“Why should I listen to you?”
These words stung but ended up being the question that helped me to pivot and change my life several times.
More than 20 years ago I started a women’s writing workshop. At first, I offered it in my community for free. At the time, I dreamed of being a writer, and although I had published a few things, I was nowhere near being considered an expert. But after spending my time and money on flyers and finding space for our group to meet, I decided to start asking for donations. One regular became resentful and not only refused to donate, she convinced other members to stop donating as well.
While she did not intend to be cruel, and her question was more focused on why the workshop members should give me money, her asking, “Why should we listen to you, why should we pay you anything when you are not an expert?” was valid.
At first, I was pretty upset. But her words stung because she was right. “You’re not qualified.” Ouch.
So, I made a few changes. I went back to school, got my degree in creative writing, then enrolled in graduate school. I took a bunch of writing courses and joined many workshops. I got into a prestigious writing program at Columbia University that was extremely competitive and only accepted a small number of students. I began submitting my work and getting published in newspapers, and online publications and had my work included in several anthologies. I also stopped leading the women’s writing workshop.
The women were upset, but I explained that while I was not an expert, my time was valuable and I needed to focus on establishing my credentials.
For years I did everything I could to study and learn everything I could in order to constantly improve my writing skills. Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller, “Outliers: The Story of Success” said that if you want to master something, to become an expert, you need to spend 10,000 hours of practice. I put in my time, and continue to learn and improve.
But I knew that my goal was twofold; I wanted to become a professional writer, but my ultimate goal, my life purpose that I knew with every cell of my body, was to help women to know the ultimate joy that I had found through traveling as a solo female. The trick was to stay safe while doing it.
I needed to put in yet another 10,000 hours.
I had already traveled to a few places, and I had survived a few close calls. But I needed to continue learning and studying and finding out every tip and trick and lesson I could, in order to help others to avoid some of the situations and obstacles I had encountered.
Long before there were personal computers or Smartphones where you could easily Google information, I read every book and article I could find on safety for solo female travelers.
Many of the tips were helpful; don’t talk to strangers, wear a wedding ring, pretend you have a husband waiting back at the hotel, wear a hijab or at least cover your body in baggy clothes, and do not ever look strange men in the eyes.
Oh, and don’t go to Morocco. Or India. Or Egypt. Or most countries, especially if you were a single female.
I read, listened to, and memorized well-meaning advice and tips from the most experienced, seasoned travelers.
And I ignored every single one of them.
Some might say I am the last person to write a book on solo female travel and safety because of all of the crazy things I did, and the situations I put myself in.
I believe I am the most qualified.
Why? Because I have f-ed up in almost every way possible.
I have broken every rule, ignored all suggestions, and yes, I put myself in danger many, many times.
It’s kind of amazing that I’m still alive.
Today, as a much older, possibly wiser traveler, I would never do many (any?) of the things I did in my 20’s (or 30’s, or um, in my 40’s) that could easily have gotten me killed (and almost did).
However, I will never stop traveling.
I have had experiences that were enlightening, electrifying, spiritual, and life-altering. I have passionate affairs, and I got married abroad in London. Divorced in Rhode Island. Hootchiefied in NYC.
And perhaps, one day I may find love and live out “the fairy tale”, perhaps in Bali or Morocco or Turkey; who knows? Or, I just may buy a little castle with a huge garden and live out the rest of my life in peaceful, solitary solitude.
I am passionately, madly in love with traveling, and you will probably find me flying across Istanbul in a hot air balloon when I’m in my 90s. Perhaps alone, but more likely with a lover.
In any case, I have learned some things along the way.
Through this website, and in my first book, I share my most valuable tips on travel and safety for women. I wrote the book for women in general, but men can also find valuable information.
I also include tips for those who don’t want to wear a wedding ring or pretend they’re married because they may be open to finding love (and perhaps having a few mad, passionate affairs) on their journey.
The safety tips I found when I began my solo travel journey were simply not helpful for me because my travel style was the opposite of those I read about in guidebooks and blogs. Sure, some of the tips were common sense and helpful, like “Never leave your drink unattended in a bar.”
But you can be damn sure I was not going to avoid bars. Or drinking. Or strange, fine, sexy mofos who approached me. And there would be no made-up stories about mysterious husbands waiting back at the hotel for me.
Most of the advice out there still reminds me of the confusing and often counter-productive “Just say no,” anti-sex messages and ads of the 80s and ’90s that seemed to be everywhere in an effort to fight the AIDS epidemic.
“Just say no,” sounded good in theory, but that *ish was never gonna work. Not with horny, active teens, and certainly not with sex-positive, normal adults.
My friends and I craved advice on how we could stay safe while looking to hang out, have fun, hook up, and fall in love as we went globe-trotting. Guidelines for how to do this while traveling are rare (if not impossible) to find.
My main goal is to help women stay safe whether they’re simply looking to do some sightseeing, or looking for love no matter where in the world their soul mate may be.
I met a man on my first trip abroad in London, and we ended up marrying six months later, so I know how incredibly romantic it can be to meet your future partner while traveling.
However, in all the years I have been blogging about solo female travel, I have never been completely open and transparent on my website about why the topic of solo travel and safety, (especially for women who are bold, fearless, and adventurous enough to date beyond their neighborhood coffee shop) is so important to me.
Usually, I simply explain that I married a foreigner and had a fairly happy marriage for several years.
It is time for me to tell the truth.
The reason I started my travel blog, and now have one published book, (and several others almost complete,) is because of my story.
