I’m not the world’s foremost expert on solo female travel, but I have traveled around (at least) ten countries alone so I have a bit of insight on the subject. There are people on both sides of the fence regarding solo female travel–some are strongly for it and some are strongly against it. I fall on the side that stands strongly for it. While I don’t like always traveling alone, I think there’s something really special about going it solo–relying on yourself for every decision, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, etc. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and the world while traveling solo.
Before my very first solo trip, I was so nervous that my teeth were chattering and I swore my heart my burst. Things were a bit crazy, but I fell into a routine that was comfortable for me. Then, years later, when I decided to travel alone for an extended period of time, I was dreaming up every imaginable horrible thing that could possibly happen to me. I decided that the best way to go about it was to ease myself into the long-term solo travel by starting with an “easy” country. So, with that, here are my top solo female travel destinations.
I wouldn’t call myself the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan–but I’m also not shy about my love for HP. I visited the 9 3/4 platform in London a few years ago; visited the Warner Bros stand at a travel conference every day so that I could have my photo taken on HP’s broomstick in front of a green screen with different backgrounds; and was enamored by the HP stuff in the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.
Before setting off to Edinburgh, I read as much as I could about J. K. Rowling’s inspiration for things in the books and decided to see as many of them as I could while in the old city. There are plenty of tours that will take you around Edinburgh and give you some background while showing you the sites, but I opted to do my own research and see things on my own time. My favorite spot was Victoria Street, which inspired the magical shopping street, Diagon Alley. In reality, Victoria Street is basically just an adorable street with brightly-colored facades, dotted with shops and restaurants. It’s easily walkable and a great place to spend a few hours eating and exploring. While you’re there, see if you can feel any of magic that inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
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There are lots of things that really gross me out. Especially food-wise. And black pudding is one of those foods. When I first learned that it was a sausage made of blood mixed with some kind of filler, it was enough to make me gag. Even now, as I write that, I kind of want to throw up a little, knowing that I ate it.
Well, my first three months of travel are over! And as you read this, I am en route back to the States, where I will spend just over a month catching my breath, hopefully making some money, seeing my friends and family, and kissing the shit out of my dog. But don’t worry–I’ll also be furiously planning my next round of travels (and as I said, I have a few things in mind–just need to actually take the time to start booking a few things and look at logistics).
In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a rundown of the past few months–the places I’ve seen, quick highlights of the experiences, and little teasers for what you’ll soon see on my blog (because let’s face it–I’ve had a seriously difficult time keeping up with blogging as I’ve been traveling, and I have a lot of stuff yet to put out!).
I took a one-day bus tour through the Highlands and knew it wasn’t going to be enough for me. I needed more than just a taste of those mountains and lochs. As luck would have it, my friends and fellow travel bloggers, Pete and Dalene, were housesitting in Fort William, so I decided to spend a few days in that area catching up with them, cheating on my dog with the two pups they were dog-sitting, and going on a hike with Pete that may or may not have almost killed me. (Seriously, I thought my thighs got a workout in Edinburgh, but they didn’t know the level of burn they were about to experience in Fort William.)
Ah, Edinburgh. It will always remain my number one Scotland love. I’ve only been twice, but each time I was there I had such a good feeling. It’s just one of those places that I dare you to walk around and not find yourself with a smile on your face.
My first stop on this whatever-you-wanna-call-it-trip was in Glasgow and I immediately kind of hated it. It felt big, dirty, and scary to me. When I was finally forced to leave my hotel room to get something to eat from the shop across the street, even then I felt oddly scared just to pick up my sandwich and run back. I am guessing that it was equal parts jetlag and unfamiliarity with the place. But, at the same time, I had heard stories about Glasgow being kind of gruff and dangerous not all that long ago, and so I was concerned about some of the lingering side effects of that.
I’ve been hesitant regarding finally writing about my time in Scotland, wanting to almost skip that chapter in my travelogue completely. It has nothing to do with the actual country, because let’s face it: I absolutely adore Scotland and loved every day of my time there in some regard. But, it was also my first stop on my first big solo trip with no end-date in sight.
It took me longer than I’d like to admit to really start to feel good, and if we’re being honest, I didn’t start to feel really great until probably my last day there, which is a shame.
Dr. Seuss may have said, “Oh, the places you will go!”, but he never mentioned the people you’d meet along the way.
Today is my one-month anniversary with full-time travel, and specifically with Europe. It’s been a whirlwind month and I’m still trying to catch my breath (and catch up on posts, because I have some stories to tell!), but in the meantime, I’ve been sharing snippets on my personal Facebook page about the people I’ve encountered on my travels, and people seem so interested in hearing more about these characters.
I say characters because honestly, some of this stuff you just couldn’t make up. I never dreamed that staying in hostels every now and again, and generally just traveling solo, would open up my world to a whole host of people who’ve provided such amazing entertainment, thought-provoking conversations, and a million smiles (and some cringe-worthy moments, too).
I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with all of you.