Solo travel, scary right? Well it doesn't have to be. It's understandable that travellers, female travellers in particular, might be a bit wary jetting off alone, after all doing anything on your own can be a little nerve wracking.


With this handy guide hopefully you can reduce the risk of coming across any problems on your trips and put your mind at ease. So here are my top tips for female solo travellers...



Be aware of your surroundings - A pretty obvious one really but one that's easily forgotten when the holiday mood takes over. Always be aware of where you are, who you are with, and who might me lurking. Along the same sort of lines, you should never let on that you are lost or unsure of where you are, don't make yourself look vulnerable. I've always been told to walk with purpose and confidence when alone and it's served me well so far.

Share your location - Always keep your friends and family in the loop about your plans. When I travel alone I always ring or text my mom in the morning to let her know what I'll be up to. Having a chat keeps the loneliness at bay and also gives her an idea of my location. I also share my exact location with my friends using my phone, a feature I think most modern mobiles now have. I would highly recommend leaving this switched on continuously if you're in a country where you can use your data, and if not, switch it on whenever you connect to wifi. Now I know what you're thinking 'but that with zap the life out of my battery!' which brings me on to my next point.

Take a battery pack - I know they can be bulky, and heavy, and just a little annoying when travelling but believe me nothing is worse than being alone, needing your phone, and realising its dead. Chances are you won't need it for an emergency but it's nice to have even if you're feeling a little lonely at the dinner table.


Take a small tripod - Not a safety tip! Well unless you use it as a weapon to protect yourself from potential attackers but that's not something I would recommend. I would recommend however, using it to take cute photos of yourself when you don't feel like asking people/ there's no-one around. I've taken my little gorrillapod on all of my solo trips so far and it's come in very bloody handy!

Don't drink excessively - I know I know, everyone likes a little bev on their holidays and there is nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks, but when you're travelling alone you don't want to make yourself vulnerable and excessive drinking will do just that. Thinking along the same sort of lines, never leave your drink or accept a drink from someone if you didn't see it being made. 

Dress appropriately - I'm not one for telling women to cover up ever, but in certain countries, showing excess skin or wearing inappropriate clothing could get you in big trouble. You would think that by now women shouldn't have to second guess their clothing choices but unfortunately in some places that's still the reality. 


Join free walking tours - More of a general travel tip than one targeted specifically and solo female travellers but one I live by. Joining a free walking tour at the star of your trip is a great way to see the sights on a budget, get to grips with your surroundings, and make friends! I'll often go on to have food or drinks with people I've met on these tours and we will probably be lifelong facebook friends too ha!

Do your research - Have a rough itinerary planned before you go. It would be unreasonable to plan every minute of your trip but it's a good idea to have a list of things planned so you don't get bored. It's also worth getting an idea of the routes you might have to take to on your solo trip. 

Trust your gut - It sounds cliche but if something doesn't feel right pay attention. If you're in a dodgy area, or someone's looking at you a little off, leave. You're instinct is usually right. 

Split your money - I know most people are moving on to using travel cards now but if you're like me and take cold hard cash on your travels it's always worth splitting. Leave half in your safe at the hotel and take the other out with you. If the worst was to happen and your purse was lost or stolen at least you would have something to survive on. 


Stick to crowded areas especially at night - They say there is safety in numbers and my biggest tip for solo travellers, female or not, would be to stay with the crowds, especially at night. If you've read my solo travel nightmare you'll know that I ended up in a rather uncomfortable situation on an empty street late at night and although nothing happened, it's an experience I'll never forget.

Chat to locals - Now I don't want all my tips to be doom and gloom because that's not what travel is about! Make the most of your trip and meet new people. Talk to the locals, pick their brains about where to eat and what to see. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at this by now and I can safely say that I've got friends and acquaintances all over Europe!

Get your Bumble on - Not quite confident enough to strike up a convo with a stranger in the pub? Well there's always Bumble. Bumble started as a dating app but also has a bbf section (for making friends) and a business section (for networking). Whilst I'm quite happy to chat to away to people I've only just met I have used Bumble a couple of times on my solo trips to go for drinks with locals. As you should when meeting people in your own city, always tell a friend where you're going, and don't be afraid to leave if you feel uncomfortable at any point.

Learn key phrases - Going somewhere english isn't the official language? Don't panic. Learning a few phrases will really benefit you when solo travelling, and there is no excuse when you can literally google everything on your phone now days. Knowing the basics like, please, thank you, good morning etc. will help your trip go so much smoother and the locals usually appreciate the effort too.

So those were my top tips for female solo travellers, now get out there, have an amazing time, and most importantly stay safe!



