Her name is Eliza Massey. She’s 57 years old and she’s riding her motorcycle around a good chunk of the world over a period of 18 months…all on her own. I met Eliza while in Palolem, Goa, in the south of India, just a couple of weeks ago. Her mighty BMW G650, complete with a “USA” sticker on the side and a license plate from the state of “Maine”, had caught my attention when I first saw it and after trying to locate the owner for a couple of days, I finally tracked her down.
And it turns out Eliza was nice enough to sit and chat with me for a couple of hours on the balcony of my beach hut one evening. We just sat there talking travel, about our lives, about what it’s like to be a solo female traveler in much for the world (which I knew little about of course), and the more I heard her speak, the more I wanted to share her story right here.
So, for those of you afraid to travel on your own, for those of you who think that it’s impossible for a solo female traveler to truly get out there and explore the world, for those of you who think that there’s no time left for you to achieve your travel goals, this is one post you might want to read.
Who Is Eliza Massey?
Eliza smiles often. She loves people and she’s clearly intent on enjoying her life to the fullest. She also loves the fact that while she’s traveling the world, her daughter is backpacking around Australia at the same time.
From what I could tell there are only two things she doesn’t like about travel. The first is the reduction in genuine human interaction these days due to our obsession with technology, with travelers always on their phones and tablets when they could be looking up and enjoying a new experience. The second, which I’ll talk about more in a moment, is when travelers complain about, instead of appreciate, their travel experiences.
Eliza began her journey some 14 months ago in the town of Camden, Maine and has so far driven her BMW motorcycle throughout the US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama….then crossing into South America via the San Blas Islands before continuing on through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina….and then…..she shipped her bike across the Atlantic and rode through South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania….at which point she shipped her bike to Mumbai…and started riding south. She hit Goa, threw her stuff down and planned to relax for a couple of weeks before riding around India for four months, at the end of which she will finally return to the USA.
As I listened to her tales, which included biking through tribal battles in Kenya, meeting mayors and dignitaries, invitations to camel races, being interviewed on South African television, random radio appearances, riding along empty roads lined with government snipers in the drug-cartel controlled north of Mexico, getting lost over and over again in Central America, meeting incredible people who helped her out when she needed assistance in the middle of Malawi and on and on, and all of which she told with that trademark smile on her face, I couldn’t help but find myself even more inspired than usual.
“You’re never tool old to do a trip by yourself,” she told me. “You just need to get up and make it happen. One day I just woke up and realized, ‘Sh*t, I can go’ and so I did.” Hell yeah she did.
Travel Is All About The People
The reason Eliza travels is quite simple. It’s all about the people for her. Sure, there are certain destinations and sights that she would like to see but at the end of the day, she just rides along the roads of the world with the sole goal of interacting with new and interesting people as much as she possibly can.
She believes in a “we are all one” philosophy (which she talks about on the ‘About Me’ page of her blog) where travelers should celebrate the human spirit by going out into the world and meeting its people in order to bring back those experiences and share the positive lessons learned with those at home. And every time Eliza travels overseas, she comes home with another bundle of such positive lessons to share, with even more love for her fellow human beings and with an even stronger belief that despite our differences, people all around the world are the same.
And if you’re ever in her presence, you’ll instantly notice that she puts her words into action every moment of the day in the way that she treats the people she comes across. “The way we treat our fellow human beings is extremely important,” she said at one point and she’s not joking. She is always polite, interested, understanding and so culturally aware no matter who she is speaking with that it’s no surprise everyone around her tends to be smiling as well.
In fact, she takes her cultural awareness quite seriously, which leads to her feeling of frustration when other travelers start complaining about certain things. Her typical reaction when she overhears complaining is…
“What are you complaining about? Who cares if your hummus in India doesn’t taste 100% authentic or that there is no electricity for an hour or the wifi isn’t as strong as you want? Have respect for locals…you’re in a different part of the world, surrounded by a different way of life, a different culture…so don’t complain, understand how your fellow human beings, those who are living in the places you are visiting, live their lives. Don’t complain just because it’s not what you expected or you are unable to live the same as you do back at home. Just love and respect others instead, appreciate and experience and share in their culture.”
