Affectionately known as ‘Mary Poppins’ by the SoFe Travel team, Linda Harper is an expert packer and solo female travel extraordinaire. She’s always prepared even with little planning, and her positive attitude and resourcefulness make her a role model for any solo traveler.
Linda has created a dream guesthouse specifically for solo female travelers. The details and extra special touches come from her own extensive solo travels. She’s been to 61 countries in total and on her second year of a nomad life after living abroad. Here she shares some snippets of her adventures and her thoughts on solo female travel.
My latest trip was a return to Bali. This country is beautiful and spending time with the locals is amazing – to be greeted by name as I walk through the village by old and young alike is definitely special. One of my fondest memories is of a Balinese woman driving by on her scooter as I walked down the road one evening. She worked at a new local restaurant I had eaten at the night before, and she stopped and asked if I needed a lift somewhere. I didn’t, but just the concern and generosity from a woman I had only met briefly was touching and totally embodies the spirit of the people here.
The SoFe Guesthouse started as a flippant comment – a pipe-dream made in half-jestt – and just weeks later Amanda Black, the founder of The Solo Female Traveler Network, and I found everything falling into place to make this dream a reality.
Our vision for The Solo Female Traveler Network Guesthouse is to cultivate a community vibe and a Bali home for our members, a place where you have something in common with every guest the minute you meet.
It is a spacious 2 bedroom guesthouse with a fully functional kitchen, living room, pool, and outside lounge area complete with a gazebo. There is a private room with ensuite and a 4 woman dorm room with privacy curtains and power outlets. Having travelled extensively and stayed in hostels in many countries, the goal was to include extras that we missed – like full length mirrors, hair dryers, bathroom storage to name a few.
This is a tough one there are so many but I think one that keeps being repeated is not to sweat the small stuff. Flights will be delayed, you will lose your charger, your favorite top will not return from the laundry, you might pay too much for a taxi, and another 100 things can happen. You just have to keep keep smiling, because this is exactly what makes traveling so spontaneous and fun! You never know really what’s going to happen next and the best thing to do is just take it in your stride and enjoy the journey.
Over planning – I have learned that traveling with a very fluid plan is the right way for me – when I started I had a very full plan of must-sees and ultimately I came away disappointed as I was so intent on seeing what I came for I missed out on downtime and just being spontaneous. It has taught me to now to have a few places and things that are must do and then to go with the flow – take downtime and just enjoy seeing whatever it is I see on a given day.
Experiencing the local culture and people – getting away from the tourist sites and spending time with local families and seeing the country through their eyes.
An increase in conscious travel. The tourism industry has exploded taking away work from local people in a lot of cases. Supporting the locals or companies that hire and support locals is the best for everyone – seeing a destination through a local’s eyes while giving something back to communities through local guides, lodging, where we choose to eat, etc. makes all the difference not only for your enjoyment but also for their livelihoods. That’s why I love to lead our Global Meetup Tours because it’s important to SoFe Travel to support as many small, family-owned, or women run businesses as possible.
Packing cubes are a life-saver and make living out of a backpack much easier. Pack for 6 days and a few extras you will be so glad of less weight and the extra room for purchases made during your travels.
For anyone afraid of traveling solo, any words of encouragement or advice?
It is tough but getting out of your comfort zone can be one of the hardest and most rewarding things that you do. Traveling solo allows you to experience living in conditions that you never thought you could survive, you initiate conversations with fellow travelers that you probably would not have done, but you do and you learn to enjoy and crave it. And you make some great friends along the way, which is one of the best parts of travel!
UPDATE: Sadly, The Solo Female Traveler Network Guesthouse has been permanently closed due to COVID-19 travel suspensions.
A yoga teacher, writer and traveler on her way to everywhere, Namita Kulkarni writes about her inner and outer expeditions on her travel & yoga blog Radically Ever After. She travels solo every year to explore new corners of the world and is grateful to yoga for the internal explorations it propels her into.
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