As someone who loves to talk about travel (followed by books and then the Mr Kipling cake range – ooh the festive editions will be out soon!) I could not have been more excited to spend a night in the big smoke to waffle on about wanderlust. I was in Brixton at the HQ of Intrepid, the travel tour specialists, to share my story and adventures at the Solo Travel Meet-Up alongside the lovely Lyn, editor of Wanderlust Magazine, we took to the stage and chatted about our travel escapades.
I tried to hide my nerves and follow my own advice of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, even if I was hoping that I wouldn’t swear too much or say something inappropriate. I think I got away with it. For those who couldn’t make the event I wanted to share with you just some of the questions we were asked, so you didn’t feel like you totally missed out!
How do you deal with negative comments about your lifestyle choices (chosing to travel over a steady career, for example)?
I believe that those around you only want you to be happy. Yes, they may worry that when you’re older you’ll only have a full passport of stamps instead of a pension or mortgage to show. It can also be tough explaining to people who don’t have the travel bug why you want to see the world rather than hold down a ‘safe’ 9-5 job. For non-travellers it can be difficult to get your head around so I’d do all you can to involve them in your travel planning and share the excitement together. You don’t automatically have to chose between travelling and a career – Lyn and I are proof that you can merge the two together with some hard work and dedication.
Where would you recommend for your first solo travel trip?
Not just because I based my first novel there (although I instantly fell in love with the country when I visited) I felt like Thailand is such a well-worn backpacker route that you can’t help but find it easy to get to grips with if you travel alone. From the easy transport, cheap food, friendly hostels and stunning beaches it will be a trip that will stay with you forever.
What are the benefits of joining a tour group rather than just going alone?
It’s an individual choice whether you buddy up or go solo and as someone who has experienced both I can see pro’s and con’s on each side. If you’re nervous about going alone, want to take the stress out of organising a trip or would like the comfort or hanging out with like-minded travellers then sign up for a tour. This is why these new solo group trips by Intrepid tick so many boxes as you won’t be the spare gooseberry in a group full of already established friends or couples. But I also think everyone should experience solo travel at least once in their lives!
Do you think it’s easy for a woman to travel solo?
Of course there are some dangers involved in being female and on your own in a foreign country but no more than you would find in your home city. We are not vulnerable ladies who’ll faint at a whiff of adrenalin but instead should be seen as adventurous and feed our curiosity to explore the world just as much as men do. As long as you use your common sense, take precautions and switch on your gut instinct then there is no reason why women shouldn’t travel like a boss on their own.
Where are the hottest destinations for winter sun?
If you’re after feeling the sun on your shoulders but don’t have bags of leave from work to take then the Canary Islands or Morocco are worth a visit and not too far from the UK. Further afield then you can’t go wrong with Central or South America – I certainly want to tick off Colombia from my travel list soon!
Where’s next for you?
I’m heading to Bali in a few weeks to research for my fifth novel (!!) in the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series. If you’ve been then please share the love with your tips and must-see’s as I want to make sure I fit in as much as possible and not miss a thing whilst I’m there!
Thanks to everyone who came to the event and listened to me rabbit on. I also got to meet one of the Real Life Lonely Hearts Travel Club member’s – the lovely Lesh – seeing a smiling face that I recognised as I gave my speech was a real support.
I’ve also just found out that I’ve made the shortlist for the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards! I am thrilled that so many of you voted for me, consider yourself suitably squeezed with a huge virtual hug. The awards will take place at the start of November so I’ll be sure to share what I get up to on these very pages. If it’s anything like last year then I’m in for a fun night!