Rebecca Enright, a.k.a. Backpacker Becki, enjoying Shanghai.
Rebecca Enright is the founder of BackpackerBecki.com - a solo female travel blog with a focus on alternative sights and off-the-beaten-path adventures. This past July, she left her home base of London to embark upon a life-changing journey that will find her living out of her cherished backpack for at least the next two years. Becki’s planned itinerary will take her through through more than 20 countries in Asia, Oceania and South America – and she is happily roaming the globe without a travel partner. Taking time off from her tastings of fermented mare’s milk in Mongolia and Beijing encounters with topless Chinese men, the lovely nomad recently took time to chat with us about the rewards and challenges of solo travel:
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from solo travel?
That it’s OK to be alone. There are times when the thought of having no one with you fills you with dread and sometimes sadness. But mostly you see that’s its a wonderful opportunity to learn about how you go about things, how you tackle difficult situations, how you approach and react to people. You become more rounded, more strong, more confident and you learn that it’s possible to still grow as a person.
Becki makes new friends in India.
My blog takes up a lot of my time and immersing myself in my writing is a great escape or I just take some time out to write a note or chat to friends and family online. It’s the best therapy. In terms of everyday travel life I just take the plunge and approach others. I look out for other people who are solo or approach a big group with a beer and just say ‘Mind if I join?’. Travellers are friendly and all in the same boat. It becomes easier with time.
What advice would you give to young females about to embark upon their first solo adventures?
Realize you are not alone in what you are doing. Solo female travel is a big thing now and shouldn’t be seen as a scary option. Sure, you might have to watch your back a bit more and be careful, but that applies everywhere, even at home. There are always people around you and I’ve actually found that people admire the fact I’m a solo female traveller. It’s a great conversation starter!
What do your friends and family think of your nomadic lifestyle?
It’s a mixture of admiration, sadness that I’m gone and a general feeling of worry, but overall they all know that this is in my heart and so they support me every step of the way in fulfilling my dream, both as a traveller and a writer. I will never stop travelling so essentially they have had to accept it. I just hope it inspires them to do the same!
In terms of safety, have there ever been times where you’ve felt afraid being a solo female traveller?
It’s about being sensible and doing your research.
I’ve been worried but luckily not afraid. There are times when I wish someone would walk back down the street with me at night even though the hostel is 3 minutes away, or times when I’ve wandered down a quiet street during the day where anything could happen. But it’s about being sensible and doing your research. I would never willingly put myself at risk. For example, I would rather not go out at night at all if no one is around. I believe in safety in numbers when it comes to certain situations.
What’s been the most inspirational “a-ha!” moment you’ve had while abroad?
Becki during her Madagascar volunteer experience
When I volunteered in Madagascar I realized there and then where my calling was and where I wanted to steer my career and my travels. I’m moving to Cambodia in December for three months and hope that it’s the start to many more doors opening in this field. I’m a firm believer in responsible tourism and hope to contribute to the great work being done out there to highlight this.
For more on Becki’s whirlwind travels, follow her on twitter @backpackerbecki or Facebook: www.facebook.com/backpackerbecki.