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TOP TIPS FOR FEMALE SOLO TRAVELERS


I have got the summertime sadness bad. I'm home, it's raining, and my summer holiday is well and truly in the past. How gutting is that? I would honestly give my left arm to be back exploring in the spanish sun but instead I'm sat on my sofa binge watching love island and editing blog photos. Welcome back to reality.

So let's have a little chat about these snappy snaps shall we?
Spain was HOT, like really hot. I mean obviously because it's Spain, but I was super toasty all week which meant one thing, I dressed for comfort. I'm a big fan of comfort dressing as it is to be totally honest, but when you're walking around in 30 degree heat and your whole body is sweating the last thing you want is to be wearing clingy clothes. Enter the midi skirt.


Now I've always loved the look of midi skirts on others but they're not usually something I would reach for when out shopping. There's two reasons for that. The first is that I didn't really think they would suit me. As a bigger girl I guess I always thought that I should wear flattering clothes, I should wear clothes that slim me down or reveal a good chunk of leg. I think I just thought midi skirts would make me look larger than I was and they aren't sexy either really are they? As a chunky girl you are told by the media that you don't matter unless you're a sexy fat, unless you're a desirable fat, but you know what? Fuck that. I love this skirt and I look cute in it. 

The other reason I've avoided midi skirts is the chub rub. Come on girls you know what I'm talking about. The pain and embarrassment you feel when the top of your thighs rub each other red raw. I've been there many a time. Now in the UK it's usually mild enough to wack on a pair of nude tight and that mostly does the trick. But in the mediterranean wearing tights in that heat is just asking for trouble, so I usually consign myself to playsuits. That was until I discovered anti-chafe shorts.



I guess these have been around for a little while now, but I've clearly been living under a rock because I've only just managed to get my hands on a couple of pairs. The anti-chafe shorts that I'm wearing were kindly gifted from the Big Bloomers Company who do several different style of shorts. I received the Aztec Slip Shorts which retail at £15.95 and come in 6 different colours. 

The shorts are short enough that you can still wear high skirts and dresses, but low enough that they cover a good area of chafable (??? is that a word?) skin. They're also high waisted which is perfect for me as I find them more comfortable. I did find that I had to readjust the shorts every now and then as they did ride up slightly but I imagine any other similar products would do exactly the same unless they were held in place somehow. I did also find that the aztec pattern could ladder slightly if you aren't careful when pulling them up. This isn't a massive problem though, it just means you have to be a little more cautious when wearing the shorts. 


The shorts are designed so that you care wear them as underwear if you wish but honestly I just wore them over my pants as I only wanted to take one pair on holiday with me. They're also really easy to wash and dry as the material is fairy thin and lightweight which means they dried in no time. I ended up wearing them a fair bit on my week away and they even inspired me to purchase a second midi skirt while I was on holiday as I was enjoying just how comfortable the shorts/ skirt combo was in the heat. 

It's safe to say that one of my biggest summer concerns has been well and truly solved by a pair of stretchy shorts. Now if we could just solve the small issue of the fucking horrendous British weather that would be fab!

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* The aztec anti-chafe shorts were kindly gifted to me in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own and I would never promote anything I didn't 100% believe in.

OUTFIT | STOPPING THE 'CHUB RUB' THIS SUMMER*

Over the years I have fallen into the usual trap of visiting London, Amsterdam, Paris ect. They are all great cities in their own rights but my god are they big! They are big and busy and full of annoying tourists. 

Whilst larger cities definitely have their benefits, lately I have made more of an effort to visit some of the smaller underrated cities of Europe, and I've not looked back. I've been thoroughly enjoying exploring lesser known places over recently and I think you should give it a go too.


No hustle and bustle


How many times have you queued hours to see a major tourist attraction just for it to be brimming with others doing the same? I waited almost 2 hours to get into the Louvre one summer just to be squeezed into packed room to see the Mona Lisa for 5 minutes. Although I was thrilled to be metres from one of the most famous paintings of all time, I could have done so much more with my time. Smaller cities usually won't be rammed with tourists, which means not only will you have a more relaxed break, you'll probably have more time to do fun things by avoiding the queues.


Smaller city smaller prices


I'm sure it's not the case with all little towns but from my experience, you can make your holiday so much cheaper by visiting a less popular city. Not only can the flight prices be a lot lower, but the hotels will be too. I've also noticed that restaurants cater more to the locals so you won't find as many high priced tourist traps.

Be the hipster tourist


Everyone likes visiting unique places that none of their friends have seen before and by taking a small city break you are more likely to find the hidden gems that others won't. Instead of taking home a thousand photos of the Eiffel Tower or Barcelona's Magic Fountain, you'll have seen the more unusual sights that little towns have to offer.

