Hello my beautiful people! Travel junkies I have another treat for you, this month’s interviews with inspired people featuring Lucy. Lucy is and adventure solo blogger from Absolutely Lucy. I have followed her for a couple of years and was left in awe at some of her trips. If you’ve ever wondered if you a single woman over 30 could travel solo. Let her inspire you to take that plunge.
Interviews with Inspired People featuring Lucy
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m an adventure travel blogger from the UK who left on a one-year backpacking trip and never looked back. Six years on and I’ve travelled solo to nearly 40 countries. I left behind a nine-year relationship and a career as a journalist to pursue a life outside the ordinary. I’m not about that glam insta-worthy travel – I skip the filters and share the real, raw backpacking experience. My blog is all about heartfelt storytelling mixed with inspiring advice for how you can make this your reality too. I’ve gone from an office job to life as a digital nomad working in both journalism and digital marketing. I was actually in South America when the pandemic hit and was forced to return home. But I haven’t let that stand in my way and instead have invested in a camper van.
What made you decide to get into journalism?
I was actually studying English Language and Communication with Literature and had planned to qualify as a teacher when I finished my degree. I picked up a crappy summer job in a milkshake shop the summer before my final year. Then I realised I couldn’t let my entire summer be about milkshakes. So, I wrote to the local newspaper and asked if I could join them for work experience. I was the first person they had allowed to do this for over 10 years! I spent a week with them and completely fell in love with journalism. Thrown in at the deep end I got to try everything immediately. Interviewing, writing, photography and so much more! My first week I ended up with a front page and they asked me to start writing a weekly column once I was back at university.
I spent my final year writing for the newspaper. I also became a staff writer for an online magazine about music festivals. It was a career I hadn’t considered before, but it excited me. I loved the thought of being paid to write about the things I loved.
What do you enjoy about writing?
I’ve always been inspired by peoples’ stories. As a kid, I was never without a book in my hand. From the moment I could speak and write, I was creating stories of my own. It all comes down to connection – it’s the reason I love to travel so much. I just love to meet people and hear their stories. I’ve always had this incredible effect on people. I could sit down at any table with complete strangers and within minutes I could have them spilling their life story to me. It’s what attracted me to journalism and what inspired me to start blogging. It’s the same reason I meet so many amazing locals and get invited into their homes to meet their families.
I love that no matter where my family, friends and followers are, no matter how many thousands of miles apart we might be, that for a moment they can read my words and feel as though they are right there with me. Throughout the very best and worst of times, writing has been my therapy, my memory box, and my hope for the future.
I discovered you through your Instagram and was inspired by your sense of freedom when it comes to travel. How did you get into travel and a semi-nomad lifestyle?
Around six years ago, I was going through an awful time. My nine-year relationship was breaking up and I was under huge amounts of pressure at work. I was no longer happy and it felt like everything was falling apart, including me. This made me realise it would never get any better unless I made some serious changes. I decided it was time to leave this life behind me and to do something for myself for once. I had wanted to go travelling for years but after university I walked into a great job during the recession and it wasn’t an opportunity I could turn down. Now, several years on, I was ready for a clean break and finally have the trip I had always wanted.
I didn’t plan to keep travelling….
It wasn’t the plan to keep travelling, so I planned a one-year backpacking trip. However, the second the plane landed, I knew I wouldn’t go home at the end of that year. I managed to extend my trip with working holiday visas and ended up travelling South-East Asia. Then living in Australia for two years, backpacking Europe and then I moved to Germany for a year. After taking a break, I was back to travelling Central and South America when the pandemic hit and cut my trip short. I don’t think it was ever a decision I made; to be semi-nomadic. It just made me happier than anything else ever has. Although I love the UK and coming back to my family and friends. I’ve never felt entirely settled here so it feels natural to spend so much time on the road.
Where was your first solo trip and what did you learn about yourself?
My first destination was Thailand and I’m so happy it was. Even now it’s still one of my favourite countries in the world and I’ve been back several times since. I spent five months backpacking South-East Asia solo and had the time of my life. I learnt so much about myself and it started me on one of the biggest journeys of my life. To discover who I really was away from “society’s expectations”. But also to learn who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to live my life. I knew I was never going to be someone who settled down in the small town I grew up in. Or work the same job my whole life.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. I had it all offered to me on a plate and I was miserable. Travelling solo showed me a life outside the ordinary. It opened my eyes up to the myriad of ways people choose to live their lives. It was inspiring and made me realise it’s my life, and I get to write the rules. I also learned quite how independent I am, and how much I truly love my own company. Before travelling solo, I never had any time to myself because I was always surrounded by family, friends, a boyfriend. Travelling showed me how truly content I am just to sit and be in my own company.
Travel has obviously changed, what are your thoughts and how do you plan to navigate the changes?
There’s been a huge shift in travel over the last year and it was quite scary to watch. As a budget backpacker, it was worrying to think of the future of hostels, shared accommodations, busy bars and cities. The road trips with strangers and all the amazing experiences I treasured from my trips over the years. But now as time has gone on, I feel less worried about the future of travel and more hopeful. While right now things will be different for a while and I worry for the locals in countries whose livelihoods depended on travel. I feel confident travel will come back in time.
In the meantime, we are “stuck” in the UK and I have no plans to leave the country anytime soon. Instead of seeing it as a hardship, I choose to look at it as an opportunity. I’ve spent more time in the UK and with my closest friends and family in the last year than in the last six years combined. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m grateful for those moments.
