This is my new series of solo travel interviews to inspire you to start the journey of traveling alone! If you’re afraid to travel solo, then read on. These wonderful individuals have the world at their fingertips because they made the step to travel and not wait for others to accompany them. Many think traveling solo means traveling expensively. However, budget solo travel is also possible!
Ivana Ventic is our guest writer for this post. I met Ivana in college in 2004 – we have grown to know each other closely and have the same passion for traveling the world.
This is what she has to say about solo traveling while on a budget and how she got the guts to start solo traveling and even make a move to India!
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About solo traveler Ivana!
I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, grew up in Germany, and moved to the USA when I was 12. I’m the definition of a third-culture-kid. When I was younger, I hated moving around so much. As an adult, I appreciate this aspect of my life the most because it taught me how to be open-minded to all cultures.
Not long after getting my law degree, I realized that being a lawyer was not my ticket to happiness. I was finally free to pursue my lifelong dream of traveling the world. I had always wanted to travel, but I kept delaying the decision because I did not want to get behind in my career. Finally, I quit my job in 2015 and set off to explore the world.
I just spent two years living in India and helping out at a spiritual center (ashram) focused on meditation and yoga. I’m currently back in the USA, getting over Covid and evaluating my new steps.
What Stopped Me From Solo Traveling Earlier
My family was afraid that I was throwing away my career and making a decision that I would later regret. I was scared to travel alone because I had never traveled abroad alone. My biggest fear was that I was not capable of handling the traveling solo. I always had someone else to rely on and to figure out problems together. I also believed that traveling was very expensive and that I would run out of money fast.
My First Solo Trip
I was 29 years old when I went on my first solo trip to Slovenia. I fell in love with the country. The people were so friendly and it was easy to get around. I also felt very safe. It was scary at first because it was my first time staying in hostel and I had all these negative associations with them. However, staying in hostels is probably the best thing a solo traveler can do to meet people.
Ever since then, I have been to ten countries solo and spent two years living and traveling throughout India having visited more than forty cities alone.
I have built so many favorite memories of traveling solo! All of my time spent in India was very memorable. But my favorite experience was riding a motorcycle along with the rice fields of Bali and celebrating my 33rd birthday with three strangers that became friends. I was living my Eat, Pray, Love.
In fact, I made so many friends from all over the world. It is so easy to make friends. All you have to do is start with a simple “Hello.” I never felt lonely while I was traveling solo because it is impossible to be alone. You have so many people approaching you to find out more about you.
👩❤️👱♀️Read this post on How to Meet Friends Traveling Solo
My Top Tips for Saving Money While Traveling
Many people, myself included, feel you have to have a lot of money to travel, but I learned that you can travel on a budget. Here are my top tips for that!
Stay in a Hostel or Airbnb
I highly recommend staying in hostels. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to do that, you can also stay with locals in some affordable Airbnbs. This is always great because you get their local advice on what to do in the city too! Hostelworld is a great place to find hostels, but you can also search for hostels on any booking site – I prefer the hostel section on Booking.com.
Take the City’s Public Transportation
I always make a point to take the city’s public transportation or walk if the city is pretty walkable. It’s a good idea to plan ahead by researching where to get tickets, where to get a map of the city, and so on. See if there are daily or weekly passes so you can save a little more. Take overnight buses from city to city to save on staying in a hostel/ hotel. Buses are the cheapest way to get around, then, trains. Take flights as a last resort or a splurge.
Cook your Own Meals
Another way I save money traveling is by shopping in the local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. You can cook your meals in the hostel’s kitchen. You don’t have to go out to eat for every meal because that is how expenses pile up. You will also find that grocery stores in other countries are interestingly different. You can still pick up the local variety. If you still want to have the experience of dining out you can do that by eating at street markets or inexpensive places.
Visit Attractions that are Free
Almost every major city has free walking tours. Just google “xxx city free walking tour” to find them. It’s a great way to learn about the city, get your bearings, and make new friends. Also, sometimes museums can be free, especially in Europe. Take London for example, most of the museums are completely free to visit every day of the week! I know Paris also has free museums on certain days of the week too and there are also discounts for students or those that are younger in age. Of course, visiting historical monuments and sightseeing are completely free too!
The longer you stay in a city, the more money you will save and the better experience you will have because you are fully embracing the culture. You can also save on longer airbnb stays – always message the host too and see if they are willing to negotiate.
Visit Countries that are More Affordable
If you visit South East Asia or Eastern Europe you will find much more affordable places to visit! For example, Hungary, Thailand, and Bulgaria are all places you can go without breaking the bank.
My Words of Advice on Solo Traveling!
Just Pack your Bags and Go!
You can thank me later. Don’t worry about being alone. I really believe traveling solo is a huge plus. You get to do what you want when you want. You never have to compromise. You take your trip on your terms.
Trust Your Gut!
Safety is always a concern when traveling solo. If something or someone feels off, then walk away. There is no time to be polite.
To be extra safe, it is definitely worth getting travel insurance whether you’re traveling alone or even with others. I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of any accidents or hospital visits. While it’s unlikely to happen, better safe than sorry!
One thing I also never leave home when traveling is a portable compact mobile phone charger like this one. You never would want to have your phone die when traveling alone as it can be tricky to navigate or communicate if you don’t know the language.
Research Your First Solo Country Carefully
Do your research first and make sure you’re comfortable in the first place you choose to travel solo. In my opinion, Krakow, Poland was a great place to start solo traveling. It also blew me away. I had no expectations and I took the least number of pictures because I was just taking in the city. It is still my favorite European destination.
However, my true personal favorite will always be India. If you are at all interested in spirituality, yoga, meditation, Bollywood, amazing vegan and vegetarian food, palaces, temples, wildlife, and monkeys, then India is your place.
Be patient with yourself and others. Traveling and living in another country means that they do things differently from your home country and it can be a shock at first.
How Traveling Changed Me
Traveling opened up my world even more. I have roomed/lived with people from all over the world. Living with them, in such close quarters, gave me an insight into their culture that I would never have been able to get otherwise. The things that I value have changed drastically. I used to be very materialistic and realizing that I can live out of the same suitcase for two years changed that dramatically. I came to appreciate the luxury of having water so freely. I learned how to really stand up for myself and at times fight for what was necessary. I learned to never give up. I learned to never take the first “No” as the ultimate answer. I also learned to believe in myself, to stand on my own two feet, and to find my voice.
A big thank you to Ivana for sharing her travel story. I hope you feel inspired to start traveling alone!
📞 Still afraid to solo travel the world? Then book a 1:1 coaching call with me and I will help answer your questions so you can travel this world in confidence!
For more reading, you may also like these:
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🤎 FREE 14-page solo travel e-book!
👩❤️👱♀️How to Meet Friends Traveling Solo
♀ Best Places for Solo Female Travel
🍴Tips for eating out alone
🇮🇹 Traveling Italy Alone
🤫 Travel Secrets & Tips