Photo courtesy of Cindy Vranken of MegaCindy.com (our guest on the Kilimanjaro episode)

Is Solo Travel for YOU???

Afraid to travel solo – especially solo adventure travel? Today's guests share their insights as to the Pro's and Con's of solo travel and share what they consider the benefits and challenges, plus their tips to make adventure travel solo safe and fun.

Today's Guest Interviews on Solo Adventure Travel

 

Jackie Nourse of Traveling Jackie and the Budget Minded Traveler, Jason Waitkins and Monica Aranguren share their thoughts on taking a solo holiday and what it's like to travel by yourself.  See some of their solo adventures photos down below!

 

Seven Reasons to Solo Travel

There are lots of reasons you might travel solo:

1. Maybe you can't find anyone to travel where you want to go, when you want to go.  If you want to go, but aren't comfortable going completely on your own, consider small group travel.  Be aware of any single supplements and look for companies that pair you with someone if you don't want to pay extra to travel alone. My affiliate, Active Adventures (different company with a similar name) does NOT make you pay the dreaded Single Supplement.

2. You need some time to yourself to just THINK!  If you need to figure some things out in your life, consider taking a long distance hike or cycling trip.  You'll have all day to yourself, but will meet people along the way for when you could use a little company.  Check out my West Highland Way and Cottswold Way long distance walking holiday adventures for some inspiration.

3.  You want to develop your ‘Grit Bone' or what Jackie calls her “Courage Muscles”.  There's nothing like adventure travel, and in particular, solo travel to test your mettle and to expand what you think possible for yourself!  It's a great way to boost your self esteem and self reliance, too!  If you want to feel empowered, try adventure travel, and in particular SOLO Adventure Travel!

4.  It's easier to meet new people when you travel solo.  Locals are more likely to come up to introduce themselves when they see you alone, so you'll have more local interaction.

5.  You'll develop better problem solving skills.  When it's just you, YOU have to figure out what to do when something goes awry.  You'll learn that you are quite good at finding a solution, no matter how clumsy it is, when you know that you simply HAVE to!

6.  You'll discover what you really like and dislike:  when your schedule is completely your own, you have to make ALL the decisions, from what time to wake up, to what, when and where to eat, to how to spend your time, etc.  If you go someplace and decide you've had enough, you can simply leave without conferring with travel mates, or you can spend all day in a museum that rocks your boat, but would bore your normal partner.

7.  Traveling solo can sometimes be lonely, so even introverts learn how to strike up a conversation (my go to questions is, “So how was your day?”  People love to talk about themselves.  You'll always find other solo travelers at the bar next to a hostel, so head there at cocktail hour to find others that would love to chat.  For that matter, consider even staying in a hostel so you can meet folks in the common areas.  Many offer single rooms so you don't have to sleep dorm style.  

Alternately, stay at an Airbnb where the people live there as well and the comments from previous guest indicate that the hosts like to be social with guests.  Consider Couchsurfing.  Also sign up to do a Walking Tour or other group activity to meet others.  See if there are any interesting Meetups going on while you're in town and reach out to the group organizer to attend.

Click for your FREE Solo Travel Tips Guide

Solo Travel Tips and Rules

I've been traveling solo for five years now and I've come up with some rules that help keep me safe and reduce stress (in no particular order):

1. When ‘winging it' while traveling, I make sure that I know where I am going to sleep before noon.

2. Whenever possible, I make sure that I arrive at the night's accommodations before dark.

3. When out, I never leave my food or drink unattended.

4. Don't drink too much or do any drugs.  Get back to your room at a reasonable hour.

5. Be careful of overly cautious locals who might be setting you up… does someone on the bus or train rush to try to share a cab with you?  This could be a setup: the cabbie could be a partner in crime.  Check the US State Dept Travel advisory for the country you are visiting to see what the current local scams are.  Register your trip with the Smart Traveler Program.

6. Ask your hotel to call you a cab or take highly rated Uber or Lyfts to avoid rogue cabbies. 

7.  Ask a local to circle bad areas on a paper map.

8.  Be mindful of your surroundings at all times and have an exit plan. 

9.  Hold onto your luggage, going so far as to bike lock it to yourself should you be on a long train or bus where you might sleep.

10.  Make sure someone knows where you are supposed to be and what time you are supposed to arrive AND when to sound an alarm should he or she not hear from you.

 

 

One of our guests today, Jackie, is also a travel blogger and podcaster. She did an excellent episode on Solo Travel you can access here.  You can also find her at Traveling Jackie, the Budget Minded Traveler (now Jump).

Also be sure to check out my interview with Jackie on adventures in Quebec!

Jason Waitkins' Solo Adventure photos

Here are a few photos Jason took on some of his solos adventures. He's been to several places covered on Active Travel Adventures – see links below the pics if you want to learn more about these fantastic locations!

Included below are scenes from Argentina, Chile (Patagonia), Ecuador, Peru, Kilimanjaro, New Zealand and Nepal. Jason is smart: he's making sure that when he travels, ALL of Jason's trips are so-called ‘Trips of a Lifetime”! You go, Jason!  All photos courtesy of Jason Waitkins.

Some of the adventures Jason has taken that have been covered by ATA include:

Patagonia (Argentina & Chile)
Ecuador
Kilimanjaro
Nepal
Peru  [Machu Picchu]
New Zealand (Coming Winter 2019)

Monica Aranguren's Solo Travel Photos

Here are some pics from trips that Monica has taken solo. Links to adventures we've covered on Active Travel Adventures are below. Monica is also taking travel by the horns and doing EPIC vacations!  Well done, Monica!!!  Some of the adventures Monica has taken solo include the Dolomites, the Galapagos, Mont Blanc and New Zealand.  All photos courtesy of Monica Aranguren.

Some of Monica's epic trips that ATA has covered:

Dolomites
Mont Blanc
Galapagos
New Zealand (Coming Winter 2019 to ATA)

 

Click for your FREE Solo Travel Tips Guide

Show Note Summary with Time Stamps

 00:00   Intro and why go solo even if you think you shouldn't /wouldn't

 01:57   Intro to today's guests:  Jackie, Monica and Jason

 FIRST GUEST:  Jackie Nourse of Budget Minded Traveler (now JUMP podcast) and Traveling Jackie

 02:36   Why Jackie travels solo

 05:32   “Lose yourself to find yourself”

 07:25   How solo travel changed Jackie's life

 08:25   Solo travel safety and the Boogey Man

 10:29   Sometimes it's more dangerous at home

 11:09   Eating dinner alone [PS:  No one cares but you]

 14:28   Meeting locals while traveling solo

 16:01   Using hostels for socialization

 16:28   Jackie's advice to first time solo travelers

SECOND INTERVIEW:  Monica Aranguren

 17:05   Monica intro

 17:27   How Monica got into adventure travel

 18:07   How solo travel transformed Monica

 18:44   Monica travels with Active Adventures

 19:01  How Monica chooses her destinations

 19:36   Does Monica still travel solo

 20:06   Socialization when solo by using small group tours

 20:53   Pros and cons of solo travel  

 21:44   Safety issues

 23:16   Loneliness

 24:32   Advice to first time solo travelers

 25:08   Did solo travel change her

 26:08   Making lifelong friends adventure traveling

 27:31   Stories from Monica's trips

27:46    New Zealand

 28:72    Galapagos

 29:21   Mont Blanc

 31:56   Monica's advice to solo travelers [HINT:  Seize the day!]

