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Solo traveler snapshot

Nora on her first solo trip through Europe

Nora on her first solo trip through Europe

Photo credit: Nora Dunn

  • Name: Nora D.
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Originally from Canada
  • Marital status: Single
  • Favorite solo trip: Peru

If there’s one thing you should know about Nora, it’s that she loves adventure and wants to help you do the same. Solo travel since 2007. A solo trip has become a solo travel lifestyle. She pulls back the curtain and gives us some insight into her travels, plus some tips and tricks she’s learned along the way.

Inspiration for solo travelers

Trip Awaits: What inspired you to travel solo?

Nora: I would say a breakup. When I started traveling full-time (back in 2007), it was with my partner at the time. I was ready to go on my own, but we were dating and it seemed weird to just say, “I’m selling everything to travel, so goodbye.” (In retrospect, given how long we’d been dating at the time, it was even weirder for me to say “do you want to come?”, but that’s what I did.)

It was good for me to have someone with me. It gave me the confidence to take a giant leap into the unknown at a time when full-time travel was unheard of and words like digital nomad didn’t exist yet. But we weren’t well matched and in the end it didn’t work out, and frankly, breaking down on the road is an ugly thing. I wrote here about this breakup and what it taught me.

First solo trip

Trip Awaits: What was your first solo trip?

Nora: After the breakup, which happened in Australia, I went out on my own. And it was amazing. I got my nose pierced in Sydney (because that’s what you do when you embrace the freedom of solo travel, right?), then volunteered to get free accommodation in New Zealand for a few months.

Meanwhile, I was racking up a bunch of frequent flyer miles through a special bonus offer that meant I could fly anywhere in the world in business class. I turned the globe in search of the farthest place in the world from New Zealand, and my finger landed on Spain. That turned into a 5 month adventure around Europe.

It was 2010, and it was just the beginning. Since then I have been traveling the world (mostly alone, occasionally with people).

Favorite aspect of solo travel

Trip Awaits: What is your favorite part of solo travel?

Nora: The sense of empowerment I get from not only realizing that I can travel alone and survive, but also that I can do what I want, where I want, and with whom I want. I also love how easy it is to meet people, which can seem counter-intuitive until you experience it. Traveling alone does not mean traveling alone.

Favorite solo trip

Trip Awaits: What is your favorite solo trip so far and why?

Nora: I mentioned Peru as my favorite solo trip. But I should clarify that it’s just one place that stood out to me in a whole solo – or mostly solo – travel lifestyle I’ve been living since that breakup in 2009. So I could say I’m still in my favorite solo. journey Peru stands out because it was a sharp left turn from life as I knew it, when I apprenticed with a shaman for a few years, working with plant medicine. It was a huge leap forward in my personal development and personal growth, and a path I needed to walk alone (solo).

The biggest concern of solo travel

Trip Awaits: What was your biggest worry before your first solo trip and how did you overcome it?

Nora: I think he was more excited than worried. But I’ve always been independent and had enough travel experience by the time I took off to be pretty confident I could handle whatever was thrown at me.

Group or independent travel

Trip Awaits: Do you travel in a group or independently and why?

Nora: Mostly independently. However, I’ve traveled with groups a few times along the way, and it’s always been a blast. I’d like to try one of those coworking coliving programs that have you travel/live/work with a group of like-minded, location-independent lifestyle travelers. I think it might be a blast.

Favorite travel product

Trip Awaits: What’s one product you can’t live without on your travels?

Nora: Besides the obvious answers like laptop and phone, here’s something I can guarantee no one has mentioned in this series: I never go on a trip, long or short, without my extension cord/surge protector. It helps me keep all my devices charged, protected and handy, no matter how misplaced or sparse the outlets are. Watch my video about it here.

I would like to join a group for this trip…

Trip Awaits: Is there a solo location/destination that would be better in a group and why?

Nora: This is very subjective, but I remember early on in my travel lifestyle I met a couple who had just visited India. They began their journey across the country by touring as a group, before branching out and spending time on their own. They recommended anyone visiting India to do the same. A decade later, when I landed in India, I heeded his advice and I’m glad I did. India is one of those places that can be challenging regardless of your level of travel experience. Learning the ropes in a group can reduce the initial feeling of overwhelm.

My own experience in India ran the gamut from riding the world’s most luxurious train to having a breakdown with butter in your eyes and everything in between. It resulted in one of my favorite pieces of travel writing, if you have the stomach for it.

Best advice for solo travelers

Trip Awaits: What advice would you give to someone considering solo travel?

Nora: Here’s a common place to start: Breathe through the discomfort. It won’t last. Once you get out, you’ll love it.

And now for some more practical advice: diversify your stuff. Have a backup credit card and some cash stashed away separately from the bag containing your wallet. Back up your phone and passwords in multiple places. Back up your laptop/tablet to the cloud and to a hard drive, and never keep all your tech in the same bag. Use a password manager and share your master password with someone back home. Always carry a photocopy of your passport with you, with your travel insurance company number/policy number/phone number written on it.

If you can’t tell, this kind of stuff, and more, is my jam. I help people design their lifestyle and organize their affairs so they can travel long term while working remotely. Travel security, cards, banking, mail, finding accommodation and figuring out how to make it all work for you… that’s my mission. Here’s a free checklist of 10 things to do before long-term travel to get you started.

For more solo traveler journals like this one, check out these articles:

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