A solo trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country still healing from a violent civil war, invigorates and inspires Lydia Klemensowicz in this week’s Women Who Travel Solo.
How did you get started traveling?
I got started traveling, firstly because I grew up in a travel-loving family. My dad and my mom have both done their bit of traveling and we have traveled quite a bit as a family, even going on a two month road trip through the United States and Canada in 2007. I strongly believe this implanted a wandering heart, as I set off in the winter of 2015 to to study abroad in Ireland. Ireland then became the base for the rest of my travels in Europe, and I eventually ended up embarking on a Bosnia and Herzegovina solo travel experience.
Why did you decide to take a solo trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
The decision to travel alone did not come easily. It is something I had always wanted to do, but was one of those things I thought I would never try. Before actually taking the leap, I would always work myself up about all the things that could go wrong. Then some plans I had to travel with a group fell apart. I had the option to perhaps join others on their travels at the least minute, but I decided that was too easy, and this was the perfect opportunity to travel alone and challenge myself.
I wanted to go to Austria and Poland and nobody else really wanted to, so I made a decision that was solely for me. It was honestly one of the most empowering feelings to realize I was completely capable. From this trickled the courage to go to a destination I had never considered before, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tell us about your experience with Bosnia and Herzegovina solo travel.
My experience as a solo traveler in Bosnia and Herzegovina was invigorating and inspiring. I did not have much knowledge or info about this country, mostly because I had never really met anybody who wanted to travel there or had traveled there. I think that’s why it was so amazing; I was venturing into the unknown of culture and people, but also the unknown of myself. I harnessed my curiosity, succumbed to vulnerability and opened myself up to a culture, people and town (Mostar) that evidently changed my perspectives on living. I was working in a hostel and was constantly able to meet people from all over the world every single day, an experience that would not be matched without traveling solo.
What recommendations do you have for those wishing to follow in your footsteps with Bosnia and Herzegovina solo travel?
I 100% recommend staying in Hostel Miran. This was the hostel that I worked at and Miran, along with his family, welcomed me with open arms. I would also recommend going to beautiful nearby locations such as Blagaj, Pocitelj and of course a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be one without visiting the unique, amazing capital city Sarajevo.
What was the best part of your solo travels through Bosnia and Herzegovina?
I really have so many fond memories, but if I had to pick the best part, it would be watching the sunset from the roof of Sniper Tower in Mostar every other night with guests from around the world.
What was the worst part of the trip?
I wouldn’t necessarily say this was the worst part of the trip, but definitely the hardest part was learning about the history and the very recent war. I knew very little about it before I arrived, and that made me feel very naïve and ignorant, but then more willing to listen, learn and observe a multitude of powerful stories and experiences.
The city that I lived in (Mostar) still has many ruins and buildings with bullet holes and debris, and I will never forget walking around the first day there and being completely taken aback by this, but also by how far the city has come.
Are there any safety concern for women traveling alone in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
I felt incredibly safe in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Safety concerns come down to common sense: try not to stand out too much as a tourist, be respectful of the culture and religion as Bosnia and Herzegovina has a large population of Muslims, and don’t walk around alone late at night.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with somebody on a bus or in a hostel. From my experiences, this always led to meeting a new friend, and many times meeting people I would then go on to travel with or meet up with!
You create your own limits and excuses. Have confidence in yourself and know that any uncertainty or lack of comfort along the way is a sign of growth, change and coming into your own – and this is one of the most empowering feelings.
About Lydia Klemensowicz
Lydia is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree in Ottawa, Canada, majoring in Human Rights. She grew up in a family that valued travel, the outdoors and learning, therefore has been tapping into her curious heart ever since and doesn’t plan on stopping soon! Lydia is passionate about social justice, politics and poetry, and is easily inspired by the people around her. Find out more on her blog at travelthinkdiscover.wordpress.com.
About Women Who Travel Solo
Women Who Travel Solo is a weekly column that shares the stories of women’s solo travel adventures in hopes of spreading the message that traveling alone is not only safe, but wildly rewarding. Inspire other women to travel solo by sharing your story with Something In Her Ramblings. Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.