 32:09   Hearing joy and accomplishment in guest's voices

 THIRD INTERVIEW:  Jason Waitkins

 32:28   Jason intro

 34:46   Why Jason likes solo adventure travel

 37:10   Safety from the male perspective

 39:50   Benefits of traveling with a group in case of injury

 41:25   How Jason chooses his next destination

 44:29   How solo travel changed Jason

 45:41   Making lifelong friends

 46:39   Advice to new solo travelers

 49:31   Benefits of using a small group tour to solo travel

 50:33   FREE Travel Planners from Active Travel Adventures

 51:22   Annapurna

 53:07   New Zealand

 54:08   Galapagos

 56:07   Patagonia

 57:20   Jason's final thoughts [HINT: Just do it!]

59:03   Kit's Solo Travel Rules, Tips and Advice

Complete Transcript with Time Stamps

Jackie: 00:00:00 You have to just go see what the world has for you and then figure out what you look like in that new normal. In the place that I'm in, where everything is unknown, so these physical activities literally just help strengthen these ‘courage muscles' that I feel like I use all the time.

Kit: 00:00:24 Today we're going solo. That's right. Even if you have a partner, I want you to listen to the program today because there are definite advantages and challenges to traveling solo, so even if you think there is no way I would ever travel solo, please listen to today's show with an open mind. You might just change your mind. Today I'll be interviewing three solo travelers about the challenges and joys of traveling solo plus, since I usually travel solo myself, you'll hear my two cents worth as well. It's a great show, so even if you think, “No way, I could never travel solo”. I beg you. Please listen today and see if you don't change your mind.

Kit: 00:01:06 Welcome to the Active Travel Adventures podcast. I'm your host Kit Parks, and my mission is to bring you epic but doable adventures from around the world. If you're like me, you don't want to live an ordinary life. You want to live a kick ass life, and one way to do so is to add adventure travel to your life. I find adventure travel brings out the best in me. It challenges me, it encourages me, it enlightens me, and it inspires me to lead a bigger life. On this program, you'll learn about amazing adventures from around the world, plus get the tools and information you need so you could do these adventures with confidence. You'll come home feeling empowered and with amazing memories and stories that you can relive forever. And don't worry. The bar is such that my relatively fit, 58 year old body, particularly with some training, can do these adventures and you can too.

Kit: 00:01:57 Today's episode is kind of a roundup episode. I've got three guests that I will be interviewing separately about their experiences with solo travel. Our first guest is Jackie Norris, who we met on our Quebec episode. She is the host of Traveling Jackie and Budget Minded Traveler [Note: Now known as “Jump Podcast” and has been traveling solo for a long time, so it has a ton of insights to share with us. When I interviewed her on Quebec, I just asked her casually about solo, but we got so engrossed in it, I decided to take that section of our interview and added to today's solo episode. Our other guests are Monica and Jason. I'll let them introduce themselves. Let's start with my interview with Jackie. Jackie, why do you travel solo?

Jackie: 00:02:36 The reason I do solo travel is because I'm solo. I don't let that stop me. You know, for years and years and years, a lot of people struggle with the idea of getting out on their own and it's just a necessity for me. It's just what I have to do and so I do it. I never thought I would enjoy it, but I do love it now. I think you kind of have to get to a point where you're really comfortable with it. I know this is, this is after I've already been traveling for, I don't know, 12 or so years by the time that I went nomadic, really, like fully solo nomadic three years ago and even after that much time of, of being comfortable traveling, it was weird to be on my own all the time. So for the cons, I mean, you definitely, you are by yourself.

Jackie: 00:03:24 All of those decisions are made only by you: all of the travel decisions, even where you're going to eat for breakfast in the morning or if you're going to get a beer this afternoon, everything is solely up to you. There's no one that you can confer with that also happens to be one of the advantages of it. Sometimes it depends on which perspective you have looking at it and maybe it depends on the day. Sometimes it's amazing and sometimes you just really wish there was someone there. Loneliness is a real thing. I have written about that before and I think that most solo travelers will face real loneliness. It's a real thing. It's not just the point of being solo in a place, it's actually feeling alone, like there's a big difference, and that can get to you if you're… if it's a while, I mean, I traveled for months at a time and so it can get really draining on me to be alone, but at the same time, this is where I am in my life, this is what I'm signing up for and this is also my work and this is what I'm choosing to do.

Jackie: 00:04:27 And so it's just part of the territory. If you look at it that way and the freedom that solo travel provides is unmatched in this world. I mean, there is a feeling that comes with being on your own in some far flung corner of the planet completely left to yourself and your own thoughts, what you want to do for the day. Everything is your will. And it is the most freeing feeling ever. It's incredible. And so, and you can do whatever you want. So it's definitely, you know, there are definitely pros and cons to solo travel, but I always encourage people to at least try it out because you get to know yourself very quickly. Even if you think you know yourself, you don't, not until you solo travel, and you can see what you're capable of and you know what your weaknesses are. It's incredible.

Jackie: 00:05:25 It's an incredible, incredible tool for life, I think is so literal. I think everyone should do it at least once.

Kit: 00:05:32 You had a quote in your Budget Minded Traveler, episode number 63 that I loved, it was: “Lose yourself until you find yourself.” Could you talk a little bit about that? I thought that was excellent.

Jackie: 00:05:42 It gave me chills just when you read it. Yeah. That came from a piece that I wrote on my Travelling Jackie blog that basically it was when I decided to leave everything behind and go out on my own to travel the world solo. I mean for real for the first time. This is what like 12, like I said, 12 years after having traveled a whole bunch already and studying abroad and all that, but this was different because I had had a relationship, I had had house, I had all these things and I left everything and it did feel very…

Jackie: 00:06:20 I felt very lost at times, but it's because I had to recreate what my life looked like, you know, that was my moment to decide what my new normal was going to be going forward and I think part. I mean I did lose part of myself there in that in a good way though. It's like you have to just go see what the world has for you and then figure out what you look like in that new normal. Like figure out what the path forward is in this new reality that you've created and that's at least how it applied to me. I think it depends on what your situation is and why you're choosing to solo travel and where you are in your life. So much about experience outwardly when you travel has to do what's going on inside. And so that was my experience at the time. I totally went out and just lost myself until I started to rebuild and find what that meant to, you know, to start over basically.

Kit: 00:07:25 It's obvious that travel in general and solo travel in particular changed your life.

Jackie: 00:07:31 Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And I'm so grateful for that because I feel so much more sure of who I am. I'm so much stronger now. I have so much more competence. I mean these are the things that come with just being on your own for so long in a place. It's not, not saying being on your own at home where you're comfortable with everything and you know the name of the store owner next down the street, you know, whatever. It's not like that at all. Everything is different. Everything is new. Foreign languages, foreign currency, borders, flights, hotels, everything is a challenge. And so when you add that element to being completely on your own for a long time, you know, maybe for the first time it just changes everything. And then the personal growth is expedited more than anything, I think.

Kit: 00:08:25 In the last few years since I lost my husband, I've been traveling solo and the one question I get over and over again is about safety and the Boogie Man at night and how do I deal with the safety issues? How do you respond to questions like that that you get?

Jackie: 00:08:38 Are you not afraid about those things at home? I mean bad things can happen anywhere. Doesn't matter where you are, doesn't matter where you are. In fact, I think that the US these days could be a lot less safe than a lot of other places that I travel and so I don't dwell on that stuff at. I mean I have a few things that I, you know, some tricks up my sleeve just to make sure that I'm safe and my belongings are safe. I mean, I pay attention. I always say that common sense is your best defense. I stand by that 110 percent. You know, don't leave your common sense behind when you walk out your door, but the world outside of your comfort zone is not a place to invite fear. It's a place to invite curiosity… Go explore that, find out what it really looks like because it's not about, it's just not about safety, it's not about fear and safety, it's about adventure in life and growth and people and connection and culture and food and language and activity and beauty.

