An Easy Guide to Online Trolling

Our Facebook community is over 420k members strong, and that means we get to read so many stories from around the world, our questions get answered fast, and we have the opportunity to connect some of the most amazing women on the planet. 

 

It also creates a playground for nasty online trolls. So, let’s talk about what that is, what it means, what happens if you troll this group, and….wait for it…if you are a troll yourself and don’t even know it. 

What is a troll anyway?

two trolls side by side

A troll “deliberately posts inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content”

This can mean you give your off-topic, unsolicited opinion in the comments of a post. Extra points if you curse, call someone stupid, or bring up controversial politics in a totally unrelated space…like a travel group. 

To be clear: trolling is not discussing different sides of an argument, you can respectfully have different opinions, but when they are irrelevant, unsolicited, and hateful, that’s trolling.

This sounds awful. who is doing this?

The fact is, we have all been a bit of a troll here and there. When you comment on Aunt Sally’s ignorant political meme, when we get drunk and sloppy online, even fighting for social justice can make you a troll if you insert your opinions inappropriately, aggressively, and out of context.

Some of us are more troll-y than others, and if you ask us, we believe that unhappiness and mental/emotional instability, even when it’s just temporary, can turn any normally nice person into a giant online troll.

Wait. Am I a troll?

woman online trolling

Yea, girl, maybe you are. Maybe you’re not.

Our mini self assessment:

1. Have you called a stranger mean names in comments?

2. Have you inserted your political opinions in an unrelated travel post?

3. Have you rudely messaged the admin of a free group to demand that they moderate a post the way that gets your message across?

4. Have you made harsh judgments about someone from only a few lines of a post and shared them in the comments?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be a troll. So, stop it!

Why Should I not be a Troll?

Trolling and online bullying are separated only by a fine line. You probably wouldn’t actively make people feel small, stupid, and call them names to their face in public, at work, or among friends, so why spread that hate online? We know why…because you can get away it and because you are very unhappy.

We know times are so hard right now, we get you, we see you, and we are right there with you. But do you really feel better when you make strangers online feel worse?

If nothing else, it means you will get blocked from the best online spaces, so if spreading bad juju doesn’t make you want to cut it out, then do it for yourself.

Our self help guide to stop being a miserable troll

do not feed age trolls sign

Practice self awareness: feel the anger welling up when you see someone traveling while you are stuck at home? Take a breath. You’re don’t know their situation, you can not control them. You are angry and probably jealous, but their actions are none of your business. Scroll past.

Type something nice instead: Really want to ream a girl out for some really righteous reason? If your fingers just won’t leave the keyboard, tell her how cute her dress is instead or force yourself to scroll past.

Go find some happy: We don’t know your life. Go do something to work out this aggression you feel. You’re not mad at strangers online who don’t share your opinions, you’re just unhappy. Go find your happy and scroll past. 

Find help: Times are hard and we all need some extra love, support, and kindness. If you don’t feel like you can give that or you don’t feel you are getting enough, please get some help for yourself. A quick Google will find the depression/suicide hotline in your local area. And also…you guessed it…scroll past.

How we handle trolls

We don’t give too many chances to trolls, because we see this behavior as against the very core of our purpose – to empower, support, and uplift one another.

We may turn off comments to a post that is getting especially heated. We hate doing this, because we would prefer to be able to disagree without being hateful.

The bottom line:
Ask yourself if you are a troll.
(Be honest.)
Now stop it.

Your Beauty Products Could Be Making You Sick

Tinkerbell perfume, Bonnie Bell lip balm, Aqua Net. These items and so many more became my “pretty” arsenal growing up in a society where its marketing tentacles dug deep into my psyche and planted themselves there, making me believe they would help me look better and feel better about myself.

For the past 23 years, I’ve been writing about and promoting beauty products. I started off as a beauty editor for teen magazines and eventually opened a PR agency representing beauty brands from all over the world to the media. I guess like so many women, I was prepped for this job ever since I was a little girl.

Until the last few years with the whole “clean” beauty trend (products made without ingredients shown or suspected to harm human health) did I really start waking up to the reality of what I – and most of the cosmetics-loving public – was actually doing to ourselves every time we spritzed, lacquered or rubbed into our skin some fancy, often-times, scented formula concealed in pretty packaging. We were exposing ourselves to potentially harmful chemicals that may not be in the best interest of our health.

little girl putting make up on

Quick fact: When you see the word “fragrance” listed on a product, it could basically be any of the 3000 synthetic or natural chemicals formulators mix into their recipes to make something smell amazing.

Beauty Industry Accountability

This new level of accountability in the beauty industry can be applauded thanks to the rise of consumer consciousness and their demand for transparency. If you’re reading this, you probably make a point to scan the list of ingredients on the back of your face lotion. Kudos to you! We all have to be our own mini czars these days with what we put on our bodies. 

But in all seriousness, do you know the difference between Phthalates and Methylsilanols? FYI…the first one is a harmful chemical that makes plastic soft and flexible and the second one is a safe derivative of silicon and protects skin from free radicals among a host of other good-for-you functions. The thing is, they’re both in many cosmetic products and you can’t pronounce either one. But one is toxic (phthalates) and the other isn’t.

Here’s the reality; in the United States, the law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients to be approved by the FDA, making the beauty industry the wild, wild west. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 hasn’t been changed since it was passed by Congress. That’s 82 years ago! To date, the U.S. only bans 30 harmful chemicals and ingredients from being formulated into products whereas the European Union bans around 1,400 and Canada bans approximately 600. Who knows what’s in your favorite face mask? Even though it may claim to tighten, refresh and smooth your skin, there’s no guarantee it will do any of those things. In fact, it may be doing more harm than good.

woman putting makeup on traveling

The Toxic side of beauty

Recent research findings have shown many toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, triclosan, lead, mercury, toluene, hydroquinone, parabens and talc found in everyday products linked to disease and even death. This brings me to the documentary Toxic Beauty, which I had the privilege of helping promote to the media earlier this year. 

