My overall experience as a Solo Female Traveller

I started to write this post just after my first solo trip to Europe. I’ve now come back to it, 2 years later and after 8 months of solo travel around Central and South America. I’ve grown so much in that time so lets see whether 2020 Nay was right or still had a lot of learning to do.

2020 me: It’s not as difficult as you think it will be to make friends. I’m so much more confident than I thought I was. When you’re put in the situation, you will crack on with it and it really isn’t as daunting as you thought it’d be.
2022 me: I can’t agree more. I’d be inclined to now rephrase the term making friends and call it making acquaintances. It’s so easy to get chatting to someone, become surface level friends and spend a day or two travelling around together. But it’s usually pretty clear from the get go who’s going to be a good friend and who you’ll probably never see again.
Sometimes you just don’t want to do things alone so you’ll do it with someone without really wanting to spend too much time with them and there will also be days where you don’t want to make friends and that’s totally ok, you just keep yourself to yourself and carry on.
But there are also the people who you may not stay in touch with forever, but they’re special and have a big impact on you and your journey. There are also some friends you’ll make who mean everything to you and you can no longer imagine life without – they’re special and not so common, but it happens for sure.
Looking back at my confidence level when I first started travelling is wild. I’ve done a lot of growing and learning in other ways which has contributed to my confidence levels, but I can confidently say, the more you travel, the more your confidence will grow. You realise that you don’t have the time to not just go for things or talk to people. And more often than not, you’re all in the same boat so it’s more a game of who’s going to say hi first.

2020 me: You definitely don’t need everything you think you will – pack the clothes you want and then half it.
2022 me: A heavy bag is not fun – granted I’ve got pretty used to it now and I can definitely manage a heavy bag when I have to, but if you can help it, your life will be so much easier if you pack light and people won’t look at you like you’re insane when they try to lift a bag that weighs a tonne.
If you’re unsure if you’ll wear something, or if it’s something you don’t wear at home, but think ‘It’ll be a great opportunity to wear that whilst travelling’ you’re lying to yourself. Don’t pack it. Pack the things you know you love to wear, things that are comfortable and versatile.
A good rule of thumb is to take things that you won’t be heartbroken over if they get lost, ruined or stolen. These things happen and most likely something will get ruined in the wash, so anything precious – probably best to leave at home.

2020 me: Don’t get too attached to the friends you make, you’ll probably never see them again. But you may also make friends for life.
2022 me: Briefly touching on this one above, I think you learn to know who’s going to be long term and who’s not. And honestly you probably won’t see many people again, unless you see them along the way of the same trip. If you really bond with someone and it’s mutual, you can make sure that you see each other again. It’s always nice to have the option to visit some new countries and have people to stay with!

2020 me: Always turn around. As you’re walking, you take in so much beautiful stuff in front of you, but if you don’t turn around every once in a while you can miss another perspective of what’s there – I feel like there might be something philosophical in there somewhere but who knows.
2022 me: Damn I love this one and I still don’t always do this! The more I see, experience and have delved into my inner self, the more I practice being present in my day-to-day doings, and appreciating the beauty in every thing and moment is part of my re-wired brain. But I do love the way I phrased that – go 2020 Nay.

2020 me: Some people are strange and will ask you to borrow your flip flops – never say yes (who tf does that) this literally happened twice.
2022 me: This one honestly went straight over my head and I have no recollection of what this was in reference to. However, if someone asked me for my flipflops now – context dependant, I’d probably give them away. I’ve seen a lot of how the world isn’t as easy on some and opportunities for what we (western society) see as a standard way of living doesn’t come as easy to many people and places around the world. So a cheap pair of flip-flops to me, are so much more to someone else. My travel budget is tight and I really don’t have a lot of money in my pocket, but if I really needed it I can get money from friends and family. A lot of people don’t have that luxury so where I can, I will always give a little to those who need it.
That may not have been the context of the original comment, but that’s where my heart took me.

It’s funny to think and look back on when I first started out my travels – so much has changed and I’ve grown so much as a person. Travel is truly amazing for expanding your awareness and deepening your perspective on life.

It’s Not All Sunshine and Beaches

If you take the things you see on the internet as real life, you’d think that pretty much everyone is living the absolute perfect life with no troubles, no upsets and always having the best time. In reality this is far, far from the truth in most, if not all cases.

Especially when it comes to travel, I think it’s super important to be transparent and make it clear that although my Instagram may look like a collection of beautiful landscapes, pretty buildings and fun times, whilst these are some of the real and amazing experiences captured on camera – there are so many instances of the opposite nature which aren’t captured, because lets be honest, when I’m lay in bed crying, my first thought isn’t ‘I want to remember this moment, take a picture of me!’.

