Conquering the World: A Female’s Guide to Traveling Solo

I decided to travel to Europe by myself and explore and adventure wherever I chose. I mean yes, I had an itinerary, but I really decided what I wanted to do for the day when I woke up that morning. It was so spontaneous and unlike me, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I didn’t go crazy and go tattooing my forehead saying “YOLO!” But I did learn to conquer my fear of heights by climbing the Eiffel Tower, (SO MANY STAIRS) which really encouraged me to do other things abroad that I wouldn’t normally be able to do in the United States.

Almost 3 years have passed now and I have continued to be inspired by the idea of traveling and going on crazy adventurous because, why not? I hiked to the nest of wild gorillas in Rwanda, Africa last summer, something I am very fortunate to have done. Hands down the best experience of my life. These types of experiences have really shaped my life and made me fortunate to be the person I am today. Having those once in a lifetime experiences are crucial to living life to the fullest. We really DO live once, so why not make the most of it?

It’s Not a Goodbye, It’s a See You Later

All good things have to come to an end, right?

Well, you’re in luck! I have enjoyed writing this blog throughout the last 10 weeks. I want to thank you for reading this, because it has really pushed me as a writer seeing all of your feedback on Facebook. Researching different blogs has taught me how to write a successful blog, and the criticism I have received has helped me along the way in order to have a successful blog. I have met so many new, different individuals through my ideas and visions of this travel blog. Their words of encouragement have really helped along the way as well.

I think it’s important to learn something new with everything you take on in life. I have gained so much knowledge from this blog and I will be able to use that information in the future to help myself in becoming a successful blogger. I really want to thank Nomadic Matt, because his blog was the main inspiration for mine. Reading his posts have inspired me to get out there in the world and go explore, and I hope my blog had the same effect on you.

It’s not over! I will continue to write on this blog as I meet new people that inspire me to be more adventurous with this life I have. Meeting people that push your boundaries is important in life, and I would love to continue to share those stories with you in the future.

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Updates will continue to be posted on Facebook 🙂

Sneak Peak!

I have loved travel ever since I moved to New Hampshire in 2002. Such a long time ago, I know. But ever since I got on the plane to move across the country, I knew that traveling would be a big part of my life. I have been to almost every continent at only the age of 18, and I am so beyond lucky to have a mother who is successful enough to take me on trips and venture out into the world to experience new surroundings.

When I was 12, I took a trip to Europe all by myself for a month. I met up with people once I was there, but I (unusually) didn’t go with any of my family or friends. When I was 17, I went to Costa Rica for a week over Spring Break with my family (Yes, all 7 of us!) And the summer I graduated high school, I was lucky enough to go to Istanbul, Bulgaria, Romania, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Because I am 19 and an experienced traveler now, I know how much time and effort goes into a successful and worthwhile trip. These women that I have interviewed fully know what it takes to successfully travel on their own. Is it different than if men traveled alone? Do people take you seriously everywhere you go? Enjoy the video below to get a glimpse on how these females conquered the world on their own journeys.

Full video coming soon!

Status Check

Well, how am I doing??

Now as I mentioned in the beginning, this is the first time I have ever written a blog, so I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t be perfect. Throughout the 10 weeks I have blogged, I have posted on Facebook and Twitter, and I have let my family and friends know about my blog in order to get some honest feedback on how I can improve. I thought I’d share some of this feedback with you, in order to make my blog better and more successful for you guys!

The one blog that has really inspired me is Nomadic Matt’s.  He continues to blog today, and each of his posts always engage the audience and encourage me to want to travel. I also really liked Poly Places, because it has a great layout and has images that really enhance the posts.

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The first piece of criticism was actually from my mom. After my first blog post, she said, “You should tell more of a story so that my readers are engaged with what you have to say.” I took this constructive criticism towards my next blog post, and followed more people’s stories, instead of sharing ordinary information.

Another piece of advice I received was from Sin Mei Chan, one of the people I interviewed for my road trip blog who was interested in my blog from the moment I asked to interview her. She said that my first blog post was “too long,” so I shortened it significantly and made it more engaging for my readers.

One of my fellow classmates in my other Journalism Class, Katie Mandsager, was also very engaged in my blog throughout the quarter. She said she appreciated all the information regarding my first Big Blog regarding the road trip, however, she said, “You should write a blog about traveling abroad, since a lot of your readers are your age and looking to travel abroad next year.” My next blog, as a result, was on the topic of studying abroad.

