Lessons from my solo travels

As you may know, I recently went on a solo trip to Europe – it wasn’t my first, as I had completed a semester abroad in the past, but it was definitely the best. I went, on an unplanned, complete whim of a trip to Portugal, Spain and, randomly but beautifully, England!

Now, I’m definitely not the only one who has traveled alone, and there’s a million posts out there giving you tips and trick about traveling. However, as many as there might be, I don’t think there’s any harm adding my ideas to the pile.

Here are my top four tips for solo traveling. 😉

1. Pack as little as humanly necessary. I took two large suitcases, and a backpack. For a 2 week trip. Yes, I completely and totally regretted this as soon as I landed in my first destination. I ended up ditching my large suitcase temporarily in a hostel locker in Faro, Portugal and I learned a big lesson: all I need in a 2-week trip is a BACKPACK, not a suitcase, and enough clothes for ONE week, simple jewellery that goes with everything, 2 good lipsticks, concealer, and mascara. I strongly recommend against a suitcase because many roads/streets are cobblestoned and rough…and you may be far from an airport or train station. It’s just a hassle. Oh, and bring soap and such. That’s about it – the less you carry, the more freedom you have. Less to worry about, easier to get on flights. You can wash things at hostels / laundromats on the way, and trust me, no one is going to care that you’re re-wearing things. Least of all you.

 

2. Gain a balance between planned and spontaneous. It would be a huge understatement to say I was rather unprepared for my venture. All I did was book flights there and back, and book the first hostel. Other than that, my plan was to get there and *then* decide what to do. This worked in some ways – for example, I was able to have the freedom and flexibility to go to Seville, Spain and London, England – both places that I hadn’t planned to go. However, it also paralyzed me a little: I had to make decisions in the moment and I was afraid to make the wrong ones. I wasted time not knowing where to go and what to do because I hadn’t planned it. I would suggest striking a fine balance: know where you’re going to go, and have a general idea of what to do, but don’t feel the need to plan everything to the T. You want to be able to feel flexible to take a random boat ride, or go to a crazy grungey party everyone seems to know about.

Check out this crazy party I went to in Faro, Portugal 😉

Continue reading

“She’s not even THAT pretty…” – A Story of Self-Hate

Image result for self image women

My dear fellow ladies…

I hope you’re doing very well. It’s a Saturday afternoon and I hope you’re spending it rejuvenating yourself, relaxing with friends and family and catching up on your favorite shows.

I also hope you can join me in reflecting on yourselves.

Recently, I was talking to a colleague of mine about a beautiful girl we both know. I said something like: “She’s gorgeous and stylish! I can’t imagine being that put together all the time!”

My colleague’s face turned kind of sour, and she said, “That’s all makeup – she’s totally plain without it, I can tell.”

That one comment totally shattered my opinion of that woman as a confident, self-fulfilled individual. It brought me back to high school days where cattiness was the name of the game.

So many women I know are guilty of saying something like this:

  • She’s not even *that* pretty…
  • It’s just her makeup
  • It’s just her clothes and hair
  • She just edits her pictures
  • She tries too hard

We just have to stop doing this. Like, now. No, seriously. Please stop.

The truth is, when you do this, it’s so obviously rooted in jealousy and envy. Otherwise, why in the world would you say something like this? Especially because it’s about looks, something we largely have exactly zero control over.

There’s another reason for why we just should not be doing this.

When we engage in this behavior, it hurts US more than it hurts THEM. Doing this not only makes us look blatantly jealous, which is not a cute look on anyone…it also makes the standards for women ever-higher… including for us. So now, we can’t just be beautiful and stylish – we have to be just as beautiful WITHOUT makeup, WITHOUT attractive clothing, and stop using flattering instagram filters. Or it doesn’t count?!

This whole thing is ridiculous and completely tiresome. A related note: personally have been criticized for posting too many selfies, apparently, and I spoke to a friend about it. She said something that totally changed my view of selfies and many other things women do.

“Society tells us as women that our image is incredibly, all-consumingly important. Yet, when a woman takes a selfie, something she can use to control her image…she gets criticized.”

I honestly think this applies to so many of the things we do. Whether it’s wearing makeup, spanx, flattering clothing, instagram filters, whatever the case is – it’s a small effort that women take to control our image. So please, other women, stop judging each other about such dumb stuff…

Hope you can understand. I say this because I care about you,
Shveta