Travelling solo can be the most amazing and powerful experience one can ever have in your life. It’s sometimes scary, shocking, and smooth that makes you grow. You become a stronger person from it or a life changer for others. But, it doesn’t come without its challenges.
Adrien a solo-female traveler who created a podcast around her backpacking travels. Her podcast is called Strangers Abroad, and it is a series of conversations she has with the wonderful and weird people she meets when she travel. Her aim is to get her work out more and build relationships about the importance of travel, talking to strangers, and encouraging people- specifically women- to go out there and start traveling!
Highlighting her most recent trip to Mexico City, which really speaks to her heart and you will know what challenges she has faced!!
Adrien starts her own travel blog
I started Strangers Abroad because I was disappointed with how poorly I had been documenting my travels. I was having such wonderful conversations with strangers, locals, and fellow travelers whom I met while I was abroad. These conversations were breaking down the expectations and perceptions I had about the world and how to live. I wanted to share those stories with others and encourage others to go out there and travel.
Not all who wander are lost
I launched Strangers Abroad in 2017, but had been working on it for almost a year. In 2016, I booked a one-way ticket to Mexico because I was dissatisfied with my life (boyfriend, job, general direction) and wanted to escape. Every time I get out of my environment, I find some answers to the questions that are plaguing me, and my body was craving adventure. The idea came to me as I sat on an ugly carpet in an apartment I hated when I lived in Portland, OR. I was looking for a way to be creative and feel like I was making more out of my trip than just hanging out. I remember playing around and setting up my iPad a few days before I left for Mexico and thought “I could create a podcast?” slightly incredulous of my own capabilities but excited for the creative project. I was obsessed with podcasts at the time and didn’t think it would be that hard. It was, but here I am, three years later, with a full season under my belt and working on my second season.
Irrational fears that during travels have helped me to overcome
Nope. I still have the irrational fear of missing my bus/plane/train. I have traveled through 30 countries on my own, and I still panic that I am going to miss my ticket to the next place. My anxiety has gotten slightly better as I’ve gotten older, but I have definitely made a fool of myself in many countries because of it (crying in cabs, running through airports with 10 layers of clothes on, angrily bartering with bus drivers). I just choose to leave dumb early now and have learned to love airports like a weirdo.
One belief that is held up by society as ‘common sense’ but that you think is ridiculous & backward
I think one societal belief that my travels have proven wrong is that strangers are dangerous. “Stranger danger” is a huge saying in the States, and every time I’m about to leave people think the next time they hear about me will be on a 20/20 segment where thousands of female travelers were found in a Moldovan sex trade, and I’m addicted to opium and believe my name is Valentina. My experiences with strangers couldn’t be farther from the truth.
My travels have been based around the benevolence of complete strangers who have taken me into their homes, fed me, let me break bread and share in their company. I have met people who feel like long lost friends, where the conversation picks up as if no time has passed. I find that the world is more protective than predatory. Does that mean that my travels have always been rainbows and unicorns? No, but the kindness I have experienced from strangers outweighs the bad moments.
In the past, I would work for months at a time and save as much of my money as possible. I wouldn’t go out drinking all night or spend money on clothes. When I had temptations to buy things I would always think “But how many bus tickets is that?” I would travel with only a few thousand dollars and would find ways to keep costs low as I traveled. I would couch surf and volunteer at different locations to save money, which allowed me to travel for longer. Now, I’m interested in getting sponsors and finding more location independent work to fund my travels.
Adrien favorite destination and why
I don’t like the term favorite; however, there are certain places in the world that make my heart hurt more than others. I think that every place speaks to you differently depending on who you are at the time and what lessons you need at the time. The ones that have spoken loudly to me when I was there, in no particular order, are Prague, Mexico City, Chefchouan, Oaxaca, Arequipa, and Paris. They are all colorful, creative, and wonderful to explore, and have great bookstores, coffee shops, street art / art scene and incorporate a lot of nature in their infrastructure.
Some memories are unforgettable
I don’t think there is a favorite one, but there are plenty of perfect little moments that unconsciously pop up like gophers in my memory with no prompt. Plucking olives in Tuscany; standing in Frida Kahlo’s gardens; walking through the streets of Prague; eating Clementine in Chefchouan with my best friend; hitchhiking in Oaxaca; swimming in cenotes in Quintana Roo; hummingbird gardens in Costa Rica; making chocolate in Peru.
A country or city that was disappointing afterwards
Again, I think that different places talk to you louder than others and there are some places that haven’t spoken to me as loudly as others have.
However, I’ve never been disappointed because I try to go into every experience with low/no expectations. I try not to color any experience as a disappointment because I don’t want to think I have ever wasted my time. Whatever I didn’t get out of the experience, I learned from it. I might return in the future and have a great time. I think there is opportunity for learning in every experience.
