Confession: I'm No Longer a Solo Female Traveler


September 1st marks my 2nd anniversary on the road. The last two years have been a constant adventure. Iit is overwhelming to recognize just how much I have changed as a person, and as a traveler. Since leaving the States on the first of September in 2015 I've gone near and far to 35 countries, mostly on my own. Throughout my life I've now collected passport stamps from 51 countries. I took myself to my favorite European city, Budapest, twice, all alone. I explored Greece, Germany, Monaco, Slovakia, Sweden by myself. My first big solo trip to a culture completely foreign to me was a month in Thailand. Last summer I backpacked through the Balkans solo through fascinating places like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. I spent six months this year alone in India. I've adventures beyond my wildest dreams. But this isn't a dream, it's my life, and I so worked incredibly hard to get here. Slowly but surely I've started to share my stories from all of these transformative moments with you here.


I've embraced authentic interactions with a network of like-minded travelers on Instagram and in recent months have dedicated more time to developing my little corner of the travel world, Miss Filatelista. To say I've changed drastically over the last 24-months would be an understatement. The biggest influence has been my partnership with Visit.org which has made me more conscious of the decision I make as a traveler and opened my eyes to the endless ways that we can impact local communities in a positive way as we visit their towns. I've shared with you what motivated me to travel, the meaning behind the name Miss Filatelista, reflections 15-months into to my nomadic life7 hacks to be a smarter traveler, and 5 things I've learned from a life of constant travel. I am so grateful for each and every one of you who continue to read and support Miss Filatelista.


The last few months have been particularly legendary. I was featured on some incredible publications: Huffington Post, Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Bravo, and My Domaine - just to name a few. Another highlight was seeing a photo I took in Krakow, Poland on the glossy pages of the Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine. Please excuse my humble brag, I am very proud of what I've achieved so far with this passion project of mine. I am not ashamed that I've fallen a little bit in love with myself every time I witness something with my own eyes that I used to look at on the pages of National Geographic.

Alright, I've digressed from the headline here. The most epic thing to happen so far while I've been traveling? I've fallen in love with my very own tall, dark, handsome Spaniard. My long term stint as a solo female traveler has come to an end and so has the long distance aspect of my relationship. 


Solo female travel is a phrase I was never really comfortable with. Why couldn't I have just been categorized as a traveler? Why did I have to be labeled by my gender and the fact that I was traveling mostly alone? In fact calling out that I was solo could have been dangerous in some situations. Many times I spoke to strange men about fictitious husbands that were waiting for me near by to get them to back off. I even strategically placed wedding-band like rings on my nuptial fingers and smiled shyly most of the time when someone asked if I was married and then quickly walked away.


Traveling alone for two years had been the greatest gift I had ever given myself. Each day was equally beautiful and challenging and I've grown in many ways. I've had to defend my decision to travel the world solo in my late 20’s. Globally strangers seemed to be deeply concerned about my love life. People just can't grasp the concept of how I am traveling the world without a salaried job, no financial support from my family, and no husband in sight. This isn't just in developing countries. I get asked this question more often in Europe than anywhere else. Wasn't I worried I was wasting my youth? Didn't I know my chances of finding a man to marry me were getting slimmer? My answer? No, I wasted my youth by spending the early half of my twenties chained to a desk and cycling through fuck boys. My own mother was worried that I wouldn't be able to find a partner if I was constantly moving from one country to the next.


I liked traveling alone, I wasn't looking for a travel buddy, and I certainly wasn't looking to catch feelings for someone in another country. I never wanted a long distance relationship, and neither did my boyfriend, Julio. What I loved most about traveling alone was that I was the director of each day - I chose when to wake up, what to eat, where to go, and what to experience. Luckily Julio and I share similar interests - we're both equally obsessed with street art and street food. We appreciate beautiful design elements and traditional architecture. We spend as much time in nature as possible - from hikes to days snorkeling under the seas. I took Julio for his first ever massage experience in Morocco and now I have him hooked on spas. We'd rather wake up early to have an epic experience somewhere sans crowds then spend a late night out drinking. We're far from perfect. Going from being completely independent individuals to being together 24/7 can have its little challenges. We're learning to understand and cope with each other's nuances. Just like any romantic relationship, there is balance in traveling together. At the end of a day when buses have been late, creeps have tried to scam us, or we're both sick to our stomachs after eating something bad, I am so grateful to have Julio to go through these experiences with - both the beautiful and the awful. Traveling with someone you love is incredibly rewarding.


I spilled all of the juicy details to How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch about how we met and our wild-goose-chase-around-the-world of a relationship. Spoiler alert - we finally accepted that what we have is the real deal and Julio resigned from his career and has been by my side exploring Malaysia since mid-July. It wasn't easy getting here and I think anyone who's in a LDR will appreciate my honest appraisal of the bumpy road we traveled from a Tinder match to IRL couple living our dream together. Hint - lots of romantic rendezvous in Italy, Morocco, Spain, India, and Nepal helped keep our spark for each other alive. Each time we met it felt like an affair of pure passion - for each other and for the incredible places we discovered together. Now we get to do this each and every day. So far we've been to 7 countries together on 3 continents. We have love, will travel. Julio is helping me build this platform and we have indefinite plans to travel as far as we possibly can and will spend at least the next year exploring South East Asia.


Have you found amor while traveling? I want to hear your love story, please do tell me in the comments!



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10 comments:

  1. I read and I see your pic very nice and I like
    And your experience good for travel dear sister.
    I hope your travel n life is happy
    Allah bless you n your family always.
    I'm from India sister.

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    1. Thank you, Akhan! I was in India for 6 months, it was wonderful. Happy Eid al-Adha!

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  2. What a journey you have been on! I like solo traveling but it's always more fun (and safe!) with someone else. I can't wait to see your name on more publication as well as Miss Filatelista!

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    1. Thanks so much Nam! It's so great that we connected all the way at the beginning <3

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  3. Love your post...Yeah it's true that it is a little challenging going from solo to a couple - there's a lot of getting used to but as long as there's open communication between the couple is fine and it will be a lovely journey. Btw, love that picture in KL at Merdeka Square as I'm from KL :-)

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    1. Thanks so much Kathleen! We really enjoyed KL and will be sharing more from your awesome city soon.

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  4. I'm happy for you and the new direction your life in headed with. But, I think it's better you had time for solo travel first--that freedom, that feeling is unmatched. And now you can bring that into new destinations with the one you love.

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    1. Absolutely! I'll always cherish my solo travel time. :)

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  5. I think your status can change while your travelling, it's a journey just like anything else. It's great that you're embracing it and having an amazing time

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    1. Thanks so much Cristal, you're so right about that!

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