Travelling alone as a woman.

I am halfway through this 6-month Euro trip. I’m so glad that I only have three more months to go. I’ve learned so much during this trip and feel like I’m a completely different person now than when I started. I’ve grown tremendously because of all the new situations I’ve faced.

I’ve lived and travelled alone for most of my adult years, but this trip has been more difficult because I don’t have anyone around to comfort me in person when times get rough. Even when I moved around and travelled before, I had friends or family in every location, or I’d stay in a location for long enough to make new friendships. Now as I travel through Europe, I don’t have anyone by my side. (I am grateful that my boyfriend visits me every few weeks and fortunate that I’ve made a few friends along the way.)

With the exception of Poland, I’ve visited all locations on my own. Travelling alone as a woman has been challenging. All women are susceptible to catcalls, harassment, and leering anytime they are out in public. I’ve been subjected to this no matter where I lived in the States, and this trip has been no different.

Some examples of what I’ve dealt with since leaving Scotland: men making kissing noises at me from their cars as I walk by, men sitting next to me on a park bench (when there are plenty of other places to sit) and starting to chat with me as I’m wearing headphones eating lunch. The same men offering to walk with me through the city. Men leering at me and every other woman on the metro. Men straight up gawking at women sunbathing topless on the beach. It doesn’t matter if this unwanted attention is directed at me or at other women. It makes me sick every time I notice it.

I don’t immediately assume that a man is a creep just because he wants to talk to me in public, but 9/10 times this is the case. The worst case was in Barcelona. In general, Barcelona was bad because I wouldn’t be outside for more than 5 minutes before a man would catcall me. I’m serious, this isn’t an exaggeration. I was eating watermelon on a bench, minding my own business, and an older man sat on the same bench and commented on the watermelon (in Spanish). I figured he was just being friendly so I engaged in conversation. I was excited to have a full-blown conversation in Spanish with someone other than my flatmates.

We had fairly mundane chit-chat about watermelon until he asked me if I had a boyfriend. I explained that yes, I do have a boyfriend and that we are madly in love. Then he started bringing up how ridiculous it is for me to be in Barcelona, without my boyfriend, when there are so many other men available there. And that I should be worried that my boyfriend isn’t in Barcelona with me because he probably has another girlfriend by now.

I tried to convince him that none of this worries me and that I definitely am not interested in other men EVER, hoping he would just leave me alone with my watermelon. Then he started commenting on my tattoos and my body. Telling me how much he liked my tattoos and that I was very fit, all the while eyeing me up and down as I tried to eat my watermelon.

Eventually, he seemed to get the hint that I definitely wasn’t interested in flirting with him, so he started to leave but then asked me for a kiss. I said no, but he insisted that it’s customary in Spanish culture. I told him no. He asked for a kiss on the cheek and on the lips, and I said no. He asked me several times before he set off. He asked me if I’d be in the same place in the following days so he can see me.

I felt pressured to just keep ‘being nice’ even though I felt terribly uncomfortable. We were in a public place so I’m not sure if making a scene would have helped the situation. Now I realise I should have just left, but at the time I didn’t consider that. I was there first, and I didn’t want to assume he had any bad intentions.

This is what happens when I assume men just want to ‘chat’ about something like watermelon.

I don’t know why this is so hard for some men to understand, but if you see a woman alone in public, perhaps she’s wearing headphones, completely absorbed in her phone or food, do NOT speak to her. She doesn’t want to talk to you, or anyone. Leave her alone. If you see a woman sitting alone on a park bench, and there are plenty of other places to sit, do NOT sit next to her and start a chat. Sit anywhere else. Women are allowed to exist alone in public. They don’t need a man to entertain them.

All the big cities I visited were worse than the smaller ones when it comes to street harassment. I guess this makes sense because more people = more creeps (maybe?). In Paris, I got to the point where I was being bothered by men every time I walked through the city so I had no desire to go outside and explore. I couldn’t even go to the shop down the street without a man bothering me.

