Announcing that you’re travelling solo as a woman can often provoke looks of worry from friends and family - most people think that you’re either out of your mind or a tragedy waiting to happen.
Either way, travelling solo has its advantages in being able to be completely free in your movements and social interactions without having to worry about somebody else.
However there are some unsavory realities to be expected as well, Dear Tourist found out when we sat down with Elesha Maulio of New Zealand and Jana Herianova from Czech Republic.
The two only met three days ago and have become friends, bonded over the solo-travel-life and decided to adventure together while in transit.
“It’s like 40 hours in the plane just to come to Samoa,” said Jana.
“It’s very far away. I was going for a wedding in Australia and because I was living in New Zealand for two years I thought I would go over to New Zealand and say hi to all my friends.”
“But I was done with all my travelling there and I thought I want to go see other Pacific islands. I went to Tonga before and it’s nice to compare Tonga and Samoa. I do like both.”
“But Samoa is more like touristic business and catch as much money from tourists.”
Jana spoke openly about a negative experience she had with some unwanted male attention while travelling in Samoa. She shared her thoughts on how she found attitudes of some men towards her, as a single European woman travelling alone.
“Yesterday I tried to wear two fancy rings to make it look like I’m married but then I was like - no, I can deal with it without rings.”
“That’s it, I’m alone and I’m enjoying my life and I don’t care if your business is different. I can be a girl and I can be travelling. We are living in 21st century we are not living 500 years ago.
And its ok, I understand you have these cultural things and you have to do it a certain way because that’s normal for you and I don’t mind. If I want to visit you at your church and you tell me I have to be covered, I will come covered. But if I am from a different country and I decide to travel alone – that’s my business. It’s not someone else business.”
Elesha on the other hand is half Samoan and she has been in Samoa for four weeks now, taking time out for relaxation and fun and visiting with relatives in between. Even though she has a different experience, she empathized with Jana.
“Yeah I travel alone and I guess it’s weird for my family here to see me do that like if I want to walk somewhere, they will insist I wait for the car or go with someone,” she said.
“But it’s not unusual for me – I’ve been in more dangerous countries. I know there’s crime anywhere in the world. But it’s more likely that you can die in your own house,” she laughs.
“I have taken a leaf out of my cousin’s book and I’m not actually travelling alone so much but it’s just about using commonsense. Like I’m not going to climb a mountain by myself, with commonsense you can’t really go wrong. The worst thing that’s happened to me so far was a fish bite.”
In a cautionary tale of survival, Elesha described her brush with the man eating triggerfish.
“I think it was a trigger fish, they are known to bite. They are fairly big,” she said.
“I was just snorkeling and I went up to where they were and it just bit me and then kept trying to attack me. So I got freaked out and went back to shore and told the others to be careful of the fish that bite.”
“This was at Palolo deep it is beautiful there, it is absolutely beautiful over there but I think most fish don’t bite you but it’s just that one in particular. I went online to read up about them and it did say that they do bite.”
Despite some low level harassments and discovering that some fish do indeed bite, the ladies have been having a fabulous time and getting as much out of their holiday as possible before returning to their homes across the waters.
“It’s been amazing, very, very relaxing and peaceful,” said Elesha. “It’s been really nice to embrace the culture and learn a bit more. I try to come here often and I basically came here to have a break from western world. Just slow down and just to be more grateful for what I have.”
Jana agreed and told Dear Tourist that the laid back life style was something that resonated with her and like most experienced solo female travellers found out that where you go, you will always find that other women will help and protect you.
“I really like your island, I think it’s a really cool place to be,” she said.
“I enjoy the chill out stuff, no rushing, no clock, just enjoying the time, I love it, it’s just an absolutely amazing place to be and great place to come for a holiday.”
“I also think the Samoan women are amazing here, I am not a lesbian but I they are absolutely fantastic because they have been so friendly, so nice and helpful to me since I have been here, it’s nice to feel safe.”