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4 Things No One Tells You About Traveling Solo

4 Things No One Tells You About Traveling Solo

Solo traveling is my preferred traveling style. I set out on my first solo journey to London and Paris 10 years ago, and it’s been my favorite way to travel ever since. Along the way I’ve met people, both locals and fellow travelers, that I’m still friends with today, and traveling solo has given me a confidence that I carry into my daily life.

Traveling solo can also come with a few surprises and challenges, many that you won’t consider until you’re already deep into your trip. If you have yet to set out on a trip alone but would love to go on a solo adventure, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Solo Travel In More Expensive

The freedom to come and go as you please while on your solo adventure comes with a price. Solo traveling is great for the soul, but it can be brutal on the wallet without anyone to split those airport shuttles, hotel rooms and miscellaneous expenses with. And don’t even think about a cruise since solo travelers often must fork over twice as much for a standard cruise cabin since they are designed for pairs. Make sure your the rates for accommodations and activities you see posted apply to singles and don’t be afraid to negotiate prices if businesses try to charge you more because you’re solo.

You Will Stand Out

Even if you’re doing your own thing and minding your business while you see sights and enjoy the local flavors of a new destination, be aware that people on their own often stand out, even when they’re not trying. This is especially the case when you’re dining out alone. There are positive and negatives to standing out while you travel because on one hand, you’re likely to be welcomed into friendly environments, but you’re also more vulnerable. The positives outweigh the negatives and use the fact that you’re traveling solo as a way to strike up conversations with others that seem interesting.

Taking Photos Can Be A Hassle

Just because you travel alone doesn’t mean you want to keep the experience to yourself. You’ll eventually want to capture photos of yourself at your destination, which then begins the awkward beg-strangers-to-take-my-picture-and-not-steal-my-camera dance. Even if you find someone to snap your picture, most of the time the images won’t be anything worth sharing. To get around this, I always seek to ask another solo traveler who is already taking pictures, and I offer to take photos for couples or groups, who in turn almost always offer to snap for me. You can also bring a tripod and get well acquainted with your camera timer. It will be uncomfortable at first, but at least you won’t have to beg someone to help you get the perfect shot.

Group Travel Will Become Harder

I love my friends. We have the best time together no matter where we are or what we’re doing. But my after traveling alone for so long and developing my habits over the years, I now find it difficult to get excited about group trips. The break down that happens during the planning phase alone is why I’ll likely be a solo traveler for life, and I love being able to explore the world through my lens and at my own pace.

 

By Shontel Horne – Travel Noire

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Should You Create A Travel Fund With Your Friends?

Should You Create A Travel Fund With Your Friends?

Spring Break is here and like clockwork, you’ve probably already started to see groups of friends posing on beaches, exploring historical landmarks and lounging in hotels around the world while you’re busy scrolling on the ‘gram.

Group trips are a great way to see the world, but money is often one of the main reasons why they fall through, so before you start rallying your besties for an international getaway, keep this in mind if you want to consider pooling your funds for a group trip.

Be Honest About Financial Expectations

Conversations about money are never easy, but for a group travel fund to work, everyone must be transparent about how much they can contribute, when they will have the funds and how much they are willing to spend overall. Decide early on to travel to a destination that everyone in the group can afford, and make it a goal to have everyone contribute his or her part at least 30 days from departure date in case you need to make any changes to hotel or activity reservations. Even if one friend agrees to cover another, don’t set foot on an airplane until everyone has paid their fair share. You don’t want money issues to come up while you’re on the beach.

Put Someone In Charge Of The Funds That Everyone Will Trust

When it comes to money, trust is everything. Once everyone commits to going on the trip and saving money together, elect one person to oversee the funds that everyone trusts. This could be the person that’s handling all of the travel arrangements, but be sure that the person in charge is responsible and quick to respond to everyone’s questions about the status of the money and the trip.