As I mentioned, I bought a camper van during lockdown! It was my biggest commitment to life in the UK in over six years! It has really given me hope over the last few months. I see the next year as a great opportunity for me to explore more of the UK. Spending so much time abroad means I’ve got so much more to see over here. I plan to take some time off this summer to explore Cornwall, Devon, Wales and Scotland with friends and to actually just live. As much as I love blogging and sharing my experiences – and I plan to – I’m excited for life off camera and to just “be”.
So much of the last year has been stressful and worrying. I can’t wait for the spontaneity and freedom of the road. My thinking is that having a camper van – although an initial investment – is a great way to travel on a budget. You don’t have to rely on outside accommodation and can easily isolate if needed. It gives you freedom and flexibility in a way that no other travel will allow right now.
What are your tips for women who want to solo travel but are scared to?
First I want you ladies to think about what is really scaring you about travel. If the last year has shown women anything – particularly in the UK – it’s that women are not safe anywhere. Not even walking home from work at night as we saw in the case of Sarah Everard. As a woman who has travelled solo for over six years in countries considered “dangerous” for our gender. I can tell you that I have experienced more dangerous situations when walking alone at night in the UK. I get more hassle from men on public transport in the UK than I did when walking alone in Mexico, Guatemala, Vietnam, Thailand or even Colombia.
We’ve spent our lives being told by society that we need a man to support us, protect us, help us achieve anything. Well, I am living proof that this is a lie and women can achieve anything they set their minds to. Solo female travel is the best way to stick your middle finger up at society and the patriarchy.
Lucy’s Travel Advice
Travelling solo can be hugely intimidating at first – but please don’t forget there’s nothing different about us. I’m not braver or stronger than you! I was terrified when I first started but, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other until it becomes second nature. Fake it until you make it. My best advice for combating fear over solo travel? Research is everything! Preparation is key and can transform your experience. Know where you are going, where you are staying and how much it should cost.
Be calm, don’t let anyone rush you and be confident, even if you don’t feel it inside. Don’t be afraid to say no or leave any situation if you feel uncomfortable. Never listen to advice or opinions of anyone who has never travelled to the country. Don’t listen to the media. Instead research using blogs instead for a real-life account of what travel there is really like. Loads more tips in my eBook – The Solo Female Travel Handbook .
Throughout all your travels which country/city/place has the best food and alcohol?
For me, nowhere will ever compare to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Italy and Mexico – sorry I couldn’t choose just one! Thai food transformed my diet. It’s actually where I made the decision to go vegetarian and then started eating a predominantly plant-based diet. I love the spice and how fresh and vibrant the fruits and veggies are, and I’m a big fan of a Sangsom rum. I also love how cheap it is – Thailand makes being healthy so accessible.
Sri Lankan food was just incredible and so good for vegetarians, also two words – coconut rum! I loved the hospitality of the local people. My own family are Mauritian with Indian heritage so it felt just like home. Italian food will always be one of my absolute favourites. If black truffle tagliatelle isn’t my last meal, I’m coming back to haunt everyone! Plus I love Italian wine and a cheeky Aperol Spritz. Mexico was amazing – I always loved Mexican food but the street food just blew me away. It’s been nearly 18 months since I was over there and I still crave tacos daily.
You were travelling through South America when covid-19 hit and you spent over 40+ hours getting back into the UK. What did that experience teach you about yourself?
Ha! Yes that was one hell of a journey and one I never want to repeat. I’ve never been so stressed in my life! It really reminded me that no matter what happens, I can handle any situation that is thrown at me. No-one ever expected a pandemic, no-one planned for it, even the governments had no idea what to do. The world was in chaos and borders were closing, flights were being grounded and everyone was panicking. Don’t get me wrong, I was freaking out too, but I took a deep breath and made a mental list of my options.
I weighed them up and did the research. I booked the flights, organised the visas and figured it all out on my own, in a country where I don’t speak the language where I was entirely alone. It was the most stressful journey I’ve ever had in six years of travel. But it showed me that even when the world is ending, I’ve got my back and I can handle it.
What’s one country you could return to many times over?
Thailand – and I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to make that happen. I’ve visited Thailand at least three or four times over the years and I can’t wait to go back post-pandemic. Each time I visit, it’s a completely different trip and it always brings me so much joy to go back there. It was such a country of growth and self-discovery for me, but also so many happy memories. Another country I only just discovered on my most recent pre-pandemic trip was Guatemala. I completely fell in love with it and could so happily live there, I can’t wait to go back and explore more of this amazing country, and to see all my friends I met while I was there.
If you had an unlimited amount of money and a month to travel, where would you go and what would you do there?
Oooh that’s an easy one – New Zealand. I was supposed to be there right now on a working holiday visa but then the pandemic happened and cut my trip short. Sadly I’m now too old to use that visa but I know I will still go there one day. I know it’s expensive to travel there and I would want to do ALL the activities. I’d want to hire a van or motor-home and explore as much of the islands as possible in a month. I would want to hike, climb glaciers, take helicopter rides, visit the glow worm caves, skydive, go for wine tastings, music festivals, whale watching and so much more.
Now that you’ve met Lucy, don’t you feel a bit more inspired to try solo travel when it’s safe to do so? Don’t allow fear to keep your paralysed from doing what you want to do. Thanks for reading my latest Interviews with Inspired People featuring Lucy. If you’re looking for more inspired people in travel, check out Denise here.
As always, thank you for reading and until next time, be well! x