This week on the Girls Go Abroad podcast we’re talking to Emily Luxton, a UK travel blogger and freelance writer all about solo female adventure travel and taking the leap.
We talk about the year she spent doing things that scared her, solo female travel in South America, and how to make friends when you’re shy and traveling on your own.
If you’re feeling nervous about traveling solo, then you’ll definitely want to give this episode a listen!
Emily is a travel blogger from the south coast of England who’s been blogging about her travels for 8 years. “I started out traveling with my ex-boyfriend,” she explains, but after they broke up, she started solo traveling.
Although she’s generally a shy person, Emily has had lots of crazy adventures. “I’ve been bungee jumping in India and whitewater rafting on the Ganges,” she says when I ask her what some of the craziest adventures she’s had were.
“One of the first crazy things I ever did was I repelled down a building in La Paz in Bolivia. You go face first. So that was like my gateway crazy adventure travel.”
Nerves & Your First Solo Trip
Emily took her first solo trip after breaking up with her boyfriend. “It wasn’t until I got to the airport that it was scary […] you have all these preconceived expectations about what it’s going to be like, which is really hard because you start thinking ‘what if this goes wrong?’ or ‘what if that goes wrong?’.”
When it came to overcoming that fear, thankfully she found out that a friend of hers was going to be in Thailand at the same time. “So we arranged to meet up for the first week and that kind of helped because I wasn’t completely on my own.”
“That’s always the advice I give when people want to go solo traveling but are afraid to go by themselves,” she says. Do a small trip first to ease into it. You can go online and make friends before you go.
“If you can kind of find a way to like make the first few days not seem so frightening and then go off and do something by yourself,” that fear will go away.
Doing Things That Scare You
In 2016, Emily made a New Year’s Resolution to do one thing each month that scared her.
After breaking up with her boyfriend, she realized that, when they were traveling together, the things that made her grow most as a person were the things she was most scared to do and did anyway. “They were the big things that I remembered and they were the things that had made me feel more empowered.”
“So I thought, oh, this will be a brilliant idea and a way to brilliantly get over my horrendous breakup. I’ll do one thing a month that scares me and kind of throw myself into these crazy situations and hopefully that will be a really good distraction, which it was.”
Some of the things she did that year were:
- Bungee jump Rishikesh, India
- Learned to drive a moped and drove it all around Bali
- Tried wind surfing
- and so much more
Solo Female Travel in South America
Emily has traveled pretty extensively in South America, so of course I had to ask her about solo female travel there! Although she hasn’t traveled solo there herself (all of her travels on the continent were with her boyfriend), she thinks it’s a great place to travel solo.
But, “I think it can be a little bit more challenging that then some of the more popular places to go solo traveling like Asia and Europe. There’s a lot of language barriers. I think less people speak English and that can make it really tricky.”
“There’s more challenges to overcome, but the people are so welcoming and the cultures are really incredible.”
South America can be a great place for adventure travel as well, with a little bit of everything.
A big solo backpacking trip through South America would be great, she says, “because you can really kind of test yourself and go to all different places and try loads of different things.”
Making Friends as a Solo Traveler
Finally, as two shy girls who solo travel a lot, we had to talk about some of the best ways to make friends when traveling on your own.
Emily highly recommends group trips. “I’ve done two trips with Trek America and they’re great because you just wind up in this mix of people that are a similar age and everyone’s got similar interests. You get people from all walks of life and you’re kind of thrown in together because you have to come and set up the camp and everyone has to cook and chip in.”
“That’s a really good way to instantly bond cause you’re all like thrown into this difficult, awkward situation. And then you have no choice really, but to get on. So trips like that I think are really good, especially if you want to travel solo but you maybe struggle to make friends kind of naturally.”
And when you’re not on a group trip, hostels are definitely the best way to go–even if you’re not the type of person to initiate conversations.
“Go to the common areas and then if anyone starts chatting to you just be open minded,” Emily suggests.
And finally, even if you’re not on a multi-day tour, book into something like a food tour, where you’re also basically guaranteed to make friends! It’s also a great way to experience the nightlife without having to be worried about your safety as a solo female traveler.
If you could give listeners one piece of solo travel advice, what would it be?
“I always like to say that you should try to say yes more than you say no when you’re traveling.”
“Obviously there are things you should definitely say no and you shouldn’t put yourself in dangerous situations. But I find all my best stories have come when maybe I didn’t necessarily want to do something or I wasn’t feeling 100% sure. And then I said yes anyway.”
More from this Episode
Be sure to hit play to listen to the full episode, where Emily shares even more helpful advice and funny stories about her solo travels!