For this week’s travel inspiration, we’re joined by Teacher and solo traveller Ashley from Wanderdolls.com. Ashley started her travel life as a teacher in Korea but since then has travelled all over the Americas, Asia and even Europe taking her teaching with her. Like us, she believes travel is for everyone no matter what your budget is. Here’s what she has to say about her fun travel plans!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TRAVEL?
I’ve always loved travel but never really did much travelling when I was younger or with my family. My first vacation was when I was five to Disney World. And don’t get me wrong, Disney World is great, but I wouldn’t really call it travelling. My first real bite of the travel bug came when I was 16 and did a student exchange in France. I was there for three months and was able to see some of Italy and England whilst there. It really got me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to the world.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT’S ONE THING YOU’D DO DIFFERENTLY ON YOUR FIRST SOLO TRIP?
My first truly solo trip was when I moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. I had travelled a bit more before that, but always with my school, on an exchange, a boyfriend or some friends. When I was off to Seoul I knew nobody. But still, since I was going for a job, I knew exactly where I needed to be and when so it wasn’t as scary as completely going it alone. One thing I would still do differently, however, is more research before going. Particularly more phrases in the local language!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU WHILE TRAVELLING SOLO?
The challenges changes based on the trip. Sometimes, it’s money as travelling solo is more expensive than travelling as a couple. Other times, it’s loneliness. Even in a busy hostel if you’re not feelin’ it, you can get a little homesick. And lastly, it’s FOMO. When you get online and see all your friends together back home doing fun things and you wanna join. I mean, I’m off doing fun stuff too, but unfortunately, there’s no way to be able to do everything.
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED WAY TO TRAVEL?
As a couple is probably my favourite way. You always have someone to hang out with, eat meals with, and split costs. Although sometimes travelling as a couple can prevent you from meeting new people as you can get a little wrapped up in one another.
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IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO FIRST TIME TRAVELLERS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
PACK LIGHT! You don’t want to lug too much stuff around, it’ll make your trip more difficult and you can always get something there if you forget a necessity.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT?
My phone. It’s my maps, my connection back up, and my way of looking things up and communicating. Thank you, Google Translate! lol
WHAT STILL SCARES YOU ABOUT TRAVELLING?
Being stuck. If I’m totally lost, by myself and have to rely on someone I don’t know, I start to freak out a little.
Don’t call it a dream! Call it a plan!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T SURE IF TRAVELLING SOLO IS ‘FOR THEM‘?
Take a long weekend vacation to somewhere completely new. Or simply make sure you have a backup plan. Don’t book out an entire year-long backpacking trip if you’re not sure. Just do your initial tickets, and keep going from there. Just make sure you have enough to get home!
WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVOURITE TRAVEL PHOTO? WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND IT?
This is at Muuido Island in South Korea – not too far from Seoul. It was a group trip with my sister (in the photo) and my friend Ania. We were camping in these little huts on the beach. It was an adorable little island that would be a dream for seafood lovers (unfortunately none of us are big on seafood) but was a great time anyways.
To get there we took the subway, a bus, a ferry, and another bus. The last bus was practically a clown car where people just kept getting on and on. The bus driver even drove past some people (so full!) but they threw a fuss and somehow managed to get on anyways. The last leg of that trip wasn’t fun, but campfires on the beach, sparklers, and great people made it amazing.
HAVE YOU MADE ANY SACRIFICES IN ORDER TO TRAVEL?
I’ve definitely sacrificed strengthening friendships that I would’ve liked to be better. I stay in touch the best I can, but when you’re not around you can miss a lot.
HOW HAS TRAVEL CHANGED YOU?
Travel has made me a lot more patient and considerate. I still could be more patient (I’ve never liked things that don’t have schedules – what do you mean buses just come when they feel like it?) but I’ve improved. And I find I’m finding joy in smaller things and not set in a linear lifestyle worried about buying a house and having a “typical” career path.
I’m really not sure! I’ll be in Madrid for the next little while, but I want to explore more of Spain while I’m living here!
You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for Our next inspirational travel story but it’s a good one! We’ll be speaking to Carly. A travel writer and fearless solo traveller who has been to over 40 countries so far! Find out why she borrowed a shepherds vest in Northern Montenegro and what her biggest pet peeve is when it comes to travel!
NEXT, we’ll be releasing our Australia backpackers guide to finding their 88 days farm work! Where we’ll be answering all those important questions that have us backpackers so confused!!