The So She Travels Podcast talks to the most vibrant and interesting female travellers of today.
I’d been searching for a travel podcast that stepped away from romanticising solo female travel and gave the cold, hard reality of what it’s really like to travel as a woman.
I also wanted one with advice for wannabe travellers on a budget, with achievable travel ideas that get us out as much as possible, without sleeping in a bush (I genuinely did that once, in Valencia, Spain).
Also, inspirational travel advice from women who work full time, who have children, who have responsibilities at home and who’ve overcome personal difficulties to get out there and travel.
So, I decided to make it myself.
So She Travels podcast
We won’t over glorify adventures, but we are normal-ish women who’ve worked out how travel can feature more prominently in our lives.
Each week I have a new guest and I’ll choose a destination, a few topics, and roll with it.
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You can expect tips on living as an ex pat, getting a job in travel, working as a tour guide, using travel to cope with grief, safety tips for women, toilets abroad, and travelling with babies. Also, how to travel solo when you’re in a relationship, dating abroad and visiting traditionally ‘dangerous’ countries.
For this first series I’ll be talking to my favourite female travel bloggers, not about blogging, but their travels. And mainly, their travels before they became travel bloggers. And who knows what could happen for series 2 (if there is one!).
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It’s been a great experience doing this podcast. I’ve loved researched the ladies I’ve had on, and chatting with them too. I genuinely think every one of them on this series is absolutely amazing.
The resilience, determination and adaptability of all them has just been inspiring, and motivating.
1. Jayne – Girl Tweets World
Jayne was the original UK travel blogger, for me and many others who started blogging at the same time as me. She’s lived in Oz for the past few years, after falling in love with Justin, a Melbourne man. She still travelled solo, while in a relationship, which is something I’ve totally looked up to as many women I know either go with their partners or they’re single.
I just like to see relationships work like that as for a long time that’s what intimidated me about getting in another relationship after my last one ended.
You can find Jayne’s life over on GirlTweetsWorld.com, and check her out on all the social medias too: @JayneyTravels
2. Helen – Helen in Wonderlust
Helen is incredible. She set up Rock My Adventure, her own African tour group travel company, after being made redundant. It blows my mind how she does this. No part of me would feel confident enough to lead a group across the 13 African countries that she does. She’s managed to get her friends and husband out there to support her and I’ve been too.
As she says, if you’d’ve asked her a few years ago what she’d be doing, she never would’ve said running her own tour company in Africa. I love what she’s managed to achieve.
You can find Helen at HeleninWonderlust.co.uk
3. Emily – Emily Luxton Travels
I wanted to talk to Emily Luxton about how travel had helped her cope with the grief of her mum’s death, and her shyness. She reveals how she used to be SO shy she couldn’t even order food and drink in restaurants, or talk to anyone new. It was forcing herself to interact and do things that helped her to become the solo female traveller we know her as today.
Take a listen to her podcast, it’s one of the few where we were actually together IRL, and we do actually happen to drink an entire bottle of wine during the show.
4. Ellie – Wandering Quinn
Ellie is currently travelling through Asia and her route totally reminds me of mine a few years ago. She’s a great person to follow on Instagram btw @wanderingquinn. We chatted about India, after she’d been there for months.
After our chat I actually went to India and was done after a week tbh, dunno how she lasted so long. I love her positive outlook on life, and her thoughts on manifesting were fascinating.
5. Kathi – Watch Me See
Honestly, Kathi is such a huge inspiration to me and I love following her adventures online. She hiked the Hebridean Way by herself, for two weeks, camping every night. I’d love to do that, maybe just for a weekend though. I can’t imagine doing that, or the strength and confidence it must’ve given her to know that she can do it.
Hiking and camping wasn’t really something I’d ever thought of doing before, but sounds like a great way to travel for cheap to me. I need to find time for this this summer.
6. Alice – Teacake Travels
I never describe anyone as kickass, but I feel it’s the only way to sum up Alice in one word. She’s awesome. A proper tower of strength and wisdom.
I loved loved talking to her and hearing more about her adventures. I mean, she’s driven the Mongol Rally, she’s worked as a burlesque dancer in Shanghai, she’s fended off an attacker in India, and she’s one of the most warm hearted, lovely people I’ve met.