Jackie: 00:09:40 And that outweighs the fear. It's just not a thing. I mean, I've been traveling for 15 years, knock on wood, but nothing's ever happened to me. Like I've never been in a situation I couldn't handle and maybe that's because, you know, I carry my common sense close by. Maybe maybe I've gotten lucky maybe a lot of things, but I can, and I do speak a lot about safety because I know that people ask about it, you know, and our concern. But I would say you can't let that stop you from doing anything. I mean otherwise you'd be stuck in your own house. And then what happened if there was an earthquake in your house fell down. You know, like you can't, you can't be safe anywhere in this world if you look at it that way. So just go do it, you know, just get out there and go experience it and you know, you'll find the confidence over the fear. The more you, the more you go.

Kit: 00:10:29 I want to go back to something you said earlier about being more aware and things can happen to even at home. I think actually it could be safer while you're travel because you're more unread alert and you're more aware of your surroundings. Whereas at home you were kind of lackadaisical.

Jackie: 00:10:42 Yeah. That's interesting. You know how they say that most accidents happen within a mouse, like car accidents. Yeah. You've got your guard down. You may be doing other things. Whereas when you're traveling solo, you're paying attention. It's an interesting metaphor.

Kit: 00:10:55 It's the same thing with hiking on a trail. I don't know. I'm acutely aware of everything that's going on around me and my surroundings, but if I'm on a trail that I know very well at home, I'm not paying any attention whatsoever.

Jackie: 00:11:06 I'm so glad you pointed that out. Such a good point.

Kit: 00:11:09 Another question I get asked all the time is, “How do you eat dinner alone?”

Jackie: 00:11:13 Oh, it's so great. I'm so used to that by now. It's so funny.

Kit: 00:11:16 A lot of the women I know are really uncomfortable eating dinner in a restaurant by themselves.

Jackie: 00:11:21 That is something you just have to put your big girl pants on and go do it, you know, because what are you going to do? Not eat? What are you going to do? Hide in a corner with your takeout? No! Just go do it. Here's the thing. No one really cares. I finally figured out after all these years that if someone is staring at me, which when it does happen, I know why. It's because they're curious. They're curious about something. Whether it's, you know, why I'm wearing a backpack in this town or why am I sitting by myself or, why she's speaking French with an accent. I wonder where she's from? You know, people are just curious. They're not out there like, look at that girl. She's by herself. Ha Ha. You know, like it's not. It's not like you're wearing a big “L” on your forehead.

Jackie: 00:12:15 If you just get over the fact that you may think its about you. If you see someone solo walking down the street of your town with a big backpack on, aren't you curious? Like, I wonder where they're going? What are they doing? Are they traveling? You know, it's like, it's all curiosity and so it's not negative. A: If you're worried about what people are thinking, that's the first part is negative B:. If you can figure out how to make that place comfortable for yourself. Like for example, I, one of the things I love to do as I travel and as I'm at home is I love craft beer and I love trying different beers, like all around the world. You could do this with wines or cheeses or whatever, you know, anything that has to do with a restaurant. What's your thing?

Jackie: 00:13:02 And so if you… So when I get to a new place or a bar or whatever, I love to sit down and like get a new beer and beer makes me, I just, it's like home to me. I can do that anywhere in the world, you know? And so I have my thing that I can kind of go to. That's like my company, I mean I work at breweries. Often I will go to a brewery and get a beer. I call it a focus beer, #focusbeer. I work that way. Like it's just, it's part of finding a comfort anywhere I am in the world. Those things matter. And so I will make sure if I'm going out by myself, I will get a drink. Something that makes me feel like a little, like maybe takes the edge off, I will get a beer and I will enjoy myself.

Jackie: 00:13:44 I will people watch, whatever. I mean you can choose to get out your phone and have a conversation with someone across the world if you want to or you can choose to put your phone down. You can bring a book. It doesn't matter. It's about you, you know, it's not about what other people think. Just, you know, it's funny because I sometimes I'll, I'll pass by a restaurant that's like super full and I'm like, I don't know if I want to go into that one all by myself, you know, but if I pass by a place that's like, you know, I can see that there is a table where I might feel comfortable. That's where I'll go in because I'm still introverted, you know, so you gotta take care of yourself. But that's ultimately what it's what it's about is taking care of yourself, making it comfortable for you and adventure.

Kit: 00:14:28 I find too, if I'm traveling solo, I'll have more opportunity to meet locals because they feel more comfortable coming up to you when you're traveling solo than if you're with other people also.

Jackie: 00:14:39 Yeah. If you're putting out an energy that says, you know, I'm approachable, then people will approach you for sure. And especially if you're in a place for people who don't want to be, you know, maybe you're only traveling solo because no one else wanted to go with you and you'd really rather have a buddy. I highly recommend staying in hostels. And it does not matter how old you are. There are always, I mean you can find them…hostels with a private room, which is what I like to do. But the beauty of that is you have an immediate community if you choose to have it, you know, you can meet people in the communal areas.

Jackie: 00:15:15 That's something that hotels do not offer and so finding either like couch surfing or staying at a hostel or staying at an airbnb where there's a host on site, you know, and you can expose yourself to other people if, if that's where you are and your travels and your life and you want to be around other people. Then put yourself in those positions, you know, because it's really easy to retract and do things on your own. If you want to be Solo, that's pretty easy. In fact, you'll probably still get approached just because people are curious. You know, and there are other people who are so who are going to sit down at the bar next to you and start talking about beer with you. Realize you're not Italian and be really curious about where that accent comes from and yeah, it's cool. Yep.

Kit: 00:16:01 I love that about hostels. I learned that for the first time about two years ago. Because it is lonely, but if you go up to the hostel community rooms, you meet the people and if you're not staying in the hostel and my week time of being alone is cocktail hour and that's what I want to talk to somebody. I don't care the rest of whole day… Dinner, no problem, but at cocktail hour, I want to talk. Go find the bar next to the hostel because that's where they'll be and they're traveling solo to so they're looking for somebody to talk to as well.

Kit: 00:16:28 What advice would you give someone who's considering traveling solo for the first time?

Jackie: 00:16:32 Just go and don't be afraid. I don't think you're gonna regret choosing to travel solo. You know you're going to learn something. That's time well spent. Getting out and seeing the world. Any of these things. These are adventures. This is our one life. We get one shot, you know, so go do it. I think you'll find that you're much more resourceful than you realize. You're going to be the one with a story to tell afterwards. So I encourage you to just try it, test yourself, get out there, make it happen.

Kit: 00:17:05 Next up, let's hear what Monica has got to say about solo travel and after her interview, we'll get a guy's perspective. Can you start by introducing yourself and perhaps telling us your age?

Monica: 00:17:17 So I'm Monica Aranguren and I am 58 years old.

Kit: 00:17:22 Wonderful. And how did you get into adventure travel?

Monica: 00:17:27 Well, quite honestly, I found myself single again. And that was back in the… gosh, 2007, 2008 and started to do a lot of hiking on my own at that time. And when I got to my 50th birthday I decided I wanted to do something bigger and that's when I started to look into adventure and then planned to go to New Zealand at that time.

Kit: 00:17:53 So that was your first trip? Was it to do the New Zealand hike? And I take it you were going solo because you were recently single again?