As for Eliza, she never gets upset, simply because “there is never a reason to. If I get lost, why get mad? If my bike breaks down? There’s no point in getting angry. I look at every situation I face as an opportunity to meet new people and to have new, educational experiences. As a result, nothing is ever worth getting upset over.”
Safety Advice For The Solo Female Traveler
Eliza tells me that she’s definitely “pro-solo female travel”, something she feels is “very safe on the whole, but you can’t get drunk and walk around late at night.” Like many solo female travelers, she believes that common sense goes a long way, and without it, you’ll be in trouble. She also believes that you need to act responsibly when in new surroundings and that females on their own do need to be a little more cautious before trusting people they meet.
Of course, given her vast travel experiences, and given the destinations she has visited and the fact that she always travels solo, I knew that Eliza would have much more to say about safety, so I asked her to share some more of her own advice. And this is what she shared…
- Safety is about how you present yourself to other people. If you walk into a restaurant alone, don’t just walk straight in blindly or else you’ll look lost if it’s not what you expected. Scan the situation before going inside, make sure you feel confident before walking through the door.
- Ask yourself questions while moving around each day. Is the street dark? Are there other people around? Do I know what’s on the other side of the park? Are there potential trouble spots ahead? Taking one minute to think things through is always a wise decision.
- Don’t rush while traveling. Walk slowly, have patience and relax. Every now and then stop and turn around, look all around you, make sure you know where you are, where you’re going and make sure nobody seems to be following you.
- Pay attention to your intuition. If someone you see or talk to seems a little ‘off’, or a particular place doesn’t seem right, just change course. Always listen to your intuition because it’s usually right. Either way, it’s still better to be wrong but safe than to be right but in a bad situation.
- You can’t be shy or worry about hurting other people’s feelings – again, if you feel that something might be wrong or you just aren’t comfortable, you need to get out of the situation without worrying about how the other person might feel. Stay polite, don’t get angry, just be firm and get away.
- When communicating with strangers, always make eye contact and display confidence, giving sure answers when asked questions. You want a person you meet to immediately understand that you are a confident individual who cannot be taken advantage of.
Clearly, Eliza feels that being aware of your surroundings at all times is the key to safe travels and I absolutely agree. Bad situations often happen when we temporarily forget about common sense and we rush into some situation without taking a moment to observe where we are or what we are getting ourselves into.
Of course, Eliza also understands that at her age, she often earns automatic respect in many countries, respect as a mother, as an older woman, and that she might not have to deal with all of the same challenges that younger female travelers might face. However, her advice should not be ignored. It’s all based on real experiences, the kind of extensive and diverse travel experiences that most of us can’t even imagine.
And the fact that when I met her, some 13 months into her trip, she was still loving every single minute of her adventure, just shows that she knows what she’s talking about. I for one would listen to anyone who can hop on her motorcycle alone and roll through regions of the world that even the most intrepid travelers wouldn’t dare visit and who can come out the other end with nothing but a smile on her face and tales of wonderful experiences to share.
As our conversation came to an end that evening in Palolem, Eliza stared out at the Indian Ocean before us and, with a slight, yet serious, nod of her head stated, “women should travel more and not listen to the negative stories out there…the overwhelming majority of females have absolutely positive experiences…don’t listen to the negativity because the reality doesn’t match all that bad stuff…just get out there.”
She then stood up, took one last swig of her Kingfisher beer and, before parting ways, decided to share one final thought with me. “But no matter what,” she said, “you do have to love people to make your travels a success.”
And I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.
Any solo female travelers have your own safety advice to share? Any thoughts on Eliza’s story, travel style or tips?
I’m shocked… when I saw your photograph ….I thought it was Me ! AND… my great grandmother was called Eliza Massey….( before she was married to a Wainwright in Worcestershire u.k)…My hair is sunbleached strawberry blonde… and I love to wander !
I really did think the pic was me….lots o love Allie x
I just discovered this post and I’m incredibly inspired, as I am getting close to that age and believed those opportunities were behind me. I wish Eliza had a blog or other info I could follow and read more about. I guess that contradicts most of this story, though! Thank you for this and thank you Eliza, wherever you are now.