Toxic Beauty takes a deep dive into the ingredient dangers lurking in personal care and cosmetics’ products, especially talc. Director Phyllis Ellis follows the class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and the plaintiffs, specifically whistleblower Deane Berg, an American woman who turned down a $1.3 million settlement from J&J in order to take them to court and publicize the health risks of their talc-laden products.

Another plot line throughout the film is the story of how medical student and beauty product fanatic Mymy Nguyen treats herself like a guinea pig as she studies the chemical burden her body undergoes with all the products she uses on a daily basis.

I remember when I saw the film for the first time,  just sitting there in the darkness of the theatre shaking my head back and forth and feeling sick to my stomach by the lack of transparency the behemoth corporation Johnson & Johnson has displayed throughout the years with their talc-laden baby powder, as endless women have lost their lives to ovarian cancer from using their products. Again, I knew talc wasn’t great, but even I (someone who has worked in this industry for almost half of my life) didn’t know to what extent. If this movie shook me, I could only imagine what it would do to all the women throughout the world who don’t have the faintest idea that their daily dosing of baby powder could end up killing them.

beauty products travel and woman

Quick fact: Talc is not just reserved for baby powder. Just about any personal care or cosmetic product that absorbs moisture can contain talc including deodorants, face powder, blush or eye shadow. Talc is also super cheap, which makes it even more attractive to formulators.

Just this past May, something incredible happened. A news story that had nothing to do with the pandemic came out, almost as if it were trying to slip through the cracks…”Johnson & Johnson is stopping the sale of talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. Two weeks after that, Chanel, Revlon and L’oreal – three of the biggest brands in cosmetics – quietly move away from including talc in their products as well

Being part of this movement and creating a push for change in this industry has been monumentally rewarding for me and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. However, in the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database alone, there are still more than 2,000 products that contain talc out there for sale today. And Johnson & Johnson readily admit that they will continue to sell its products in other markets. They sell in over 175 countries, so do the math. There is still plenty of work to be done on this front. 

Back to the trend of clean beauty – which itself has to be handled with scrutiny because again, anyone can claim they’re clean and not be -the rise of clean beauty brands has skyrocketed, with revenue slated to hit $22 billion by 2024. 

The next time you need to stock up on shampoo, SPF, deodorant or you’re looking for a better mascara to try, visit the EWG’s Skin Deep website, which has vetted 1676 products with the EWG VERIFIED mark, deeming them free from chemicals of concern or download the ThinkDirty App, which allows you to scan products for toxicity level.

If this information makes you mad and you want to know how to push the need for change along, a couple things you can do right off the bat is write to congress and sign the Toss the Talc Petition.

Interested in checking out Toxic Beauty? It’s available on The Starz Network, or you can download it here for $4.99. You can use the discount code SOFE25 to receive 25% off.

girl on beach with sunscreen

My List of Clean & Travel Friendly beauty products

For those of you engaging in safe travel these days, I put together this round up for clean travel friendly beauty products worthy enough to take with you on your escapades!

Mermaid dry shampoo

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Dry Shampoo
Housed in a mini 2 oz. cardboard shaker, this talc-free dry shampoo absorbs oil and adds volume to unwashed hair ($14).

rahua shampoo travel size

Rahua Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner (Travel Sizes)
This Amazon rainforest grown beauty hair brand houses their strand quenching shampoo and conditioner in perfectly portable 2 oz. bottles ($9 – $9.50).

C'est Moi sunscreen

C’est Moi Sunshine Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 50
Enjoy the sunshine without 98% of the harmful rays with this reef-friendly, non-nano zinc oxide SPF face stick. Formulated with hydrating skin soothing shea butter, this water resistant sunscreen miracle promises to leave no ghostly white cast ($10).

Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30 Travel Size – 3 oz. 
You gotta love a continuous mist sunscreen that’s clean and effective. This one provides physical block from UVA and UVB quickly and effortlessly without an oily residue ($20).

travel beauty products

RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek
Multi-tasking beauty at its best and brightest, Rose-Marie Swift’s eponymous brand has been at the forefront of clean beauty since 2009.  These lip & cheek stain formulations are available in 9 beautiful shades and come housed in mini pots to pop into any girl’s cosmetic case $36).

beauty products for travel

Shea Yeleen Coconut Peach Lip Balm
Made from 100% pure, unrefined shea butter, these toxic-free lip balms not only moisturize and nourish your lips, they also empower the female producers in West Africa who source and make the shea ($3).

Zit No More travel size

The Better Skin Co. Zit No More
Maskne sucks, but Zit No More can help. This zit zapping roller ball is formulated with a clear tree-oil/ salicylic acid wonder potion that attacks, banishes and soothes pimples on the go ($18).

Type A Deodorant

Type: A Aluminum Free Deodorant 
These cream to powder formulations have so many things going for them (they’re non-toxic, cruelty free, carbon neutral, and stain free), there’s no reason any traveler should suffer from B.O ($9.99).

Rosebud Ritual Travel Kit
Made with impeccable plant-derived ingredients, these intimate wellness products are a welcome addition to any wanderluster’s travel bag. This set comes with the brand’s four signature items; Cleansing Wipes, Calming Cream, Stimulating Serum and Everyday Balm ($28).

Elliot's Herbal Salve

Kellerworks Elliott’s Herbal Salve
Got a bug bite, scratch, rash or dry patch? Welcome to your new best friend. Made with beeswax, grapeseed and coconut oil, shea, zinc, lavender, peppermint and tea tree oil, there’s nothing this uber clean salve can’t solve ($8).

About the author

Robin beauty writer

Robin Tolkan-Doyle

Robin Tolkan-Doyle runs the boutique agency Charmed PR in Los Angeles, CA and recently created the site Beautyologie, a platform to highlight how we all find and create beauty in life.

The Many Cups of Vietnamese Coffee

From the introduction of the first coffee plant to Vietnam by the French in 1857, coffee production grew steadily, all through numerous wars to today. A century and a half later, Vietnam is now the 2nd largest coffee producer in the world, after Brazil.