Give Your Friends Tough Love

Nothing weeds out potential trip drop-offs more than having a no-refund policy for the travel fund from day one. Require a deposit from everyone that wants to attend the trip by a non-negotiable deadline, and you’ll see right away who is likely to see the trip through versus those that are more likely to back out. The more strict you are in the beginning, even with the friends you adore the most, the better off you’ll be come trip time.

Make Saving Money A Group Activity

Want to beef up the travel fund without dipping into your own pockets? Work as a team to save money by holding a garage sale where every member contributes items to be sold for the fund. The more you can contribute money as a team, the more invested everyone will be in watching the travel fund grow.

If you have your heart set on going on a group trip this year, don’t let money stop you and your friends from planning the best international vacation ever. A little teamwork goes a long way.

 

By Shontel Horne – Travel Noire

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Travel Experts Share The Moment They Knew Travel Would Be A Way Of Life

Travel Experts Share The Moment They Knew Travel Would Be A Way Of Life

Traveling is an occasional hobby for many people, but for these globetrotters, traveling is a profession and just a part of their lifestyle. Some of our favorite travelers share when they knew it was time to make travel more than just a hobby.

Abena: In 2016, I was apathetic about grad school, frustrated at work, and asking myself “Is this the life I signed up for?” I realized if I was unwilling to find contentment in my current situation I had to change it. I left my full-time position for a part-time remote gig and changed my major to one that did not have an on-campus requirement. With that, I finally had the flexibility to travel more frequently. Last year I explored rice fields in Ubud, navigated the streets of Old Havana, crossed the Costa Rican/Nicaraguan border, scuba-dived near Koh Phi Phi and decided that one day I won’t have to return home.

Brian: Shortly after I turned 26, I began to long for so much more in life. I felt like I was only going to get that by doing something I hadn’t done before; traveling to a new continent. Little did I know, I had a gift for planning and photography and an audience on Instagram that was curious to learn the ins and outs of travel. That’s when I realized I should really be taking traveling a bit more seriously!

Oneika: I caught the travel bug in university when I spent my junior year on a study abroad in France. I then worked overseas in international education for nearly a decade. Travel became my actual “job” when I started working full-time as a travel journalist a year and a half ago! In 2017 I became a host for Travel Channel, which was a dream come true. I am the host of two original series: Big City, Little Budgetand One Bag and You’re Out.

 

By Shontel Horne – Travel Noire

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Traveler Story: I Quit My Job To Travel And My Life Will Never Be The Same

Ciara (@hey_ciara) shares how quitting her job to travel changed how she views the world, and herself.

I recently quit my corporate job to travel full-time. I was embarking on a 3-month solo trip throughout Central South America which would be my first long-term trip, my longest trip traveling solo, and the longest amount of time I’d spend outside of my hometown. I have now returned and to say it was an adventure would be an understatement.

Here are some things that happened on my trip:

I cried in my taxi on my first night because it finally hit me that I was about to embark on a such a new experience. I had no idea what to expect & my parents were freaking out about me traveling through Latin America alone. What if they were right? What if the worst did happen?

I returned to love in Tulum, Mexico after having previously experienced the town with an ex. I intentionally started my trip here so that I could create my OWN memories, without them being soured by the thought of someone/something that once was. And so I did. I took back Tulum.

I swam with sharks in the blue waters of Belize, but the captain on the boat offered us so much Caribbean rum that I hardly remember the experience. I guess that’s what pictures are for, right?

 

I camped and slept in a tent for the first time on a remote island in Belize. When I peeked from behind my tent at dawn to pink skies, I nearly cried.

I camped and slept in a tent for the second time on a volcano in Guatemala. We watched as the volcano erupted through the night right under the star-filled sky.

If the 13,045 ft hike to the top wasn’t hard enough, I shed a tear once we got to the top, not because I’d FINALLY made it, but because I realized that I’d lost my phone on the way up. After feeling like I was going to die and my legs were going to give out, It was the tip of the iceberg. 1 month of photos GONE! Stupid, beautiful volcano.

