I strongly believe that people who love to travel are the best kind of people. This series will introduce you to some of the amazing women travelers with whom I have been fortune enough to connect. Women travelers who are overcoming adversity and crushing societal norms are a huge source of inspiration for me and I believe their stories will inspire you as well.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? When and how did you start traveling?
My name is Isabel, and I’m from Singapore. 1 year ago, I joined my school’s exchange program and spent 6 months in Europe. Since then, I started writing about my adventures and experience as a student travelling abroad in my blog Bel Around The World. One of my post that’s gained quite a bit of media attraction was how I managed to cover 55 cities in 6 months on only S$83 a day!
What is the most unique place you have ever been? Share with us an off-the-beaten path location that we may have never heard of! What made you decide to visit this place?
Eze, just off Nice in France. It reminded me of Flintstones era (has anybody not watched it before?), with houses made of bricks and stones. Navigating through the narrow alleys and getting lost was such an adventure! It’s really just a little attraction atop a hill and between Nice and Monaco, so it’s not known by many!
What is the most beneficial lesson you have learned from traveling solo?
That the best travel advice and lesson you can learn about a city or town is from the locals themselves.
When you decided to travel solo for the first time, were the people in your life supportive of your decision? If not, how did you overcome this?
No.. Coming from an Asian background, you know how parents can be uptight about my safety. Besides, it was my first time traveling for so long and so far, so they are constantly worried about me. I… went ahead anyway. I knew such experiences only come once in a lifetime, and I didn’t want to look back and regret limiting my life by the restrictions I impose on myself.
Have you ever traveled somewhere that you did not feel safe as a solo female traveler? If so, where?
Prior to traveling, I’ve heard about the notoriety of Paris, especially because it’s such a famous tourist attraction. As with every major city and attraction, there will be dangers, and so it pays to be extra, extra careful. I’ve since ventured on 2 separate occasions to Paris on my own, and got by safe and unharmed (I even couchsurfed with 2 Parisians there) with these tips.
In your travels, you have likely come across many kind people. What country has the most friendly locals?
Oh yes, through Couchsurfing, I’ve met the kindest people. People who took me in because I was desperate, who drove me around to see the English countryside, who treated me like family in Cologne, Germany, who gave his room up for me in Strasbourg, France, because there was cat poop (you heard right) on the bed I was supposed to sleep in, and who wrote out a detailed list of things to see and eat in Ghent, Belgium.
If you could share one piece of advice with a large group of people, what would it be?
BE BOLD. Be open to new experiences. Go with an open mind. Learn a new language. Get out of your comfort zone. Be around people of the wrong crowd. Don’t stick to the same people. Take pictures. Wander aimlessly. GO WITHOUT INTERNET. Sit at park benches. Do nothing. Enjoy your surroundings. Witness the different phases of the moon. Commit precious moments to memory. Smell the flowers of spring. Do something you never would have done back in your home country. Say hello to a stranger, hold the hand of someone you don’t know and dance like no one’s watching. Don’t miss out on things, only to regret them when you look back. Certain moments can never be relived.
Be sure to check in every Friday to meet other awesome women travel bloggers and future friends! If you follow a female travel blogger that you love, please send suggestions my way so that I can reach out to her! If you are interested in being featured yourself, please shoot me an email: hello[at]btravelsbetter.com.