I have been able to take most of the constructive criticism that I have received and taken into consideration, until I received criticism from two High School friends on Twitter, saying “the layout of your webpage was a little hard to use.” At the 5th week in of my blog, it was difficult to change the layout of the webpage without hindering too much of my information. But I took their advice and in my next blog, I created more subtitles and bullet points so that it was easier to navigate through each post.

This blog has been nothing but a learning experience for me. I have learned to write each post more casual and conversational than the previous one. It’s gotten easier with each post, but it was really hard in the beginning to write in such a conversational tone.

I have learned so much, and I will only grow from here. I hope that you keep up with this blog, because I won’t stop posting until I get back from my own study abroad experience next year!

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Instagram – Social Media’s way of traveling

Instagram has become our world,”says New York Times journalist Vanessa Friedman. With over 300 million users, Instagram is officially THE App to be a part of. Whether posting about the food you’re eating, or posting about you and your friends, people have become addicted to posting pictures of themselves and what they’re doing. Instagram is truly a revolutionary way for our generation to post whatever they’re feeling. So how can it help you when you’re traveling?

With the new update, Instagram has made it easy to search for anything you want. They have categorized their search engine page with “Popular,” “People,” “Tags,” and “Places.” These categories make it very easy to search anything from famous celebrities to places that you’ve never been. As a traveler, Instagram can provide you with more information than you ever thought would be helpful. Here are a few reasons why Instagram can help you travel around the world!

  1. Seeing other people’s pictures will inspire you
  2. You can easily search your desired location
  3. Searching hashtags will make it easier on you to find adventurous places to travel to
  4. Family and friends from home can see your pictures and virtually travel with you
  5. It is convenient to find deals through travel companies through their pages

Travel agencies like Travel and Leisure have accounts, posting pictures of deals and giveaways they’re having, as well as posting pictures of places you didn’t even know existed.

One of my classmates, Tam Le, studied abroad for an entire year. She said that seeing pictures on Instagram actually encouraged her to go to new places through pictures other people were posting. It showed her what other people were doing in the country she was in, which helped her to become a more “adventurous traveler,” she said.

This APP can help you, too! It’s not only there for posting pictures of your everyday life, but it can inspire people all over the world to do what you’re doing. DOWNLOAD THIS APP! It will greatly inspire you through the pictures people post, like it did to Le, to be more adventurous and travel to  new places you never thought you’d be.

Most Dangerous Place You’ve Ever Been

There are so many opportunities to conquer your fears when you’re traveling. With different surroundings than you’re used to, your freedom to try new things is endless. Traveling comes hand and hand with new adventures. It forces you to self reflect and face your fears because there are new daring and adventurous activities that are specific to the region you’re traveling in.

Yes, facing fears in foreign countries can certainly be more terrifying than facing them in your home country. Many tourists find their safety to be at risk when doing things out of their comfort zones. However, the thrill of conquering them in an exotic location makes the adventure that much more memorable. Today, more than ever before, we really do have the world at our fingertips. All of the resources we need in order to have a safe yet daredevil-like adventure are available to us, so GO FOR IT.

There is only one Eiffel Tower in the entire world, so why not climb it? One of the most common fears is of heights,  yet thousands of people every day climb the Eiffel Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful country of France. The London Eye location in the heart of London, is another popular attraction amongst tourists, because you can get a great view of the country of England.

Adventurous excursions for tourists are also great opportunities for facing fears. Most countries take advantage of their unique landscapes and have different activities for tourists to try. Many of these excursions specific to each country’s unique surrounding end up pushing tourists’ fears to the limit.

Costa Rica is home of the world’s highest zip line. The zip line spans over two miles, with amazing views of the famous active Arenal Volcano. With lush jungles and ancient volcanoes, Costa Rican adventure companies take advantage of their landscapes to provide tourists with a thrilling way of seeing their beautiful country. Many people are afraid of taking such a leap of faith in a foreign country. But if tourists conquer their fears while traveling, it makes the overall experience that much more memorable.

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Ziplining in Costa Rica

Tam Le, an architectural engineering major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, traveled around all of Europe through a Cal Poly study abroad program. She traveled to dozens of countries alongside other architectural engineering students. She also took many day trips to different countries by herself and took advantage of her time in Europe. Along her year long exploration, Le went to Morocco. She said, “The culture of Morocco was remarkable. It’s completely unlike anything I’ve ever seen; the architecture is remarkable.”

