Solo Female Traveler

I’ve decided to dedicate this post to all the women who have wanted to travel alone, but are holding themselves back. As a woman, when you mention traveling alone you’ll likely hear one of two things, “be very careful” or “you’re so brave”. Don’t get me wrong, both statements are entirely true, but it makes it seem as though traveling alone is dangerous.

I recently went on a five week backpacking trip to Thailand and Cambodia. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous before leaving. Like most people, I had no idea how the other side of the world would be, and knowing I would be there alone wasn’t helping. The minute I landed and arrived at my hostel, I laughed and thought to myself, why was I so nervous? Both Thailand and Cambodia were very safe and easy to navigate. All you need to do is stay alert and make sound decisions!

If you’re looking to pack your bag and hit the road, read below. It is the reassuring post every female traveler should read before traveling alone.

The Big 3 for a Solo Female Traveler

1. Be aware this includes being aware of your surroundings, people you are with, and your items. It also means taking the time out to find out information about emergency services (ie. 911), neighbourhoods to avoid, and sharing your location with someone from home. You can’t prepare for every single worst case scenario, but you can certainly take the proper measures to avoid a bad situation.

2. Know your limits its easy to get overconfident. Just because you think you can, doesn’t mean you should. This holds true to walking home alone late at night, trusting locals, and drinking excessively. Most incidents will happen when you let your guard down. Have your fun but remember you take full responsibility for every decision you make.

3. Go with your gut you just know sometimes. I’ve had multiple instances where I’ve decided to leave because I wasn’t feeling the vibe or I felt a bit uncomfortable. When you’re alone, these feelings are heightened and it is always best to follow them. Sometimes you don’t need a full explanation, a bad feeling can be enough for you to flea the scene.

The key to traveling alone is being open minded and flexible. You are responsible for how much fun you will have. Make the most of every situation, rain or shine, and I guarantee you will have the time of your life!

Don’t waste any opportunity to travel because you have no one to go with. Experience what the world has to offer – you won’t regret it! 

Jamie Mistry

 

 

Pack Your Bag & Go

Last year around this time, I was backpacking throughout Europe having the time of my life. After graduating from a five year undergrad program I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to do. I went backpacking, both alone and with friends, and without a doubt it was the best decision I have ever made. Both experiences were totally different, but enjoyable nonetheless. This post will be dedicated towards why you should travel solo and if you’re still contemplating, hopefully I can change your mind.

I am a huge optimist and I am never really thinking about the worst case scenario, but I still found it difficult to click the “book now” button. “What if I don’t meet anyone? What if I get lost? What if I get pick-pocketed?” These are all normal thoughts, but they should never deter you from going to another country alone. There are so many backpackers traveling alone all around the world – believe me when I say you will have no problem meeting people. My cousin gave me the best piece of advice after he came back from his world tour.

 “Just say hi” 

Edinburgh, Scotland was my first stop and the first thought I had when I landed was “what the hell am I doing here alone”. It was a beautiful country, very fairy tale like, but I couldn’t believe I was by myself. I got settled into my hostel and instantly made friends. What was the trick? Every person I saw, I said “hi” to. It is a simple word with no limits. It’s small enough to acknowledge someone’s presence and large enough to start a friendship. The beauty of saying “hi” is that 98% of the time, most people will say something back. I now have friends from all over the world, which is a privilege not many people get!

“Be present”

Two weeks into my travels, I noticed something about myself (no, it wasn’t that life changing moment that people talk about when they go abroad). I started doing things without purpose.  I went to museums because it was a “top site to visit”, but I didn’t appreciate it. I enjoy adventure, food and getting to know people. As a solo traveler, you are in control of each decision. You can do what you want, when you want, without having to report to anyone. Sure enough, I stopped visiting places that I didn’t find interesting and went on choosing activities that I enjoyed (hiking, sports stadiums, parks). You can spend 3 hours people watching on a patio and no one will judge you. It’s just you living in the moment.

” Learning how to be comfortably uncomfortable “

This is probably the biggest take away from traveling alone. We all have comfort zones, some bigger than others. The most important tip for traveling alone is knowing when to push yourself so you’re trying new things, but not too far where you’ll want to pack your bag and leave. Remember, you know yourself best. For some, being in a new country alone is a challenge in itself. For others, perhaps a new experience will get you on the edge of your comfort zone. Traveling alone exposed me to the unknown. The idea that I will not always be in control of every situation or that I may not know what I will be doing  a week from now. Aside, if that terrifies you, then you also have the option of having everything mapped out. As a result, I became stronger, smarter, and more resilient.

After coming back from my travels, I can confidently say that I am no longer scared to do things alone. When you realize this independence, you find yourself with more options. You can go anywhere you want, whether it be overseas or local. You’ll participate in more events, start chatting with more people, and you’ll have a bunch of cool stories to share. The greatest part of it all is that no one can ever take that independence away from you. Although I have only backpacked throughout Europe, I’m excited to see what’s in store next… South East Asia, South America or maybe Africa. If you’re thinking about a solo backpacking trip, think no more. Clicking that “book now” button will be the best decision of your life!

Jamie

The Big Move

Moving back home after University has been one of my toughest challenges. After living away for five years, you establish your own routine and lifestyle. As soon as you are back home everything is turned upside down. For the past few months, I’ve walked into my house and felt instantly annoyed. No one has to say or do anything to me, its just the simple act of being at home that agitates me. The most important thing I’ve learned is that it’s completely normal to feel frustrated or restricted. However, there are ways to cope with the changes.

Read below for a few tips on how to keep your sanity during this transition!

