How did you get started traveling?
I started traveling when I was young. The first time I traveled solo was right after I graduated college – I went to Europe for a month. Then, when I turned 30, I decided I wasn’t happy with the life I was living, so I quit my job/career and headed out to travel solo through Europe and parts of Africa for seven months. When I returned to the States, I stuck around for around 18-months and then relocated to Thailand to work to educate people on the realities of elephant tourism.
What’s your favorite destination you have been to and why?
That’s tough! I love so many places and narrowing it down to one is really hard for me. My most favorite places all have to do with the moments I had in them and the way I felt when I was there. I’d say tops on my list are Split, Croatia, London, Sarajevo, Berlin and Madrid, where I currently live.
Tell us about your first solo trip.
My first solo trip was when I graduated college. I spent a month traveling through Europe, hitting up mostly the more tourist-y cities (Venice, Rome, Florence, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and Paris), plus a few smaller ones. I remember when I got off the airplane in Milan, I was immediately overwhelmed and the thought of being in places where I couldn’t speak the language scared the crap out of me. It took me a few days to get over the sheer fear of what I had done, and then I began to enjoy it. I realized that I could travel solo, I could make it on my own and I could rise to the challenges presented to me, so I’d say it was a good trip!
Tell us about your most interesting solo trip.
My most interesting solo trip would be the seven month adventure I went on. It was hard, sad, overwhelming, eye-opening, inspiring, challenging, but most important, beautiful. I traveled all over Europe, met so many amazing people along the way (some of which are still in my life), saw so much and learned so much about myself.
What have you been able to learn from traveling solo that you wouldn’t have by traveling with a companion or in a group?
That I can rise up to challenges. That I can be scared, or tired or lonely and overcome those obstacles and live in the moment. That I can do what I want, and the world is my oyster. I think traveling with other people has its place, too. But, for self-discovery, I think it is important to get out and live solo for awhile. It puts you in positions where you have to mingle, you have to learn how to deal with problems and leaves you feeling incredibly empowered.
Should women be fearful of traveling alone?
I think they should be as fearful as men traveling alone. Sure, there are incidents everywhere and violence can be random. For the most part, people are good. I think it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and to go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation. But, I think that goes for real life and travel life.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
Be aware of your surroundings, but don’t let fear paralyze you and make you question your decisions. Trust your heart, trust your mind and live in the moment.
What destinations do you recommend for solo travel?
There are so many! I think it depends on your personality and what you want to get out of your travel experience, so me listing the destinations I would choose are based entirely on my own experiences there. Personally, I think Chiang Mai, Thailand and European cities are fantastic and easier for a solo traveler who is going out for the first time from home.
What makes for the best travel memories?
My best travel memories have come from the unexpected. From the people who come into my life, and the way our lives interconnect.
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women travelers?
Don’t be afraid. Rise up to the challenge and do it!
About Diana Edelman
When Diana Edelman hit her 30-Life-Crisis (also known as turning 30), she started a blog, quit her job, and headed across the Atlantic Ocean to chase her dream of sharing travel stories with readers. Diana recently lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she volunteered full-time for Save Elephant Foundation, an organization dedicated to rescuing Asian elephants and educating travelers on responsible tourism. A freelance travel writer, Diana currently lives in Madrid. Read about her adventures on D’ Travels Round.
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 travelling 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.