Once, one started walking side by side with me, saying hello to me multiple times as he walked next to me. I completely ignored him but he kept saying hello, then eventually got fed up, muttered something to me in French, and sped up. Men stared me up and down as I passed them on the street, then they’d turn around on the bench so they could continue watching me. I’d notice men sitting on benches, commenting and critiquing every woman that walked in front of them. I’d even adjust my course if I saw men sitting on a park bench and walk behind them, yet they would turn around to watch me.

While it’s true that anyone with functioning eyeballs can look at anyone else in public, the point is NO ONE should stare like that. If I notice someone attractive, I don’t stare at them and undress them with my eyes, especially if they notice me looking at them! Noticing men leering at me makes me feel gross. Not that dressing a certain way justifies leering eyes, but I don’t dress in revealing clothing at all. I could wear a burlap sack and still get harassed on the street.

If you’re a woman reading this, you know how often stuff like this happens. If you’re a man who doesn’t catcall women, you probably had no idea how prevalent this is. It doesn’t matter what you wear, where you are, or how obviously uninterested you are in the rest of the world at that time. You will get whistled at, leered at, followed, or talked to by some creep.

People have told me: Well, what do you expect? You’re a woman travelling alone. That’s the way it is. That doesn’t make me feel better about the situation! What else can I do…? Does this mean I shouldn’t travel alone, ever?

Some days I don’t want to go outside, or I want to completely cover myself (as if this would prevent creeps from leering). Dealing with this on a daily basis stresses me out. I feel bad about myself because I’m powerless to stop them. There’s nothing I can do to prevent it, short of never leaving the flat. I can’t yell at them or combat them in the street because this won’t change their behaviour and they are looking to get a rise out of me anyway. In my experience, the only way to avoid street harassment as a woman is to have another man by your side.

Some have suggested that catcalling is a cultural thing and that I should have expected it in Spain. Not only is that prejudiced, but it’s completely untrue because catcalling happens EVERYWHERE. I would hope respecting women would be a universal truth, but sadly we will never get to that point. The best we can do is share our stories with other women to sympathise with them, and with other men to let them know how terrible men can be. Women experience this world differently than men, and it is anything from desirable.

So far, I’ve only had one issue with men as I travelled in the Balkan region. In Ljubljana, a man sat RIGHT NEXT to me at a bus stop (when there were plenty of other empty seats there) and stared directly at my chest. It wasn’t a quick glance, he continued to stare even though I watched him do this. I immediately got up and moved to another seat, far away, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

I didn’t have any issues in Rijeka and none in Zagreb (so far), so things are looking up. I hope the rest of my time in Croatia goes smoothly. Even though the first half of the trip was troublesome because I had to deal with annoying creeps on a daily basis, this isn’t enough to deter me from travelling alone in the future. Women should be able to travel alone and we shouldn’t have to change what we want because men are creeps.

I have no desire to return to Berlin, Barcelona, or Paris ever again, at least on my own because the harassment was too much for me. That being said, once I return to Scotland in December, I won’t ever need to travel alone because my boyfriend will be with me 24/7. I am definitely looking forward to that!

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How much do I spend on food while travelling?

I track every penny I spend because this is the only way I can effectively travel on a budget. As I mentioned in my three-part post, The secret to living as a nomad, minimising expenses and managing your money are necessary if you want to travel this way.

I want to show you how much I spend on food while travelling through Europe to give you a better perspective about the cost of healthy whole foods. Healthy eating is my priority no matter where I am so I will pay whatever costs necessary. Fortunately, eating primarily fruits and veggies while travelling is affordable! Being vegan isn’t expensive.

My food expenses for July.

July included time spent in Berlin (July 1-6), two weeks in Palma (July 6-20), and Barcelona (July 20-31).

I spent €346 on groceries (~£296 or $390).

