Some of our favourite blog posts from our favourite blogs. | unbravegirl5

As much as you want to travel, you might still be a little unsure about it all. “What’s all this travelling hoo-hum?”, you might ask yourself (…or not.)  Well, one of our favourite blogs to keep track of here at Girl Meet Road is Unbrave Girl, otherwise known as Sally, who is a hilarious writer / traveller who documents her every thought and has visited some seriously cool places, both on her lonesome and with others.  Unbrave Girl features the tagline “encouraging scaredy cats since 2009” and is so welcoming that any doubts you have will go out the window. Today, we bring you ‘Advice you really shouldn’t follow: How to begin travelling‘, because it’s relevant to our interests and hopefully yours.

Take it in zest, with a glass of wine and have a giggle.  There are some seriously inspiring lessons in her post, even if it’s tongue-in-cheek.  When you start reading these blogs, your mind opens up a little more.  Unbrave girl reminds us that we can all be a little scared in the face of big changes, especially when starting the journey of solo travelling.  But frankly?  You got this.

(Check out another Unbrave Girl post – 5 Travel Mistakes I Make Over and Over Again. And maybe her whole blog while you’re there.)

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Traveller stories – on South America, Machu Picchu and solo travelling

Today we sat down with traveller Sarah and asked her about her recent travels – which has since inspired her to start a career in travel and tourism. Born and bred in Birmingham, she has only just returned home after two years solo travelling, admittedly with “a lot of friends along the way” – and she’s been forever changed.

She recently spent three months backpacking in South America, chasing an urge to “see the world”.

She talked about her previous relationship, saying that while the two of them had plans to travel together, ultimately they split up due to differences – she wanted to travel, him settle down.

“I wanted more to life, and I think that’s why we split in the end,” she explains.

“You learn how to form relationships very quickly, you learn social skills, you learn about money and budgeting. Life’s lessons. It teaches you how to cope and to survive. I’m a bit better with geography. Um… It teaches you how to sleep in a room with 8 other people.” Sarah, on what travelling has taught her

Her South American trip was an eye-opener, and she cites Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca ruins in the Andes Mountains in Peru, as “the best three days of the trip”.

“It was amazing, absolutely one of my highlights. We only did the one day trek, we went into the jungle – it’s amazing, really. This little unknown town in the middle of the jungle. It was a really hard trek, so when you finally make it there, it’s like, Wow.”

Her favourite?  Colombia, the northern tip of South America.

“There are so many regions in South America – I had a certain place in each part of South America that was my favourite. I had my favourite beach town, my favourite mountain place – but my favourite as a whole was Colombia.

“The people, the hospitality – they are so welcoming and friendly, and they make you feel part of the family.”

“And Rio,” she adds with a wry smile. ” – but that was the end of the tip and the big blowout.”

When asked what she learnt from travelling, and what she got out of her two years ‘on the road’, Sarah pauses.

“I learnt to have patience. I learnt to be both less domestic and more domestic. I learnt how to not shower every day – to keep clean without showering. You learn how to form relationships very quickly, you learn social skills, you learn about money and budgeting. Life’s lessons. It teaches you how to cope and to survive. I’m a bit better with geography. Um… It teaches you how to sleep in a room with 8 other people.”

She does have some advice for female travellers.

“I didn’t tend to go out at night, and I’d go out early to get back early. The times that I didn’t like were the border crosses. That’s when I felt like I didn’t know what was going on… The police swing their guns around like they’re plastic. It’s quite intimidating when they get onto the bus to check, because they want to see your passport…”

The end of the interview sees her enthusiastically encouraging women to travel. “It can be a little bit of a culture shock at first, but it’s so exciting.”

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So, what does the road actually mean? – a post explaining what Girl Meets Road stands for.

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“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”

Jack Kerouac, On The Road

When creating this blog, we took a lot of inspiration from Jack Kerouac’s novel, On The Road.  Read it, if you get a chance – it’s what awakened that very first whisper of ‘what if’. By the end of it, I hungered to travel.

(Side note: Check out Cheryl Strayed’s Wild while you’re at it.)

‘The road’, really, is personal to each person to undertakes a journey. It can be metaphorical, though to us, it is physical – it is a destination.  It doesn’t have to be an actual road or roadtrip. It can be a plane, a bus, a kayak across the Murray River.  It’s a trip to your best friend’s house. It means you are moving and broadening your views. It’s a learning experience. It’s near and it’s far.