 

1. Ask for space

Its a tough situation to be in. You are back under your parents roof – you need to respect the house rules – but you have also been living alone for the past few years. You’ve got your own groove and established your own routine. As annoying as it can be, its important to realize that your parents are only looking out for you. They miss you and want to cater to you. Be the grown up that you are and have a conversation with them. Let them know how you are feeling and ask for the space that you need. Don’t brush them off and expect them to know how you are feeling. If you give them a chance, you would be surprised at how understanding parents can be.

2. Get involved in the community

If being at home irritates you, don’t be at home! Be active in the community or join a sports club. Unfortunately, this process is not as convenient as college or university. You’ll have to do a bit more research when it comes to finding leagues, clubs, or activities. But, the good news is most activities are seasonal – so once you’ve joined (which is the hardest part) you’ll adopt a routine for the next few months.

3. Be optimistic

Honestly, one day you’ll have your own bills to pay. If you have to do the dishes immediately after you eat or take out the garbage at 7:30 pm every Thursday night, just do it. One day you’ll be doing all those things plus paying every single bill you can imagine. While it seems like the end of the world to be living at home with your parents, just remember to be grateful for what you have.

Realistically, if it were completely unbearable – you would’ve moved out by now. Be nice, respect the parents, and find a way to make ends meets.

Oh… and I’m still fighting this battle!

Jamie

 

20-Minute Meals

“I like to cook…. but I don’t have time”

Time is our biggest battle. I mentioned in my previous post, the key to living a balanced life is understanding and applying the concept of productivity. I am still figuring out how to capitalize on time… especially in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy cooking, there are times where it can be daunting!

Check out a few healthy meals you can make in 20 minutes:

Breakfast of Champions

 

  • Chop zucchini, mushrooms and spinach
  • Add olive oil and garlic to the pan
  • Add veggies: zucchini (until golden brown), then mushrooms and corn. Once cooked, place in a separate bowl.
  • Prepare eggs in a frying pan. Add salt and pepper. Before flipping the egg, add spinach on top.
  • Slice apples and add unsalted peanut butter in between slices.
  • Optional: Add feta to the eggs or hummus to the veggies for extra protein.

Roasted Beets and Chick Pea Cous-Cous Salad

 

Slice beets about 1 inch thick. Place on a tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven at 425 degrees for  12 minutes, turning beets over midway. While beets are cooking in the oven, prepare salad:

  • Dice apple into small cubes and put aside in a small bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, add garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano to the medley beans. Add diced tomatoes, green onions and corn to the salad.
  • Once beets are complete, dice into squares and
    throw it in a pan. Add diced apples, a bit of honey, and cinnamon to taste.
  • Prepare Cous Cous. Add chickpea salad and roasted beets/apples on top.

 

Jerk Chicken Stir Fry

 

  • Marinade: Prepare in a small bowl
    o 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
    o 1.5 tablespoons of Coolie Jerk seasoning mix
    o Pinch of cinnamon
    o 2 Finely chopped hot green chili (can use chili flakes instead)
    o 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
    o 1 teaspoon of salt
    o 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Add marinade to Chicken. On low heat, drizzle some olive oil in a pan. Once oil is heated, add chicken pieces to pan. This process should take about 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high. Sear pieces until golden brown on both sides, then lower heat and slightly cover pan (leaving some room for air to escape).
  • Cook for another 10 minutes. Prepare veggies while the chicken is cooking: mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and onions. Add vegetables into the same pan as that chicken. Fully cover the lid. Turn up the heat. Give it another 5 minutes and you are good to go!

Explore. Create. Eat.

Jamie

What Does Productivity Mean To You

People always ask me, how do you find time to make lunch, go to the gym, learn new things? Don’t you ever get lazy? I’ll let you in a little secret. Before you begin any new routine, you need to understand the concept of productivity. We all seem to be fighting against time and using it as an excuse.

Time management is the most important skill to grasp. Take 10 minutes out of your day and reflect on where you’ve allotted your time. Were you scrolling through social media? Watching TV? Trying to find the perfect picture to post on Instagram? When you become aware of how many functional hours you have in a day, you are able to recognize what you can be doing in these hours.

 

How to Effectively Manage Time

1. Write a list of small things to do

Everyone says it. Write down a list of what you want to accomplish today. The problem with this statement is that people often write down unrealistic goals. I say SMALL things because a list can easily become overwhelming and discouraging. On a typical day, my list may look like this:

  • Download an interesting podcast
  • Marinate meats/chicken
  • 10 minute journal reflection
  • Fix blue-tooth in car

 

You can already see that this list is not exhaustive or impossible to complete. That’s the point. Many of these tasks only take a matter of a couple minutes, but they have compounding effects that will prepare you for your next day. Okay, so you have marinated meat and an interesting podcast? This means you have accessibility. You have access to your next meal when you’re hungry. You also have access to a podcast when you’re heading to work in the morning (and you’re most probably rushed). The first step to productivity is ensuring accessibility.

 

2. Stop wasting your time on Social Media

I’m not here to tell you social media is bad or a complete waste of time. But, I think it’s fair to say we are all guilty of spending a little too much time on it. Social media is addicting and distracting. We’ve all seen 10 minutes on the phone turn into 45 minutes. Before I left on my two month Backpacking adventure to Europe, I removed all social media apps on my phone and replaced them with eBooks. In the span of two months, I got through three books… something I had been struggling to do for years. What was responsible for the change? I took interest in what I was reading and I started using my time more efficiently.

 

3. Don’t overthink

I am still learning how to think, but not overthink. As prepared as you want to be, you need to realize there are things that you cannot control. Overthinking can be very counter-productive. While you’re too busy thinking about everything that can go wrong and waiting for the “perfect time” to execute your plan, you start to lose your most valuable asset… TIME. Please do not take this the wrong way. You need to think before you do things, especially if you want to be productive. But don’t be afraid to fail – if there is something you want to do, just give it a try!

Jamie