She Travels

- 5 min reading time

Should I travel solo? Lessons learned and experiences shared

June 3, 2024



June 3, 2024


The urge to travel can sometimes come as an epiphany and for some people, it may have been an ambition of theirs for as long as they can remember. The latter is true for Anna, a 25-year-old NomadHer member from Poland. Travel has been a feature of Anna’s life for as long as she can remember, having been influenced from an early age by popular travel television programmes. Education proved to be a sort of passport to facilitate much of Anna’s adventures abroad, spending time in London language learning camps from as early as 13 years old, then going on to study in both the US and the Netherlands for a year as part of a university exchange. Anna’s appetite for travel was still not satisfied so she proceeded to undertake an Erasmus exchange in Sweden and Germany. Having spent all this time abroad in these various programmes, it, therefore, did not feel at all unnatural to Anna when she went to Turin, Italy, for a weekend which she views as her first proper solo travel experience. Though her weekend in Italy wasn’t exactly life-changing, it did give her the confidence and desire to go further afield and this is when she began to organise her solo adventure around Asia, little did she know it wouldn't end up being quite as solo as she’d expected after stumbling across the NomadHer app. Having decided to travel after graduating with her master’s in Biomedical Sciences, she is now back in Poland applying for PhD programmes in the field of Immunology with a newfound sense of self from her time spent abroad.

Anna and fellow NomadHers meeting on their travels

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

As a self-described natural introvert, Anna was almost completely unphased by the prospect of embarking on a 3-month solo adventure around Asia. This is not to say that anxiety had not been a feature of Anna’s life, she had in fact said that she spent most of her life feeling somewhat out of place regardless of whether it was at home or abroad. However, since Anna’s travels consisted of everchanging plans, sleepless nights in hostels and some situations that felt like close calls, she began to adapt. She learnt to not only survive in the unknown but to thrive in it. For Anna, it wasn’t simply the experience of being left by her bus on the Vietnam-Laos border or the brief encounter with the Malaysian mafia that made her grow as a person, it was the knowledge that she was capable of being in these situations while remaining calm and being comfortable with change. 

Anna and her NomadHer travel buddy

A perfect pairing

One of the most transformative aspects of Anna’s travels around Asia was the friendship she formed with a NomadHer she met through the app within days of her arrival in Bangkok with whom she decided to spend the next 3 months travelling. Anna found confidence through her new friend being that she was more extroverted and this inspired Anna to be open to more possibilities than she might’ve been had she been travelling alone. They were a source of comfort to each other throughout the highs and lows of their trip and Anna credits a great deal of the confidence and maturity she gained as a result of her trip to the experiences she shared and lessons she learned from her fellow NomadHer. “Having so many experiences, meeting so many people, and experiencing so many new cultures gives you years worth of life experience, which is probably also why I feel so much more mature now.” 

Anna’s decision to extend her trip by another 3 months, which meant accepting that she would once again be travelling completely alone, was much less daunting than her initial decision to embark on her adventure around Asia, as she was already a more confident person than she had been when she set off. “The collective experience of being in that unusual, exciting, and exhausting state of constant travelling, changed me a little giving me so much more confidence.”

Why NomadHer?

Anna’s decision to join NomadHer was both impulsive and representative of a readiness to stray from the ‘conventional’ ways people meet when travelling. Before meeting the NomadHer she would subsequently travel with for 3 months, Anna was aware that her introverted nature may make it slightly more challenging for her to meet people in hostels. NomadHer allowed Anna to meet people in a way that felt safe and less socially intimidating. It is funny to think that the friendship she made through the NomadHer app in an attempt to sidestep some of the awkwardness that can come from introducing oneself to strangers in a hostel turned out to be the very thing to give her the confidence to make these sorts of connections.