I believe Eliza must be my spirit mother, it must me something in that Maine water. I’m a Mainer and have an BMW 650 as well and went solo Maine to Alaska to Oregon last summer. I camped the entire time and never touched an interstate, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Everyone, strangers and loved ones alike would say, “Sarah you can’t, you’re a solo female, you can’t, that’s so dangerous.” Watch me. 🙂 You’re an inspiration Eliza, ride on girlfriend.
I met Eliza Massey while She was in Kenya ,she is loving,friendly,supportive. Our family received her,showed her around,infact I live in a remote village where families are not blessed so much but Eliza Massey promised to start a home for street children and orphans in the remote area,
great post! Also, when around places that you are not sure about, always have a working mobile on hand and the emergency number on speed-dial.
And do not take pictures all the time, it triples the attention! draw the capture in your mind instead.
I love all the good advices I got from Eliza. I’m on my second solo trip, and as a 22 year old it can be hard once in a while. But, as Eliza said, it’s all about common sense. I meet females that don’t dare to travel all by themselves. Not because of the solitude, but because of the safety risks. And then blogposts like this is needed – just to show them how it is both possible and fun. Keep up the good work! /V
Great post! Like Eliza, I’ve done some solo travel, most extensively in Africa and Europe. I’ve actually just posted on my blog about this and I completely agree that feeling and acting confident is really important. If you aren’t feeling or at least acting confident and relaxed (but also alert), you might want to regroup and figure out what about the situation is making you panic and how logically to get yourself back to a comfortable state. But I’ve had so many great experiences as a solo traveler, and I think everyone should give it a try! People are great, travel is great. Go have adventures!
Woah, Thanks a lot dear Earl for introducing us to Eliza…
Her story was so inspiring for me, for I now know that Its never too late to go on my long-term journey dream and I have more belief that I can do it!! Its my dream to wander around the world, not only for the love of exploring other countries but also for the love of people!!! you do have to love people to make your travels a success. INDEED ^^
This was a great eye-opener to see how happily & safely another woman travels throughout the world.
Eliza is absolutely right. Using common sense judgment, going with your gut intuition, and being cautious can help many in avoiding pitfalls during travel.
Whether I was walking alone (after dark, crazily) in Rome, Paris, or NYC I always made sure I was on high alert and walked confidently.
I have even gone so far as to make a blatant U-turn into a safe area (brightly lit and populated train terminal) at the sign that my surroundings were just not right, with regard to my own safety more so than to how others may feel about my actions.
Thanks again for sharing! I am a fan of this amazing site. Keep up the great work!
I too have the same bike and agree with Eliza. I am around the same age and took off a couple of years ago from Tokyo to Cape Town. I didn’t go on my on but started off with 4 men including my husband and ended up just with my partner.It was a wonderful year on the road.
[…] Don't be overtly American. Read a book by someone who has done some international traveling. Advice From A Solo Female Traveler Riding Around The World – Wandering Earl Actually, one of these books will probably be worth more than all the comments you read here. […]
Thanks for introducing us to Eliza! Like her, I ride a BMW G650GS. Unlike her, I haven’t traveled the world—but I’m working on that!
I’m especially keen on her comments about safety as a female solo traveler. I’m always asked “Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?” I have come to believe that Americans are preoccupied with fear, and I believe that fear is perpetuated by media.
I need regular doses of what I call “helmet head” to decompress from the fear mongering of American life, where you can’t even catch a meal in a diner without being bombarded with bad news. Here’s a post I wrote about the glories of being out from under the influence of the 24×7 news cycle.
Thanks for sharing Eliza’s perspective! I just started planning my year-long, solo trip and it is great to know there are other ladies out there living the dream, safely and confidently! Thanks for blogging 🙂 Happy travels!
[…] https://www.wanderingearl.com/advice-solo-female-traveler-riding-around-world/ […]
Thanks Earl, I’d like to re-blog it if that is ok?