The coffee culture in Vietnam is incredible. While we generally think of coffee as a morning affair, with the aim of waking our brains up for a busy day at work or enjoying a Sunday morning in bed, to the Vietnamese, coffee is more of a very casual, almost have-it-at-any-time-of-the-day thing. 

Small coffee shops, each with its own unique style, and simple vendor carts dot every sidewalk and every corner. Plastic child-sized stools and low tables spill out onto the sidewalks, with people wearing casual outfits to suits and ties, socializing over a cup. Either that or they are alone, watching the busy traffic pass by. It’s a strange, yet interesting sight.

Robusta vs. Arabica

The vast majority of the beans grown in Vietnam are Robusta beans. These are more bitter than the globally popular Arabica beans, which says a lot about what you can expect from a good cup of Vietnamese coffee. Robusta beans grow at lower altitudes, have higher yields, hold less acidity, have a higher caffeine content, and are two times as strong as Arabica coffee, yet less expensive. Vietnam is also the world’s largest Robusta producer and exporter, accounting for 40% of the world’s Robusta coffee.

the different ways to drink Vietnamese coffee

Ca Phe Den

CA PHE DEN​

If you like your coffee strong and bold, order yourself a ca phe den. Here, the word ‘den’ means black and I assume you can figure out what ‘ca phe’ means. So this is a simple black coffee without any sweetener or milk.

To make a ca phe den, the Vietnamese use what is called a phin filter. A phin filter is enough to make a standard cup of coffee and is generally made of stainless steel or aluminium. It comes in 4 pieces: the filter cup, the base, the filter press and the lid. 

You place the lid-less apparatus over your glass, add ground coffee into the filter cup and press over it with the filter press. The bottom of the cup and the base have holes, through which the coffee drips out as warm water is added. The lid is placed on top to keep the heat.

The whole process may take some time, but you are guaranteed a perfect cup of hot coffee, especially if you use an aluminium phin because they hold in the heat better and help you brew a more balanced cup. If you use a glass instead of a mug, you can watch as the brewing take place. It is definitely more interesting than watching paint dry. 

After the brewing is done, add some ice to this and it becomes ca phe den da. Da means cold. Black coffee with ice is especially loved in Vietnam because of the hot tropical climate. If you want to make absolute sure you’re ordering a hot black coffee, then say ca phe den nong.

Ca Phe Sua Da

CA PHE SUA DA​

This is my absolute favorite. This is black coffee sweetened with condensed milk (sua). It is made in the exact same way that a ca phe den is, except the glass already has a layer of sweetened condensed milk in it. Once the brewing is complete, ice is added. If you want this without ice, simply ask for a ca phe sua or ca phe sua nong. Adding in some condensed milk really balances out the strong and bitter robusta coffee.

Why condensed milk you must be wondering and why not fresh milk? During war times, there was not only a lack of fresh milk, but it was also difficult to store fresh milk for many without a fridge or electricity. This resulted in the use of canned condensed milk which you can store for much longer in dry room temperatures. 

If you want the milk to coffee ratio to be a bit higher, or some extra fresh milk in it, ask for a bac xiu. I warn you though, this is extremely sweet. Both of these are the perfect refreshment on a hot and humid day.

Ca Phe Trung

CA PHE TRUNG​

Now things get weird. This is a cup of coffee with an egg (trung) cracked into it. When I first heard about it, I really thought it was a prank because all my friends know I am extremely gullible and fall for anything. But no, this really is a cup of Vietnamese drip coffee with a layer of whipped chicken egg yolk along with condensed milk and sugar on the top. The creamy texture is best described as liquid tiramisu. Let that digest while I explain more.

Story goes that egg coffee was invented in 1946 by Nguyen Giang who is the founder of the famous Cafe Giang located at 39 Nguyen Huu Huan in Hanoi. When he came up with it, he had no idea it would become a thing, as he simply just whisked in an egg into a cup of coffee because he ran out of milk. When the blender came about, the recipe got popular. 

To make this, first drip coffee is made. Then, an egg yolk, some condensed milk and a spoonful of that coffee is poured into a bowl and whisked rigorously until it becomes frothy. This layer of froth is then poured over the traditional black coffee. When you are ready to drink, make sure you use a spoon to mix the creamy top layer of froth into the dark and bold coffee that lies underneath. Or else it might taste a bit…eggy. You will find your egg coffee served with a flame underneath or sitting in a bowl of hot water to keep the temperature and texture.

Ca Phe Dua

CA PHE DUA​

Dua means coconut. To make a delicious cup of ca phe dua, you simply mix drip coffee with a little bit of condensed milk and coconut milk (or coconut yogurt). To this, a lot of ice is added. It may sound sweet, yet it is quite a strong drink. If you come across a Cong Ca Phe during your time in Vietnam, make sure to try this out as it is their signature drink.

Sinh To Ca Phe

Now we add in some fruit. Sinh to means smoothie and you will come across many smoothie stalls and shops as you walk around Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. You can point your way through the various fruits you want in your sinh to ca phe such as banana, avocado, dragonfruit, mango and more. Mix your choice with black vietnamese coffee and you have this strange drink.

Ca Phe Sua Chua

CA PHE SUA CHUA​

By now you should be accustomed to hearing about weird ingredients being added to a simple cup of coffee. Ca phe sua chua is another unique drink where creamy yogurt blends divinely with black coffee to form a delicious concoction. The yogurts tanginess really accentuates the bitterness of the coffee, making it a rollercoaster of flavors in your mouth.

Ca Phe Muoi

CA PHE MUOI ​

Simply add a spoonful of salt to your ca phe sua da and it becomes a ca phe muoi. The salt brings out the smokier flavors in the coffee, and balances out the sweetness of the condensed milk. I’m not sure how I feel about this one though.

Ca Phe Chon

This is a little controversial. This is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and you can only find it in a few countries: Indonesia, East Timor, the Philippines and of course, Vietnam. So what is it?  