As a result, I traveled for a month without a phone and everything was fine. I used like…real maps and stuff. Like, I didn’t die.

I camped for the 3rd time in the Peruvian Andes Mountains on a three-day, 18-mile (30 km) trek to Machu Picchu.

I couchsurfed alone for the first time and made a lifelong friend. I feared for my life on the first night but my host ended up showing me his life in Belize. He’d prepare meals, help with laundry, show me around town all out of the kindness of his heart. We even illegally crossed the border just to go to his favorite bar over in Guatemala. Sorry, mom.

I connected with people from all over the world, from Peru to Norway. White and brown, old and young, straight and gay, and it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It’s amazing how quickly strangers can become friends. How you can share things with them that you haven’t shared with those you’ve known your entire life. How you can share intimate moments with them that you’ll never forget.

I lived with a Guatemalan family to help with my Spanish. Although things got REALLY awkward and we sometimes had to use Google Translate to communicate, mi Madre(Sylvia) never failed to make me feel at home when she’d call me down for breakfast before school each morning. Anytime I’d feel uncomfortable, I’d remind myself that I asked to be challenged.

I took one-on-one Spanish classes in Antigua, Guatemala and it really helped push me closer to my goal of becoming fluent. Also, every interaction I had, in taxis, in markets, in restaurants, and with new amigos/friends, made more confident with the language.

I stayed at a wonderful place in Nicaragua called Maderas Village. I met the most inspiring people there. It seemed that everyone had also quit their jobs to travel and/or work on their own personal projects. We had conversations that I didn’t even know my heart needed.

The sweetest Isreali girl taught me how to surf the golden waves of Playa Maderas in Nicaragua. She spoke nearly five languages and she was such a bad*ss. Just a traveler who offered to show us to surf. I met so many awesome Israelis during my trip and although I never had a strong desire to visit before, I do now.

I tasted exotic fruits that I didn’t even know existed. Maracuya, Guanabana, Pitahaya Mamoncillo, Apote…

I ate alone in restaurants and sat in many coffee shops alone. It was always awkward at first, but I learned more and more each time that what others think of me is truly none of my business.

I met so many amazing women who are just killing it at life!

I volunteered on a sailboat for six days from Panama to Colombia. In exchange for cleaning dishes, preparing food, and sharing my experience with you all, I received a trip to the San Blas Islands at no cost.

Honestly, I was ready to get off that dang boat after six days. I didn’t know it then, but my soul needed the solitude and the sea.

I woke up one day and decided to go paragliding in Medellin, Colombia and it was pure ecstasy. It was then that I decided fear wouldn’t stop me from doing anything in life.

I also got robbed at knifepoint in Medellin, Colombia. There are highs and there are lows.

I trekked for 3 days in the sacred valley of the Incas on the way to Machu Picchu. Within 10 minutes, I was thinking “NUH-UHHHHH.*huffing & puffing* I *huff* CANT *puff* DO *huff* 3 *puff* MORE *huff* DAYS *puff* OF *huff* THIS *big puff*”. But of course, I could. I might have been last, but I did.

While I need Google Maps to drive 20 minutes away in my hometown, I navigated foreign lands alone. While I thought I was shy and introverted, I made new friends on a daily basis. I surprised myself many times.

I learned that there are plenty of fish in the sea and they are waiting to meet you. Don’t trip over random guys or girls.

I fell in love many times, with the strangers that so quickly became friends, with every sunset I saw, with the chaotic markets I visited, and each new chance life presented me with when I arose each morning.

I visited Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Peru.

I thought I was confident before but this trip gave me more confidence than I’ve ever had.

