Looking back on my travels I’ve only traveled to a few places alone, but those few excursions have made an enormous impact on my views of traveling with others. You simply get adjusted to advising your own itinerary and moving to your own beat. I’m an early riser so I like to be productive early. In my most recent visit to Barbados, I found myself reading on the beach at 7:00 AM. My mornings in Sydney were spent setting out on daily excursions and in Thailand, I would take a walk around the neighborhood of my home stay speaking with the locals.
This brings us to a great place. I find that when I travel alone I am very outgoing whereas I can find myself with more than a few shy tendencies when I’m back home. I speak to every staff member at my hotel, from introducing myself to the manager to conversing with the cleaning staff. The benefits of staying in a home stay are you become a member of the family. I’ve stayed with a very kind woman named Grace some of my time in Nairobi and I was treated like one of her own. She prepared meals for us, we watched movies together, I played games with her children and I called her to let her know when I was running late or spending the night over at orphanage so she wouldn’t worry. While volunteering in Bangkok I stayed in a dormitory style home with 15 over people, sharing a room with 3 other women. This opportunity gave me the chance to interact with people I normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak with because we come from all corners of the world. So even though I leave home alone, once I touch down at my final destination I normally run into an array of people who become my travel acquaintances.
There are different styles of traveling so an advantage of moving to the beat of your own drum is not having to adjust from your comfort zone. Residing in a foreign country with different people, atmosphere, food, and languages is all you should have to withstand. Before I travel I always research the top sites and try to find a local market. I love the arts so if I can locate a contemporary art museum I am in my glory. I have to discover and try to local delicacies. My habits from home often mirror my behaviors overseas. I don’t party much if at all, I wear little to no makeup, and I do not wear heels unless I’m going somewhere where it’s imperative. So when I travel I do not participate in the night life nor do I carry makeup and heels in my suitcase. I travel with the mindset that if I’m in your country I have to eat, speak and even attempt to dress like the locals.
I practiced my French in Dakar and Paris. My children taught me a few words of the Swahili language that I get to practice on my annual trips to Nairobi and when I traveled to Zanzibar for my 26th birthday. In Bangkok, I had a language teacher and I have already booked a tutor for my upcoming trip to New Delhi.
Overall I enjoy traveling solo and I can thank a lovely family friend for making me explore that comfortably. When I traveled to Sydney I was meeting up with Chanelle Dumas, who was studying for her masters at University of New South Wales at the time. I would have bet my last dollar that along with the invitation to visit I had a built in tour guide. This was a false assumption. Chanelle was preoccupied in class and studying for finals, so I had no choice but to roam around with my travel guide in hand. I sought out museums, the botanical garden, the opera house, and spent a couple days on full day tours. I will forever be in Chanelle’s debt for turning this rookie traveler into an explorer and jet setter!