Ca phe chon is weasel coffee. Essentially weasels are fed coffee berries, digesting the flesh, and excreting the pips. They are then washed and processed carefully, and then sold worldwide as a luxury item. It may cost around $500 USD per 1kg. 

The controversy here is because of how these weasels can be raised. Many are kept in very poor conditions and force fed coffee berries without a proper balanced diet. There is a high mortality rate and this practice also poses a conservation risk. Many animal welfare groups are making it a priority to act against this practice. 

While it’s great to be open to trying new things, you should also be mindful about how certain things come to be and if any animal or human being is harmed in the process. Do your best to travel ethically.




Is Instagram Harming our Travel Experiences?

We’ve all been there. No really we have. You swipe and you swipe and you swipe again. And it’s all pretty similar; all an array of the same place, filtered, secluded, individual, idyllic. You wanted to go. And who wouldn’t? Instagram is filled with travel stories.

The platform is now a huge factor in the travel industry. Instagram has over one billion users and 40% of those under 33 consider “Instagramabilty a factor when travelling. In fact one small village in New Zealand saw a 14% increase in tourism after wooing Instagram travel influencers (the highest the country has seen). And on the surface of it, this shouldn’t be that troubling. As a visual storytelling platform, it makes entire sense that it would be hugely popular as a means of communicating and inspiring travel. But there are problems within the Instagram travel boom.

Instagram is a huge contributor to over-tourism.

Venice bridge crowded with tourists

Destinations like Barcelona and Venice have a long standing record of being harmed by over-tourism; pushing up rent prices and generally making these cities less habitable and harder and more expensive to live in. In 2010 800 people visited Norway’s Trolltunga “Troll’s Tongue” viewpoint. But 80,000 people visited in 2016, in part due to Instagram; whilst the Greek island of Santorini has had to cap the number of day visitors in recent years due to a major increase of tourists. Similarly, the Philippines Boracay Island had to close in 2018 for restoration due to the influx of Instagram, selfie snapping tourists that the area simply wasn’t equipped for. Over tourism results in negative effects both in the short term- such as littering and environmental damage- and longer term, including impacting on rent prices and sustainability. Instagram tourists throw up other problems too with tales of individuals dying to get selfies and controversy surrounding taking distasteful photos in sensitive locations such as Chernobyl or Auschwitz, promoting accusations of “disaster tourism”. The site has also spawned a whole market tailored to it with cafes and hotels created specifically as Instagramablle destinations. 

Is there any problem with Instagram and travel, if you operate in a considerate way?

Taj Mahal India IG vs reality

One of the major criticisms that gets levelled at Instagram travel influencers and tourists is that they depict places in an unrealistic fashion. The site is awash with photos of significant landmarks like the Trevi Fountain or the Taj Mahal depicted in near or complete isolation. And whilst that’s beautiful and makes for a tremendous shot; it simply isn’t the case most of the time or for most of us. As someone who’s seen their fair share of beautiful tourist landmarks; I can hardly think of one where I wasn’t largely surrounded by at least a medium crowd. The times where I’ve been able to see them in a more secluded fashion have generally involved getting up incredibly early or (more likely) having stayed up all night. Which is certainly part of the Instagram Travel Influencer game; stories of getting up at 5am to grab that perfect picture, or alternatively deferring to photoshop to edit the images. Consequently, there is potential to be disappointed when you find yourself at such a place and aren’t quite able to grab the perfect moment of self reflection.

This reflects many of the major problems of the platform more broadly. It’s a place where people go to share a heavily manicured version of their lives. Everything on Instagram is edited, heightened to look that bit better. Honesty isn’t its greatest currency. The impact of this is well documented with affiliations to low self esteem, body image and mental health. We only ever show an aspiration, an edited highlight on there. You’re unlikely to see a photo of an exhaustingly long queue in immigration (without air con) or someone sad and lonely at 2am in a hotel room.

And this is the crux of the problem with Instagram’s version of travel; it re-iterates the idea that travel should be perfect and an entirely positive experience.

It feeds into a narrative that travel is an inherently informative, personally formative experience, where wonder, beauty and personal fulfilment is just the turn of a corner or a snapshot away. And nowhere is this more true than in regard to travelling alone; an experience we revere and fetishise.

There’s good reason why we do that. Travel- and particularly solo travel- is a significant experience. But it isn’t all perfection. There are times when it’s scary, boring even and- dare I say it- lonely. That’s not to say it isn’t a positive thing. But it’s entirely possible to have a wonderful travel experience that also includes some pretty low and hard moments. I’ve had solo travel experiences where I’ve got off the plane at the end utterly thrilled I went alone and wouldn’t have changed that for the world and ones where I was definitely glad to be back in what was familiar.

What is exciting about travel isn’t reducible to a photo (and certainly not if you edit it).

Havana, Cuba

It’s about hordes of people, of unfamiliar sites and sounds, of being in somewhere entirely new. Travel isn’t about perfection. It’s about difference or challenge. A lot of my favourite solo travel moments have been far from perfect (and not in the least bit Instagram worthy)- the time I stranded myself in the Sicilian country side on a Sunday and spent hours sat in a random cab office waiting for a taxi back to the city speaking a mix of English and my bad Italian to the man who ran it; the time I went to the Atacama desert to see the stars but didn’t check the lunar calendar so there were no star tours. So I walked alone into the sand dunes at night to find, they were right. You couldn’t see the stars. 

Neither of these would work on Instagram. But they do work as a story. Is that what travel is about? Maybe. Or then again, maybe not. It might be about seeing something particular; or running away from something particular or perhaps just about having a few picture perfect days alone. Travel isn’t about just one thing. And it’s not necessarily about grabbing the perfect picture of that. It’s entirely down to you. Whether it’s geotagged or not.

Packing with Style: Tips from an Expert

How can you pack in less than an hour and still look effortlessly fabulous while on vacation? As a solo female traveler, it’s about building out that wardrobe over time. It’s important to understand what fabrics you should invest in, while focusing on building a diverse wardrobe that caters to all of your travel needs. I am Beverly O., and I am an international style consultant. Here’s my guide to help you start!

