Mandy Rowe is the vivacious Australian founder of ‘Broads Abroad Travel Network’ (BATN), a membership based social network for intrepid women from every corner of the world.
Australian psychologist, mother and former expat wife, Mandy’s wanderlust has taken her all over the globe and is documented in her newly released autobiography, A Broad Abroad: One Woman’s Journey. She recently took some time out to give us her Top Five Tips for Solo Travel.
1. Sometimes arriving at a new destination can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re jet-lagged and tired. Remember things seem better after a good nights sleep. Don’t push yourself on the first day. Grab a map, put on your walking shoes and explore. Doing an organised tour is a good way to get your bearings.
2. At some point, you’ll need to tackle the transport system and for many world cities that means using the subway. For some, this can be quite daunting. Before leaving home, download a subway map and familiarise yourself with the city. I always like a paper transport map and grab one the minute I arrive at my destination. I spend a few hours highlighting the places I want to visit. Remember paper maps are a good backstop, and sometimes necessary, because once underground, phone reception can be sporadic which means the app won’t work.
3. When going out for dinner or a drink, if given the option of sitting at a table (on your own) or at the bar, sit at the bar! More often than not, a conversation starts between you and the person next to you. Or you and the bartender. On a recent trip to New York, I had dinner at a crowded Italian restaurant (the last seat in the house was at the bar) and got chatting to the person next to me. They worked for Google and before they left, invited me to Google headquarters for breakfast the following day. My Google pass takes pride of place in my post-trip scrap book.
4. Stay with a local. The most enriching travel experiences I’ve had have involved connecting with others. No matter how spectacular the scenery around me might be, feeling part of a family and being accepted is always the part of the trip that resonates with me the most. I try and stay with members of Broads Abroad Travel Network. I recently went to Vancouver and was collected at the airport at 4:00pm by Anne, a member of the network. She took me out to a popular water-front café before we strolled around Queen Elizabeth Park. That evening, we attended her friend’s birthday party. Three hours after landing in a new city (I’d never been to before) I was chatting to a group of friendly locals, enjoying a delicious dinner and listening to some live music. Hospitality exchange networks are becoming a viable way of travelling. Not so much because they offer free accommodation but because they offer a more authentic travel experience.
5. After four or five days travelling solo, I yearn a home-cooked meal and some friendly conversation. A website called EatWith lets me connect with a local. EatWith is about people around the world opening up their homes and hosting meals. In fact, I’ve just booked brunch with a Jewish couple in New York for my August trip.
For further information on Mandy Rowe or BATN, visit: www.broadsabroad.net
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