Just discovered your website…
Beautifully inspiring for all the solo female travelers out there:)
I love this feeling… I really wanna ride all alone on my bike with my attitude, giving time to myself.. I think everything is possible and it all depends on our character and yes should have money as well..
Been backpacking solo for a few years now, mostly within India. Eliza is surely inspiring. Trips on my very own bike is not far from now.
I’m so glad i found this website, and took the time to read these articles….. They really give me inspiration and also reassurance that older people travel too!
I found this website after searching for somewhere to go and something to do in my 3 month break from University with no avail. This time last year i was solo traveling around Hong Kong, doing some volunteering and living with an extremely distant connection. I loved it but seem to have lost a lot of my confidence, or am worried about being out there completely “alone”. I was 18 at the time, and did encounter some minor grievances, mainly from other travelers, rather than the locals, who weren’t anything but lovely.
Right on!! I am 63, and I have travelled solo all over Asia since 1983. In 2004 I bought a motorcycle and I have ridden it solo all over USA, Canada and Mexico, without any problems. Women need to feel strong and confident, get out of routine and see the world!
The only place I ever had ‘trouble’ was being groped on the street in Delhi. I turned around and kicked the guy in the butt.
I salute Eliza for taking off on her bike! I plan to start riding farther south soon……
Absolutely inspiring. Backpacking is the obvious choice, but I’ve also heard of travelers driving around the world or even bicycling around the world. But Eliza is the first person I’ve ever heard of motorcycling around the world. And given the many cities where motor bikes are the main form of transpo, she’s sure to fit right in. What a fantastic story!
As a solo traveller myself I cannot agree more with Eliza’s philosophy. Travelling solo is all about showing confidence, trusting strangers, increasing awareness of your surrounds and using common sense. I love Eliza’s inspiring story and will follow her on her blog!
As a woman who travels solo, my take-away from this post is that the information is universal – it’s applicable to men and women who travel alone. And I’d agree with all of it.
My observation after visiting a number of countries, is that both men and women, regardless of age, are sometimes subject to sexually-related overtures that fall on a continuum of consequences that run from benign to physical assault or criminal (and financially ruinous) scams. The same holds true for other sorts of potential negative situations such as pickpocketing, robbery, extortion, etc.
So I guess my conclusion, which is also touched on in your post, is that a woman (regardless of age) considering solo travel shouldn’t worry that she is at *greater* risk than a man.
I’m looking forward to checking out Eliza’s blog – thanks for the introduction!
My first instinct is to say “you go girlfriend” but I really what I want to say is that I feel proud that this lady is just doing what she wants to and is using common sense to keep her safe through her travels. I think her words of advice should resonate with all travellers regardless of gender, or age or travelling alone or as a couple or group. A lovely post of a lovely woman.
Hooray to getting as many positive solo female travel experiences out there as possible! I’m on my first solo trip, traveling through Mexico, and I’m loving it. Absolutely everyone has been so friendly and helpful, it’s amazing. It’s quite interesting the difference in my experience to traveling South America as part of a couple. As part of a couple my interaction with locals was limited – as a solo traveler I have met so many people, locals and travelers alike, that I feel so much more connected to the places I’m visiting.
I totally agree about not complaining. Every experience is just that, an experience, and something to be thankful for. The very fact that I am able to take this trip makes me feel so lucky.
Hey Tahlei – That’s definitely how it works. When traveling solo, the number of interactions with locals almost always increases. It’s just so easy to get stuck in conversation and not pay attention to those around you when traveling with a partner or friend.
I got to meet her in Tanzania and can only agree to what you wrote. She’s a great person and inspires other travelers with her positive attitude. It was a pleasure to meet you, Elisa!
David and Sabrina
Hey David and Sabrina – That’s great that you had a chance to meet her as well. I’m sure you had a blast!
You captured her. Eliza is my son’s grandmother and dear friend. We are all amazed by her back in Maine. She came to Colombia with me once to help me photograph non profit projects and her ability to create a connection with new people in any setting is unreal. Check out some of her photography… Breath taking.