Fabrics

cotton for style guide

The fabrics you wear play a major role in your comfort and style. When traveling to areas that are more humid and hot it’s especially important to pack lighter fabrics with natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, high quality rayon, or linen. These fabrics are breathable, allowing heat to escape the body, so you don’t end up a walking puddle of sweat. It’s also easier to use wrinkle resistant spray when travelling on fabrics that are natural fibers than synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon and lycra.

How to Pack

packing for vacation

While there’s so many ways to pack, the most efficient and wrinkle preventative way is the roll method! Rolling your clothes not only helps keep creases away, but also maximizes space in your suitcase or backpack. I have designated packing cubes (a travel must) for categories like day-time casual, evening, and lounge wear so I can see what I’m packing and already have an outfit in place for every occasion.

For shoes and accessories, store them in a shoe bag to keep germs and dirt away from the rest of your things and your shoes in great condition.

Invest in a travel jewelry bag to prevent necklaces from tangling, keep earrings from getting lost, to make it easier for you to get ready and start your day!

Keep it Chic

chic packing guide

Scarves

I usually pack 3 scarves on vacation. One I can use as a sarong over a bathing suit. A smaller silk scarf I can wear as a turban or cute head scarf, and one I can wear in the evening that’s a lighter weight as a shrug. I usually go for either a neutral color or a fun bold print, depending on how colorful my wardrobe is.

Jewelry

Layer, layer, layer! I wear it all, anklets with charms, a stack of bangles and sometimes beaded necklaces. Your jewelry finishes the look and adds a playful element to your ensemble. Especially if you’re rocking a neutral color wardrobe, adding that hint of blue or green from a necklace can take your outfit from a little drab to style queen!

Eyewear

This is where you’re allowed to have the most fun. There are so many different shapes, colors and styles that make wearing sunglasses fun and stylish. I always try to pack 2 pairs – an aviator with a fun reflective mirror and a more quirky style that’s a bold color.

Tennis shoes

While on vacation we want to feel comfortable and sometimes sandals can make your feet achey on long walking days. I always pack a cute, simple white tennis sneaker. They are comfy and go with almost everything. Pair it with a romper, a floral print dress or a pair of denim shorts, and it just works.

I hope this guide helps kickstart your travel wardrobe adventure. Remember to start with what you already own, fill in the pieces that are missing and elevate your look with accessories. Most importantly, getting dressed for vacation should be fun!

About the Author

Beverly Osemwenkhae

Native NYC Fashion Stylist BeverlyO is best known for her trendy, innovative and bold style decisions. 

Coming from a public relations background, Beverly has worked with iconic fashion brands such as Lanvin and Christian Louboutin. Shortly after her transition from PR to styling, her editorials were featured in international fashion publications such as Vogue Italia, Elle Vietnam, Made in Brazil, Fault UK and Jones Magazine.

In founding ProjectBee, Beverly sought out to create the ultimate style destination. She offers personal style consultation for women around the world.

 

Bucket List Ideas for Vegetarians

Contrary to popular belief, the world is a vegetarian’s oyster. It’s not difficult to find delicious plant-based yummies while you hop from one country to the other. Here is a list of our favorites, and trust us when we say you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy them!

Idiyappam: Sri Lanka

Idiyappam: Sri Lanka

Idiyappam (string hoppers in English) are a breakfast favorite in Sri Lanka, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eaten during any other time of the day. A string hopper looks a bit like a flat, round nest of thin spaghetti, each the size of your palm. To make them, white roasted rice flour is mixed with water and a bit of salt to make a dough and then pushed through a sieve or idiyappam press to make the strands. The little matted nests are then stacked inside a steamer, soon to be served. Simple. 

String hoppers are generally eaten with pol sambol (a delicious mixture of grated coconut meat, chili powder, and lime.) Extra add-ons to your meal can be dahl, potato curry, or sweetened coconut milk. Remember to eat with  your hands for the full experience!

Druze pita: Lebanon

Druze pita wrap with labne and za’atar - Israel

This delectable, sort of Middle Eastern wrap, is a contribution to  street food in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan by a small Arab-speaking community called the Druze. Meat is only served during special occasions, meaning their cuisine is generally ideal for vegetarians. 

Walk through an outdoor market and you will come across a small establishment with a woman in a head scarf sitting behind a convex dome-looking griddle. She will be turning out super thin, platter-sized rounds of whole-wheat flatbreads called laffa (Druze pita). On this, she will smear a layer of labneh (Greek yoghurt), along with olive oil, za’atar (a blend of dried herbs), chopped parsley, diced tomatoes, hot sauce and red pepper puree. Then she folds the whole thing into a very edible and mouth-watering open-topped wrap.

Jian Bing: China

A favorite and very popular breakfast among Chinese, especially Beijingers, Jian Bing are large wheat and grain-based crepes, lathered with 2 or 3 savoury/spicy sauces and folded around an egg, green onions, and a piece of deep fred cracker known as Bao Cui. 

These giant crepes get folded into an envelope shape and wrapped around with paper, so it’s easy to grab one to go on the way to work or school, or on your way home at 4:00 AM after a rough night of clubbing. Yeah, you’ll still find the carts around. The vendors know you crave it.

Baklava: Turkey

Baklava - Turkey

The history of baklava is a little hazy and while everyone from the Greeks to the Turks and Armenians claim that they were the first to make it (it’s that delicious!), the credit, it seems, must go to the Assyrians of Mesopotamia (a region made of modern-day Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey). Baklava first came to be around the 8th century BC and since then, many cultures and regions of the world have their own special versions, including the Labanese, Greeks, Iranians, Hungarians and others. 

Baklava is a rich, sweet, and flaky pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts, most common being pistachios. Almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts get thrown in there too, depending on the variation of the recipe. The pastry is then sweetened with syrup made of honey, lemon, and cinnamon. These make for a great dessert after a hearty meal.