Anna having new experiences
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Two years ago, Daniela, who is from Slovakia, knew that she wanted to travel around Asia and knew it was the right time for her so when none of her friends or family could accompany her on this adventure she refused to be dissuaded and decided to go solo. Daniela, who is now 42, quit her job of eight years as a CIO Assistant and dedicated two months to traveling. Having attempted a shorter solo trip before this one where she had tried couch surfing and found it unsettling, to say the least, Daniela was encouraged when the NomadHer app was suggested to her on Instagram not long before she set off to explore Asia. The NomadHer app gave confidence to Daniela and her friends and family that she would not be totally alone for the duration of her trip. For Daniela, reassuring those who cared for her that she was going to be alright when undertaking such a big adventure alone was her greatest challenge before heading off. The line of questioning about whether or not it was safe and why she did not have any friends to go with her felt both overwhelming and beside the point; Daniela knew that there were so many aspects of solo travel that she loved and was not going to be put off the idea.

Living on your own schedule

Though there were moments when Daniela wished she could have company, particularly when she was turned away from certain restaurants that did not accept solo diners and so found herself having a convenience store dinner, she greatly appreciated that she could exist on her own time schedule. For Daniela, this is one of the greatest aspects of solo travel and it should not be underestimated.“They just didn’t understand that there are so many reasons to love solo travelling, like not being on anyone else’s timeline and having the freedom to do what I want.”

Daniela meeting NomadHers at Seoul Tower

The women who shaped her experience

The opportunity to meet through the NomadHer app suited Daniela’s ambitions for the trip, as a person who was excited at having the chance to explore some sights alone but still wanted to have the opportunity to see friendly faces, she immeasurably valued having the app. What started as a post on the NomadHer app to see if anyone wanted company visiting Namsam Tower, in the heart of Seoul, snowballed into a lasting friendship between Daniela and three other NomadHer members. These women defined each other’s travel experiences, as they altered plans to stay together, travelled around the country together, renting cars and sharing meals. Exploring a country's cuisine is an essential part of cultural immersion and in the early days of her trip, Daniela felt almost frustrated that there was only so much she could order as a solo diner. By meeting and forming the friendships that she did, Daniela allowed herself to have a sense of community and belonging even when so far from home, and on a very simple level, gave herself the opportunity to try more of each travel destination’s cuisines as they often shared their meals. 

The ever-present possibility of new friendships

There are many types of travellers, such as those who float by day by day, seemingly unphased if they haven’t yet booked a place to spend that very night; this is certainly not the category Daniela would classify herself in. Daniela’s trip took months of planning and though she did leave herself with two weeks at the very end with nothing organised in an attempt to push her out of her comfort zone, knowing that she had an itinerary was of great importance to her as she embarked on her adventure. Knowing that the NomadHer community could be easily accessed during her travels provided Daniela with a real source of comfort and pre-arranged meetups helped give her a sense of structure. This sense of community was most hammered home to Daniela as she was crossing a road in Soeul and recognised the NomadHer “She Can Travel Anywhere” tote bag of a woman who was walking in the opposite direction and the two shared a brief but joyous exchange before continuing separately with their day’s. Daniela is someone who radiates positivity and it is no surprise that other members of the NomadHer community, even those she met in passing, felt so at ease striking up conversation with her.

Daniela and NomadHers in Busan

Words of wisdom from our experienced NomadHers

As seasoned travellers, Daniela and Anna collectively have a wealth of invaluable travel insights. They advise trusting that everything will work out in the end and emphasise that unless something in your gut tells you not to, always say yes to exciting opportunities, you never know who you’ll end up meeting or what experiences you may have. Some of their advice was also practical, such as stressing the importance of carrying a portable charger with you at all times and planning as far in advance as you are able. Some advice is simple yet so important.

More about NomadHer :

NomadHer is an app for female globetrotters to encourage solo travelling safely. NomadHer has a vision of empowering women through travelling.

To join the community of female globetrotters, you can download NomadHer App on IOS & Android. Follow NomadHer on Instagram: @nomad_her.

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