She kicks ass! I love her attitude and this quote: “One day I just woke up and realized, ‘Sh*t, I can go’ and so I did.” So many people don’t realize that they too can just go. Thanks for sharing her story! 🙂
[…] Earl met this incredible woman riding her motorcycle solo around the world. I really like her advice on safety for women […]
Eliza sounds like an inspiration! I like her no nonsense advice about travel safety, but I really appreciate her travel philosophy and ideals. You’re very fortunate to have met her and all the other amazing people you’ve probably spent time with on your travels!
Hey Laura – Meeting people is always the best part of traveling 🙂
I love your story on Eliza.I’ve known her since I was quite young! She is inspiring as ever. I love that she talked about paying attention to her intuition for that is her inner guidance system and will never steer her wrong! Her pictures are awe inspiring too.
Eliza.. You are one amazing, awesome and inspiring!!
Keep on doing what you love!!!
Thank you Wandering Earl for writing about this wonderful woman!
Hey Fiona – Her advice sure was great and I also like the focus on allowing intuition to be her guide. She has a lot of useful advice to share based on her experiences!
i am proud to call Eliza my friend… i have known her since 7th grade.
she is one in a million… a happy, well intended, good ‘old soul’ and freakin’ hilarious!
this is a spot on, great article… you captured her and her spirit which is true, unfaltering, and driven for all the right reasons. Eliza is unique! the stories i could tell 😉
i can’t wait for her to come home to maine!
thanks, wandering earl!
Thanks for reading Leslie and she’ll be home soon enough!
This is such a great post. I am glad I’ve read everything and her story inspired me a lot to just keep doing what I love to do – which is traveling.
Hello Earl and his fellow friends and followers!!
WOW…I am Humbled…Thank you all for your very kind comments regarding my travels. If anyone has questions or want info please feel free to FB me or email me. You only live once..If your thinking of a big trip…JUST DO IT..:))) It will work its self out… And a BIG Hug to Earl !! You are an engaging writer and I truly enjoyed our talk and hearing your stories.
Thank you so much for your wonderful post …All The Best…Eliza XO
Hey Eliza – Looking forward to meeting you again somewhere out there!
[…] More than a year ago, Eliza Massey packed up her motorcycle and hit the road for the trip of a lifetime–alone. Now, she’s sharing the wisdom she’s accumulated as a solo female traveling the world on two wheels. @wanderingearl […]
What a great interview, Eliza is an inspiration. I think one of the most important things she mentions for safe travel (for men and women) is appearing confident. I know this works because I had a quite different experience in Egypt to two female friends I was travelling with. They were getting hassle and come-ons from shopkeepers and the like, I got nothing at all, not one single time.
I’m now following Eliza’s travels, thanks for bringing her adventures to us.
I LOVE this and I love her disdain for complaining travelers. I was in the Philippines 2 weeks ago (yep I arrived the day after Haiyan) and I heard people complaining that there was no outlet in the bathroom of the luxury hotel for their hair straightener!!! OMG! Give me a break. Also heard complaints about the fact there weren’t enough varieties of Asian foods at the buffet (there were, believe me)!
This moaning & groaning I heard the day after (just 50kms away from us) Tacloban residents lost most of their homes, personal treasures, and even family members and people have the gall to complain about such trivial shit!!
Ahh, yes, it takes all kinds to make the world go round. As my mother taught me, if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!!
She is one tough, brave woman! I can’t imagine riding a motorbike through those places. Thanks for the great interview.
Her philosophy is so true regarding about complaining about other cultures. It isn’t alway easy for me, especially in places where they don’t form queues, but I try to not complain about the annoyances and instead embrace them. Those cultural differences are what make the best stories and are the most enlightening experiences.
As for solo female safety, I agree that using common sense most women, and men, can travel the world and be totally safe.
Hey Jeff – That’s the thing, even something like a lack of queues is a cultural experience and, while it might be hard for us to handle or deal with it, we should embrace it and accept it for what it is.
I love this interview! Eliza sounds like a brave and inspirational woman.
I just started traveling solo this year and I love it! Myanmar was my first and now i’ve traveled to 6 countries on my own.
