How did you get your start traveling?
I started traveling when I was 16. I participated in a volunteer trip to Guatemala and have had the travel bug ever since. Since then, I have traveled to many parts of the world, including doing a study abroad in Mexico, backpacking Southeast Asia, and teaching English in Thailand.
Why did you decide to travel to Cambodia alone?
I was 19 when I first decided to travel to Southeast Asia, and was completely terrified. However, I could not find friends that were motivated to go with me, so I decided to take a leap and travel alone.
I almost backed out at the airport, as I was so incredibly nervous. However, I am so happy that I went through with the trip. It has opened up a world of possibilities.
Tell us about your experience with solo travel in Cambodia.
Traveling in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia solo completely changed my outlook on life. I realized that people are truly good at heart, and people living on the other side of the world are really not so different from the people back at home.
Most importantly, I learned that I was fully capable of taking care of myself, and with that came an enormous sense of freedom. Overall, I had an amazing time in Cambodia. I met other like-minded people, got to see beautiful places, and experience new things that I never would have thought possible.
What recommendations do you have for solo travelers in Cambodia?
My favorite hostels would have the be The Siem Riep Hostel (Siem Riep), Top Banana Guesthouse (Phnom Penh), and Monkey Republic (Sihanoukvillle). These are all excellent places to meet other backpackers. Koh Rong Island also has a very solo- traveler friendly vibe. Dorms line the beach and there are so many other solo backpackers staying there.
What was the best part of your solo trip to Cambodia?
My favorite place in Cambodia is the incredible Long Beach, off Koh Rong Island. It is one of the most stunning beaches I have ever been to. You can also go swimming with the plankton that light up at night, which is absolutely amazing.
I also really love Kampot. I would recommend staying at one of the river guest houses. Bodhi Villa is very popular, and has themed parties. Utopia is also fun- you can go there during the day and have fun swimming in the river. Kep is also a day trip away by motorbike or bus- make sure to try their infamous crab meat!
What was the worst part of your travels in Cambodia?
The worst part of traveling in Cambodia would have to be the bus rides. Cambodia is notorious for their late, unreliable, and often bumpy buses that stop to pick up livestock on the way. We once had to get out of the bus and wait on the side of the road, as the driver had hit a cow (The cow was fine, the bus was not). On an entirely separate occasion, we had to get out while the men poured water on the bus engine to cool it down. I was the only foreigner on the bus, and was entirely useless in helping fix it, so I was handed someone else’s baby instead.
Are there any safety concerns for women traveling alone to Cambodia?
I think that Cambodia is generally a fairly safe place for women who are traveling alone. In Phnom Penh, you should be extra careful about theft and keep your bag strapped across your chest. I also would not walk home alone at night in Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville. Just be smart and use common sense that you would use in any other big city, and you should be fine.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
My advice would be to be cautious, but don’t let fear hold you back from your traveling. Letting fear of the unknown control you is a terrible mistake if you have the urge to travel.
That isn’t saying you shouldn’t be cautious, but don’t be guarded. When you expect positive experiences, that is typically what you will get. Stop waiting around for other people to be ready to travel with you and just book a plane ticket. Solo travel is entirely doable and often even more fun than traveling with your friends from home. You won’t regret it!
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women solo travelers?
Don’t worry about meeting people on your travels! Backpacking solo lends itself to being social, and you will probably be more worried about finding a little time for yourself then finding friends.
Kaitlyn is a 24-year old blogger and world traveler who loves inspiring other women to get out there and see this beautiful world. She has backpacked alone through out Southeast Asia and traveled across the globe, but her bucket list is still growing by the day. Recently she just returned from teaching abroad in Thailand, and will be heading to Seoul next. When she is not googling airfare prices and daydreaming, she enjoys practicing yoga and reading. She writes about her experiences on her blog, www.wayfarerkate.com
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.