Culture and History


Sometimes a countries true culture can be lost in a bigger city. The things that make somewhere so unique can often be overshadowed by touristy things you 'have to do'. Smaller places usually have less attractions and sometimes their historical buildings are still intact too. Lille for example has some beautiful Parisian style roads whilst also still having a labyrinth of winding medieval streets you could spend hours wandering around. Although Paris is undeniably beautiful, so much of its history has been knocked down and replaced by identical buildings.


Walking


You must know by now that I love a good free walking tour. They are a fab, budget friendly way to see a new city, but they don't tend to exist in the big cities. There are two reasons for this, one is that the tour companies that operate in major cities don't like it and other is that they are simply too big to walk around. Which brings me onto another point, no public transport. I dislike public transport at the best of times and when I'm in a new place it can all just get a bit confusing. However in small cities you can usually get away with just walking from place to place which means not only are you saving more money but you will get to see parts of the city that you would miss being stuck on a bus.


The people are great


I don't know about you but I find the people in smaller towns and cities to be a lot more friendly. I'm not sure why but I find the people in major cities just don't have the time of day for you, and some can even be quite rude. I'm not sure I've ever felt this way in a little town, maybe they are just happy to have your custom? I don't know, but the people I've met in smaller places are some of the friendliest I've come across. Sometimes there can be slight language barriers in less touristy areas but that just means you have to try harder to learn their language which I don't think is a bad thing at all!

So those are the reasons I think you should book a small city break soon! There are some great little places out there, you just need to find them.

Do you have a favourite city? Big or small I'm always looking for recommendations!

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WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE A SMALL CITY BREAK

I arrived to my appointment early. I guess I wanted a bit of time to calm my nerves. I wasn't really worried about my smear test, after all there's not much of my body a doctor hasn't seen before, but it was new to me so I was understandably apprehensive.


I'd heard horror stories of cervixes being scratched so severely they bled profusely and of speculums (the instrument inserted into the vagina to allow the nurse to see the cervix) being forced in with a great amount of pain. I'll admit I did think about worst case scenarios as I sat in the waiting room but I rationalised with myself that they must be incredibly rare. After what seemed an age, my name was called and off I walked towards the nurse who was about to give my bits a good poke. The thought made me laugh actually.

As I took a seat in the consultation room the nurse asked if this was my first smear test, I told her it was. I'm not sure if she could tell I was nervous but she began to explain exactly what a cervical screening was, what it would involve, and what she would be looking for. She asked me a few various questions and then proceed to whip around the room picking up every piece of equipment she would soon be using.

Some of the bits I'd seen before and others I hadn't, but that didn't matter because she explained exactly what every item was and how it would be used. She didn't rush through anything and made me feel incredibly calm the whole time. Once I was all clued up the nurse allowed me to ask any questions I had before moving on to the main event.

I was then given time to undress my bottom half and cover myself with a large piece of paper towel. She didn't rush me during this time and waited patiently outside of the curtained off area around the bed I would soon be lying on. 

Once I told her I was ready she quickly showed me how best to position myself so that I would be comfortable and she could easily view my certix. She chatted away throughout the procedure and made me feel very at ease which I think helped the whole thing go a lot smoother. 

Inserting the speculum didn't hurt, having my cervix swabbed also didn't hurt (though it was a very strange feeling) and I didn't feel at all embarrassed about having my legs spread wide open either as my nurse was so calming and profesional. 

The whole procedure was over within about 3 minutes and I found myself on my way to work just 15 minutes after I initially stepped into the consultation room. 15 minutes was all it took to have a potentially life saving procedure, it's amazing really. 

Throughout the rest of the day I had some very light spotting, I would hardly even call it that but I've been told this was completely normal and nothing to worry about, after all I did just have my cervix scratched. Some doctors recommend keeping a panty liner handy however I didn't need one as the amount of blood was just so insignificant.

I'm still yet to have my results. I was told they can take anywhere from 2 - 6 weeks to come back but the time frame varies from area to area to its worth asking your nurse how long the wait is expected to be for you.

My first experience couldn't have been easier and I'm so glad I didn't put it off.


So what are my tips for your first smear?


  • Wear a dress or skirt, this means you can just pop off your knickers and lay on the bed with a bit of dignity. 


  • Relax as much as possible. I know it might be hard with a stranger looking at your fanny but the more relaxed you are the easier it will be for the nurse to insert the speculum meaning less chance of the procedure being painful.


