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Solo Female Travel: Ashley Fleckenstein Shares Her Travel Wisdom

I’ve had a lot (well, around 4) questions from girls about the intricacies of travelling alone as a female. Naturally, I’m not very well placed to answer these so I went looking for someone who was. Hopefully a lot of your questions were answered last week in the first interview of my Solo Female Travel Series with Anna Zalazar.

This week, I’m back with another female globetrotter to share her travel wisdom. I found this interview particularly interesting; it seems we both travel in rather different ways so it was nice to hear things from a different angle. Hopefully you guys will learn a few things from her as well.

Anyway, here we go! This week I’m excited to welcome to the blog Ashley Fleckenstein from Ashley Abroad.

Ashley Fleckenstein

Introduce yourself! Who are you?

Hi! I’m Ashley, a 23-year old travel blogger, yogi and francophile. I blog over at AshleyAbroad.com about everything from living in France to backpacking solo in Southeast Asia.

What was the first trip you took abroad by yourself? What was your inspiration?

When I was 20 I spent the summer working as an au pair in France. My boss gave me a week off for vacation so I hastily booked tickets to Ireland and England. When I landed in Dublin a girl working at the hostel told me she loved visiting Galway as a little girl so on a whim I booked a bus ticket there. There is truly nothing more freeing than solo travel!

What is the biggest thing you have learned about yourself while travelling solo?

Two main things- that I’m an introvert and I need a community around me.

The biggest concern for solo female travellers is safety. How do you get over that fear? What steps do you take to make sure you stay safe while on the road?

Along with carrying a small can of pepper spray (which I’ve never had to use but gives me peace of mind), I just try to exercise the same caution abroad as I do at home: I don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry, I avoid rough neighborhoods and I dress somewhat conservatively. I also am willing to pay more for my safety, such as taking a cab home late at night rather than walking.

Ashley Fleckenstein
Picnicking on the Seine in Paris, France

What tips do you have for packing light as a female?

Don’t pack too light- that was my mistake for years. I not only looked goofy in all of my photos, I also had to wash my clothes every three days and never knew what to wear. Packing too light is just as annoying as packing too much- trust me!

And also, this one applies to both men and women- use packing cubes. They make packing and repacking such a non-issue.

Many people are reluctant to travel solo because they feel like they’ll be alone and won’t meet anyone. What’s your experience?

Well, actually you will be alone sometimes. And that’s fine! Bring an iPod for long train and bus rides.

But you will also meet other people. When I travel I rarely have to day-trip or go out alone as I meet other travelers at the hostel. Being a solo traveler forces you to be outgoing and friendly and definitely improves your social skills.

And I only enjoy solo travel for about two weeks- any longer and I find it really exhausting to meet new people all the time.

How do you afford your travels, and what tips can you share for keeping costs down while on the road?

I actually just wrote a whole post about that! But my biggest tip is to sign up for a Charles Schwab debit card, use Mint.com to track expenses and book your flights really far in advance.

I afford my travels by saving up prior to my trips and then working as a freelance writer and blogger on the road. On the road I usually travel really cheaply: hostels, street food, the works.

But once in a while I splurge on a nice meal or hotel room- it’s necessary after a few weeks in noisy hostels! I also shell out for adventure activities like canyoning, scuba-diving or parasailing.

Ashley Fleckenstein
Canyoning in Dalat, Vietnam

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in your travels?

Probably lamb heart in Istanbul or civet poo coffee in Bali. And I actually thought both were really tasty, believe it or not!

What is one place you have been that was completely different to what you expected it would be?

Southern Thailand was not what I expected. Instead of an untouched paradise I found flea-bitten dogs, snarls of phone wires and beaches filled with drunk backpackers. Despite my initial disappointment I had an absolute blast.

OK, a couple of fun questions – who’s your celebrity crush?

Eddie Redmayne.

And which country have you been to that, in your opinion, has the most handsome men?

Fun question! I really like tall men so I’d have to say Germany or Sweden. And I love an Irish accent.

