Solo Travel Spotlight: Meet Liz

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Memphis Bred Voyager & Wand(her)lust Creator

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Liz is no stranger to domestic and international travel and has lived in multiple states in the U.S. before landing right here in Los Angeles.  Having recently added solo travel to her long list of adventures, her wanderlust began when she started a career in consulting that required her to travel domestically each week.  As she racked up airline miles on the job, she was able to see much of the U.S. (44 states in all) and experience all the different cultural nuances of each town, county, state and/or region.  Her curiosity to explore other cultures eventually led her to Rio, Brazil where she embarked on her first international trip at age 25 and she hasn’t stopped traveling abroad ever since! In fact, she’s currently in Paris wandering all over Europe as we speak!

Turning her passion for travel into entrepreneurship, Liz created and founded her travel company, Wandherlust Travels, where she combines unique travel experiences and networking to support the 21st century woman on her path to international travel and adventure! And it was because of her professional pursuits in the travel industry that led her to take her first solo trip last year where she attended the Women’s Travel Summit in Canada! Check out her travel company if you’d like to be a part of her “sisterhood of wandherers” and follow @wandherlust_travels on instagram for some inspiration!

LEARN MORE ABOUT LIZ & WHY SHE DECIDED TO TRAVEL SOLO:

Tell us about yourself.  

My name is Liz (full name Elizabeth) and I have lived in Los Angeles for 3 years this upcoming September. I’m originally from Memphis but have lived in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and New York right before coming to L.A. Work eventually brought me to L.A. and I never left! I have two sisters, one that lives in L.A. too, and a 6 month goldendoodle puppy named Thor – who is basically my son.

Where do you live, work, and play?

I live in West Hollywood/Hollywood right next door to Runyon Canyon. I work at a start-up healthcare company in El Segundo, a short 51 minute commute each way. I’m not partial to a certain area of Los Angeles for play. Some of my favorite bars and restaurants are in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and bar hopping experiences downtown. During the summer months when it’s warmer, you can easily find me near Redondo or Manhattan Beach riding bikes or rollerblading.

What quote inspires you to be adventurous?

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As a 30-something this quote holds dear to my heart:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover

Where is your absolute favorite place that you’ve visited and why?

So far, Israel, specifically Tel Aviv. The culture is so warm and open to visitors and the beaches are gorgeous. Every Israeli that I met while there wanted to make sure that we left their country with a great outlook on the experience. Tel Aviv is a beautiful city with beautiful beaches and a lot of young start-up professionals who enjoy great food and dancing.

When did you decide to take your FIRST solo trip and what prompted you to take the leap?

I actually just recently took my first solo trip at 31, last year (2018). I had been doing a lot of international travel with friends and out of interest in making travel my future profession, I decided to attend the Women’s Travel Summit in Quebec, Canada.

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How did you go about choosing the location for your first solo adventure?  What resources helped you plan your trip?

In this case, the location was chosen for me due to the location of the conference. For things to do, I searched primarily blog posts written by female travelers in the same age range as me. I also took some recommendations from the local magazines that were located in the hotel room.

What was your overall experience with solo travel: was it scary, amazing, or everything in between?

I decided to arrive a few days early to explore Montreal and a Quebec outside of the conference. My first thought walking outside of my hotel room was, “Ok, I’m really doing this alone. What do I do next?” I was feeling mixed emotions, a bit of fear but mostly excitement over the possibilities that stood before me. There was a sense of power that I haven’t felt when traveling with friends.

What fears or concerns did you have about traveling solo and how did you to overcome them?

My main concern for this trip was pretty shallow…”How am I going to get that once in a lifetime photo.” Before you roll your eyes, I do have a travel company. I had to gain some confidence and ask other tourists for assistance in getting pictures. That can be nerve-racking especially when you know that you are a person who needs 3 to 4 shots to get “the one.” When asking for help, I would typically lean on a fellow millennial with good aim.

What did you learn about yourself on your first solo trip? Have you taken any other solo trips since then?

I learned that I don’t like schedules and I am my most curious and creative self when I can disconnect, roam freely with no intended ending point. I walked for hours, ducking in and out of small shops, grabbing small plates at almost every restaurant I passed, all while taking in the amazing architecture that Quebec offered.  Since then, I have traveled solo to China (met a travel group there but spent most of my time alone).

Any tips you’d like to share with readers that gave you comfort in taking the leap into Solo Travel?

Plan ahead, it builds confidence. Have a good idea of the must-sees and how and when you will accomplish those. Not knowing what to do next can be a bit discouraging for a new solo traveler and it might make you wish that you had a companion to offer guidance on your next stop. I also invested in the T-mobile international data and text plan. This way you’ll always have access to loved ones/friends and the internet while you’re away.

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Generally speaking, do you recommend others to travel solo? Why or why not?

Yes and no. If you are a person who can think quick on your feet and be resourceful, I recommend it. You never know what type of issues might arise on a trip (there’s always something) and you may find yourself having to use some good judgement to get out of a bind. Having sisters, I always worry about them when they say that they are interested in traveling solo abroad for safety reasons. I trust that they could fend for themselves, but it’s kind of like dropping off your kid at kindergarten the first day of school (they are going to be so mad at me for saying this).

What was the hardest part about your solo trip?

Enjoying the nightlife! I didn’t want to be out and about by myself late at night so I often had to turn down nightlife options.

Now that you’ve got some experience with solo travel under your belt, what’s one thing you wish someone would have shared with you before you embarked on this journey?

The benefits of staying at a hostel or other communal property. I’m not a big fan of hostels myself, but wished I had been more open-minded to them on solo trips so that I could meet other tourists to hang out with.

Also, how to capture photos using a tripod or other camera accessory!

What are your top 3 reasons why everyone should travel?

  1. It’s the best educator out there. There is so much out there to see in the world. Traveling opens your mind and helps you to not be biased. I believe it’s crucial to our personal growth to get out of comfort zone and experience life as others do.
  2. You are more likely to want to tell your grandkids stories about your safari experience in Africa rather than the black leather channel bag that you purchased at 30.
  3. When you travel you get to release all of the pressures that your normal atmosphere put on you and you get to be your most authentic self. I had been doing a lot of international travel with friends and you will interact with people who don’t know your profession, your income, the college you went to, your family history so a lot of those expectations are lifted off of you.

What would you recommend to someone traveling (abroad) for the first time?

Consider going to a destination where there are little to no language barriers. This will allow you to make friends with your uber driver, hotel staff, Airbnb host or bartender, making the experience all the more authentic; while also having the ability to ask for help with directions, suggestions for meals, etc.

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Where is the next place on your travel list?

I’ll be traveling around Europe and North Africa for the month of March. The only set plans we have are dropping our bags off at the apartment that we are renting in Paris. The remainder of the trip will be determined by the price of airline and train tickets! Traveling with absolutely no itinerary is a first for me. I can’t wait to learn the pros and cons of not pre-planning for a getaway.

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