The truth is, I found myself in danger several times during my solo travels around the world. I was ashamed and too embarrassed to tell anyone because each of the times I found myself in hot water, I had been partying or hooking up or generally acting crazy, like the time I found myself in the middle of a secluded, dark mountain road in Kingston, Jamaica, with about 25 cars full of men, all strangers I had only met a few hours earlier.
I am surprised, and thrilled, to still be alive today.
Still, some of my adventures ended up being the most amazing, fun, (and sometimes super romantic and sexy) experiences of my life, and I cherish the memories.
It is my goal to share with you all of the tips and tricks and secrets I wish someone had shared with me when I first began exploring the world alone when I was young and dumb and looking for fun.
I find certain destinations like Bali, Morocco, and Paris incredibly romantic and ripe for those open to exciting, sexy affairs with men who are handsome and dashing; especially the ones with seductive accents that make you drop ya’ panties.
However, I also warn women of the potential dangers by stating statistics and discussing famous cases.
I often give people examples of the Natalie Holloway murder and other well-publicized tragedies. The truth is, very few people know that I also endured a traumatic experience while traveling abroad.
I thank God I survived.
Today my goal is to help others try to avoid the horrifying situation I found myself in by staying as safe as possible.
I encourage women to live their best lives and to have some of the most incredible adventures around the world that await.
Yes, I had a truly awful experience. But I also have many incredible experiences that I would never have had if I’d followed the popular advice many popular travel blogs or websites offer.
And yes, I married a man I met while traveling after completely ignoring all of the safety advice I’d learned, so you can still have fun while enjoying a romantic rendezvous abroad.
And frankly, no matter how much advice you get from me or anyone, it does not guarantee that your travels will be safe and stress-free. But you can make yourself much less of a target than the drunk spring breaker who is wandering around alone at 3 am in a strange country.
Of course, I believe bad things can also happen in your backyard.
I live in NYC, where crimes occur daily. But there are additional things to be aware of when you’re traveling, and women traveling alone are especially vulnerable.
Over the years I found a happy medium where I can be wise and use common sense, follow many of the “rules” that have helped me, but not be so paranoid that I miss out on the fun.
I won’t tell you to avoid eye contact, don’t speak to strangers, or pretend you’re married. Girl, pulease. I want to encourage my readers to have fun. And perhaps. To find love along the way.
My purpose is to help you enjoy meeting amazing men and women as you’re off gallivanting around the world- but return home safely in one piece.
Decide which of these suggestions works for you. I like this saying I’ve heard a million times in 12-Step meetings; “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
You are a smart, fearless, female badass.
Of course, you are; you’re a follower of Love Lust or Bust!
Which means you know what works for you. These tips I share are here to guide you and give you suggestions, but your instinct and common sense are what will keep you as safe as possible.
Why listen to me?
Through these articles, and in my book, you’ll learn what to do to stay as safe as possible. You’ll learn what to pack, what to do, and unique tips on things you can buy like portable alarms, unique safety fingernail polish, and jewelry that will help you know immediately whether your drink has been tampered with, and surprising ways to keep yourself safe(r) physically.
You’ll also find detailed tips on how to keep your money safe, especially after you have found a hottie you want to keep around and you aren’t sure if it’s true love, or he’s using you for sex, money, or a green card.
You’ll know which countries (including where the US) where people can be fined, or arrested for having sex, sex toys, or even for walking down the street with a local man. (If you’ve seen “Sex and the City”, Samantha fans already know when and where to hide your Glow in the Dark Trojans).
I was almost arrested for simply handing hands while sitting innocently on a beach in broad daylight with one lover, so I also give advice on laws around the world that may seem bizarre or strange to some, like having consensual sex with a partner you love, carrying a certain fruit in public, or even chewing gum.
You will also learn a few tips on what to do during natural disasters, during potentially dangerous political situations (like the time I suddenly had a group of sexy ass military police all pointing rifles at my head in Venezuela after I innocently batted my eyes at the Latin lover I assumed was going to be my next husband).
You will learn how to avoid potentially being kidnapped or to stay far from political instability and terrorist activity.
And of course, we will discuss the COVID-19/ pandemic and other health dangers, as well as various types of travel insurance that can help you.
Throughout these articles and in the book, you will see the word “safer” in place of the word “safe”.
Sadly, I do not think we as women can feel 100% safe no matter where we are in the world, or even at home.
There are criminals everywhere looking for those they believe are vulnerable, easier targets.
But I do think that we can live our lives to the fullest, as safely as possible.
Today I have been to over 100 countries, I have taken many courses, and workshops, and have attended conferences and travel festivals around the world. I have given workshops in other countries to help people to become travel writers, or to plan solo travel adventures around the world. I have been a speaker at events like The New York International Travel Show, WERISE at Barnard College, and The Eulenspiegel Society. I have been published in a variety of publications and have collaborated with tour companies, hotels, riads, and luxury camp owners, and with well-known travel industry professionals. I have been a backpacker, a digital nomad, a remote worker, and have experienced many luxury travel experiences.
Almost every single trip other than a handful was taken as a solo female traveler.
I have dated around the world. And I was married abroad to a man I met in England. I have been catfished. I have been a catfish. I got divorced after many years and have met men (before, and since that marriage,) and have often wondered, “Is this man trying to use me for sex, money, or a green card visa?”.
I made many, many mistakes. But I have also learned over the years how to have an absolutely amazing trip, but to keep myself safe.
It is my goal to help you to be less vulnerable, to make those with nefarious intentions think twice, and hopefully, to assess the situation and realize they may have better luck passing you by and seeking another potential victim.
I hope these tips can help and will inspire you to put aside your fear, gain some confidence and go on that journey around the world!
To learn more about me, click here!