Monica: 00:18:00 Yes. Yes. So I didn't, I didn't want to leave adventure behind. Right.

Kit: 00:18:07 Well that's great that you're so adventuresome. So how did you make the mind shift to say, “Okay, I'm going to go on my own.”, because it's a scary concept for a lot of people just to go on a trip all by themself.

Monica: 00:18:18 Indeed. And the comments I've gotten also from friends when I've let them know what I'm doing, I've been kind of an independent gal all my life and it's kind of like let's just kind of push on through, so to speak. And so I was like, you know, I'm not waiting for life to happen to me. I've got to do it and so I'm going to go on these trips because I want to see these places and that was kind of my motivation.

Kit: 00:18:44 Now, did you do that on your own solo or did you go with a tour company or how did that work?

Monica: 00:18:50 The New Zealand trip, I went with a group. I went with Active Adventures there, and, and have been doing different trips of that nature since.

Kit: 00:19:01 Regular listeners will recognize Active Adventures as one of my favorite companies and affiliates. In fact, I'm super excited that next month I will be going on the same trip that Monica went on. So Monica, how do you decide where you're going to go?

Monica: 00:19:15 Gosh, sometimes it's like I see a photograph of like, “Oh, I want to go there!” Or I might just get a vision in my mind of a place I had been thinking about and then I start to investigate the location and how I might be able to get a taste of it.

Kit: 00:19:36 Are you still traveling now? It's been 10 years now since you were a single. Are you still doing solid travel? Is that as your primary (way) or is that all you do? Or do you mix it up with others or how does that work?

Monica: 00:19:46 So I've done some group led trips and I've also done some of that are self guided where I'm still with a company that's moving my belongings and setting up the itinerary and the maps and all of that. But I'm doing it on my own.

Kit: 00:20:06 Now, I would imagine when you're in the group setting on the guided trips, that also gives you some more socialization. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Monica: 00:20:15 Yeah. It's like each experience is a little different. Yes. You know, meeting people from different places and learning about them, joking with them. I'm creating songs with them, all kinds of things… eating with them. So it's definitely a lot of social interaction with the group. When I'm on a self guided hike, it's obviously a little quieter, but I tend to also favor that sometimes because I like to be in the quiet of nature. Sometimes I like to interact with the culture on a different level, so I enjoy that piece as well.

Kit: 00:20:53 What are the pros and cons in your mind of Solo travel?

Monica: 00:20:56 The pros, I would say that solo travel lets you expand a little bit more in just kind of “getting out of the box” so to speak. It let's you meet new people that you might not otherwise meet when you're traveling with a companion that you've known for awhile… A friend, family member, whoever that might be. Cons, I don't think there are any. I mean I will say I choose a single room so that I don't get any snoring so I can sleep on my own, so for me that's important. That that would be the only con for me if I can't sleep and so that's why I tend to choose a single room. Otherwise, you know, other than something like that, I can't think of any, quite honestly,

Kit: 00:21:44 Since I lost my husband and now that I'm traveling solo, the thing I'm always getting is “Aren't you scared about the big bad wolf and getting raped or mugged or whatnot?” Can you talk a little bit about the safety issues?

Monica: 00:21:58 You know, I have never felt, not at ease. I've always felt safe on these trips. With a group, certainly you're surrounded by your group all the time because you're doing all the activities with that group. The only time you're separate is maybe if you have a specific day that you have in a particular town on your own and so you might visit that, but never any concerns of safety in that sense. And then when I've been on self guided tours, I always have, in the case of the company that I worked with, I had a GPS, I had instructions, I had a phone, I had a contact I could call 24 hours a day if there was an issue. I always had someone who checked in with me. So I felt like I was supported in both styles of travel.

Kit: 00:23:16 How about loneliness? Is that ever an issue?

Monica: 00:23:16 Loneliness. More, I would say during the self guided hikes because I might see something and not have anyone to talk about it so to speak. But other than that, not, not really. And when I'm with a group hike I'm with other people. And so I've always got companionship with me.

Kit: 00:23:23 Another thing I always get is how do you eat by yourself?

Monica: 00:23:23 I've been asked that as well. For me, I carry a book with me and just go with it that way. I think for me, I've just gotten used to it. I'm not very self conscious about it and enjoy interacting with the waiters and the waitresses and the hosts wherever I'm eating and enjoy myself that way.

Kit: 00:23:47 There's also more attention and curiosity when you're traveling solo and that you get a lot more local interaction, which I enjoy very much and think of as a plus.

Monica: 00:23:55 That is true. That is true. Especially if you're at little small restaurants. The host or the owner chat with you more, which is great. And I was actually on a trip earlier this year where an older gentleman, I was just walking around and I had my camera going and when he came up to talk to me in Italian, I was in Italy earlier this year and he was talking to me about how he had owned a camera like that. And then we had a nice little chat and then I was back on my way and so that was kind of fun to be able to chat with him for awhile.

Kit: 00:24:32 Monica, right now somebody is sitting on their couch saying to themselves, I”‘m just like, Monica, if I don't get off this couch, I'm never going to see the places that I want to see!” What advice would you give them so they get the courage and the confidence to go try this on their own?

Monica: 00:24:46 I would say, don't wait. You're attracted to doing this trip. Do it. It'll open up a whole other level of possibilities and experience and independence. Do it and enjoy yourself and don't wait. Don't wait for another opportunity.

Kit: 00:25:08 Monica, have you found that solo travel is important to that? It's somehow changing who you are.

Monica: 00:25:15 It helps. I'd love the companionship, but also it's, it's helping me.I think it definitely supports my being independent, doing my life, living my life the way I want it and taking advantage of the opportunities, especially outdoor hiking opportunities, while I can do it. So I think that's how it positively helps me out.

Kit: 00:25:44 It empowers me. When I get back from one of these trips. I'm like, “I did that!”

Monica: 00:25:48 Exactly!

Kit: 00:25:53 And if I can do that then I can do this whatever my current real world problem is.

Monica: 00:25:53 Exactly. It's self-empowering. And if maybe a particular trips going to be a little more challenging, I've got to rise to the occasion to work out and get ready and it feels great when I'm out there and accomplishing it. So definitely it's an empowering experience and one that supports a good sense of independence and, and just moving forward the way you want.

Kit: 00:26:20 And have you kept up with any of the people that you've met on your trips?

Monica: 00:26:23 I have, yeah.

Kit: 00:26:24 I did a trip in the Mont Blanc area of France, Italy and Switzerland a couple of years ago, back in 2016. And there were four singles on that trip actually. And four of us have had a couple of reunions now. Our last one was just a few weeks ago in Toronto and so we always go out a little hike and then eat out and see wherever we're visiting together. And it's just a lovely experience in this time. We were also able to hook up with a couple that were from the Toronto area that had been on this same track and got to have a lovely dinner with them. So it was a really a great time together.

Kit: 00:27:09 Nice. Now I found that usually each trip, but there's one or two people I'll meet that we ended up becoming friends, even if it's just Facebook friends that we keep up that way. And in fact in three weeks when I go to the UK, I will be staying with a gentleman and his girlfriend that I met while doing the West Highland Way last year for a couple of days before I start the long distance trek on the Cotswold Way.

Monica: 00:27:29 Oh beautiful. That's going to be fun.

Kit: 00:27:31 I know. I'm excited. I'm excited about that. So can you tell us some of your favorite stories about some of your trips?

Kit: 00:27:38 Favorite stories?

Kit: 00:27:40 Well, I know you went to New Zealand. When you look back on New Zealand, what's the one story you tell?

