As A Person, I Feel That You Grow After Each Trip – Believes Melissa A Solo Female Traveler

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Jovago Pakistan recently interviewed Melissa a young British solo traveler who recently, also contributed to Jovago’s roundup post on the topic of amazing destinations for women traveling alone.

Read her interesting interview here.

Let us start with a formal introduction. Who is Melissa?
Hey! I’m Melissa; A twenty something British solo traveler.

After University, I worked hard to build a career in Procurement but I found I was spending all my time either working, or worrying about work. I hated the traditional office routine and I knew that there was more to life so I walked out of my job, and now I write for a number of travel publications and teach English as a means of travelling the world and learning more about the different cultures within it.

At the moment, I live in Seoul, South Korea.

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How and when you developed interest for traveling?
I have loved travelling for as long as I can remember.

Even from being a Child, I would look forward to our family vacations each year. In 2011, I did a Student Exchange in Santa Barbara, California before travelling across the USA.

After that, it was difficult to settle back into life back in the UK so I would say that that is when the travel bug truly kicked in for me.

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How you plan and manage your finances for traveling?
I try to breakdown the costs of my trip into the major sectors – Flights, Accommodation, etc.

I always try to allow some additional budget as a buffer – you never know when something unforeseen may arise and you end up having to spend a little extra. It is better to have that security blanket, for your own peace of mind also.

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What is that triggers you to travel to an entirely new destination?
I can’t quite describe it.

I don’t so much experience a fear of the unknown as an intrigue as to what I could possibly uncover. It is that allure of the mysterious that draws me to a place.

I prefer destinations that are quirky and less frequently traveled than the well trodden routes. It feels so rewarding to discover the beauty of a place that so many people overlook travelling to.

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While visiting a new destination what two things your love to explore the most?
Learning about the places I travel to and their history and culture is the most interesting part of travel for me so I look for destinations that are rich in these factors.

I love learning about a place’s history first hand by visiting museums and archaeological sites and I love to learn about the culture by spending time with locals and trialling the local delicacies.

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How do you plan your destinations?
As above, I plan my destinations based on their being rich in culture and history.

I make a plan of the main Cities and Sites that I want to go to, and things I want to see, and then I plan the logistics of how to get from A to B, how much I will need, etc.

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Do you have any funny travel stories?
My life seems to be a series of clumsy and awkward events.

In June I was in Thailand, waiting for a train in Bangkok. I was crouched on the floor, rummaging through my bag trying to find my water bottle. I found it, but managed to accidentally tip it all over my shorts, creating a huge puddle on the floor. All the Thais around me thought that I had pee’d myself!

The woman next to me on the platform was shooting daggers at me with her eyes and ushering her children away, and the station cleaner emerged with a mop, jabbing at my feet with it to shoo me out of the way! I tried to gesture at my water bottle and then to the floor but nobody believed me!

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Also, the time I was in Da Nang, Vietnam and a local man was running behind me shouting “panty! Panty!” I assumed he was crazy and started running ahead. It wasn’t until I looked around at my presumed attacker that I noticed my bag was, in fact, wide open and the man was simply coming to give me a handful of my underwear that had fallen out of it.


Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I took a taxi in Hoi An, Vietnam to my hostel, but the guy sped out of Hoi An and started driving through farmland.

I kept asking him to turn back but he refused. After much arguing, he stopped the car and I got out in the middle of a paddy field and ran to the nearest people as fast as I possibly could.

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He kept chasing me and trying to grab me and I was turning around every now and then to whack him away with my selfie stick (great weapon – for future reference!) to this day I don’t know if he was just trying to scam money from me or harm me in a more sinister way but it was pretty harrowing.

How do you manage when interacting with people without speaking their language?
I try and learn a few basics – for example, hello, thank you, excuse me and goodbye.

That way I feel more polite when I am minimg or pointing at what I want.

When I was in Japan I could say “one/two/three please” which came in so handy for ordering food in a place where most people couldn’t speak English.

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Which destination you felt is not actually like you had imagined before?
I didn’t expect to love South Korea as much as I do.

I didn’t really know a lot about it before actually visiting, and I, quite ignorantly assumed it would be “a bit like Japan” and maybe quite eccentric but I fell in love with the country and its culture.