Keep an eye on Alice’s feeds as she’s starting a a podcast soon, all about female travel.
7. Karen – Global Help Swap
Karen is the only one of the women I chatted with you regularly travels with someone else. In this case, her partner, Paul. They’re an absolute dream team. I love them.
I feel like female travel is often referred to in a solo female travel kinda way, when really, women are travelling with partners all the time. It’s lovely to chat with someone who’s so happy in that partnership.
8. Monica – The Travel Hack
Our ‘token mum’ on the podcast. Monica travels with her two boys and partner, Sam, and gives us a realistic insight at what it’s like to travel with young children. She’s got another baby on the way, due in October and so it’s interesting to hear how her travel style has changed. If you want tips on travelling with children, Monica is your woman.
9. Kirsty – Kirsty Leanne
Kirsty is a plus size traveller and is determined to show others that they needn’t be scared of travelling, with just a little prep. She’s been looking at the media representation of plus size travellers and quel surprise, there is none, well barely any, only in influencer marketing.
She’s off on an epic trip to the USA soon and so gives the lowdown of what you have to consider before you go as a plus size traveller. Also, hot off the press, she’s starting a podcast soon too, all about plus size travel.
10. Becki – Borders of Adventure
Becki’s whole ethos is to challenge perceptions of countries by visiting and then authentically relaying what she’s seen and experienced to her blog followers. She’s travelled to ‘misunderstood’ countries like Iran and North Korea, and has just been to Tibet.
She now lives in Austria and also wants to challenge the misconceptions there too. Her blog posts are some of the most well researched in the blog world and she’s known for her insightful approach to blogging.
Me – VickyFlipFlopTravels
I wanted to record a final episode for the series, with just some thoughts from the adventures and stories of the incredible women I’ve talked to these past few weeks. I’ve been totally inspired by everything I’ve heard, and after almost two months at home I’m excited to start my own summer of travels on Tuesday.
Listen to the final round up episode here.
Safety in female travel
From talking to these 10 exceptional women I’m reminded that women are fighting battles everywhere. It’s surprised me that two out of 10 of them talked about assaults, but, I think that’s a figure that would be similar in a random sample group of 10 women who’ve stayed in England.
The regularity is indicative of men, not of travel.
In a few chats we mention a blog post I wrote about Grace Millane, the young backpacker who went off to New Zealand, went on a Tinder date and was never seen alive again. Some blamed her, for daring to travel, and daring to meet someone online. This is a view and an opinion shared by many around the world, if not openly then definitely ingrained.
They think it’s dangerous for women to travel and we should be with a husband.
If something happens to us, as women, apparently it’s our fault. We’re blamed as victims, not the perpetrators who did the crime. It’s more, “what were they doing by themselves?”
Not, “why did he feel the need to kill / harm them?”
Of course this isn’t the attitude of everyone though.
Things are definitely changing, the equal rights movement for women has been given a huge push recently. But I feel solo female travel is one of those areas where it’s not moving as fast as it should. I guess because of the fact that so many different cultures and societies are involved.
And, many people still assume women are too fragile to travel alone.
I have first hand experience of the fact that the more you travel, the more fearless you become in different parts of your life.
Emily talked about having a patronus, a memory that you bought to mind of a time you were brave.
It works, I’ve tried it and used the technique for years. You could try it too.
Brave women travel
And now that I live in my comfortable house in lovely Southsea it’s easy to not be as brave as I once was. I have to remind myself that I boarded a plane to the USA aged 20, not knowing anyone. That I travelled Mexico for six weeks by myself. That I can make friends when I want to.
That I am strong, independent and brave.
It takes practice though.
Even after all these years I can still be intimidated by travel, of getting on that plane. Mainly because I read every news story ever about any backpacker or traveller who’s been in trouble, or had an accident abroad, I know the risk is real.
But life is risky, whether you’re at home or following a dream and an idea around the world. As the saying goes, “none of us are getting out of here alive” so you need to live while you can.
I’m so impressed by the resilience and determination of Alice and Becki, after they were attacked abroad. When I asked if it’d affected their travels, both didn’t hesitate to say no. And I felt like it was a weird question.
Unfortunately we live in a world where bad things happen everywhere, and so if you’re letting a worry about safety stunt your travel dreams, stop right now.