The road, therefore, is anywhere you like.

To us, the words ‘the road’ were chosen to represent this blog because the road represents anything – it’s transformative and it is so individual to each person.  To us, this is what it means to travel: there is no one ‘place’ or one ‘person’ you have to go or you have to be. It’s entirely up to you. It’s freedom.

Saying that, check out our blog on LondonParis, Berlin, Prague, Queenstown, The Great Ocean Road, and more for some ideas on where to head next on the road!

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

Cheryl Strayed, ‘Wild’

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London, city of opportunity. #citysnapshot

LondonEyeBannerSometimes, across the world and many miles away, you find ‘home’.

This is London to me, and I hope it will be to you too.  It was the first city I travelled to by myself, and in many ways, the first time I really experienced the exhilaration and love of travelling.  If you’re just starting out, as a wide-eyed decidedly not solo traveller (in that way that you haven’t been before) it’s one of the best places to start. Especially to Australians. There are so many of us over there that it’s reassuring, and the people and life is close enough to Australia while still being 16,000 km away.

In 2014, London, capital of the United Kingdom, hosted a record breaking 16.8 million visitors, and it’s not hard to see why.

There is something about this city that hosts every type of person that you can possibly imagine. My experience of London was first as a tourist and then as a resident (I am lucky enough to own a British Passport.) I lived in the city, and while at first the noise outside my window bothered me, I got accustomed to it.  I got accustomed to the pace and the chaos, the pubs on every corner, the buskers in the tube – sometimes, if you’re lucky, people will take a moment out of their busy days to pause and listen. Then, they rush off again.  The Starbucks, the lights, crows and music, the fact that you can go out and do anything at any time. Borough Market on a Sunday, the view of London from the Shard, getting a curry on Brick Lane.  Going to Shepherd’s Bush and hearing five Australian accents in a row.  There’s a reason why so many people travel into the UK, being a gateway to Europe as it is. Once you’ve tackled London, there’s no reason why you can’t take the Eurostar to Paris.

Here are some quick tips for London.

Where to stay

So you’re in London.  The great thing about this bustling metropolis is that essentially everywhere is good and it doesn’t have to be city centre because train travel is so good.  I’d recommend staying within Zones 1 & 2, in areas such as Shoreditch, Islington, Victoria, Pimlico or Soho (party central here).

On a budget: How about The Dictionary, Shoreditch

Trendy, cheap, and in a super cool area of London. Plus, Shoreditch is only 15 or so minutes on the tube into the city centre. You’ll love this hostel, with rooms from $50 a night.

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Got some cash? $$: Try St Mark’s Aparthotel

Sometimes we like living a little bit fancy, and St. Mark’s was a great stay in a safe neighbour. Just a short walk down City Road brings you to Angel station and lots of fun bars and shops around Islington.

Our top tips for London!

  • Visit at Christmas, and wander down Southbank through all the Christmas markets. It may not be Prague or Berlin, but it’s magic.
  • Visit the Harry Potter Studio tour.  It’s just outside of London (and a little bit of a trek to get there), but there’s not a word in the English language to describe how AWESOME it is.
  • Take one of the free walking tours of London – they’re a great way to see the city on foot with some other likeminded travellers. I recommend the street art tour of Shoreditch.

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The Harry Potter Studio Tour (one word. Amazing.)

London2Let’s. Great Eastern Street, London.

Why you absolutely, definitely should solo travel.

Okay, hear me out.

You might have stumbled across here by accident.  Or maybe you’re thinking about it and you’re starting to research (and found us! Yay).  Maybe you’re fed up of waiting for friends to be ready to travel.  Maybe you just want to do something a little bit crazy.

First of all, let me say, every question you have, I had.

I used to regard solo travel as something that bordered on ridiculous.  Didn’t these kids have friends to go with?  And then, when I started thinking about it further. How do they know where to go?  How are they not lonely?  How do they stay safe?

It sounds daunting, I know.  It can be scary to venture this far outside of a comfort zone, and it’s true, solo travel is exactly that.  But it’s also the most rewarding thing you will ever do.

You should do it.  Here’s why.

10.  Honestly? It’s not as scary as you think.

I think the idea of it is more terrifying than actually doing it.  You imagine all of these crazy scenarios happening and get stressed out just by thinking of them.  You think, “oh, it’s too hard”.  And that’s good because you should imagine those scenarios. But there’s strength in pushing past that initial unknown. When you find yourself catching your fourth flight in a foreign airport, it becomes so simple. It slots into place, and you think “oh, I can do this. I got this.” And you do. You make friends with the person across the seat from you on the plane.  The smile from the hotel attendant means everything to you.  The broken English conversations.  There is beauty in feeling the fear but doing it anyway.