Ashley Fleckenstein
Outside a temple in Ubud, Bali

Are you a nomad for life? Why? Why not?

Definitely not. I love having a home base and a community. I’d say I’m much more of an expat than a traveler. Ideally I’d love to be self-employed and spend nine months a year in one place and the other three traveling… but only time will tell!

Lastly, for those planning or considering their very first trip alone, what advice do you have for them? And where would you recommend they go?

Western Europe or Southeast Asia. They’re both safe, fascinating and frequented by plenty of other independent travelers. Needless to say Western Europe is much, much more expensive than Southeast Asia.

Ashley Fleckenstein is a baguette-partial freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21 and has been traveling the world ever since. To read more about her adventures in Europe, Asia and beyond, check out her blog, ashleyabroad.com, or connect with her on Twitter, at @ashleyhfleck.

 

Have you travelled alone as a female? What’s your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, if you have questions for Ashley, be sure to hop over to her blog at AshleyAbroad.com. She has a ton of great info there so she’s probably already answered it for you.

 

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8 thoughts on “Solo Female Travel: Ashley Fleckenstein Shares Her Travel Wisdom

  1. I am a Pinay and traveled alone for 9 weeks in Indochina. Traveling alone is not really traveling alone; you get to meet a lot of people on the road. Most important thing I brought me with me perhaps was consciousness of my safety. I never got drunk, I never got myself in a situation that I can lose control of my actions.

  2. Awesome! I never knew that travelling alone would be so much fun. I’m the type that always feels insecure if there my friends or family didn’t join me for that particular trip. After I saw your blog, I think I gain some confident to explore this world by myself in future. Well, who says women can’t travel alone by themselves. This is the proof. You nailed it. They are great pictures plus it is very helpful information that you’ve share with us. That is sure very informative experience for those who never try to travel alone overseas. If I got the gut to travel alone, I will go for it someday perhaps. Have a nice day!

  3. Hi another female solo Traveler here.
    Been on my own since the end of June now…
    Went from NZ – Kuala Lumpur – Frankfurt – Hamburg – Berlin – Paris – London… and now in a small western coastal town in Scotland working as Food and Beverage Assistant in a hotel.
    And its hard work.
    I actually thoroughly enjoy the travelling as the accent is seen as a novelty and it strikes up so many questions.. which means you’re never alone.. but it is when you finally settle in a small town to work that you really feel the lonliness. Mostly because people become adjusted to you and the foreign-ness is no longer a novelty and you’re just another person.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences.. but to be brutally honest… there are 3 hard points that I’ve constantly come across – which motivates me to have a desire to return to familiarity and security.
    1. Lack of established community… either no made the friends.. or haven’t had the time to go out and meet people due to commits to the job.
    2. Concern over finance… stretching the dollar/ pound .. whatever currency it is… as far as it can go to live.. and then realizing that if things don’t work out.. you have to bite your lip and get through it until you have earned the money to buy a ticket home.
    3. The security of a job/ or place to live. Not all agencies that rip you out of crap loads of money keep to their promises.. I was given a pub placement with the impression I would be there for 4 months… I was given the flick after 2 months.. and only had 4 days notice. It isn’t enough time to get everything in order…. a place to live… a job… or a plan to return home…

    I agree with the concept that travelling alone changes you.. as it opens you up to opportunities of interaction.. and doing what you like … when you like…
    But the consequence does mean there will be moments when you want a friend or a family member near by and they won’t be there.
    I’m not the same person I was a few months ago and this blog is inspiring and challenging… so thank you for that.

  4. Awesome! I never knew that travelling alone would be so much fun. I’m the type that always feels insecure if there my friends or family didn’t join me for that particular trip. After I saw your blog, I think I gain some confident to explore this world by myself in future. Well, who says women can’t travel alone by themselves. This is the proof. You nailed it. They are great pictures plus it is very helpful information that you’ve share with us. That is sure very informative experience for those who never try to travel alone overseas. If I got the gut to travel alone, I will go for it someday perhaps. Have a nice day

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