That leap of faith
When I think back over this first series of the So She Travels podcast, another theme that comes to mind is the leap of faith these women took, and the confidence to follow their heart.
Alice dropped a good job, good life and boyfriend to go and teach English in South Korea based on a chance meeting with someone at a train station.
Emily had split with her ex, still shy, still traumatised from her mother’s passing, but found that travel brought her back from the angry bitter person she was to a happy young woman, making a plan to do one thing a month that scared her.
Jayne left everything behind to live in Oz, Becki just decided to make Cambodia her home and Ellie left a good job and lovely life in West Hampstead for London. As far as I know everything was going ok for them at home, so what made them take that leap of faith?
To trust that what was on the other side would suit them more?
I know from experience that a lot of women travelling will have that make or break moment as the start of their adventures. I had the same. Dumped and homeless, I packed in my job and went off to Eastern Europe, and then Central America.
Whereas catalyst moments like that can be seen as the end of something, they can also be the start of something greater. Since it happened to me I always like to gently remind friends of this when they’ve gone through life changes.
Being made redundant, twice and being dumped were all pivotal moments of my life that set me onto a better path.
Travel is the answer in times of need
Of course, having the confidence, support, passion and financial means to leap like that takes a lot of stars to align together. But I think in their own way almost all of the ladies I’ve chatted to for this are examples of this.
One of the strongest examples, is Helen. She was made redundant, and so decided it was the perfect time to follow her dream to set up a tour company in Africa. And she was the perfect person to do it.
Instead of moping and taking on another job, she had been financially responsible enough in the past to have a bit of money, she’d been so passionate about Africa she already had a sideline in Africa tourism, and she had the support of her family, husband and friends to go for it.
She’s an inspiration and a wonderful person. Make sure to check out Rock My Adventure for all your Africa tour group needs.
Travel as a healer
Travel has long been known as a healer for many women. It’s why so many ladies could relate to that whole Eat Pray Love phenomenon. After something substantial happens in your life, to question your very core, it’s natural to want to leave it all and have an adventure elsewhere.
But for many women, children, family, parents, expectations, money and jobs stop them.
You can’t deny anyone who gets to travel is very lucky.
And for the women I chatted to on the podcast, of course they’ve made sacrifices and worked hard to be where they are, but I’m sure after the wisdom of travel has exposed them to lives very different from their own, all over the world, they’d agree that luck plays a part in all their adventures.
Most women in the world will never experience the sheer joy of travelling solo. It’s a fact.
The responsibility on women who travel
Which is why, if you do, you have a responsibility to share your stories and the reality of it all with who you can, just like Becki does. She wants to break down the barriers of cultures and societies and go beyond what the media tells us is truth.
Another important topic on the women and travel spectrum is media representation – whether through Instagram, the main stream or blogs. It’s a topic that has come up quite a lot in my podcast. Social media and the modern media affects so many of our choices now, and as I’ve discussed with these ladies, it can often be in quite a negative way.
It’s not just Kirsty who’s felt pressured to look a certain way in the past.
With the media and Instagram getting into all of our minds at every crack, the media is changing the way we travel. Iceland and Norway have become over touristed, I can’t imagine what Cappadocia is like these days, and queues for that perfect shot of a tree in Wanaka in New Zealand are apparently winding.
There’s a whole world to explore, why are we just congregating in the same places?
But then when we do dare go to new places, a la Becki and Alice, how do we know they’re safe?
There’s always been a trend of people wanting to go to new places – places where none of their friends have been but todays’ ‘influencers’ going to the likes of Saudi Arabia, with no understanding of the history or culture, but just a photo op, can be dangerous.
I guess the worry is in untrained and uneducated people, telling other people where to go on holiday, and where’s safe. The fact that they’re on some cushty press trip doesn’t seem to come in to it.
They’re just doing it for the gram.
I think as women, and humans, we need to travel more responsibly. And travel bloggers like Karen from Global Help Swap are here to offer advice on how to do this the right way.
Why travel? Why share your travels?
One of the things I talk with Becki about, which I wish I’d posed to everyone actually, is what sort of legacy they’d like to create in their life. How do they want their impact on the planet to be a positive one? Especially after all the flights they’ve taken!
Becki said she wanted to give her readers, “curiousness, openness and encouragement”. And I think that’s a great sentiment. And a wonderful legacy to lead.