Travel back in time to meet a historical figure
I would love to get tea with Nellie Bly, who was the first woman to travel around the world, on her own, in less than 80 days. She was a journalist and convinced her boss at the New York World newspaper to pay for her to travel around the world, based around the book “Around the World in 80 Days.” She traveled through England, France (where she met Jules Verns who wrote the book that inspired her travels), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo, the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan before arriving in San Francisco and then made it back to New York four days later.
She is a full force badass. She was a solo-female traveler in the 1900’s, with all of her possessions in a small bag, and somehow didn’t catch tuberculosis. I’m surprised the idea wasn’t trashed since women’s ambitions have been squelched since the dawn of the Neolithic period. So the fact that she was able to go anywhere alone was an accomplishment enough!
I would love to know what she thought, saw, felt, and enjoyed. Which places surprised her and which ones she wishes she could return to. What she completed was the greatest adventure any woman could have had at her time. This was when almost all women were listening to stories about the world from their husbands as they made soup in their kitchens instead of going out and exploring the world with their own feet.
Social norms or practices I’ve encountered during travels that I wish were normal in your native culture
Siestas. Hands down! I want to nap in the middle of the day like a cat in a bay window with the sun beaming on my body.
Places in the world I would love to visit out of principle…
I think every place holds stories that we can learn from. I think that the actions of governments don’t always ( or hardly) represent the actions and beliefs of the people. I can vehemently disagree with someone else’s ruler, but that doesn’t mean that is the full story. If I were to avoid countries where I didn’t believe in the rulings of their histories and politicians, I would have to leave my own. I think it is more important to go to those countries so we can have the people tell their stories instead of others painting colored pictures for us. I know that my president isn’t all of America, and the stories of those who put him in power are just as valid as mine. The news can only show us so much.
One food I could now never eat in my home country again because I’ve tasted the original version in its country of origin & I’ve been forever spoiled
- Its beer in Prague.
- Tacos, and coffee because of Mexico.
- Cheese because of the Netherlands and France. Wine because of Italy.
Build your own home from scratch & features that are perhaps things I’ve come across in different places around the world on my journey
I love this question. I love the red rooftops in Prague. I don’t think I could ever get sick of them. I also love Mexican architecture. But in all honesty, I just want to live in a tree-house where the house is build around the tree and the trunk is the center of it so I can build a wrap around staircase around it. Yes, I am an adult that pays taxes.
Too large or impractical to travel things with that I wish I could bring along
Books, they are too heavy to carry around and I hate reading on my phone or kindle. I typically try to focus on writing + podcasting vs. reading while I travel.
Making a distinction between tourist and traveler
I think there is a huge difference between a traveler and a tourist. I think the priorities of both are different. In the simplest and slightly pretentious way I can describe it, a tourist is someone who looks at a place through a window and doesn’t engage with the locals. They travel for souvenirs and Instagram likes. Whereas, a traveler knows that the place isn’t made without the people and actively tries to engage with locals. Travelers are more interested in collecting experiences and memories than things. Regardless, I hope both aspire for change and a break from routine on whatever level works for them.
The most and least livable cities I’ve visited
When it comes to infrastructure, Stockholm is by far the most livable city I have visited. It is immaculate and has such efficient transportation. But cities that I personally would want to live in, Mexico City for sure. That city has such a pulse and creativity to it that I haven’t found in the states, not even New York City.
I think least livable is pretty subjective. From my experience, a place that was hard to live in was San Jose, Costa Rica. As a woman, I couldn’t walk down the street without someone harassing me and there were areas that were not enjoyable to walk through, especially as a non-local. However, that was just my experience and I’m not saying that is everyone’s experiences. The city also had incredible cafes and street art, which I really loved. Costa Rica as a whole is a phenomenal country.
P.S. New York is hard.
One favorite picture made during one of your travels
The picture that I chose for my podcast art, it is a photo of me and a “stranger” I had met 36 hours before. Thomas and I had met on the bus from Cusco to Hydroelectric, and we walked along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes (the entrance to Machu Picchu) and then hiked Machu Picchu together. A woman saw us talking on the precipice of the cite with the Andes behind us and thought it was a Kodak moment. We are standing there talking to each other and laughing, mainly because we are discussing what baked goods we are going to eat when we were done hiking.
A good travel tip
Travel alone and for as long as you can while you are young. And always talk to strangers.
Three golden tips for other travel bloggers who want to travel and work around the world
Have sensible walking shoes, stock up on notebooks, and carry a small backpack.
Country stands high on your bucket list
India. I want to spend 6 months exploring that country. Probably still won’t see all of it.
My next destination
It’s looking like Tokyo and Southeast Asia, but possibly Mexico City again.
Connect to Adrien at: https://strangersabroadpodcast.com/