Monica: 00:27:46 Well, I guess for me it was deciding to do the bungee jump. There are only two of us that had the courage to do that and I'm so glad that I did that and the rest of the group cheered us on, so I, I had a blast doing that. It was a little scary and I will say I was a little nervous once I got on the plank that I was supposed to drop off from, but it was so freeing and so much fun to be hanging down on this large rubber band. So I'm just happy I had that experience, especially celebrating my 50th birthday then.

Kit: 00:28:22 Okay. So that was your 50th birthday trip and then you've also gone to the Galapagos. What's your favorite story about the Galapagos?

Monica: 00:28:30 What struck me there is just, there's so many amazing animals: penguins and sea lions and a fish and I could go on. I mean it's just so fascinating to be surrounded by these wonderful creatures that are really not timid at all with humans. So that was wonderful and I, I remember in particular going snorkeling and seeing Manta rays, but these giant ones underneath floating and then swimming below me. It was just amazing to see their size and their beauty. They were golden and had some black spots on them and they were just moving on their leisurely pace. It was just fantastic.

Kit: 00:29:21 Very cool. Yeah. And we did cover the Galapagos episode. I'll put links to that in the show notes and then we also covered Mont Blanc, which you've done too. What's your favorite story there?

Monica: 00:29:31 Oh Gosh. Well this is kind of a social story actually. All the hiking was fantastic in particular because we were above treeline a lot of the time, so was just beautiful to see these huge snow covered mountains just in your face and your are looking at them and it was a splendor for me, but the social story I'll is that the group I was with, a few of us somehow got into rapping while we were hiking and coming up with these silly tunes and that kind of made me start to create this particular rap based on all the food that we were eating. And so I presented that at the end of our tour at our last dinner. And one of my colleagues in the group backed me up, making all the funky little rap sounds, and so we put it together and it was a hoot. So we had a great time doing that.

Kit: 00:30:33 Did anyone happen to record that?

Monica: 00:30:33 Yes. Yes they did.

Kit: 00:30:43 Would you be willing to share that with me? I'll end this episode with that.

Monica: 00:30:43 It's about cheese and pastries and it's all in… I will say it's all in French, so hopefully anybody who recognizes the food will get a hoot out of it.

Kit: 00:30:54 That sounds like fun. That's a great story and then now you've got another fun place you're going to, which also has been covered on the Active Travel Adventures podcast. Tell us about that.

Monica: 00:31:02 Yes. I'm going in about two weeks. I leave to do a trip in the Dolomite mountains in Italy, north of Venice and I'm very excited about that. I'm excited to be back with a group because I've done some more self guided hiking the last couple of years. So I'm going to be with a group again, which I look forward to and, and I'm looking forward to the scenery and the exercise because that's what we love with hiking is the workout, I think. So it's gonna be good.

Kit: 00:31:35 The Annie who I interviewed on the Dolomite episode has traveled all over the world. I mean, she's done everything and she said that was the perfect trip.

Monica: 00:31:42 Oh, awesome.

Kit: 00:31:52 Yeah. She said it was the best mix of exertion, like the hiking, the scenery, the people, the food. So she said it was a perfect trip.

Monica: 00:31:52 Well that, that I carry that with me for sure.

Kit: 00:31:56 Any other thoughts on solo travel or adventure travel you'd like to share?

Monica: 00:32:01 Just seize the day. There's so much to see out there and so much to do. Just get out there and do it.

Kit: 00:32:09 Now guys, as you've listened to my interviews, have you paid attention to the joy and the thrill that you hear in their voices? There's just nothing like going on an adventure. And finally for our last interview today on solo travel, we're going to get the guy's perspective. Can you start by introducing yourself please?

Jason: 00:32:28 My name is Jason. Waitkins and I am 37.

Kit: 00:32:32 And how did you first get into adventure travel?

Jason: 00:32:35 My first trip was in 2003. I wanted to visit… I really wanted to visit New Zealand, I don't know why specifically, I was just reading about it growing up and it was, it sounded like a really cool, awesome place. And then Lord of the Rings came out and that propelled me even more. I'm like, I have to go here. And then in 2003 I actually went. And while I wanted to go there, I didn't want to go there just to sightsee. I wanted to hike, I wanted to do that kind of thing. So that's kind of what drove me into that being my first trip.

Kit: 00:33:11 So you're already pretty active before you got into adventure travel?

Jason: 00:33:14 Yes, I hiked. I actually grew up… my parent's house is actually right next to a section of the Appalachian trail, so I grew up knowing, “Oh, that's the longest marked trail in the United States” and all that. And I liked the sections of it nearby. And I then branched out from there. And there's some nice… there's actually some pretty nice, pretty interesting trails not far from where I live.

Kit: 00:34:04 And where is that?

Jason: 00:34:10 New York. I'm in what's called the Hudson Valley region. I grew up in Garrison, which is the town just south of Coldspring and Cold Sweet has become kind of a hikers town because there's a few challenging trails near there and it's easily accessible from New York City. So actually on the weekends, a lot of hikers come up on the trains because you can easily get off at the Cold Spring Station and travel around and you don't need a car. You can just work your way back to the station.

Kit: 00:34:46 And our topic today is solo travel. Is that something you've always done or is this something new for you?

Jason: 00:34:49 No, I always, I pretty much always did solo initially because I actually was under the impression I was the only growing up… it was a small town. I was one of the few who liked adventure travel, so I just was, it was only me. And then I just enjoyed it a lot. I always join a group. Usually, there's a group I usually end up joining. And if they're not solo, they are there with either a friend or a spouse or whatever. And we are there for the same thing. So it's actually kind of a good way to meet new people.

Kit: 00:34:49 And Jason, what would you consider the pros and the cons of seller travel?

Jason: 00:34:49 For me, the best thing is I can pretty much go when I want, I can center around like my schedule. There's no coordination. If there's two, three or more people traveling, it's going to be harder to get time off from work, for example. But for me, I prefer solo traveling for the most part just because I really enjoy it. It's easy to coordinate with myself. I just look at the dates. I'm “Okay here this, this trek is going here and I can go here at this point” and I have a certain amount of time off I can take. If I'm traveling with someone, I actually travel… I did one adventure trek with my father not too long ago and you know, we do have to coordinate. There was a little more work involved just to make sure, “Okay, yeah, we're going to do this”. We both have time off. We can both get there without issue. We were both fit enough to know what we're getting into and all that. So I mean there's, I guess there's pros and cons of each, but for me I just, you know, I have a set place I'd like to go… a set number of countries and treks I'd want to do and want to visit, and to me it's just kind of easier like if, well if no one else wants to do it… if I don't know anyone else who wants to do it with me, I just go ahead and do it.

Kit: 00:36:03 You make an excellent point because not only do you have to coordinate the time schedules, but also make sure that the physical difficulty rating is consistent for both parties or all parties

Jason: 00:36:13 At the time, my father -he actually has some knee problems at the moment- but at the time, he was okay and it was actually a not too challenging trip. At least granted, you have to take… we always look at the gradings of the trip with kind of a grain of salt. You obviously have to know what you can and can't do and it's better to read the descriptions rather than just reading by the little number they give. Like just one company we were with, they assigned a number, like one through six, I think six being the hardest and this one is rated I think a two, but I'd actually, I afterwards I say this was kind of more of like a three and it was because we were in Scotland and there's a few sections where there was no trail, it was pretty much bushwhacking and it was, a lot of it was really muddy so walking through that section, so it was actually quite difficult: more so than it was rated. And even our leaders said that. So yeah, you have to really be careful. Make sure everyone can do it, make sure you know what you're getting into.