These are the foods I purchased followed by a number representing how many times I purchased that item. Sometimes I purchased bags of peaches in one go, so the number doesn’t represent how many peaches I bought, instead it represents how many times I purchased them. I hope that makes sense! This is to show you which foods I ate the most. Fruits and veggies were my main staples and at that time I was still eating gluten-free pasta, rice, and other HCLF treats like puffed corn cakes.

Fruit

  • watermelon 28
  • grapes 24
  • cherries 14
  • peaches 13
  • orange juice / fruit juice 9
  • melon 5
  • oranges 4
  • bananas 2
  • strawberries 1
  • dates 1
  • date rolls 1

Veggies

  • broccoli 10
  • mushrooms 4
  • tomatoes 4
  • green beans 3
  • potatoes 2
  • carrots 2
  • cucumber 1
  • asparagus 1

Miscellaneous

  • tomato sauce 8
  • puffed corn cakes 6
  • gluten-free pasta 5
  • hummus 4
  • rice 2
  • gluten-free bread 1
  • Trek Bar 1

Eating out

I ate out quite a bit in July. I spent €65 (~£56 or $73) on lots of gelato cones from Cream Crew in Palma, popsicles, smoothies, and lunch at Petit Brot in Barcelona.

Total money spent on food for July = €411 (~£352 or $464).

How does this compare to food expenses elsewhere?

While living in Scotland, I spent around £400 per month on food (~€510 or $580), including groceries, eating out (twice per month), and occasional decaf lattes.

During my first week in Berlin, I spent €128 on food (including eating out). Around €24 of this total was for eating out. If I spent an entire month in Berlin, I could expect to spend close to €512. This assumes I would keep eating out at the same frequency.

I tracked my spending in Berlin for a week but I don’t have any record of my food expenses while I was in Poland. My phone was stolen in Berlin and I didn’t feel like tracking my spending the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

But in general, produce was much cheaper in Poland than produce in the UK (or in Germany). My boyfriend and I spent roughly 60 złoty per day (~£11, €13, or $15) on food for both of us. That’s about half of what we’d spend in the UK. (Check out my Two weeks in Poland. summary for more details.)

It’s important to note that I don’t travel as if I’m on holiday, meaning eating out is never a focus of mine and meals are prepared at home or simply eaten on the go (if the meal is simply fresh fruit). This should only serve as a guide if you eat similarly. If you eat out regularly, drink alcohol and coffee, however, expect to spend much more on food while travelling.

How to spend even less on food.

Spending around €400 for food for the entire month isn’t bad! I could have spent less, though. Here are some suggestions if you’re also looking to trim your food budget while travelling.

Avoid eating out completely. Unless you are made of money, quit eating out! Eating out is expensive and the portions are terribly small. I spent too much money eating out in July. All those frosty treats were delicious but I could have survived without them.

Shop around and compare prices. I rarely shop around for the cheapest prices because I can’t be bothered. Usually, I carry all my groceries on my back so I’d rather walk to the closest shop for produce. If you have a car and more time to spend in one location, comparing prices would be to your advantage. Supermarket chains like Lidl and Aldi (or Hofer) are good options with cheap, tasty produce and vegan staples.

Eat more cheap staples. My food expenses could be even less if I incorporated more cheap staples like rice, beans, and potatoes into my diet. This is something to consider if you are thinking of travelling as a vegan.


August is nearly over and I’ve spent €337 (~£289 or $381) on food. My food expenses for August will be much less since I didn’t eat out a single time. I also purchased less pasta, rice, and other non-produce items this month since I made the transition to a fully raw diet almost three weeks ago. I expect my food expenses to be even less for the month of September since I will only be purchasing raw fruits and veggies.

Stay tuned for more posts like this! I hope you find them informative.

The secret to living as a nomad: part 3.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, setting a budget and sticking to it is crucial if you want to live as a nomad. You’ll need to save money so you have a cushion for living expenses when you start travelling. Even if you are able to save up thousands of dollars before shipping out, if you don’t have the discipline to maintain a strict budget while abroad, you’ll end up blowing through your savings and be up the creek without a paddle.