So this leads me to my honest update of things that haven’t gone so well in my last 7 months of travelling Central America.


Stolen Phone
Surprisingly, this one didn’t overly bother me at the time and still doesn’t particularly phase me. The most annoying fact was that I lost my phone number, and let me tell you trying to access accounts without your number is not an easy feat.
On a beach, out of hours, with 2 friends and a bottle of rum was the recipe for an amazing night. Singing, dancing under the stars with not a care in the world will forever remain to be one of my travel highlights.
I’m an extremely cautious person and not the most trusting of people I don’t know, and this has unfortunately reaffirmed these feelings. When you’re on a huge beach and a random lone person asks if they can hang their hammock right behind you, (when there are about 1,000 other spots that they could hang it) its a little bit suspicious right?
The beginning of this encounter didn’t sit right with me, so generally I kept my distance and continued to just enjoy my night. Unfortunately these kinds of people are opportunists and will put in 4 hours of work to be friendly, watch you closely, let your guard slip and take advantage in those 2 minutes you take your eye off the ball.
More than anything, I’m grateful that he took my phone when he had the chance and things didn’t get ugly. You never know what desperation will cause a person to do, and I can only imagine putting in 4 hours ‘work’ to leave with nothing wasn’t particularly an option for this guy.

Broken ears
I’m usually an extremely risk adverse person and will avoid doing things which could potentially result in injury. A prime example of this being jumping off a 15m platform into a lake.
I know people do this kind of thing all the time and are absolutely fine, but jumping into deep water with absolutely no experience of jumping off anything other than the side of the pool didn’t seem like a good idea to me. And honestly, kind of proved myself right with this one. As fun and exhilarating as it was so say f*#k it and launch myself off said 15m platform, it completely killed me off for about 32 hours afterwards.
My ears were filled with water post jump and once I’d cleared them I thought all was fine and I was now just a bad ass who jumped off a massive platform. Boy was I wrong, I did not feel so bad ass when I was balling my eyes out in pain just a few hours later.

Mid Volcano Hike Panic Attack

I knew hiking up Volcan Acatenango was going to be a difficult feat, especially for someone who isn’t the most fond of walking in the first place. For me, around the half way mark, panic set in. I was finding it so hard and knew the next half wasn’t going to get any easier, and all I wanted to do was give up. But giving up would mean what? Sitting on my own until people came back down the next morning, or walking back down all that way on my own?
Really, the only other option was to carry on and that terrified me just as much. So naturally I had a nice little panic attack (always fun), composed myself, popped my headphones in, and carried on. I definitely didn’t plan on crying so much on the side of a volcano, but I can’t thank the tour guides enough for being so supportive – I genuinely wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.

Broken Phone
Apparently phones and humidity don’t work so well together and my phone decided that it’s charging port wouldn’t function in such weather. It spent a week in a bag of rice whilst I enjoyed life with no phone, but that helped for all of 5 minutes. So the temporary solution ended up being purchasing a wireless charger – just one of many unexpected costs – but the only sure fire fix was to not be in a humid climate. And then all of this became redundant anyway when it got stolen and I had to get a new one. I don’t know if phones bought in Costa Rica don’t face this issue because they’re made different (?) but so far so good!

Missed Flights
Technically this wasn’t so much a missed flight, but more an incorrect flight, but this one killed my soul. What originally cost £60 to fly – a great deal – ended up costing over £300. Between my friend and I, we managed to book the flight in the wrong month without realising until we arrived at the airport ready to leave. With non-refundable accommodation booked, it meant we either took the loss on accommodation and paid for a longer transport option, or took a bit of a bigger loss and bought the last 2 seats on the only other flight option that day. Either way it was going to be an expensive mess up and I definitely had to take a while to mourn the loss of such a big amount of money.
But a reminder – money comes and goes, but memories stay forever.

Second Degree Burns
Apparently regular taxis aren’t used so much in some areas of Colombia and the most effective way to get around is my moto taxi. Now motorbikes aren’t my favourite things, and jumping on the back of a random one to get from A-B really isn’t my idea of fun. But needs must and it was only a 5 minute journey.
The journey itself was fine, I kind of just closed my eyes and hoped for the best (longest 5 minutes ever by the way) but getting off the bike at the other end was apparently the most difficult part. I wanted to get off so fast my logic went out the window and I tried to get off from the wrong side, meaning I burnt my leg on the exhaust.
A pretty common injury, but DAMN did that hurt for the next week, and when I accidentally popped the blister getting off a bunkbed… lets just say it made a mess. Gross.