Eliza’s advice is very smart. Not worrying about being polite was a problem of mine when I first started. “Maybe tomorrow” I’d tell annoying men or toutes. A good, firm “No, I’m not interested” is for some reason hard to get around to.
Hey Karisa – It is hard for many travelers to be firm instead of always trying to be polite. But it really is important, for both males and females, because if something doesn’t feel right, you just need to cut it off right away.
Totally with her on the internet thing. The nternet is ruining travel for so many people. Sounds ike a nice lady, wonder if we’ll bump into her somewhere 🙂
Wow. This is so inspirational.
I´m not really scared about travelling alone but I feel less respected and I really don´t like that feeling. Especially when I was in India As have bright hair I feel like I attract everyones attention and I felt the others staring and talking about me. So I mostly like travelling more with someone else. But maybe we should just ignore staring, discussing etc. Thanks for sharing those words.
Greets from Germany
Hey Katja. I’m from India, we all look alike here, tan skin and black hair, and we hardly see white type of people, it is so rare to see your color, it is ONLY that you stand out in color that we notice. No one was ‘judging/whispering’ , we feel nice to see diverse looking foreigners so we notice, which is rare so we are only happy to have you around! And you are a delight to see in our all black haired crowd! 😀 still sorry if you felt offended, we love you all and feel very happy to see different colored people around! Btw guys get noticed as much, and one tip if you wear Indian Kurtis men and women both get less noticed and more smiled at because we see you are trying to blend in and appreciate you wearing our type of clothes a lot! Pro tip: say ‘Namaste!’ with a smile and then talk , it is a greeting word. And so impressive and flattering when foreigners use it. Remember we love to see you all around! Cheers! Namaste! 😀
As a woman in my 30’s, traveling alone, i love being inspired to keep on going. Thank you for sharing and giving me more courage
So much can be learned from people if we open ourselves to that. A fortuitous meeting with Eliza, for both of you, and us readers too. Too often we let fear hold us back. Sure glad I got past that over 40 years ago.
I loved reading about Eliza… I admire her.. I agree with her philosophy on traveling..
Thank you Earl… You put out the best stories
Thanks for reading Aleta!
I have been following you blog for a loooooong time but never commented. I used to travel alone when I was younger, in my twenties (I am in my late thirties) but I have found that as I have gotten older the fear has grown, the doubt and the ” I should have a man beside me” idea has taken over. I do have the love of my life in my life, but I often wonder if something were to happen to him would I just get back on the road? Would I be able to?
It is always nice to read about an older woman doing what she loves. I am inspired.
Hey Cecilia – Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. And those are good questions…I guess the only way to find out would be to get out there on your own if that is where your life happens to lead at some point!
Eliza is right about her attitude. I agree with both points about not complaining and the need to detach from technology from time to time. I am in a hotel room in Bangkok tweeting, blogging, and on facebook. Time to get out and explore a bit.
Hey Ted – Haha…don’t worry, we all do the same!
Oh I love this story! I travelled in South America for six months alone last year – I’m a 31-year-old female and look pretty girly – not very big, long blonde hair, etc. Never had a single problem – in fact I get hassled more at home in Australia. I’m not sure if it was good luck or good judgement (probably both) but I was amazed how respectful and helpful everyone was. It was a real ‘faith in human nature’ thing. Although I think how you deal with it does depend on your adaptability. Of COURSE all the men I spoke to cracked on to me, however old they were – it’s just part of the culture, I think – but I learned to take it lightly and laugh about it, which seemed to be the best policy. It was pretty harmless everywhere I went (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile) – just outrageous compliments and offers of marriage! You can’t get anxious and upset about it, you’ve just got to realise that it doesn’t mean anything; it’s simply the way most men over there speak to women. I took precautions of course, projected an air of confidence and trusted my gut instincts, but went hiking in the countryside alone, walking at night alone… no troubles. Can’t wait to do it again!
Hey Hannah – That’s great to hear that you had such positive experiences while on the road on your own. And I think that most females who have done what you’ve done would probably say the same. As Eliza said, the overwhelming majority of females have nothing but positive, rewarding travel experiences!