Pannkakor: Sweden

Swedish pancakes may look a whole lot like French crêpes, but they are different. Thin, eggy, and just the right amount of sweet, you can top it with absolutely anything, from brown sugar, to berries, whipped cream, jam and maple syrup. Compared to French crêpes, Swedish pancakes are lighter and fluffier as the batter has a higher milk, butter, and egg to flour ratio.

There’s also nothing wrong with eating these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you ask us. And the best part is that you don’t need to go to Sweden for them – just drive by to the nearest Ikea and get yourself a frozen pack. While they’re not as good as fresh ones, they’re still delicious!

 

Vegetarian thali: India

Vegetarian thali - India

A thali is the perfect assortment of delicious Indian favorites on a single platter. The different regions of India have their own unique take on this dish, as will each different restaurant that will have their own variety of dishes for you to choose from. 

Thali’s don’t have to be vegetarian but you can opt for only vegetarian dishes on yours. You will get a bit of everything, from appetizers to mains, and even dessert. Your dishes on the thali can include dahl curry, aloo gobi (potato), brinjal, papadam, mango pickle and chutney along with rice and naan, chapati, or paratha. Mix it all together, it’s really a wholesome experience.

 

Saka Saka: Congo

Saka Saka - Congo

Saka saka (or pondu) is found in both the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a dish made of ground cassava leaves, mixed with palm oil or pam butter, onions, garlic, peppers, and okra. You can even add in peanuts, peanut butter, or other greens such as spinach.

Everything is ground together to form some kind of paste with a thick consistency and comes served with rice, bread, fried plantain or boiled yam. Simple, but a roller coaster of flavors in your mouth.

We hope that you get the chance to try every single one of these dishes during your travels around the world as they are loved by our community. Let us know if you have more suggestions to add to this list, as we would love to try them out ourselves!

Quiz: How Adventurous Are You?

Quiz time: Adventure

You may think you are a dare devil or have decided serious adventure is just not for you, but how do you really compare? We’ve put together some of our all time favorite adrenaline inducing activities to see how much of a thrill seeker you are.

Quiz: How adventurous a foodie are you?

Quiz time: food

How do you compare to other solo female travelers when it comes to trying new food? While local cuisine is one of the best ways to immerse in local culture, some delicacies can throw you right out of your comfort zone! You may think you’re a true foodie, but let’s see how far you’ll really go when it comes to trying new food. This quiz will not only tell you how you stack up compared to other travelers, but it also may teach you about some regional meals you didn’t know existed!

How to Handle Loneliness as a Solo Traveler

As a solo traveler, feeling lonely at times often comes with the territory. You’re out in the world and want to experience local sights, sounds, foods and culture. But what happens when loneliness sets in? How can you manage your feelings and carry on? We show you how to handle loneliness while you’re on the road.

Loneliness can hit solo travelers in many different ways. Maybe it will hit the hardest when you lack entertainment in the after-dinner, before bedtime lull. Maybe it’s when you’re watching an incredible sunset, longing for someone to witness it with you. Or maybe it’s the occasions you’re faced with eating dinner alone in a fancy restaurant. 

Whenever it is, know that you’re not alone. 

Most solo travelers experience loneliness at some point during their journey, but thankfully there are ways to mitigate it. In fact, now more than ever help is at hand. Our modern, connected, social world is a source of high-value when it comes to overcoming feelings of loneliness. 

But how?

Use apps and technology

Cuba Solo Female Tour

Let’s talk technology. If you’re lucky enough to be a solo female traveler in the 21st century then – thanks to apps and technology – you’re lucky to have the world at your fingertips, too. Alongside instant travel information, tips, and tricks, there are many apps and tools to help you overcome feelings of loneliness while you’re on-the-go. 

Apps to stay in touch with friends and family: 

First things first. Make sure you, your friends and your family download the apps needed to stay in touch; this may be dependent on your location. For much of the world Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger will do the job well but usage rules vary country to country, so be sure to research your destination and download the apps that are permitted in your location. If you’re visiting China, for example, make sure you have WeChat installed on your phone before you travel. 

A quick call back home can work wonders for overcoming loneliness.

Download Skype for Android | Download Skype for iPhone

Download Whatsapp for Android | Download Whatapp for iPhone

Download FB Messenger on Android | Download FB Messenger on iPhone

Download WeChat for Android | Download WeChat for iPhone

Apps to make new friends:

Facebook groups. Once you’re set up to contact those back home, there are a few more apps and tools you can install to help navigate your new destination while making friends along the way. Facebook groups are a good place to start. Join groups relevant to your interests and destination to find out about local activities – at which there will be new people to meet. The Solo Female Traveler Facebook group is also a great place to look for other travelers in your area; members of our/this group have often met up abroad and become life-long friends! 

CoolCousin. To find out more about your destination and to chat with locals, download CoolCousin. This is essentially a mapped out list of recommendations from locals to help you find the best restaurants, bars, activities, accommodation, and more. But the great thing about CoolCousin is that you can connect with the local content creator, ask questions, and on occasion actually meet up with them too.

Download CoolCousin on Android | Download CoolCousin on iPhone

Women travel together

Meetup. The Meetup app is a fantastic places to, well, do what the name suggests and meet up with others in your area. This app has many, many meet up groups covering a really diverse range of interests. And we mean diverse. A quick search in Mexico City at the time of writing brought up groups dedicated to yoga, wine tasting, board games, coding, and butterfly-spotting! Sign up, set your preferences and go meet like-minded people in your location. 

Download Meetup on Android | Download Meetup on iPhone

Eatwith. Eatwith is the app to install if you’re looking for people to enjoy some good food with. Here you’ll find varying dining groups to join, ranging from supper clubs at a locals’s home to cooking classes, themed dinners, and food-specific tours. We love the sound of London’s Chicken Wing Crawl and the Night of White Truffles hosted in Berlin, for example.  

