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Rethinking solo female travel: Self-care, safety, and empowerment on the road

Rethinking solo female travel: Self-care, safety, and empowerment on the road

We're almost there! As we're getting closer and closer to being able to travel safely again, it's time to consider how traveling, especially solo, is going to be different post-pandemic. Now that many of our lives have been turned upside down (and inside out, and every which way), we have the opportunity to rethink many of our old habits, including how we travel. I propose this: let's start thinking about how traveling solo helps us recharge, rejuvenate, and challenge ourselves to do and be our best.

If you're like me and downloaded TikTok during the pandemic, you might have caught some major FOMO from seeing creators' #traveltok content. With so many incredible destinations popping up on your feed, how do you choose one?


Step 1: Choose your destination.

To have a fulfilling and empowering travel experience, it's important to choose a destination (or a few) that aligns with your travel goals. Do you want to disconnect or socialize with other travelers? Do you want to get in touch with nature, or explore a new city?

Close your eyes and imagine your higher self, out in the world traveling like a boss. Where are you? What are you doing? Who and what do you hope to find on your path?

If getting out into nature on your own (safely!) is where you picture yourself, look for a national park that is especially suited for solo travelers. You might be surprised at how many places are actually well-suited for solo camping. For example, Black Rock City, Nevada is one of the USA's most remote deserts and it makes for an incredible solo camping trip.



If you want to explore a new city and perhaps put yourself out there to make new friends, there are many cities in the USA that are perfect for that. New Orleans is one example for a few reasons, one of them being the friendliness and down-to-earth hospitality of the city. Another one is the plethora of fun things to do that are totally approachable as a solo traveler, like taking a walking tour or shopping in the French Quarter.

Step 2: Address your own solo travel anxieties.

What has held you back from traveling solo in the past? If you have done it, what parts of it were the most uncomfortable? Especially as a woman, I tend to find new uncomfortable things about solo traveling every time I do it. Before your next trip, sort out what your fears are and make a plan for how you are going to face them.

Eating alone, for example, can be a huge red anxiety button for some people, maybe so much that it holds them back from trying new restaurants. Sometimes I notice that people eating alone tend to distract themselves with their phones, books, anything to numb the discomfort of being at a restaurant alone. While you're traveling and soaking up a new place, do you really want to escape it, though?

Grab a journal and write down everything that you are anxious about before your trip. Be honest. If it's getting your period on the subway, write that. Go to town with your anxiety upchuck. Now, go through each one and ask yourself: Would I judge someone else for doing that? Most of the time, the answer is no. So why judge yourself?

If you are still feeling anxious about going out and doing things alone, book a group activity before you head to your destination. This can help ease the tension of being completely alone on your first day by opening the door to making friends or simply enjoying an activity with other travelers.

Step 3: Pack to feel your best.

There's a lot of shame around choosing clothes to wear, especially in the summer months. With all this talk about "beach body" workouts and diets, we're expected to look our absolute best if we're going to be showing our bodies while on vacation. Who decided what a "beach body" looks like, though? And who told you that you can't wear that adorable string bikini you stress-ordered while fantasizing about your post-pandemic beach trip?


Photo by Brina Blum on


The clothes that you choose to decorate your body with are meant to make you feel comfortable. Traveling solo gives us the opportunity to be anonymous in a new place, so it's actually a fabulous way to take that fashion risk you might not feel comfortable with at home. This gives us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves through travel. So grab that bikini, fuzzy hat, or comfy jumpsuit and put it directly into your carry-on. In 2021 we're dressing for ourselves, boo.

Step 4: Get your safety plan in check.

Let's face it. It's impossible to have an empowering, uplifting solo trip if you're constantly worried about your safety. Much of staying safe in a new place has to do with mitigation, rather than emergency action. That said, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for your next solo adventure and leave your worry at home.

First of all, connect with your intuition. Look inward with a meditation on intuition, a journal prompt, or a mantra. Connecting with your inner voice will allow you to remain alert in a foreign environment. When we learn how to listen to our gut, we can sense if a place or a situation has potential danger before our safety is put at risk. That dude you met at the bar who told you he only eats food for "fuel"? Yeah, your intuition was right about him. Walk away, girl, walk away.

All jokes aside, there are quite a few other things to keep in mind as well:

  • Keep your money and valuables in a safe place. You can even roll up your cash and keep it in an unused tampon or other unassuming item for peace of mind.
  • Avoid walking around with headphones in.
  • Research the place you're going for scams and other bits of info on how to stay safe there.
  • Take an inventory on how you appear to others. How does your gender expression, race, ethnicity, and clothing appear to people in the place where you are traveling? Unfortunately, certain aspects of our identity can put us at risk. However, you get to decide how much of your expression you want to modify in order to be less of a target.
  • Have your own back, but also keep an eye out for other solo travelers. If you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to ask for help. You never know when someone might need your help as well.

Step 5: Empower others on your path.

There's something to be said about the power we receive by lifting each other up. What we give comes back to us. One obvious way to empower other women through your own solo travel journey is to simply talk about it with them. It can be a great way to show other women that they, too, can travel solo.


Photo by Briana Tozour on


Our buying habits also have a lot of power. Before your trip, see if any of the tours or excursions you want to take have a woman tour guide. Even better, see if you can find a tour company that is woman-owned. Look around the web to see if there are any women's collectives where you're going. They can give you valuable insight into the local culture and women's experiences there, all while allowing you to buy souvenirs directly from them. Take that idea and apply it to whatever form of empowerment is most important to you, whether it's supporting the local LGBTQ population, indigenous groups, the BIPOC community, anything.

Your post-pandemic travel plans do not have to compensate for months of being socially isolated by going to the first place that sounds like an escape. Take your time thinking about how you really want to travel. Set an intention, follow your instincts, and go out there and have the time of your life.

Women travel solo for different reasons, every single one of them being completely valid. The point isn't that we all have to travel alone the same way, it's that we should be doing so on our terms without ceding to the expectations of what we see on Insta, Tiktok, or anywhere else on the interwebs. Sometimes a trip to a beach resort is what we need and sometimes what we need is to go to Utah and climb on some rocks in the desert. It's all about having the freedom and the know-how to choose.


About the author: Emily is a solo travel enthusiast based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. She is a part-time freelance writer for the most-read solo female travel blog Be My Travel Muse and a part-time doula.

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17