What an excellent read. Inspiring and spot on. I appreciate the the thoughtful and useful tips, as I am currently a solo female traveler in The Neterlands. I have such a love/hate relationship with technology as I travel. Walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain and enjoyed the hostels sans wifi. Found more people cooking/chatting together instead of locked into their phones/iPads. Thanks for the post and safe/happy travels, Eliza!
Hey Katherine – I’ve noticed in many places that hostels are starting to have a “no internet hour” or sometimes two or three hours where they turn the wifi off so that travelers interact more. I see this becoming more common especially in Eastern Europe and it’s not a bad idea!
What an awesome story! Very inspirational woman!
I love this article. Thank you for sharing and I like that idea of not being dependent to a bus or train schedule.
While I was in Nepal I met a woman who was motorbiking around the world too! I was in such awe! At the time I was just about to leave my travel buddy to solo travel, but there was something magical about having this ultimate control of where you go with your bike. No need to rely on busses or trains, or the regular tourist path, you just slow travel overland whether it be a well travelled road, or the road less taken. Eliza, is an inspiration!
Hey Megan – I know what you’re talking about…I kept looking at her motorbike and found myself imagining what it would be like to just hop on and take off whenever and to wherever I wanted. Quite a feeling I imagine!
Earl, this is fantastic. Eliza is an inspiration and her advice is sound. Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone.
Thanks for reading Janice!
Completely agree with her advice, what a cool woman! I’d have to add you do have different experiences as an older woman though than as a younger woman who will have a lot more attention to deal with and doesn’t always have the life experience to deal with it.
Hey Karen – I should have set you both up for a meeting as she was in Palolem when you were there too. Oops.
Earl, this post also made my day. I’m glad that you tracked her down for a few beers and took good notes. Eliza is my kinda person too. Although I can’t relate to her gender wise, I can on the solo and age part of her travels. It can be done, just do it!
I also have the same two dislikes of travel. Technology that gets in the way of human interaction and complainers. Not only complaining travelers, but complaining travel bloggers. Misery loves company. Too many bloggers and/or travelers seem to think relating the down side will gain them instant sympathy. I wish those kind of people would just stay home or keep it to themselves. If you’re trying to pass along what not to do from a bad experience, that another thing.
Eliza is truly an inspiration and you’ve done a good job of relaying her outlook on life.
Hey Steve – She’s definitely a huge inspiration! And I think a lot of people don’t like to hear complaining while traveling as it really seems unnecessary considering that most of what we complain about is really no big deal at all.
Great story, very inspiring! I did my first India trip at 57. Flew to Trivandrum and made my way up the coast by train. I loved it and pray that I’ll get to go back, and soon. I had collected enough travel stories to know that I had to be chill to travel there, because everything is a hassle, but I was pleasantly surprised. I never got sick and I never had anything ripped off, which seemed to be a given when traveling to areas with much poverty. Next time I go, I want to volunteer for a stint. Plenty of opportunities. Great way to get in the middle of things.
Hey Ruby – I’m sure you’ll get back there eventually!
thanks for sharing with us this awesome meeting!
It is very inspiring to me as a woman and gets me even more the incentive to travel, being with friends or on my own! 🙂
Great post. It’s always fantastic when you meet people like that while travelling. I really like her philosophy. I think we could all learn a thing or two if we adopted it.
Great stuff as always, Earl. It’s fantastic to see someone like her doing what she wants. I also think a lot of the advice here is for everyone, not just solo females. Best to her as she comes to the tail-end of her adventure!
Hey Ryan – Absolutely…her advice applies to any traveler!
Earl, thanks for publishing this. Eliza is such a great inspiration. Her advice about not getting drunk and wandering around alone at night is spot on. So many bad incidents could be prevented if we (women) choose to take responsibility for our own safety. Personal responsibility (lack of) was a huge problem when I was in the Army. On almost a weekly basis we would have an incident in the barracks in Germany. A female soldier would go into a male soldiers room where 4 or 5 guys were drinking, then when something bad happened we were all punished. However when I suggested not to put yourself in that situation to begin with, it was blaming the victim. I believe it’s better to be safe than sorry when traveling and personal responsibility is such a huge part of that. I really admire Eliza for putting that out there, and you for posting it.
