Welcome to the 7th interview of our #inspiringnomads blog series! In this ongoing series, we go on a hunt to find inspiring travelers to share their best tips and stories with you. We’re out to prove that it’s easier than you think to travel more and that there are already so many people living life to the fullest and following their dreams. Are you next?
Today we interview solo female traveler and nomadic soul, Ana of Nomad Ventures! This girl is out exploring the world, looking to further expand her mind and discover new things. She’s also having a ton of fun while she’s at it, enjoying some good waves, awesome people and exotic food along the way. Come get to know her as she shares all of her best tips and strategies to wander the world long term as a solo female traveler…
My name is Ana Abitia, I was born in the US but raised in Mexico until I moved back to California for college to get an Industrial Design degree. I had been working for several years as a textile designer in California until January 2015 when I quit to take a little break and travel the world.
When did you first start travelling independently and where did you go?
I started traveling on January 2015 and my first stop was the UK, I moved around Europe for a couple of months and then moved over to Asia. Here’s my route so far:
UK-Portugal-Spain-Morocco-Italy-Dubai-India-Sri Lanka-Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia-Australia-Philippines-Vietnam, which is where I am now, and after Laos-Burma-Thailand-Cambodia-Italy ( taking an Italian course for a month) and lastly 2 weeks of full on Surfing in San Sebastian in Spain.
What then inspired you to travel more?
My trip was originally going to last three months at most and one of those months involved a month volunteering in India but after that experience in India I decided I needed to see more of the world. India is such a culture shock, you see the worst and the best, meet the nicest people and the meanest people and this made me realize that just like India gave me so much to reflect upon and appreciate there’s way more out there that I must experience as well. I needed to be a part of other cultures as well. So, I kept moving and have been moving since.
What are your 2 favourite travel destinations and why?
I get asked this question so many times and every time I take hours to think about it and I just can’t narrow it down. I have a favorite for several things; for food, for the experience, for the beach, for cities. But if I had to pick a country that I absolutely fell in love with it was Sri Lanka and Philippines because they are not as touristy as other countries and mainly involve outdoor activities which are my favorite. The people are also the nicest and most welcoming, they are the whole package.
What is your travel style and what kind of impact does this have on the way you budget, save and earn money before and during your travels?
I am not those travelers to have a daily set budget, sometimes you need to spend a lot more and other days a lot less. I don’t like to miss on any good meals or good tours or attractions so no budgets for me. I am just aware that I need to spend the least possible so I can extend my trip so I try to avoid expensive meals, use public transport or walk or even rent a scooter to move outside the city. When I started I didn’t have a return flight so I would go as far as I could so if the plan was to travel 3 more months and ended up only affording two well so be it I enjoyed it, I was rushing it nor was I restricting myself to do things just so I could get to my final destination.
I started paying my debts and saving a year before my trip and I have been living off those savings for this past six months. That year taught me how to manage my money, which cards to use or when to use cash instead, how to eat for less money (usually involves cooking for myself) and how to find the cheapest flights or train tickets.
What strategies do you use to fund this lifestyle?
It’s all my savings. I survive on what I saved up for a year. Of course Couchsurfing really helps, I would say the main expense when traveling is transport and stays so it relieves half of my major expense. Transportation, well, take the local buses instead of trains or taxis or if possible walk, which is free haha. I have also been lucky to meet the nicest people that have taken me into their homes or have referred me to cheap local stays that would be impossible to find on my own.
I have also worked which doesn’t provide me with actual money but instead free accommodations and meals. I volunteered in India for an NGO and didn’t have to spend one cent for an entire month of work. I have also worked at hostels for even just a couple of hours a day and spontaneous WOOFing every once in a while. Need help today with the garden or farm, I’m in! I have been lazy to be honest, I am sure that if I actually worked I could extend my trip way more but it has been my choice to just enjoy and take a break, I have been working so much before coming here that I just needed a break. But I have met people that work throughout and have been traveling for over five years now.
Recommended Reading: How to Save and Earn Money While You Travel
What pre-travel money saving tips can you give us?
Spend the least amount of money as possible before leaving because that will also train you when traveling. If you learn to spend the least of money when living at home you will be able to do it when you are traveling. The big thing for me was eating out or partying, out of the question! I locked myself up at home, almost literally, and instead of going to bars or restaurants I would have friends over and drink or eat at home.
I also sold a lot, A LOT of my belongings on eBay and swap meets. Everything you didn’t wear last season trust me you are never going to wear it, get rid of it! I also sold some furniture and home decor items that were easily replaceable and not major to building a home when I got back. Books, (this hurt the most believe it or not) I am a big reader and always save my books but I sold them and actually made more money that I thought I would.
Selling my car was a big one, it allowed me to pay for debts I had and didn’t want to leave with because this would only take more money from my account when traveling limiting my budget.
Sounds bad but basically doing everything possible to make some money!! (limits people, limits!!) I asked for extra hours at work, I tutored some kids, walked the dogs for neighbours, sold veggies from my garden to friends and relatives and also sold unique items at flea markets to get more money.
What are your top go-to resources for booking flights, accommodation and tours?
SkyScanner is by far my favorite of all to book flights! But you always have to do your research with local and hence smaller airlines that are not really on any websites being that they are already quite cheap, they don’t pay other websites because that would only increase the price on the consumer.
For accommodation I use Hostelworld and Couchsurfing but honestly the cheapest option is to arrive and look for something then. The hostels or guesthouses that are listed online have to pay for marketing and a booking fee so the really cheap stays don’t spend money on search engines.
Tours, they are inevitable some times but it’s best to avoid them and drive yourself on a scooter or taxi but when you do have to, it’s cheaper if you get your group together from the hostel and pay a driver and guide for the group instead of actually joining a set tour. Research, thankfully there’s many other travelers like myself that share their experience and the info is out there! Just take the time to look and you will for sure find information.
What is the most important thing you have learned through travel and with that in mind, what valuable advice can you give aspiring travelers?
In traveling I have learned that we should trust our gut. There’s actually a really good book by Malcom Gladwell called Blink which takes about this, learning to trust yourself and your unconscious. You do always have to be alert but if you learn to listen to yourself you will attract the nicest people, you will avoid many uncomfortable or possible dangerous situations and you will make the most of your trip.
And finally, what have you got planned next?!
I don’t know.. I don’t plan ahead anymore.. I know I will have to once I get back home but if I have learned something from the trip is that the universe is always working to get us the experiences we need to live in this moment in time and everything just works out in the end. It all depends on how you chose too see the experience of course. So I am sure then when I get back home I will sort things out, I will find an opportunity or I will make one for myself.
Feel like Ana just left you hanging to find out what happens in the next episode? Follow all of her amazing adventures around the world (literally) on her website, www.nomadsventure.com and through the hashtag #NVexploring on social media! By the way, she does the lot – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr – take your pick!
Thank you to Ana for giving us such a fantastic insight into her daily nomadic life and proving that solo female travel is safe, fun and totally worthwhile!
If this interview inspired or motivated you to see the world, join our travelling tribe for lot’s more travel tips and inspiration!