I love the fact that I help people to have better holidays. They’re such an important part of life, and so looked forward to. I guess I want my legacy to be to inspire people to live differently, and to experience life in a way they didn’t think possible, or even imagine.
I hope that as the connection between you and these women I’ve worked towards that a little more in some way.
Positive role models for travel
I’m not sure how they’ve sounded to you, but when I listen back to the podcasts some have been quite serious. I have had a fun night out with pretty much all the women on the show – they’re all brilliant. These are the strong and independent women I aspire to be like, and are positive role models for anyone intro travel.
Their passion for travel, and for their online blogs is catching. To be honest it wasn’t necessarily my intention to have 10 travel bloggers on, but the first series has just ended up like that.
Travel bloggers are kinda getting a bad rep at the moment, but seriously they work HARD.
Some of their travels are now subsidised from working with travel companies on campaigns, but all of them paid for their own travels to get to that point.
Affording to travel
I know that money is another factor that stops women from travelling. That guilt that we should be saving for something else, for our futures.
But it depends on how you travel. There are many projects to join.
I’ve actually just updated my guide to Workaway on my blog. Workaway is brilliant and there are so many projects all around the world. You can browse, sign up, and apply to join. Honestly, they’re incredible, from skiing to olive picking to maintenance, childcare and animal care. I spent a summer with my ex painting villas, mowing lawns, gardening and hacking up drives with a pick axe in Europe a few summers ago. But if I was to do it again I’d definitely set my sights a bit higher working on sailing boats and up in the mountains.
There are many other sites and projects like this too.
And you don’t just have to go and volunteer to travel for cheap. Travel and stay in hostels, in spare rooms on AirBnb, camp like Kathi did – wild camp and it’s free.
I once wrote an article for my last employer, gapyear.com, and said:
‘Those who say travel is too expensive have no imagination’
I still totally stand by that.
I’ve done some COOL stuff – and until about four years ago I paid for it all myself. My parents paid for holidays to Cornwall, Devon, camping in France, Euro Disney once and a school holiday to Turkey, and that was me, until I was 17. And then it was down to me to pay for my travels.
Those holidays were brilliant, but I’m just telling you because I didn’t have fancy holidays when I was younger and I appreciate them so much now. Although nothing will beat River Dart Country Park in Devon, where I spend many holidays.
Saving is hard, I know. I managed to save for a house by myself. You have to be strict and work out what’s really important to you, and what you can skip.
Video from my first year of solo travelling
Check out my YouTube for more videos from around the world
How to save money to travel more
Work out your leg ups. I could stay with my ex’s family for a low rent when I lived in London, this was a huge leg up for me, but for three years I lived with my boyfriend, his mum and grandma. Obviously that has limitations for a 20-something living in London, but I knew it would help in the long run.
I also started a side hustle, my blog. Any time spent working on that was time I wasn’t out and about in London, spending money. It was a great way to channel my creativity and to learn more about my work. Eventually, after time, I started making money with it but that wasn’t the intention from the start.
I once read that you should have three hobbies.
“One to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.”
I’ve never been afraid of hard work. Even when I was younger and went to Australia at 21 I made that money by having about three jobs at uni, while my housemates sat around without any. I labelled envelopes, did data entry, and worked at a pub. I didn’t buy clothes. And the fact I worked at a pub meant I missed all the pre-drinking of a night out, I’d just have fun with my workmates, and then we’d go straight to a club after. I loved those days.
How to get money for travel
If you can’t afford travel there are three options:
1. Lower your expectations – go wild camping, go hiking, stay in hostels, travel locally, look at volunteering, or sharing services – bet there’s a website to help you hike or get places. Look out for deals. I’ve definitely seen Megabus do deals to Europe for a few quid for example.
2. Spend less – you absolutely have to look at your expenditure and cut it down. Whether it’s living costs, food, drink, clothes, nights out, presents, phone contracts, gym – whatever.
3. Make more – work more hours, work towards a payrise, set up a side hustle – look on something like Upwork and see what others are getting paid a lot for and assess your skills. You could do some online tutoring, or just Marie Kondo your house and sell all your stuff you don’t use.
And that’s it.
Thanks for listening, and for reading.
I hope you’ll join me again in October for another series of So She Travels!