Kit: 00:37:10 Female Solo travelers obviously have a few different concerns than males, but can you talk about safety as a solo traveler? From the male perspective?

Jason: 00:37:18 I personally have never been worried about my safety, but it is always a consideration. So I always, especially… Well obviously my first big travel was to New Zealand, which as a country is generally more on the safe side. My next travel was in Peru and which is a developing country, so I actually read up quite a bit on it, what vaccines do I need to get? What is the crime rate? And I did that. And I always read up on the countries I'm visiting, although you also have to kind of take those with a bit of a grain of salt, a website I usually go to at least at first to check out the country I'm visiting is the US State Department website because it gives descriptions on visa requirements and any vaccines that are recommended. I always try to look that up, that kind of thing.

Jason: 00:38:03 But it also tells says what the crime is. However, it is kind of over exaggerated, you know, to a degree. You always read about the bad things and I also look at what they say the crime is. It is. However, it tends to be overexaggerated sometimes because you will only read aboutthe bad things, right? You'll always say, okay, there's very high crime and you know, there's, there's police corruption or there's this or there's that and, but I always… You just got to be aware of your surroundings is what I always do when I growing up because I lived close to New York City (but not in it). Just going to New York City. I was always told like, “Hey look, you know, put everything in your front pocket, not your back pocket. Watch out for muggers, watch out for this, for that.”

Jason: 00:38:46 And anyone who tries to bump into you, that kind of thing. So you've just got to be diligent and to do that. And yet as a solo traveler, my first time where I was actually there ahead of when the official tour I was joining started. That was actually Peru in Cusco. And yeah I want to go there. I was worried about acclimatizing to the altitude and so I got there a day ahead of the main tour and walked around and I was feeling kind of winded, at least at first. I ended up adjusting perfectly fine, but I was actually looking in all directions and making sure there was a lot of people around. No one ever actually came up and I never felt unsafe, but I was being extra careful. A thing I do a lot recently is a lot of the pants I wear like just for like general walking around are they actually have zippers on them. I don't know if that helps or hurts, but I always wear them. My biggest thing… My biggest concern is my passport or my wallet getting stolen.

Kit: 00:39:50 Let's talk a little bit about what you feel when you're doing an adventure, whether it's hiking or paddling or cycling and you do it solo and there's the possibility that you get hurt and there's nobody around to help you. Do you have any concerns about that or is that one reason that you do group travel?

Jason: 00:40:06 Absolutely, and I actually experienced that personally a couple of years ago. I was hiking in Acadia National Park in Maine and I ended up slipping and falling and not able to stand. I was traveling solo at that point and I had to basically had to take out my cell phone and I dialed 911. And now there was a few trekkers who walked by. And this was a day hike, I wasn't backpacking or anything like that, but still it was, it was very rugged terrain and a couple of hikers nearby actually stopped and said, “Okay, we'll wait until people come and get you.” And they had to carry me off and that was a humbling experience. I kept thinking, “Well, I'm not gonna fall or I'm not gonna, you know, this isn't gonna happen.”

Jason: 00:40:54 I'm still within civilization, you know, I'm not in another country. But I can only imagine what would have happened if I was in on the Inca trail, where you have to hike for three days. What would have happened if that happened? But having a group and having a leader there who at least you know, they always have a radio or a cell phone or ever to contact whoever that is actually quite comforting and more so now than it was say 10 years ago.

Kit: 00:41:25 Right. I want to add two things for the listeners on this, about what you talked about. I recently did an episode on a safety on adventure travel, so I'll put a link to that in the show notes and on the webpage. And also another interesting story is the episode Part Two of the Kilimanjaro series where our guest had to go down the mountain on a stretcher. So it's a very interesting episode in that regard. So anyway, so let's, let's move on from the scary things and let's talk about how do you choose where you want to go next.

Jason: 00:41:56 I would say when I first started this back in the early two thousands that I had a bucket list, I just said I want to visit New Zealand. I want to hike the inca trail. I want to think what the other one was. But the main two were I want to visit New Zealand, I want to hike there and I want to hike the inca trail. I was reading about how beautiful the trail is, how it's a great payoff ending up in Machu Picchu, which is also, I mean, just beautiful. But after that I wanted to do just… I just started making a list of countries I and places I wanted to visit and then kind of looking at, “Well I want to visit here, I want to do this, where's this located?” So one of them, I think my biggest goal after doing the Inca Trail was Kilimanjaro.

Jason: 00:42:48 So I said, “Okay, where is that? Oh, okay. That's in Tanzania. Where's that? That's Africa” I just kind of went from there. “Okay. What else is there?” And choosing that trip, there's a lot of tour companies that do Kilimanjaro and the one I ended up picking with was one that was doing us a specific route up the mountain. It had extra days. It was more expensive of course, unfortunately, but it had extra days while climbing and it did a specific way. It did the western breach. If you're a friend was aware of that, which was I think most companies do the other way. I forget what it's called, but this one we did the western region. We actually stayed in the crater camp, which is also kind of rare for that, but I figured that that was good for getting used to the altitude and that's why I ended up going with that tour compan. But beyond that there's just a list of countries I'd like to visit. The main ones were again, Kilimanjaro. Galapagos was one, and the next one that I haven't done yet is actually the Alps, which is on my bucket list, but basically I just said, “Okay, were can I hike that I haven't hiked before?” So I just started looking at the companies I've gone with before and a few other notable ones, and look at what they offer to see if it's financially feasible. If timewise it's feasible. And I pretty much go from there. But I would love to- I mean I have a semi life goal of if you want to call it that- to visit every country in the world. I don't think I'm going to get there, but I definitely want to visit and hike everywhere I can so I just go with the ones I want to most and I've done quite a few of them, but there's still quite a few left.

Kit: 00:44:29 Very cool. Have you found that travel, particularly solo travel, Have you found that it's changed you in any way?

Jason: 00:44:34 Initially? I don't know if I felt different. I mean I, I enjoy it. Like it's like, that that's my vacation. That's kind of how I get away from it. My first few trips I would actually, I wouldn't even take my cell phone with me. I'd leave it at home and that was my disconnection from the everyday hustle and bustle. But as far as changing me, I mean, it helps me. I don't know if I have an answer for you. It's, it's definitely helped me grow a certain way, like kind of enjoying because I actually live alone. I'm single and pretty much live alone. So to me it's a great way to meet new people and to try, because you always, even if you're not with a group, you're always going to meet someone on the trail most likely. So to me that's the way I kind of interact with people, you know, my fellow hikers. So,I don't know if it changed me in any way other than that and just that it's something that drives me to continue going. Like I have places to visit. I want to keep going.

Kit: 00:45:41 Have you kept up with any of the people you've met on the trails?

Jason: 00:45:44 A few. Not too many. There's a few like with, with Kilimanjaro, because that was such a small group and that was obviously a long track. It was a long trip. The whole trip was 18 days, but to trek up the mountain I think was nine days total. So we got to know each other really well. We still communicate through email every once in a while. Usually around the anniversary, which is late January, we'll usually send an email saying,”Hey, it's been five years, it's been six years, how's everybody doing?” And there's two people who actually I do send a Christmas card to because they send one to me each year and we just kind of write down what treks we've done or what we're planning on doing. They'll send me one. Two years ago they said, “Oh, we finally did the Inca trail that you talked about. And it was just as you described it. It was great!” And I always write down what I did. I did the Galapagos this year, I did Nepal this year, and all that.

