Certified Solo Series With Sam: Interview With the Free-Spirit Carmen Smith
Introducing 'Certified Solo with Sam' a new series of interviews with women from all walks of life, who dare to travel alone.
It's important we keep inspiring one another to be chasing our travel dreams! This is our second interview in a series from fierce, lady travelers who have been amazing enough to share their advice and lovely stories with me. We want to express that taking the trip you've always wanted is possible. I've interviewed women from all walks of life who made travel a priority and never looked back. Our second one is with my adored friend who I actually met traveling, Carmen Smith.
Carmen is the front desk manager for a successful salon in the lovely city of Vancouver. She's grown up here, and takes great pride in her city. She will gladly let fellow travelers she's met along her journeys crash with her, or if a friend of a friend lets her know someone is coming through town - she loves showing people around her hometown! Carmen and I had the pleasure of crossing paths one fateful afternoon in Prague when we ended up in the same room. Now her and I make sure to continue our travels together during different times in the year.
Sam Hancock: What was your travel experience before "daring to go solo?"
CS: I've been to China with my mom when I was 13, but I'm also a dancer so dancing has taken me into the U.S. I was in Boston and NYC for different tournaments when I was in high school.
SH: What made you decide you had/needed to travel alone and why?
CS: I tried and tried to get friends to go and no one ever followed through. I wasn't super stoked on going alone, but I knew at one point that it was my only option. My life made it happen, I was just along for the ride. I saved and did some planning but it all happened organically.
SH: How long did you travel for and where did you go? How did you decide on that/those destination(s)?
CS: I did four months across Europe solo. A lot of it ended up coming together because of people I met, only my stay in the Netherlands was planned - my family comes from there so I stayed with them. I just kind of went where was near by at first, but then you meet people who give you recommendations of where you should go next or join along their travels. It's all so amazing!
SH: How did you plan?
CS: I started saving when I was like 19, and I officially left on my journey at 22. So I knew for some time I was going to go.
SH: How much did it cost you?
CS: It cost me $10,000 and I went without a credit card! So I saved all of that money on my own.
SH: How was the support around your trip from friends, family, or colleagues?
CS: I had amazing support, and still do each and every time I travel. My job let me leave and had the position waiting for me once I returned, I even got a promotion while I was on my first trip abroad! But you also meet so many new friends who also start encouraging your travels.
SH: Do you speak any other languages?
CS: Not really, honestly. My stay in The Netherlands with my family two years ago helped me to learn a little bit of Dutch, but prior to that not really.
SH: What issues did you run into as a solo female traveler?
CS: Honestly, there have been sketchy moments while traveling, but those things can happen anywhere. I learned quickly it's best to travel in packs, especially at night. Have a buddy system, you'll meet people along the way even when you're solo. One of my friend's phones got stolen once too, so keep your stuff securely on you. Be aware of your surroundings.
SH: What empowered you as a solo female traveler?
CS: All of it. It's always so rewarding finding your way to places on your own.
Some days you wake up and don't have anything booked for that night and there’s nothing available there so you have to move on to the next city to find sleeping arrangements. Things like that make the adventure take you down twists and turns. I've climbed an alp, that defiantly empowered me! I stood bear breasted at the top of it with some awesome chicks I met who climbed it with me, it's moments like those...
SH: What was your favorite part about traveling solo?
CS: I love when you find your spirit city when traveling solo. Mine is Budapest!!!! I ended up working at a hostel for two weeks, I met great mates in doing so. I made it to Sziget Music Festival which literally changed my life, now it's an annual thing. Each year I try to convince more people to join me in the shenanigans.
SH: How has your life changed since traveling?
CS: You always get home super inspired afterwards, you retain the not giving a fuck attitude. I find that I'm a lot more social now than I used to be. I always want to be out spending time with friends! I'm so excited to plan my next adventure! Moving abroad is on the horizon...
SH: Do you plan to travel alone again?
CS: Of course, with a doubt.
SH: Any advice for the solo female traveler?
CS: Do it, just do it.
SH: What advice would you give to your old self before you travelled solo?
CS: I actually wouldn't give my old self advice. Oblivion is bliss, you have to learn what you needed to as things were when you left. I wouldn't change a damn thing.
SH: What advice do you have now that you've travelled solo?
CS: Stop caring what anyone thinks about you. Let go of judgements towards others as well.
SH: In one word, what would be biggest character trait you gained from solo travel?
SH: What are your favorite travel websites, bloggers or magazines?
CS: My friend Jackie who used to be a tour guide for Contiki, super bad ass chick who I actually knew in high school. Her Instagram is Jacksincanada. I follow tons of people on Instagram, anyone who travels really.
SH: What are you favorite travel products, accessories and/or wardrobe?
CS: My Dueter backpack, I love it. I always bring a pair of flip flops.
SH: How do you use technology when you travel?
CS: I just hook up to wifi wherever I can, most places I've been have it. I like to keep people updated via social media.
SH: Any must-have apps when you travel?
CS: My go to apps are Instagram, Snapchat, and Whatsapp to keep in touch with my family. Hostelworld. ♦
Thank you, Carmen! Be sure to keep with her on social media.
Instagram: // @carmindeee
If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of our interview series please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org