9.  You’re on your own time zones.  

Freedom wise, this is the best.  Don’t want to stay out all night?  Don’t have to!  This is one of my favourite things of solo travelling. So many times when I travel with friends I have that awkward juggle of time.  If you’re totally different people (and even if you’re similar in personality) there are often different things you want to do and see and you prioritise your time differently.  I once went on holiday with someone who wanted to spend all her time in her hotel room.  Now, when I travel alone, I’m totally on my own clock.  It’s awesome. This goes into my second point, which is…

8.  Your trip is tailor-made to yourself.

Yes it is. You’re in Europe and want to hit 15 countries in 7 days? WHY NOT! (Actually that sounds impossible, but whatever floats your boat.) Want to eat nothing but breakfast food for a week? GO FOR IT!  (I’m not sure that’s healthy. Again, you do your thang.) You want to sit on a bench all day in Central Park and eat ridiculously sized pretzels? SURE! (… I have done this one.)

7.  You’ll find it easier to make friends on your own.

This requires a little bit of bravery, but the second you do it once, you start to get your confidence (and this is where fake it till you make it comes in).  It’s true that people find it easier to talk to if you’re on your own.  All you have to say is, “Hi, I’m from ________! What’s there to do around here?” Bonus if they’re locals. Bonus if they’re also travellers.  Bonus if they’re from your country. I have met so many Aussies overseas, and there is just this instant comradery between you.  And travellers are usually the kindest, most enthusiastic people you will ever meet.

6.  You’ll be surprised.  It’s safer than you think.

As women, we’re raised right from the very beginning to distrust people.  As kids, we’re taught not to trust strangers (for good reason, I’m not discounting that.).  As little girls, we’re told to dress a certain way, act a certain way and be a certain way in order to keep ourselves safe.  As women, it’s the same.  We’re naturally fearful of our surroundings, because of what we’ve grown up with.  And you do have to trust your gut – and it can be an unsafe world.  But it’s surprising how easy it is to take a few extra steps to stay safe by using your common sense.  Often, people recognise a traveller, and are more than happy to show you around.

5. The wonder lies in the unknown.

While the so-called ‘tourist traps’ are there for a reason – and they’re often as important to see as getting off that beaten track – there is freedom and exhilaration in just “seeing what happens”.  Whether you meet locals who direct you to a magical view, or to an unknown bar, or you run into other travellers and become best friends with them. Travelling is all about the unknown.

4. You can be as spontaneous as you like.

In ‘real life’, as I like to call it, I’m quite reserved and quiet.  Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you travel, you can be anyone you like. Nobody knows what you’re like at home – you get to try out what it’s like being someone else.

3.  Because of what you learn about the world.

Getting out of your home town, city or country can do wonders for your view of the world.  Seeing how others live can vastly change your perception – those minor annoyances that get you at home? They disappear when you travel. Your eyes are opened.

2.  Because of what you learn about yourself.

This. It’s so hard to say how you’ll change, but you will. You’ll learn to trust your instincts. You’ll figure how to keep yourself safe and how to make friends, as well as seeing some of the most beautiful sights the world has to offer. You keep closer track of your finances than ever. And that’s just brushing the surface.

Finally…

1. You will be totally changed as a person.

This one bears no real explanation, but when you travel, especially solo, something awakens in your soul, and you live and breathe for these experiences.

A couple of my favourite places I’ve been as a solo traveller…

IMG_6519John Lennon Wall, Prague

IMG_5741Lake Bled, Slovenia

IMG_1792Venice Beach, California

Hi there!

Well, good evening, lovely travellers and travellers-to-be.

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East Side Gallery, Berlin

This marks our first post!

Welcome to Girl Meet Road. If you can’t tell already, we are a blog focusing on solo travel for females – and we have all the information, tips, tricks and recommendations you need for your next trip (just lining them up to post!).  The girl behind the scenes is Alyssa McKellar, current student in Adelaide, Australia but forever wanderer.  We’ll post stories on the best things to see (not just the tourist traps!), how you can stay safe, what to take and most importantly… how to help you have an EPIC time.

The world is your oyster. Seize the day!

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