However, not all moments of the journey were fantastic. Le said, “I will never forget the moment I thought I was going to die.” While in Morocco, Le was in a taxi car driving through the beginning of a tsunami, and had to cross a flooded river in the car in order to not drown. “My adrenaline has truly never been so high.” This experience enhanced Le’s trip because it made her appreciate everything else that much more.

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Tam Le in Morrocco, Africa

Shayne Jarrett, a Cal Poly Child Development Major, had a similar experience while also studying abroad in Thailand this past summer.

Jarrett decided to expose herself to a completely different experience than she’s normally used to. She is from London, England, so she grew up traveling around Europe with her parents. Going to Asia was completely different for her because she’s so used to the European and American lifestyle. “I did have a very scary experience, though, in Koh Tao.” On their last night on the island, Jarrett and her friends got lost on the beach because the weather was stormy. The tide “crept up” on them, and they almost got swept away. “It was insane. I thought that I was going to die from drowning in the ocean,” said Jarrett.

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Shayne Jarrett and her friends in Koh Tao, Thailand

This experience made Jarrett realize that she personally doesn’t like to push her boundaries to the fullest. She said she was doing things throughout her trip that were outside her comfort zone, but that this experience made her realize that risking her life is not something she ever wants to do again. “It made me notice that I personally don’t like to push my boundaries to the fullest, risking my entire life for just one moment. I would rather play it safe.”

Experiences such as these taught Le and Jarrett to be adventurous but to also be smart and try to avoid activities that are at a really high risk. Le says, “When you’re in foreign countries, it is important to see a somewhat low profile and don’t go into a country uneducated, especially in countries that have a completely different culture you aren’t familiar with.” She also said that it is crucial to be aware at all times and keep your cool in emergency situations.

Melissa Becker, a scientist for the Marine Mammal Center in San Francisco, began traveling to exotic locations while she was attending Santa Clara University. She has been to several different destinations through the Marine Mammal Center, many of which  she said were very dangerous. These dangerous expeditions she’s been on for work make Becker consider herself an expert traveler. Her most dangerous experience, she said, was when she was sent out to do a scientific research study in Greenland.

“I have never felt so endangered.” Becker was out on a research project mission sampling pods of Killer Whales, when an avalanche hit the town next to her and shook the entire slate of ice. “I thought that our campsite was going to go under. It was very scary.”

Becker, being a mother of two, never went on another “arctic adventure” due to her experience in Greenland. She learned that it was not worth it for her to risk her life and her family to go on dangerous trips for scientific exploration. “I conquered my fear of putting myself in a dangerous situation, and that’s all I can ask of myself.”

Below is a map and layout of the most dangerous places Le, Jarrett, Becker, and myself have ever been.

There’s always danger in traveling. Natural disasters such as the ones Le, Jarrett, and Becker experienced, are hard to avoid once they are already happening. Living through these experiences makes you appreciate your life and the rest of your travel experience that much more. Becker says you can look at these types of situations with 2 mentalities: Glass half full, or glass half empty. “Learning about yourself is the best way to come out of a dangerous situation,” says Becker. It’s important to value life and your experiences, even if they are life threatening and dangerous.


Thomas P. Peschak

Thomas P. Peschak is a famous photographer for the award winning magazine National Geographic, as well as the Director of Conservation for the Save our Seas Foundation. His work can best be classified as the shots that others wouldn’t dare to take under the water, as most of his photos are daring pictures of himself alongside sharks below the ocean’s surface.

His original love for travel stemmed from photography, as he likes to consistently push the boundaries with his photos, challenging himself with new expectations after every picture. His interests as a young adult lied in marine biology; however, through National Geographic and environmental photojournalism, he was able to find his passion for photographing the mammals he loves most: Sharks.

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Through breathtaking photos like this one, Thomas became one of the most sought after photographers on the National Geographic team. He has won several awards, such as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, as well as the World Press Photo Award for his work. He is now able to travel to different countries around the world in order to take these insanely breathtaking pictures for National Geographic.

Additional information on Peschak can be found here!

Where do YOU want to go?

We dream of traveling to different regions of the world everyday, but where would you go right this second if you were given the opportunity to travel for one whole month? Vote Now, your feedback is greatly appreciated!

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Thank You!

UPDATE: From the comments on the post on Facebook, Europe wins, with 68 votes! Thanks for participating 🙂