You just wrote a novel called Girls Who Travel. Can you give us a little summary?
Girls Who Travel is all about a free-spirited serial backpacker named Kika, who is a bit lost—but she’s lost in the right direction.
Ever since she returned from her last trip, she’s been stuck in corporate America and steeped in misery, so when she’s offered a nannying job in London, she’s thrilled at the prospect. But as Kika’s about to discover, exhilarating adventures can happen when you stay in one place . . .
Most books about travel are nonfiction, either memoirs or travelogues. The fact that Girls Who Travel is a fictional rom com makes it unique. Is any of the story influenced by your own life?
As someone who’s obsessed with travel, using the subject as a backdrop to a novel came natural to me. I chose to write about destinations that I knew well—like the UK, India, and Italy—because I wanted to give the readers a real sense of place. I want you to feel like you’re going on your journey when you read it!
A lot of Girls Who Travel takes place in London. What made you choose that city?
There will always be a place in my heart for London. I studied abroad in South Kensington and fell stupidly in love with that charming, old-fashioned, elegant neighborhood. Setting my book there is a way of paying homage to it.
Why did you choose to write about a solo female traveler?
In a nutshell, I wanted to give credit to all the badass bitches out there who tackle the world on their own! Traveling alone is hard work, but it’s so absolutely amazing—and any girl who has done it, knows it.
Let’s talk about little about you as a solo female traveler. Tell us, how do you decide what type of apparel to pack for each destination? Do you research apparel standards before packing?
Before I start packing, I try and find another woman who has been to that country recently, and then I ask her lots of questions. Between all the amazing travel blogs out there, these kinds of questions can be easily answered. As a general rule, if I’m unsure about what to pack, I veer on the side of caution; I skip anything that shows too much skin, and I also try to avoid dressing too touristy. It’s important for travelers to be respectable of local culture, and you never want to stick out.
How do you decide if a destination is safe for solo travel as a woman?
The whole world can be unsafe for a woman alone—but that’s not something I chose to dwell on. Instead, once again, I talk to other women. There are tons of travel-based Facebook groups just filled with women who will be happy to answer all your questions and fill you with confidence and knowledge before you leave for any trip!
Do you carry pepper spray?
I personally don’t, but I don’t have anything against it—whatever will make you feel safer. Just make sure that it’s legal to bring in your luggage and carry on your person, as rules vary from country to country.
What are your top tips on staying safe in urban areas at night?
There is a very simple test I do when I’m out alone—day or night. I ask myself, “Do you see any other women around?” If I don’t, I usually leave the area. If I do, they I automatically relax a little.
Does it get lonely to travel solo?
Like I said, traveling alone is hard work! And yes, it can get lonely. But every time I have felt homesick or alone, it was fleeting. If I could just hang in there and wait it out, the emotion would pass. In my experience, the indescribable moments of joy, wonder, excitement, and adventure greatly surpass the short-lived, transitory moments of loneliness.