBH_CaminoPlanning

Now, just a few days before we leave Austria, we are both a little anxious. How will we survive this little journey – on a personal and a physical level.

Be Prepared! Things I would not want to miss:

  1. One hell of a backpack. I chose a 60L +10L @Deuter pack but tried Lowe Alpine Air Zone and Geoffrey. Before you buy one – do not choose color or design first – try it on, walk with the amount of kilos on your back. Then, say yes! For more information on which backpack to eventually buy, please look up some particular hiking or traveling websites like this one.
  2. A pair of walkable hiking shoes. I am not a big fan of hiking, at least I was not until I went to Patagonia in Chile in 2016. This is why I invested to buy proper over-ankeled hiking shoes which took me blisterless from A to B. In this case, I went for hiking shoes in Winter and took some by Mammut.
  3. Sun protection, lotionwise and  on top. Even though I will be starting in mid-April to walk the St. James the sun in Portugal is stronger, more effective and my skin is (after spending months inside) not used to direct sun. I really (yes, really) take SPF factor 50+ with me, just in case. And a hat. Do not forget the hat. Or buy one on your way!
  4. The playlist of your dreams. I know, it is not essential. But it helps you on a personal level to calm down, to let go of anger or frustration throughout the way. Music is a very intense partner when I am traveling. I have started to pick some walking songs… listen!
  5. The lightest travel journal on earth. Also, not an essential. But still, even if you take pictures or think you will remember your emotions and your experiences and even your new friends. Better write it down. I like to end the day with a short story about the day in a hand written travel journal.

 

Schedule your time!

Thoughtful prep involve buying the right guide book. I was told that this one is the best to follow (in German). I know that my mam and I will not stay in Pilgrim hostels but in Bed & Breakfasts on the way. I have not booked anything in advance.

I can also recommend these guides:

Bring your camera (phone)!

While I usually travel with a Canon LSR camera (just a really basic one) I decided to bring an analogue camera plus my iPhone with me. I got these adaptable lenses by thumbsUp! – you should try these. A 20 Euro pack of 3 lenses (wide, fish eye and macro) is very little luggage and still effective.

Furthermore…

I suggest not to carry more than 10% of your body weight on your back. I will offer you a packing list before I start the big trip, so keep yourself updated!

And: do not forget to get yourself a Shell of St. James to carry with you.

Talk soon, Lucie