Plan for the future and do your research.

Sticking to a budget is immensely important but you also need to research everything you can regarding costs of travelling and living abroad. How much money will you need each month to live comfortably while travelling? You need to know how much rent costs in various countries, how much you’d expect to spend on food, transportation, etc.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything you need to research before you start living as a nomad. Planning is key! All the information you need can be found through Google. Research the price of airfare on Kayak. Look into accommodation costs on Airbnb and other websites offering flats for rent.

In the same way that you sorted out a budget for saving money, you’ll need to come up with a budget for living abroad. Your travel budget may not be very different from the budget you use currently. Travelling nomadically doesn’t need to be costly.

Your travel budget will depend on various factors:

  • How much money have you saved?
  • Where do you plan to travel? Some parts of the world have a lower cost of living than others.
  • How often do you plan on relocating? Moving around frequently will cost more.
  • What connections you have? Do you have friends or family living abroad? Can you crash with them instead of renting a room elsewhere?
  • How comfortable are you with travelling cheaply? Can you live out of a hostel for a few weeks? Or Couchsurf with strangers?
  • Can you legally work abroad?

You’re not on holiday!

Regardless of these factors, I recommend you maintain a tight budget while travelling. Travel cheaply and save as much as you can. Living as a nomad long-term means you need to keep an eye on your spending since you might not always have a steady income to fall back on.

Even though my life seems like a never-ending holiday, I don’t spend as if I were on holiday 24/7! Most people spend more money than normal while on holiday because they are visiting a new location for only a few days. They may not get the chance to travel often, so they save up money just for the purpose of spending it all during their holiday. (And that’s perfectly okay if that’s what they want!) They eat most meals out and drink, visit tourist attractions, go shopping, and buy lots of things they don’t need.

On the other hand, I have a fairly strict budget when I travel because I need to sustain this lifestyle for longer than a few days. I rarely eat out and avoid paying for tourist attractions. I’m not living in resort hotels but rent rooms in shared flats. If you can afford eating out and living in an upscale place, by all means, go ahead! The way you live as a nomad just depends on your travel budget.

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The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. I left Barcelona this afternoon and am all settled in my Paris flat. If you’d like to see more photos from Barcelona, check out my new Gallery page on the menu bar. I’ll add photos from other cities soon!

Find a way to make income as you travel.

Having a cushion is crucial before you start travelling. If you’re able to earn income abroad, however, you may decide to start travelling sooner. Some people choose to teach English, but depending on your skills, you may be able to earn income in other ways. Research jobs that can be done remotely: web design, freelance writing, programming, etc. What skills do you have? Could you work as a health coach? Can you provide any service online or face-to-face that others would find valuable? If you can work legally in other countries, apply for jobs before you move or hunt for a job once you arrive.

Real talk.

Figuring out how to live as a nomad is just like solving a problem. The problem is that you need to figure out a way to fund your travels. For me, part of my solution was selling all my belongings and becoming a minimalist. Solving this problem isn’t easy, but if you can manage your money, make saving a priority, and stick to a budget, you’ll be on the right track.

But no matter how much money you save, if you don’t know what you are getting yourself into by living abroad, you will fall flat on your face. If you aren’t mature enough to handle adult situations by yourself, you won’t survive travelling the world alone. You must be able to figure out solutions to your problems. It could be as basic as getting lost in the city but it could be more serious: do you know what to do if your passport is stolen? It’s okay if you don’t know the answer now, but the point is that you need to know how to find the answer beforehand and be prepared.

If you want to live as a nomad, you have to solve this problem yourself. I can give you suggestions to set you up for success, but ultimately it depends on you: your money-management skills, your discipline, motivation and drive. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

This wraps up this secret to living as a nomad series! Thanks for reading! I’m all settled in my Paris flat now and can’t wait to photograph the city tomorrow. Expect lots of photos tomorrow if the rain holds off!

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