Kit: 00:46:39 A lot of people when they find out that I'm going to be travelling solo say, “Aren't you scared or don't you get lonely?” What advice would you give somebody that's on the fence and trying to decide whether or not they should try a solo trip.

Jason: 00:46:51 Definitely try to join a group of some kind, an adventure trekking tour where you'll be joined with other people. Preferably a smaller group, you know, between I would say a nice number like between like eight and 12, 14 people is probably ideal because then it's not too big and it's not too small. But just do that. Try to look up like an organized tour of an area where you want to visit, whether it's Machu Picchu or somewhere in Europe, wherever. See if you can find a tour company that has a group that you can just join because then you'll be… because everyone… The way I see it, everyone is there to do what you're doing. We're here to hike this trail. We're here to visit this landmark or whatever it is.

Jason: 00:47:39 That's going to be a thing you have in common. Every trip I've been to, I'm actually nervous when I step off the airplane because I'm worried like, “Okay, is this -especially if it's a country where English isn't the first language.. So I'm always worried about, “Okay, I made it through passport control. I just handed them my passport. They stamped and I went through.” Now I'm like, “Okay, where's the. Where's the meeting point?” I'm always kind of worried that I'm going to miss you know the meetup. But it's never been a problem. Usually the leader is going to either hold a sign or they're going to be wearing a branded shirt of some kind. Like I just came back from Ireland and we had to meet in Belfast in a small kind of out of the way bus station and I actually I was like, “Okay, wait.” So there's a bus station and the train station and they're both connected by a hallway and so I was walking back and forth a couple times through it because the leader was actually late by like five, 10 minutes.

Jason: 00:48:37 So I was worried like, “Wait, am I missing this tour? Like what's going on?” And then I ended up seeing, “Oh, there she is.” Then she ended up walking through and she was just trying to find parking because parking was limited in that station. And then everyone nearby just kind of walked up and said, “Oh hey, I'm part of this group.” So yeah, I get nervous for just like the meetup, but once the meetup is done, we all say hello, and we're all like, “Yeah, let's do this!” By the end of the trip, we're all saying our goodbyes and saying it was a pleasure to meet you and this was fun and everything. So if you're worried about traveling solo, it's good for you. Just to sum it up, it's good for: One, you're going to meet with other people who are like minded, possibly other solo travelers and Two, you don't have to worry too much about the organization. Everything's planned out for you. You've just got to get to the location.

Kit: 00:49:31 You make a good point. Jason, when you use a tour company, they literally pretty much take you by the hand so you don't have to worry about the logistics of getting to the different places, which can be quite complicated, particularly if you're traveling solo and you can't juggle cars or whatnot. So it just makes it a lot easier for you. Plus basically you're solo, but with company.

Jason: 00:49:49 Yes, correct. And in certain countries that…like I'm about to take an Italy trip and I was going to take a few days ahead of the tour to visit some of the cities and I actually sat and planned and that was kind of fun I guess now because I'm like, okay, yeah, I can quickly just look up, “Oh yeah, I can take the train from Rome to Venice. Oh, that sounds good. What hotels are nearby and whatever?” And then I'll just join. But it's actually my whole thing is, I'm like, “Okay, I've just got to get to where I meet the tour in Venice.” Then after that I'm like, “Okay, well I've only have to care about is my flight home on the day they drop us off.” Like, “Boom! That's it done!” I don't have to plan anymore.

Kit: 00:50:33 If you're new to the program, I do a Travel Planner for each of the destinations that we cover on the Active Travel Adventures podcast. You can download these for FREE by going to the page for each corresponding destination or go to the directory page and click on the destination and get it from there. Or if you sign up for my monthly – that's just monthly and I do not sell your emails or anythingnewsletter, you will get them automatically for FREE. It's my way to help you plan your adventures with confidence. It'll have weather information, safety information, recommended tour companies, and suggested itineraries and everything on a handy, usually a two page printer friendly with active links document so that you have on one piece of paper, everything you need to know and do to plan your adventure.

Kit: 00:51:22 How about we finish up with you sharing some of your favorite stories from your trips. When I name off some of the adventures I know you've taken, can you tell us your favorite go to story when you think about that destination? Let's start with Annapurna, which is one of my most popular recent episodes. And for those unfamiliar with Annapurna, it's in Nepal.

Jason: 00:51:41 My favorite was just seeing… I just wanted to see the Himalayas. I didn't want to do Everest because I had already done Kilimanjaro, so I was like, you know, climbing so high to just see altitude for the sake of saying I climbed it. That's not on my bucket list anymore. So Annapurna was, that whole circuit was very beautiful. You see a lot of mountains, just one after the other. Each one really beautiful and the highlight was actually completing it, getting to Annapurna base camp. I forget the altitude offhand, but you know, that was actually a trek and we had pretty good weather and we actually got up early one night and saw the sunrise over and I got some great photos of the sunrise over the Himalayas and I would say that was probably the best.

Jason: 00:52:32 Even though it was not part of the hiking part, it was actually interesting just being in the city, Kathmandu, the capital city. It was a quite interesting that it was kind of organized chaos on the roads. Like the section where we went, the Famil area, I think it's called where there's a lot of trekkers, You know, the roads are very narrow, everyone's just kind of walking around. It was quite kind of a culture experience to see how people just kind of everyday just kind of get up and go and do this. But from a hiking standpoint, everyday had more beautiful views than the next.

Kit: 00:53:07 And what about your first adventure trip to New Zealand?

Jason:  00:53:11  All right, so New Zealand. So I would say my favorite location that I really enjoyed is when we went to the Milford Sound. It was very beautiful. It rained that morning and then it stopped and our guide had told us this is actually perfect because when it rains there'll be a lot more waterfalls that you'll see because a lot of them are just kind of trickle or whatever wall it's sunny out. But when it rains, and just after the rain, you'll see a loof waterfalls. So that was actually really beautiful, walking around that area. And I also enjoyed, I'm trying to think of the name Mount Aspiring National Park, that one we actually walked in and we camped in a hut for a night. And then it snowed that night. And so on the way back there was actually snow covered. Not a lot. It was maybe an inch or two. But it was actually really cool to have pictures going one way where it's all green grass and clear, and coming back it was everything was snow covered. It was beautiful.

Kit: 00:54:08 And how about your Galapagos adventure and did you do just the Galapagos or did you also do mainland Ecuador?

Jason: 00:54:19 I did both. And I actually, in terms of hiking, I enjoyed the mainland better without a doubt. I can't remember the town we were in, but it was town down in the jungle and we did what was called reverse canyoning, which is basically climbing up waterfalls. I mean it's not as though these waterfalls aren't like the raging waterfall, Niagara Falls type waterfalls. But it was a very awesome and challenging, but not too challenging. Hiking through the rainforest, they told us ahead of time, “Look, you're going to get wet. You know, if your, your cameras isn't waterproof, don't bring it.” And it was a nice thing.

Jason: 00:54:56 It was like a three hour hike to where we're going and then through rivers and up the waterfalls and whatever. And then it was like an hour or two just off the trail that was dry to get back to where we started from. The Galapagos itself, honestly, the best thing was snorkeling at Kicker Rock. I actually came up close with a hammerhead sharks and they said you don't need to worry. And there was quite a few times where I was like, “Are you sure we don't need to worry?” But just swimming and seein… I saw at least three types of sharks. In the Galapagos, there's actually a galapagos shark, and I think the reef whitetip was the other one. But we actually saw quite a lot. There was just tons of wildlife just in this little area snorkeling. The spotted eagle rays are really beautiful, is another thing I really enjoyed.