Bug Bites

In short, bugs think I’m delicious. Mosquitos, no-see-ums, sand-flies, wasps (how you can be attractive to these I don’t know, but it feels this way for sure) and I’m convinced at one point a spider. I’ve had some serious coverings of bug bites in 7 months and I’ve got plentiful scars to show for it.


Being open about these things aren’t to shine a bad light on travel or Central America, as all of these things could happen literally anywhere in the world. But to be open and honest that travel really isn’t all sunshine and beaches, and that you have to expect that somewhere along the line, things won’t go to plan and in some way you’ll lose out or want to cry (or quite possibly both at the same time) but it’s all part of the fun of travelling, part of the adventure.

Top 3 things to do in Cartagena

If your trip involves Colombia, then visiting Cartagena is a must do. A city filled with colour, history and good vibes.

Cartagena is most definitely a place worth visiting and today the risk levels are generally low, however, as with anywhere in the world you need to keep your wits about you and practice safe travel.

The following 3 activities are my top recommendations which you HAVE to do during your stay:

  1. Free walking tours
    There are many walking tour providers, however, I could not recommend Beyond Colombia more, my experience was fantastic. With Beyond Colombia you have 2 options and I’d personally advise doing both! Both tours are approximately 2.5 hours and can be done in both English and Spanish. You can book a place on the tour through the link above, it’s advised to do so so that the tour guides know to expect attendees.

    A 10am Cartagena tour where you will explore the beauty of the walled city. Some of the areas you will visit include: San Pedro, Claver Square, Clock Tower, Heredia Theater, Inquisition Palace, Cathedral of Alexandria, Simón Bolivar Park and Aduana and Coches Squares.
    A 4pm Getsemani tour where you will visit the famous town and have the chance to experience it’s beautiful history and culture. Some of the areas you will visit include: Centenario Park, Trinidad Artistic Square, Afro Uprising, Cultural Street Art, Old Public Market, Plaza “El Pozo”, San Felipe Fortress Viewpoint.

    Both tours are informative experiences but also a lot of fun and extremely immersive. Hands down, some of the best walking tours I’ve ever done!
  2. Sunset at Cafe Del Mar
    A beautiful spot to experience the sunset, with some great food and drink options. You can reserve a table in advance here, or it’s also possible to walk in without out. However, if doing so i’d advise arriving there early between 4:30 – 5pm to guarantee getting a seat!
    Relax, listen to the music and enjoy the beauty of the sunset from one of the best spots in Cartagena. Even if the sky isn’t as clear as you would hope it’s still a beautiful spot with some immaculate vibes.
  3. Volcan el Totumo
    A unique day trip outside of Cartagena, but so worth the travel out of the city. This volcano experience is not what you may think! A mud bath inside the top of a volcano isn’t something you have the chance to experience in many locations, and it’s definitely an experience you don’t want to miss out on.
    Most, if not all hostels and hotels will be able to provide you with a tour guide who offers this experience and usually for a better price than if you were to book alone!

    When you arrive at the volcano there are a number of ‘add-ons’ that you can include, should you wish. Someone to look after your shoes, someone to take some pictures of you, a mud massage and someone to wash off the mud in the lake. Each ‘add-on’ will cost you 5mil Pesos (approx £1.00) so choosing to include them won’t set you back, however, I would personally advise that only the shoes and the photographs are the necessary options.
    The massage is more of a full body rub down (which looked a little too handsy for my liking), and the wash off in the lake is just not overly necessary – we’re all more than capable of washing ourselves off right? So when it comes to these options just politely saying ‘no gracias’ a couple of times will advise the locals that you’re not interested and they’ll quickly move on.

Although there are many many more things to do in Cartagena, these would be my absolute top recommendations, and things you won’t get to do or see anywhere else! Enjoy yourself and take lots of pictures!!

A 4 Week Europe Trip

For my first solo backpacking trip, I wanted to keep things relaxed but still have an outline plan of where I wanted to go, as to not get completely overwhelmed with choices whilst away.

Unfortunately my plans were cut short and I wasnt able to complete it in full due to the pandemic. This route is a perfect basic route around Central Europe for those wanting to see both the popular larger cities, and some smaller towns which are beautiful hidden gems.