Download EatWith on Android | Download EatWith on iPhone

Translation apps. With all those new people you’re going to meet, the chances are you may need a translation tool to help you interact with new friends. Choose Google Translate as an all-rounder, TextGrabber to translate written words, or TripLingo to translate both formal language and slang. TripLingo also allows you to connect with a live translator, at an additional cost. 

Download Google Translate on Android | Download Google Translate on iPhone

Download TextGrabber on Android | Download TextGrabber on iPhone

Download TripLingo on Android | Download TripLingo on iPhone

Self-care apps: 

Many people around the world swear by meditation sessions to maintain good mental health (which yes, includes feelings of loneliness). If you can’t find a group to join locally, download some self-care apps on your cellphone and take time each morning to practice meditation and mindfulness. Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are all great options.

Download Calm on Android | Download Calm on iPhone

Download Headspace on Android | Download Headspace on iPhone

Download Insight Timer on Android | Download Insight Timer on iPhone

MAKE THE MOST OF SOME ‘YOU TIME’

South Africa Female Tour

Speaking of self-care, solo travel is a wonderful chance to step back and make the most of some ‘you time’. If you’re feeling down and lonely, think about things you can do with the time, that you couldn’t otherwise do in your day-to-day life. Take a long lazy bubble bath, get stuck into a good book, or pound the streets with just your own thoughts for company. 

Taking the time to enjoy your own company can work wonders in overcoming lonely feelings. 

Get to know yourself

As you begin to lean into the time alone and the means to do as you please, your rhythm will change. You’ll start to notice the things that make you happy. Perhaps you’ll discover new passions. Perhaps you’ll start to realise how capable you are. Perhaps you’ll begin to distance yourself from negativity. Perhaps you’ll learn to forgive yourself.

The wonderful thing about solo travel is the time it gives us to check in with our internal voice, discovering and reminding ourselves of who we really are.

 

Make new friends by joining an group activity

Group activities are such a great way for the solo traveler to meet other people. If you’re new at your destination join a walking tour of the closest city – this will not only help you meet people, but also help you get your bearings and navigate the location better in the days to follow. But it’s not just city tours that are good for overcoming loneliness – look for any group activity that sparks your interest; participate in an art class, find a hiking expedition, or join yoga class. 

Find your tribe and get stuck in! 

Join a Crowd

If you want the company of people but don’t feel up to actually making conversation with strangers, head for a busy area. Go food-tasting at a street market, spectate at a sporting event, or find a concert to attend. Sometimes just being in the presence of large groups of people will help quash lonely feelings. 

Remember why you’re doing it

Above everything else, remember why you chose to travel in the first place. Think about your alternative; staying at home and missing out on all the rich experiences the world has to offer. 

The life experiences you’re gaining as you travel will almost certainly more than make up for a few bad moments.  

– Loneliness and anxiety can sometimes go hand in hand. If you’re struggling with anxiety about travel read our tips on how to overcome anxiety as a solo female traveler. 

How to Travel Solo with Anxiety

Feeling anxious about travel is a common occurrence. Often the best way to handle trips as a nervous traveler is to accept your apprehension, know that it’s normal, and make the trip anyway. These feelings tend to lessen or even disappear once you realize you can handle anything that comes your way. There are, however, ways to mitigate your feelings. 

They say a picture paints a thousand words but in today’s online world many photos hide a thousand words, too. Look at all those other fearless females, you say to yourself as you scroll through endless travel photos online. They’re jumping on airplanes solo, hiking mountain peaks, exploring off-the-beaten-track villages, dining in fancy restaurants alone. Those girls look happy, they look comfortable, and they look excited to be traveling solo. Why don’t I feel the same? 

The truth is, anxiety about travel is normal. We know it might not feel that way when you’re endlessly viewing curated online-lives, but with around 40% of travelers saying they’ve experienced flight anxiety alone*, not to mention other forms of anxiety, it’s a common occurrence. 

The good news is, there are ways to mitigate your fears – allowing you not only to accept them – but to make that dream trip anyway, and to really enjoy it. Plus, just think how you’ll feel on your return, knowing you can do anything you put your mind to. 

Travel fears come in many, often not well-defined, packages. Starting to understand the elements that are bothering you is the first step to overcoming them. Is it a fear of flying? Are you worried about spending so much time alone? Perhaps it’s the language barrier and perceived lack of of communication while abroad? You may find it’s a combination of these, or more. The fear of the unknown can hit even the most practiced traveler but identifying what it is you’re worried about opens up a space to acknowledge it, process it, and ultimately move through it. Here are some ways to help with anxiety about travel: 

Before your trip

woman traveling with anxiety

Look after your physical well-being: 

In the days, weeks and months running up to your trip, assist your mental health by maintaining your physical health. Work out, eat well, and take your vitamins to boost your immune system. Exercise has been found to have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and more – while better nutrition will help you fight off any viruses for an illness-free trip. No-one wants to be sick while traveling but for those suffering from anxiety it can kick-start more serious concerns while on the road. Quash those bugs before they hit. 

Research your destination:

Fear of the unknown can cause feelings of anxiety but in today’s online and app-heavy world, there are many things you can do, pre-trip, to ease this. For example, download tools including Google Maps and/or local transport apps to plan your airport to accommodation journey before you even set foot off the flight. By planning your airport exit plan, you’re already one step ahead. 

Consider your accommodation - make it a ‘safe space’:

The accommodation you choose can have a big impact on your trip. Would you feel more comfortable somewhere you can meet other travelers to chat with? If so, a hostel might be an appropriate place for you to stay. Do you want somewhere to retreat back to, somewhere you can read a good book in the bath? Then consider booking a room in a hotel, allowing you some alone time. By booking accommodation that will act as your ‘safe space’, you’ll know you have somewhere you can head to at the end – or even middle – of a long day to rest and revive. 

Find a knowledgable community:

Twenty years ago finding out information about your destination was tricky. If you didn’t know someone who had visited, your resources were limited. Today? Even if none of your friends or family have been, you can look up information in a matter of seconds online or, better still, join an online community of travelers. The Solo Female Traveler Network Membership is full of travel resources and community members who will help you every step of the way. Knowledge is power, after all. 