Jason: 00:55:43 And the sea turtles were also, I can't say enough how awesome the sea turtles looked. And the sea turtles were really awesome. Every one that I saw was beautiful. Whether it just was sitting still in the areas where we saw them resting, or whether they're actually swimming. So yeah, for the Galapagos, hands down. It was the snorkeling. We did hike a couple of spots, but these hikes were nothing compared to the mainland.

Kit: 00:56:07 You've done some really killer trips. Jason, how about Patagonia?

Jason: 00:56:11 So the biggest accomplishment in Patagonia was definitely the W Trek. That was actually really difficult. I would say it was the second hardest trek I've been on because the way we did it was the first day we go up Torres del Paine., I believe it's pronounced, to the owers of Blue. And that was, I think it was 20 kilometers total round trip I think.

Jason: 00:56:35 And by the end of that-that was the first day- by the end of the day, I was everything was just hurting and I'm like, “We've got four more days of this? What did I sign up for?” But after that, like the next day was actually only think 11 kilometers and it was mostly flat. And that was actually a joke there. Well, they always would say mostly flat. It was never properly flat. It was always ups and downs over the place. So just the whole completing the W Trek. But still, after the second day, I'm like, “Okay, this wasn't too bad. I'm going to do this.” Yeah. I've never backed down from a hike before. I'm doing this. And the way it ended, and I forget the name of the glacier, of course, I think it was Grey glacier, but the very last day was actually beautiful viewpoints over a huge glacier. That was definitely the biggest accomplishment and best hike of the Patagonia trip.

Kit: 00:57:20 So when is your next adventure?

Jason: 00:57:22 So next I'm actually going to be going to Italy and hiking the Dolomites and it's my first trekking in mainland Europe. I've trekked in Ireland and I've tracked in Scotland, but I've never tracked in mainland Europe and it's been on my bucket list and yeah, I'm doing it.

Kit: 00:57:40 I'm sure you're going to enjoy that. Annie who interviewed on the Dolomites, who has traveled the world and done just amazing adventures all over the world, said that that was a perfect trip. It was the perfect mix of culture, food, hiking people, everything. If she said it's just marvelous.

Jason: 00:57:54 I'm, I'm looking forward to it. Yes. For that reason.

Kit: 00:57:57 Any final thoughts for our listeners?

Jason: 00:57:59 The only thing I can think of is, if you're worried about traveling, just do it. Just as we talked about before: go with a tour company. You don't have to organize a completely on yourself. That actually does sound like a daunting task even for me now. But yeah, just just do it. You won't regret it.

Kit: 00:58:18 I agree, Jason, because you can plan regular travel on your own, but trying to plan the logistics for adventure travel is super difficult, so I always recommend using a small group tour company.

Jason: 00:58:28 Yes, of seeing some of the trips I've been on like, yeah, there's no way I would've been able to known to do some of these things or been able to organize it and there's a lot of logistics going on there with fees and permits and all that.

Kit: 00:58:42 Not only is planning an adventure trip, logistically difficult, oftentimes particularly in foreign countries, but it can also save you money by using a small group tour company because you don't have to rent all the different vehicles and hire the different guides and the different places. It's all kind of planned for you and you have the benefit of having other people help share that expense.

Kit: 00:59:03 It's been great having Jackie, Jason and Monica on the program today to help share their insights and solo travel. Now I'd like to share with you some of the rules that I've made for myself. Now that I'm doing solo travel. These are in no particular order and again, many don't apply if you're with a small group tour because all this is taken of for you, but if I'm truly traveling solo, here are some of my rules:

Kit: 00:59:25 Number one, I want to know where I'm staying that night by noon, I don't mind winging it and figuring out my itinerary and such when I get to a place, but I want to know where I'm going to rest my head and so I'll make sure I book something at least by noon of the day that I'm going to be staying somewhere and then too.

Kit: 00:59:40 I make sure I arrived before dark just in case I get lost or run into some other complication. I always keep my eyes on my food and drink, making sure they don't leave my sight. I don't go to the restroom and leave my drink on the table so I don't have to worry about somebody slipping a drug into it.

Kit: 00:59:56 I'm careful of overly friendly locals, particularly if they have no reason to be overly helpful. You might find somebody on a bus or a train that says, “Oh, let's share a cab”, or you know, they're all of a sudden your best friend. Often that could be a setup for a con that it's their partner in crime that you're “sharing the cab” with, so I'd be a little bit cautious of that. Get your hotel to call you a taxi or take the ride.

Kit: 01:00:19 Use share programs like Uber or Lyft, and use somebody that's got multiple stars. When you get to an area as the locals about the area. In fact, show them a paper map and have them circle areas that you should avoid when traveling. Always be aware and keep mindful of your situation. Be aware of who's around you. And if the hairs rise in the back of your neck, your subconscious has seen something that you may not even be aware of, so take action and don't be afraid to make noise telling somebody to back off or make a scene. I know we're raised to be polite, but this is not the time to be polite. It Is the time for you to make a commotion, and when you're in an area particularly if you don't know, always have an exit plan. Figure out how do you get out of the situation should something?

Kit: 01:01:03 Make sure somebody knows where you're going to be and what time you should be there and at what time they should raise the red alert, and if you're traveling internationally and don't want to use up your data, still periodically turn on your phone so that your phone registers the GPS of your last known location.

Kit: 01:01:19 And if you're not sure if even solo travels for you, try doing what I call doing, the “Plus One”. Wherever you are in your comfort zone, just push it just a little bit so that way you stretch your boundaries. Build up your courage, built up your self confidence and get the benefits that I keep talking about. By doing this kind of travel, you're not going to regret it, so if you've never taken a trip by yourself, why don't you just try going for a weekend. I doesn't even have to be some big exotic place.

Kit: 01:01:46 Just go someplace by yourself for a weekend and see what it's like and then maybe after that you'll have the courage to try a week and then perhaps after that might try going on some kind of an international trip. Each time you do it, just push us up just that little bit more outside of your comfort zone and in all the times I've traveled, all the places I've gone, I truly have never really had an incident that I can even relay to you where I had a problem..

Kit: 01:02:10 You saw that same… Or you heard the same thing from our guests today, that- particularly Jackie who has been everywhere- has never had an incident and she's been doing this for 12, 15 years I believe she said.

Kit: 01:02:22 Also, we talked about a whole bunch of destinations on today's program. I'll put links to that in all the show notes, which you can find by scrolling down, if you're listening to this on your phone or by going to ActiveTravelAdventures.com.

Kit: 01:02:33 You can go to the directory page and click on any of the different destinations and see all the really cool places we've covered on this program. Finally, I'd like to ask you, as I'm planning the adventures that we're going to be doing in the next year, can you reach out to me? I don't care if it's email at kit{at}active travel adventures.com or via Facebook or our Facebook group, I'm at twitter as kit underscore parks, on as instagram, parks dot kit, and let me know where do you want to go next year so I can put together the programs that you need to plan your next big adventure.

Kit: 01:03:05 I know you're hearing my music in the background, but hold on. Don't forget at the end of my adventure on you're going to hear Monica's rap song to conclude this episode, so stay tuned. I will be back in two weeks with another great adventure. Until then, this is Kit Parks. Adventure on! Here's the snippet of Monica's rap song.

Creative Commons License
Solo Adventure Travel Tips and Advice by Active Travel Adventures is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://activetraveladventures.com/solo.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://activetraveladventures.com/contact-us/.