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Any 3 money saving tips you would like to share while traveling?
1 . Accommodation – Websites such as couchsurfing and airbnb are a great way of staying cheaply or for free at a destination, as well as being a fantastic way of meeting locals.

This rings especially true if you are travelling solo and there is no one to share costs with.

So, next time you are booking a trip – consider whether you really need that fancy hotel in Kyoto, or whether you would enjoy renting a spare bedroom from a local family who can show you all the best places to eat and introduce you to the side of the city that the tourists seldom get to see, all the while saving you some cash.

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2. Free Activities You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a memorable trip.

Most cities today have free walking tours that help you discover their charm – try sites like or couchsurfing for free walks, hikes and events.

Be aware of the free alternatives to tourist activities that you can do – For example, when I was in Tokyo I didn’t pay to go up Tokyo Tower, The Shinjuku government buildings are free to visit the top of, and offer equally stunning views – as do many rooftop eateries.

I also opt for walking as much as possible, and taking subways and buses over cabs.

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3 . Street Food –  Somewhat location dependent but absolutely if you are travelling through the Asian continent and South America you will be met with stall upon stall of delicious street foods.

In S E Asia for example, you can get a delicious meal for around $1! Some of the best pho I ever had was from a road side cart down an alley in Ho Chi Minh City.

What do you like the most about traveling?
It’s probably a cliche thing to say, but travelling really restores your faith in humanity and you meet such kind, open-minded people that you don’t so often encounter in the world of 9-5.

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I have connected with people from completely different backgrounds, made friendships in unexpected places and met some of my closest friends through travel.

What do you dislike about traveling?
Although I am constantly meeting new people, I am also constantly saying goodbye.

I have moved around so much now that I will always miss someone, somewhere.

When I was in the UK, I missed the friends I made living in Australia and the U.S. And I longed to be back in Asia. Now I live in South Korea, there are people back in Europe that I would give anything just to sit down and have a coffee with.

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Yes, there is technology but it isn’t quite the same as sitting across from a great friend sharing a mountain of chocolate cake.

Having a relationship had also been near impossible and it has been sad to miss out on getting to know some great people because we were both moving in different directions.

What do you take back from your expeditions?
As a person, I feel that you grow after each trip (ugh, that sounds cheesy I’m sorry).

In a more physical sense, I like to collect quirky and unusual sculptures and furnishings from my travels.

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Currently, these are all in storage at my parent’s house in the UK (Sorry Mum!) but I like the idea that when I do have a more fixed address, I will have a quirky global décor with some great pieces that no-one else has.

Your trips low on the pocket or you like to make it extravagant?
As a girly girl, I’ll admit that I do like to travel in luxury when I can, however to sustain a long term travel lifestyle, I have had to make sacrifices and find a more friendly budget style.

I would never consider myself a true backpacker or an extreme budget traveller – I am too old and vain to stay in hostels (!) however, I save money where I can by doing free activities, staying with locals and eating street food.

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Did you ever thought of traveling to Pakistan?

What was the major reason or factor which made you to think of traveling to Pakistan?
So far, I haven’t researched travelling to Pakistan in detail, but I have a lot of Pakistani friends in the UK who took me to Pakistani restaurants for delicious cuisines and shisha, and showed me photos of the beautiful architecture throughout the country on their trips back to the motherland.

Some day, I am certain I will make the trip.

What is Pakistan’s current perception in International travelers and international travel blogger’s community?
Being British, we don’t really hear a lot about Pakistan travel and tourism in the media so there can be some apprehension about the idea of going there – purely for the fact that it is an unknown.

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I believe that a lot of people like to have a wealth of information and hear first hand accounts of other people that have traveled to a place before setting off there themselves.

Amongst the travel blogging community however? I would say that Pakistan is no different to any other destination – Travelers feel that it has a rich history, culture and cuisine just waiting to be uncovered.

Any message for our readers?
If there is a place that you want to travel to, don’t let anything hold you back from going – whether it is a fear of the unknown, or people with negative stories.

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As a solo female, I have often traveled alone to places that other people have warned me as being ‘unsafe’.

I feel that if you do your research, and exert common sense, there is nowhere that you cannot travel.

With this JovagoPakistan ended the interview.

If you are willing to know more about Melissa and her travel stories, visit

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