For my trip I chose to use Flix busses as a cheaper alternative to travelling by train. I found the busses to be reliable and although they take longer than a train would, the longest trip is only around 3/4 hours. If planned well this will not at all hinder your trip and give you a little down time between locations to recharge before the exploring begins again!

My trip outline was as follows:

  • Krakow 4 nights
  • Olomuc 1 night
  • Brno 2 nights
  • Budapest 4 nights
  • Vienna 4 nights
    • Bratislava (Day trip)
  • Telc 1 night
  • Prague 4 nights
  • Dresden 3 nights
  • Berlin 4 nights

Krakow
Krakow for 4 nights gives you more than enough time to aimlessly wonder around the city, to try foods and take in the beautiful settings, experience the vibrant (and amazingly CHEAP) nightlife and go on excursions such as the Salt mines or Auschwitz.

Olomouc
Olomouc is a beautifully small city which after some hard partying in Krakow gave me a short period of downtime and strolls around the centre, taking in the breathtaking history and architecture. If you decide to visit, a stay at Long Story Short Hostel is encouraged, a beautifully sleek and stylish hostel close to the centre.

Brno
A bustling student city rich with history is a must see whilst in central Europe. A free walking tour around the centre is extremely interesting and will give you a great start to exploring this city. Paired with bunkers, castles, and the second largest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris) you will easily fill your time in Brno. There are also some great speakeasy’s dotted around the city – ask some locals if you can!

Budapest
Rich with history, beauty and lots of parties, Budapest is not one to miss. Out of all of the options for tourist attractions I cant reccommend a night time river tour enough (you can also choose a wine tasting option for this which is VERY fun) to be able to see the city lit up in the dark, truly breathtaking. The thermale spa is fabulous but be weary of the night events, they can get a little rowdy and ‘steamy’ not just in the literal sense of the word… at some points it felt a little too much like an orgy for my liking.

Vienna
So much to do and so much to see! If you can get to the opera, standing tickets are CHEAP and it’s a once in a lifetime expereince for sure. Also check out my previous blog post Vienna From Above for some of the best views in the City.

Bratislava
It’s perfect for a day trip from Vienna, or a longer stay if you fancy it. The walking tours are great to see the whole city and just as great to meet other solo travellers to link up for lunch or a drink before you hehad back to Vienna!

Telc
Telc is another hidden gem of a city, with beautiful architecture and an abundance of history, it’s a great pit-stop as you travel further up north on your trip. Get in some r&r before you get to Prague!

Prague
I hope you’re ready to party! With some great hostels to offer in the city centre, you’ll meet some amazing like-minded solo travellers and have a whale of a time. Being a large city, travelling around is easy and there are a plethora of museums, galleries and historical exhibits to peak your interest whilst there.

Dresden
The city is one of the most visited cities in Germany and with the amount of wartime history it’s easy to understand why. There are a number of beautiful parks, great architecture and bridges to be seen during your stay here.

Berlin
The largest city in Germany has a lot to offer for tourists, historical, cultural, entertainment. You won’t be lost for things to do and see whilst in Berlin, there’s something for everyone including a booming nightlife if that’s what you’re into!

Although it’s great to have an idea of where you’re travelling around Europe, it’s not essential to stick to the script. When travelling alone it’s often better to have flexibility in your plans so you can meet new people, make friends and start continue your journey together. Hostels are also the best places to find reccommendations so try not to over plan and just roll with the punches.

Vienna From Above

The best places to see Vienna from a completely different perspective.

  1. St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The highest point you can climb to in the first district of the City, it’s not the easiest of walks up to the top, but my god is it worth it.

2. The Coffee House at Justizpalast

A lovely quiet spot with beautiful views and good coffee – really, what more could you want?

3. The Surrounding Hills

Take a walk up Cobenzl, Kahlenberg or Leopoldsberg mountains for some of the best views of the City. With all locations easily accessible via bus from the City centre they aren’t views that you’ll want to miss!

4. Bellevue-Wiese

A beautiful park on the edge of the city with views you’ll want to sit down and have a picnic to take in.

5. Gloriette at Palace Schönbrunn

Not only can you walk around the most BEAUTIFUL palace grounds and feel like an utter princess – the views are to die for. So stunning it’s a very popular proposal spot so keep your eye out for couples sharing that special moment!

6. Akakiko Restaurant Rooftop Terrace

During the summer you can enjoy a beautiful view whilst enjoying a delicious meal.