And this is just the beginning. These experiences only describe a fraction of the experiences I had, but the internal changes that occurred as a result are endless and will last a lifetime. By interacting with and living with complete strangers on a daily basis, I shed my label of being ‘shy’. By navigating this world completely alone despite my reservations, I learned that I am capable of doing anything. By shedding labels given to me by myself and others, my true self was revealed to me. By being exposed to so many different people and ways of life, I rightly questioned my own beliefs and views about my life, myself, relationships, religion, and everything else I’ve been taught. By continuously stepping outside of my comfort zone, I learned that possibilities in life are endless. By exploring the corners of new lands, I was able to see that beauty can be found anywhere. By leaving behind those things that did not serve me, I learned that I have the power to control my own life. By taking a chance, I learned that things do always work out for you in the end. By meeting people all over the world, I learned that we are more alike than we’ll ever know. By listening to my heart and not letting fear win, I’m left with extraordinary memories that will last a lifetime.

When I met other travelers at the beginning of my trip, they’d often tell me I’d be a different person by the end of my trip. I doubted that. I already knew who I was. How much could change in a short three months? Well, they were right. This trip changed me in more ways than I’ll ever have the ability to express. I am a different person inside. I saw life and the people around me differently when I returned home. I still haven’t fully processed everything and it’s been several months since I left. I saw the world in such a raw, boundless way. No plans, no rules, no expectations and nobody telling you what to do. This created an unmatched level of personal freedom that so few people will ever get to experience and I will be forever grateful the experience.

The lessons I learned have continued to guide me. The conversations I had with strangers continue to echo in the back of my mind. I’m still on the road and I continue to gain new memories as my environment changes. I haven’t slowed down yet and I don’t plan to anytime soon.

Whatever it may be, if you’re dreaming of doing something similar, I urge you to start taking the steps now. If your heart is pulling you in a different direction than you’re headed, I beg of you to start inching closer. It might take months or years to get there, but baby steps will lead you there faster than being stagnant. Establish goals, write them down, say them out loud and start checking them off one-by-one. The time will pass anyway and one day you’ll look up to find yourself exactly where you hoped.

To learn more about my story, visit my blog at www.heyciara.com!

 

By Shontel Horne – Travel Noire

Posted on

Why Everyone Should Take A Solo Road Trip At Least Once

Going on a solo trip to a foreign destination is one thing, but hitting the road alone, either in the states or abroad, is an entirely different experience. Road trips allow you to really get to see the lay of the land on which you’re driving, and while most people think of road trips as an experience for friends or couples, here’s why taking a road trip alone, even if you do it just once, can be surprisingly rewarding.

Your Route Is Up To You

Once on a drive through Maine with a group, I was endlessly frustrated by the fact that no one wanted to stop to get lobster or fresh blueberries from the roadside vendors. It was my first time in the state and I’ll never forget how annoyed I was that I couldn’t savor the very food Maine was known for, and I vowed to return for a road trip on my terms. One of the major benefits of doing a road trip alone is that you won’t have to convince someone to spend more time in that interesting little town or force someone to pull over so you can try that tiny roadside restaurant. You can stop as little or as much as you like.

You’ll Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Many people go on road trips without having major issues, but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen. From getting a flat tire in the middle of the desert to an unexpected road closure with no signs of a detour, when hitting the road, you have to expect the unexpected. Map out your route and identify towns with mechanics and gas stations along your drive, but if something does go wrong, you’ll only strengthen your ability to solve problems on the fly.

You’ll Finally Get Your “Me Time”

Getting time to yourself is easier said than done. Even when we think we’re unplugging, modern distractions have a way of interrupting our peace. With just you, your car and the open road, a solo road trip gives you time to be alone with your thoughts if you wish, or you can sing at the top of your lungs to SZA  or catch up on your favorite podcasts. How you spend the time in the car is up to you, and it’s one of the best parts of the journey.

You’ll Learn To Travel Deeper

You can only see so much of a region from the windows of an airplane or a guided tour bus. By hitting the road yourself to explore an area, you’re immersing yourself in new surroundings, even if you’re only passing through. A road trip allows you to take the time to truly embrace an area for as long as you see fit, and can lead to a more impactful experience.

By Shontel Horne – Travel Noire



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