‘The Wild Woman Interviews’ is a series of Q&As with women who do interesting, brave and inspiring things. The name hints at how nature, the outdoors, travel, the natural cycles of life etc. motivate and influence their passions and pursuits.
This month, I’d like to introduce you to Lerato Bambo, the blogger behind Life from a Bag. Lerato is one heck of a well-travelled woman and completely unafraid of hitting the road solo. In this interview, she shares some insights gained from living in different countries around the globe and tips for other women who are curious about travelling alone.
If you had to rewrite all your social media bios to capture who you are right at this very moment, what would they say?
Lover of Coffee and Possessor of Good Ideas
What first sparked your love of travel? Were you always adventurous growing up or is it something that came as you grew older?
The travel bug bit when I was a kid. My mother was a teacher and during school holidays we would travel around the country visiting different cities.
Going abroad has always been my dream, so while I was in college, I was working and saving. The day after I wrote my last University exam, I was on a flight to my first home abroad (Turkey) and I’ve never looked back.
I wasn’t home for graduation and honestly, I have no regrets.
Travel has taught me everything. I travel to learn, understand different perspectives, people and cultures.
In the ‘About’ section on your blog, you mention that you’ve lived and worked in four countries. Which countries are these? And where do you currently reside?
Ireland, USA, Turkey and UK. I’m currently based in Bali.
Can you share a few thoughts on the process of adjusting to new cultures? And also maybe on readjusting to South African culture after spending so much time abroad?
Respect is important. Always research basic cultural mannerisms and etiquette. Be open-minded and always be willing to learn something new and acknowledge when you are wrong.
Download offline google translate app to help you along the way.
You are an advocate for solo travel and an inspiration for many other young South African women in this regard. What is it you enjoy most about travelling on your own? Do you ever get lonely?
I actually enjoy travelling alone. I recently went on a trip with a “friend” and quickly learned I prefer solo travel. I know this might sound selfish but when you travel solo, there are no arguments, no compromises, no worrying about anyone but yourself.
You’re more likely to meet like-minded people,
Even though we all wish it weren’t so, the world can be a scary place for a woman travelling alone. What are your top solo travel safety tips?
- Research! Planning ahead will give you time to research the destination. Read up on the laws, weather, the appropriate dress codes, where locals hang out.
- Register with your government. South Africans can register with ROSA (Registration of South Africans Abroad) a software program developed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) allowing travelers to register on-line. The information travelers register on ROSA allows the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to assist South African citizens in the event of an emergency. The registration is a free, voluntary service provided by Government (through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation). ROSA is only available to South African citizens who are travelling, living or working abroad.
- Keep your passport safe. Know the location of your nearest embassy.
- Take pictures of all your documents (passport, ID, flight details and accommodation confirmation) and save them on a locked site like Google Drive or DropBox that you can access from any computer.
- Get travel insurance
- Have an emergency response or evacuation plan
- Don’t publicize travel plans and details, especially on social media. Avoid posting in real-time or geo-tagging your location
- Give someone who is not travelling with you a copy of your itinerary, in case something goes wrong or they need to get in touch with you
- Don’t flaunt your valuables
For the more bashful women travellers out there, what are a few of the sure-fire ways to make friends while travelling?
Facebook Female Travel Groups:
- Girls Love Travel for meetups and travel advice
- Host a Sister for Couchsurfing (free accommodation) with a female who has a spare room/couch.
Free City Tours: Depending on where you go, some cities (mostly European) have free tours every morning. It’s a great way to get an introduction to the city and meet other travellers.