7. Haus des Meeres (Aquarium)

My absolute personal favourite location. It offers a fantastic experience and interactive walkthrough of the aquarium, finishing off with the option of food and drinks in the restaurant-cafe at the very top of the building, and obviously the fantastic view! The building also boasts a lot of history and dedicates a whole room to this for those who take interest in that area.

What The F Happened

I’m not even sure where to start with this one. I obviously can’t get into what my life has been since my last post (a whole 7 months ago, whoops) without referencing the small matter of the global pandemic going on, but I’m not going to get into that too much. I don’t know about you but every other article I see is in reference to the pandemic in one way or another and I am feeling so done with it.

Now, where do I even start… My solo trip around Europe got cut short. When I came home in March I really, truly thought that by August I would be living it up in Greece, but here we are, I haven’t left the UK since I returned. I think since I realised travel just wasn’t on the cards for me this year it’s been hard to face the thought of talking about one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life and the fact I’m not still doing it.

I think i’ll save my trip as a whole for another post, but to summarise – travelling alone: 10/10 will be doing it again.

As for what’s going on now, life has been pretty wild and not in the fun and exciting way you’d want wild to be referring to. However, no dark cloud lingers forever and no matter how dark they all have a silver lining. Although this year has not at all gone how I planned, there have been SO many positives.

I’ve made new friends, learned new skills, changed my travel plans, updated my life goals and worked on my mental health. I can honestly say that if this year had gone how I thought it was going to go, I don’t at all think I’d be in a place as mentally strong as I am today.

The pandemic has been seriously hard on a lot of people, but I think at a time like this it’s crucial to take note of the bad and process it, but focus on the good no matter how small.

This is it.

So I’m currently at the airport, checked in, bag dropped and ready to embark on my first (hopefully of many) solo trip. In complete honesty, I’m freaking out a little. I feel so ready to cry but I don’t think it’s with sadness or being scared, I think it’s the excitement just not sure how to get out. 

I’ve sat myself in a corner, wiped down all the surfaces around me (no corona virus here thanks) and the following is an insight into the whole mix of emotions that are currently running through my head:

  • I need to stop the tears, I’m not sad, I’m excited!
  • That bacon sandwich was rubbish;
  • Why doesn’t this airport have a Spoons!? 
  • I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, I’m so proud of myself.
  • I really hope that baby I can hear screaming isn’t on my flight.
  • This is going to be an adventure of a lifetime, what the hell, I’m so excited.
  • Oop gate information is up! 
  • Is it too soon to start eating the sweets I have for the plane ( I’m going with no).
  • How much is too much hand sanitiser??
  • Oh God, more crying babies.
  • I hope I’m sat next to someone nice on the plane, actually who am I kidding, I’ll be asleep before we take off, it doesn’t matter! 

Ahh, that’s it, I’m boarding… Wish me luck!! 

‘You’re So Brave Travelling Alone’

So 7 times out of 10 (i’d say 9 is a little too high and even more cliché) i’ve told someone i’m going travelling it’s gone a little something like this:

(Them): Aw wow you’re going travelling, that’s so exciting! Are you going with your boyfriend?

(Me): Nope.

(Them): Friends??

(Me): Nope, I’m going on my own.

(Them): Oh wow you’re so brave, I could never do that!

And, every. Single. Time. It feels like someones let a wild pack of dogs loose in my head. The thoughts start to bounce around, the doubt, the worry and everything else. Why are they concerned, should I be concerned? Am I really doing the right thing? Am I brave enough to do this?

To be honest with you, I’m not the bravest person and honestly, never in my 22 years of living would I have thought i’d be doing this, going travelling on my own. But I think the main thing that is keeping me going is the benefits i’ll get from doing this on my own.

I could go travelling with a friend and that would be great, but I feel like I need a push in my life – the push to experience the unknown, stepping outside of my comfort zone, forcing myself into situations i’ve never had to be in before.

I’d say my life has been pretty comfortable, i’ve never put myself out there and done something on my own. I mean even going to University I went with people I knew and had two friends from college living in the block next door. I didn’t go there just because they were but, that’s the way it happened.

Obviously i’m SO excited for the experiences, seeing the sights, meeting new people, trying new foods. Yet I think i’m most excited about how this is going to change me – change the way I handle situations when I get back to my ‘normal’ life at the end of the year. I’m excited to make mistakes and learn from them, learn how to be myself, by myself, take every little thing that I do in my stride and just learn how to live in the moment.

So no, I wouldn’t say i’m being brave, brave insinuates that i’m scared to start off with. I’m not scared or worried. I’m positive. I’m excited. I’m AMBITIOUS. It’s not bravery, it’s ambition.