  • Book an appointment for the middle of your cycle as this means a good sample of cervical cells can be taken. It's not recommended to have a smear test during your period.


  • Tell them its your first time. For me letting the nurse know this was my first smear test meant that she explained the whole procedure to me in depth which made me feel more comfortable with what was about to happen.


You can find more information about what happens during a cervical screening here.


Getting a smear test isn't the most fun thing you'll ever do but it is important.


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TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST SMEAR TEST & MY EXPERIENCE

"Another new restaurant, how long will this one last?!". It's a question that seems to cross my mind with every new opening at our snazzy new station, but I think it's pretty valid. Sometimes it feels like restaurants come and go quicker than the trains at Birmingham's Grand Central Station so when I saw Holy Moly Macaroni open and ready for business I just had to try it out.


The menu isn't massively extensive and features mostly Mac & Cheese dishes (funnily enough). I did find several things I liked the look of however which makes a nice change for me as I'm the fussiest eater on the planet. In the end I chose the Buttermilk Chicken with, you guessed it, Mac & Cheese. The Chicken was delicious, and so was the Mac & Cheese to my surprise! Believe it or not I'd never actually tried Mac & Cheese before but it's definitely something I'd have again. A lot of the dishes come with mini Mac sides but there is also a selection of larger Mac & Cheese dishes with various ingredients if you want it as a main. There's even a Mac & nocheese for Vegans and Gluten free options for the celiacs, so everyone is catered for. 


Despite the food being super tasty, the portion sizes just weren't that big in my opinion. Maybe (definitely) I'm a big eater but I did think there could have been a little more on my plate, Tori my dining partner also agreed. She went for exactly the same meal as me but added an extra side of Cajun chips, good call. 

Along with my dinner I also went for a Vimto, yeah yeah I know it's boring but I wasn't feeling anything alcoholic. Now I could have sworn the drinks were refillable, and I definitely refilled mine, but I can't seem to find anything online to suggest they are? So If they are, they're great value for money at £2.80, and if they're not well then I'm a thieving bastard. 


The service during our meal was fab, the staff were super friendly, and the place itself was kept really clean. I'll definitely go back and try out some of the other tasty meals if it does still exist in a few months time. As I said previously, restaurants in Grand Central don't tend to last too long however I really hope this one does as it's a little bit different and it's not just another chain.

Where's the best place you've eaten at recently?


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HOLY MOLY MACARONI - FAD OR FEAST?

So here's the thing, last week I spent a couple of hours writing a post to go with these outfit photos. It had nothing to do with the actually outfit itself, I was just kind of ranting and letting out some feelings. I did publish the post earlier today but I took it down again about 5 minutes later. I think I just decided it wasn't the kind of thing I wasn't happy putting out on the internet. I know I share virtually my entire life with strangers online but sometimes it's nice to keep things to yourself. 


To give you quick a rundown of the other post, it was about how I no longer feel like I'm behind other people my age. Someone I loved once told me that I was falling behind, I wasn't advancing blah blah blah... Well I don't feel like that anymore. My head is in a good place, I've got a decent job, I'm seeing the world bit by bit, and most importantly I'm living the life I want. Things are pretty good.



All that being said I do think the post ended up getting a little bit too personal and even slightly negative. I know I can't expect every day of my life to be happy and positive but I can make an effort to ensure anything I create oozes good energy. So I scrapped that post and now I don't have any text to go with these snazzy little outfit photos, but such is life. 

- Shop The Look -

         
       
         
       
These outfit of the day type images were actually taken by my lovely friend Tori on our trip to Liverpool. I'd been once before with my sister but we were only there to see the Terracotta Warriors (which was amazing by the way) and didn't get chance to see any of the city. So When Tori and I had a free Saturday last week we decided to explore. It was going to be an absolute scorcher of a day so I wore the comfiest thing I could find - a cool Asos shirt and jeans paired with my very worn in Converse. 



Honestly Liverpool left such a lasting impression on me. I know I say that about most cities I visit (I literally fall in love with everywhere I go) but it really was such a vibrant place with some interesting history. The bank holiday vibes, the drinking culture, and the glorious weather all probably added to my good impression of the city but I stand by my words. I'll more than likely do a post around our day trip, but for now please enjoy these photos of myself lounging in the sun wearing mostly Asos items as usual. 



I'm thinking of returning to Liverpool over the summer so I'd love to hear any recommendations for things to do in this fun little city. 

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P.S can someone please appreciate my lyric title that's actually relevant to the post because its mildly about a day trip to Liverpool and you know... Beatles and stuff. 

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OUTFIT | SHE WAS A DAY TRIPPER

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