Considering that most rapes and sexual assaults occur at the hands of people we know and not scary strangers on the street, it would seem that the standard “don’t dress slutty, don’t drink, don’t wander alone at night” isn’t going to help much of anyone.
This is something I’ll *never* understand about rape and sexual assault. It is literally the only crime I can imagine where we try to blame the victim. We don’t tell people who are burgled that they should have had an additional 5 deadbolts on their door or double-paned windows. We don’t tell people who are hit by drunk drivers that they shouldn’t have gone driving at that time of night. Why? Because they are VICTIMS! The people responsible are the perpetrators, not the victims.
The *only* way to protect women (and men) from rape and sexual assault is to teach would-be perpetrators when they are young what enthusiastic consent means, that no one can consent to sex when inebriated or on drugs, that no means no, that women are people and not objects to be done with as you please, etc.
Hey Katie – While you are right about most rapes/sexual assaults, this post wasn’t just about those things. These are ways to stay safe in general and I’m quite sure that getting drunk in a strange place and wandering alone at night does increase the chances of something negative happening. There is no way to be aware of your surroundings or to make wise decisions if you are completely drunk and the truth is, that makes you more vulnerable if there happens to be someone around looking to take advantage of someone else. Nobody’s trying to blame victims here. These are simply tips to help people stay safe, not just from rape/sexual assault but from mugging, robbery and anything else that could happen.
Eliza sounds like my kind of woman. Tom and I are older, so we can relate to the respect thing. Although I’ve never experienced the solo travel, even with just the two of us it can get pretty interesting. Like the time we arrived in China and the customs agent wanted to know where our group was. Well..we were the group. That was something the man had probably never seen before. Not in China.
I can also relate to Eliza’s practice of interacting with people. I was always a private sort of a person until Tom taught me to interact with the people. He loves to sit in a cafe and watch people, or strike up a conversation with a total stranger in a foreign country. Everyone’s experiences are different, and you’re bound to discover something interesting in what the other person has to say. Just ask, and listen.
Hey Cheryl – Interacting with people is what it’s all about so I’m glad Tom has gotten you to do the same as him. Sitting in a cafe, which might seem boring, could actually lead to some of the most rewarding experiences if you chat with those around you.
Yep, that’s about right! Thanks for featuring Eliza. I’ve ridden my 1980 P200 Vespa across the US, and have always dreamed about riding it around the world (it’s been done many times by others, so I know it’s possible, not that that would keep me from it). She has the right attitude and usually that’s enough to make an experience the best it can be!
I’ll never understand why people complain about things outside of their control. When I was in India, rolling blackouts were a part of life. You just came to expect it. Was it inconvenient? Yeah. But really, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter that much. I remember walking alone in Spain once and it was pouring down rain like none I had ever experienced before (coming from Oregon, that says a lot!) and I just decided there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I just kept walking and started laughing out loud (I think I was alone!) and it has become a fond memory for me. Sometimes you just have to roll with it…
@renegadepilgrim: Seems like you have the right for attitude for sure!
Remarkable, what an inspiration she is!
this post is exceptional! Eliza sounds incredible and I can only hope that I run into her somewhere out there in the world. Thanks so much for sharing, this really made my day!
Wow that’s cool! I’ve never traveled alone but after reading this I would love to give it a go!
I absolutely agree with her. The only times I’ve come close to trouble is when I am either 1) drinking 2) not paying attention to my surroundings. I’m going solo to Russia in about a month and a lot of people (i.e. my parents) are pretty nervous about it. As long as I’m not walking along the Neva at 3 in the morning, drunk, I think I’ll be fine. Women my age (20-30 age bracket) often fall into the pretense of the “I shouldn’t travel alone” because the world is a dangerous place.
Anyway, she seems like the coolest person ever. I’ve often thought of doing a motorcycle trip like she is doing, so I’ll go look over at her blog for more advice on that! Great blog post.
Hey Mia – She is definitely one of the coolest people I’ve met on my travels.