Fearless Independent Travel: Interview with Travel Betty

Travel BettyTravel Betty, encouraging fearless independent travel

Travel Betty is a San Francisco-based copywriter with a desire to encourage women to tackle the world of independent travel with boldness.

Her most recent trip was to Bali, a trip she won’t soon forget. Besides enjoying a pampering at the local Balinese spas, she also married her boyfriend, aptly nicknamed Travel Boyfriend

Now back in the United States with her newlywed husband, she was happy to talk with TravelBlogs about independent travel and, of course, getting married in Bali.

First of all, congratulations on your marriage to Travel Boyfriend! What were some of the highlights of Bali?

Thanks so much. I have to say our wedding in Bali kicked ass! That was definitely a highlight.

Also, taking a surf lesson my last day there. I loved it and wished I’d tried surfing earlier. Snorkeling in Tulamben above the sunken U.S. Liberty was also cool. As was eating durian for the first (and perhaps last!) time.

Above all though, I loved the people and all of the Hindu rituals. Waking up in the morning and finding an offering placed outside your door feeds your spirit. Bali is a place of supreme beauty and thoughtfulness. I’d encourage anyone who is considering a trip to go buy their plane ticket right now.

Your blog’s purpose is to encourage “fearless independent travel for women”. What was your first independent travel experience?

To me, planning is almost more fun than actually being in the place. It’s all possibility at that point.

My first trip to the Yucatan about 5 years ago. The internet makes independent travel so extremely easy. I spent hours and hours comparing hotels and possible sites to see. To me, planning is almost more fun than actually being in the place. It’s all possibility at that point. What would the trip be like if I stayed there or did that? I can imagine myself in so many different situations.

What do you think is the main reason that some women are afraid to travel independently?

I think the main reason women, or men for that matter, don’t like to travel independently is because they lack the time or motivation to plan it themselves. It does take an extra effort. But that effort is paid off considerably when you’re finally get to your destination. In my opinion, it just doesn’t compare really.

I was lucky because I had an experience in high school that pretty much cured me of all-inclusive or package travel. After saving my pennies working at McDonalds for a year, I went to Europe with a group of symphonic band nerds (I played the flute). We toured around playing concerts in Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Lichtenstein. All in two weeks! It was on the bus, off the bus, take a photo, back on the bus, off the bus, play a concert, bus, bus, bus. Exhausting. And I barely remember any of it. Except that I ate a lot of schnitzel.

As for solo travel, I think women are told over and over again that they will be unsafe alone. We are also made to feel there is something wrong with us if we don’t have someone else (ideally, a man) by our side. I was personally responsible for causing roughly 2,321 Balinese to feel an overwhelming sense of pity on my behalf for the three weeks Travel Boyfriend was not with me in Bali. I found that equal parts amusing and annoying.

Are there places you wouldn’t visit on your own out of fear for your personal safety as a woman?

I think it’s more that there are countries I wouldn’t go to by myself because it’s a hassle to be there alone as a women. I loved, loved, loved Egypt, but the few times I walked around by myself it was just a headache. I never felt unsafe. I just felt like I was being forced to interact with men whose maturity levels were stunted at age 13. They say things to you they would never ever have the nerve to say to an Egyptian woman.

So yeah, in strict religious or patriarchal countries, I would think twice about going alone.

You work as a copywriter in San Francisco. Is copywriting a job that’s easy to integrate with your travel plans?

Extremely. I freelance, so I can set my own schedule. And I’ve been fortunate enough to work with amazing people who tolerate my wanderlust.

Working on staff makes it a little harder, but advertising is an industry with generous vacation benefits (for America). For example, every agency I’ve worked for gives you off the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s and that doesn’t count against your accrued vacation days. I think everybody should get that week off. I mean, how can you see your family if they live far away? Or are you supposed to just burn all your vacation time at Christmas and then not travel again for the rest of the year? Highly uncivilized!!

Any future trips planned?

A million of them in my head! Actually, next up is our honeymoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When we got engaged in Egypt, we couldn’t really share the news with people there because it was culturally taboo that we would be traveling together, but not already married. So I asked Travel Boyfriend, what would be the total opposite of a conservative culture like that? Latin America, of course! Buenos Aires has tango, meat and gauchos, so it won me over immediately.

Check out Travel Betty’s blog and follow along as she explores the world with Travel Husband.

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