Happy New Month!
Traveling solo freaks most of us but not Rheen. She has mastered the art of going solo and she loves every bit of it. Rheen shares with us how she does it and how she came to a start in the first place.
Rheen, tell us about her.
I am a backpacker, hiker, photographer and I am probably never at home. Trust me I will always be somewhere living life in the best way I know-how.
How did you get to start backpacking and why?
The truth is it wasn’t planned it came naturally. I have been doing my solo travels way before I started documenting online. My first solo travel was when I was 20. My parents took me to the border and I was gone to Uganda. One time it hit me that I have no one to look up to when it comes to solo budget traveling around East Africa because I am always all about saving coins. That’s how I started documenting my travels online. I felt that people needed to know that you can travel, do lots of things but on a budget. Also, just in case anyone needed motivation on going solo.
As a solo female backpacker, what is that one fear that never leaves you?
My greatest fear is sexual harassment, these streets out here are never safe for women and it’s worse for solo female travelers. Another one is being stalked.
You have backpacked to several East African countries, how has the experience been?
I have had one of the most amazing experiences and some days I look back and I can’t help but feel proud of myself for doing it all alone.
Do you have a favorite destination that you would go back to in a heartbeat?
This is a hard one. Each destination triggers something in you and the experiences are unique. I would say though that Burundi surprised me since we all know how Burundi is portrayed in the media. From poor economy to war, name them. I wanted to see it all for myself and when I tell you it surprised me I mean it. It is peaceful and people down there are going about their lives normally. On the other hand, Rwanda has a special place in my heart. If you have been to Rwanda you know what I mean.
You were a hotelier, how did you get to balance work and travel?
I was a hotelier yes but thank God I had a normal working schedule (8to5) that made it easy to plan my travels and on some days plan with my leave days. I always made sure I maximized every single moment even if it meant traveling back and going straight to work which I did so many times.
To anyone looking at starting to travel solo, what advice would you give them?
Just go! Don’t overthink it. That first trip will awaken something in you. Something that you’ll want to keep alive for the longest time. All I can say is start small and grow gradually. The truth is your friends are never coming so go.
Many women are embracing this travel culture, how does that make you feel?
This makes me so happy. I love to see women putting themselves out there and we can both agree this is another level of independence that is being unlocked. As much as questions do arise since they are expected to do certain things, seeing them rise above all these notions gives me joy. Let women live and if they choose to live on the road then so be it, we only have one life anyway.
I saw you are launching your website soon, do you mind dropping hints on what we should expect?
I am but the truth is I am about to be out here winging it. I do not know where to start. The plan is to document my solo travel stories and what it is like to be a solo female traveler. The ups and downs but at the same time highlight some things to be aware of when going solo and I hope it helps anyone who is aspiring to go solo since for me I learned most things on the road.
What is that question that people ask you frequently?
“How do you fund your travels” I know some come from a genuine place but the truth is most want to evaluate if what you are saying can translate to your travels. I don’t get it because daily people are always doing what makes them happy but when someone chooses to travel, that’s where people draw the line. Anyone who follows me on social media knows I am a minimalist and any little amount of money I get goes on travel.
How do your parents feel about this path you took?
I have liberal parents that I am forever grateful for. They have given me the freedom to choose what I want to do as long as it makes me happy. To say the least, they are the best.
What mantra do you live by?
Vibes and Inshallah any day.
I met Rheen through Instagram. Her content stood out for me, it made me curious one I love to see people doing different things, two, the fact that she did them solo made me more interested. Check out her Instagram as she backpacks across East Africa and beyond. Her energy is infectious, #youshouldmeet her.
Till Next time; Just go!