Remind yourself why you want to visit:

Think about why you want to visit your chosen destination. This may sound simple but in pre-trip anxiety mode, the answers are often forgotten. Is it the history? The culture? The food? The lifestyle? Remember all the reasons you had it on your list in the first place and try to imagine yourself there, exploring the things you love. Looking at photos online can help boost excitement, too. 

ON THE JOURNEY TO YOUR DESTINATION

woman staving with anxiety in india

Know your route and build in extra time: 

We’ve covered making sure you know how to get from the airport to your accommodation when you land, but  travelling from home to the airport is often overlooked and can also be stressful. Be sure to know your route and the time it takes to make. Oh, and allowing yourself some extra time to get there will help too. Nothing is more panic-inducing than thinking you’re going to miss your flight. It’s always better to be an hour early than an hour late. 

Breathe: 

Slowing your breathing really does help to reduce stress-levels. An anxious person tends to breathe in quick succession – reducing oxygen intake and upsetting a whole host of physical functions. It can cause increased heart rate as well as dizziness; and this is the last thing you want when you’re already feeling upset. A series of slow inhales and exhales is a simple breathing exercise that can help reduce feelings of anxiety at any time during your trip. Remember to practice it from the outset – and anytime you need it. 

Ask for help if you need it: 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you navigate your way across the world. Not sure where your check-in desk is? Enquire at an information desk. Need to know what time your bus leaves? Ask staff or locals you see on the street. The majority of people will be happy to help. 

AT YOUR DESTINATION

guide to traveling with anxiety for solo women

Book a walking tour (ideally for your first day: 

Whether you’re a first or one-hundredth time solo female traveler, with or without anxiety – group walking tours are a fantastic introduction to a destination. Think about it, you’re showing up in an unfamiliar place, unsure how to plan your activities, and don’t know anyone in the area. A group tour will orientate you with your new destination, plan everything for you, and you’ll meet other travelers. That’s a win-win-win. 

Know your boundaries – but push them: 

As solo females, it’s important to know and understand personal boundaries while travelling. While we urge you to get out and explore, it’s equally necessary to understand your comfort zones and limits. That said and within reason, limits are there to be pushed. If you’re happy exploring solo in daylight but not at night, book a group tour for after dark. If you don’t like dining solo, do it anyway; use a book or your cellphone as back up, but keep yourself open to conversations with other diners or waiters. By pushing your boundaries you’ll begin understand just how much you’re able to overcome, and how great those achievements can make you feel. 

Understand you can deal with anything that comes your way: 

We can’t promise that nothing will go wrong as you travel, but we do know that often having small things go against you can be a blessing in disguise. So you missed your train? That’s ok, find out when the next train to your destination is and get on it. You ended up walking to the wrong neighbourhood? Great, you have somewhere new to explore. Your pre-booked taxi didn’t show? Take another means of transport – perhaps learning how the location’s transport system works in the process. You’ll feel like an unstoppable champion once you figure out how to overcome obstacles. 

traveling with anxiety guide

KEEP SOME MONEY ASIDE:

It’s always tempting to go all out while you’re abroad because, who knows when you’ll next have the chance to ‘go here’, ‘see this’, ‘do that’… But knowing that you’ve got some money set aside for the unexpected will be a huge source of comfort; whether you need to use it, or not. You’ll be able to navigate the streets with a little more ease knowing you can jump into a taxi if needed, or that you can check out of a hostel and into a 5* for some R&R if you’re feeling unwellI. And if you don’t end up using what you’ve set aside – fantastic – it’s in the bank for your next trip. 

IMMERSE YOURSELF INTO THE EXPERIENCE: 

The fear of ‘getting out there’ usually becomes more exaggerated the longer you think about it, while actually being out and about can offer positive distraction. If you’re feeling anxious about facing your destination – take a deep breath, remember your route-plan and step foot outside of your accommodation door. Once you’re taking in all those new sights and doing what you enjoy; exploring historical monuments, shopping at markets, or taking photos at all the best selfie hotspots, you’ll have less time to think about your worries. 

SOCIALISE (BUT ONLY WHEN YOU WANT TO:

For the solo traveler, a common fear is spending time alone. But it needn’t be this way. Socialising doesn’t means you need to be the life and soul of every party, it can be a simple as plucking up the courage to introduce yourself to a fellow solo traveler. Simple questions such as asking someone where they’re from or for local recommendations, work wonders as conversation starters. 

TRUST LOCALS:

We know it can be hard to trust strangers – especially in unfamiliar surroundings. But people are generally kind and helpful, so opening up to locals is a great way to overcome fear. If you need directions or want to know where to find the best restaurant and/or gin bar – locals are the best source of information. We’re sure, once you’ve asked (and found answers!) a couple of times, speaking to locals will become second nature. 

After your trip

woman traveling with anxiety

Congratulate yourself!

First and foremost, recognise what you’ve achieved; you’ve gone from feeling anxious about solo travel to actually doing it! Remind yourself of all your accomplishments – you deserve to feel proud. 

Realise how much you can handle:

Whether your trip was smooth sailing, or whether you had to overcome a few hiccups – be mindful that you you faced your travel-fears head on and survived. Knowing that you can overcome any fears or obstacles as you solo travel is powerful. And know that you can do it again too. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it’s likely to become. 

Look back on the positives:

Remember all the good times you had on your trip. Maybe it was sitting with a book in a back street café, maybe it was joining a group tour and making friends, or maybe it was finding yourself face-to-face with something you once thought you’d only see in the movies. Store the positive memories, you made them and you deserve to remember them. 

Start thinking about your next trip: 

You’ve done it once, you can do it again. Start to think about where you want to head to next. That travel bug is a hard one to shake, but we – and we’re sure you too – wouldn’t have it any other way. 

*Flight anxiety research from Aviation Mental Health

On your travels, you can always fall back on your fellow members for support and encouragement. You can even see who is in the same city as you to meet up when you just need a buddy. Read more.