On one hand, venturing into the unknown alone can be difficult, scary, and simply overwhelming. On the other, those adventures can be some of the most exciting and enriching experiences, but you must build up the confidence to go first.
TravSolo, a travel media start-up launching soon in the iOS App Store, aims to help people take the first step towards living a more fulfilled travel life, even alone, and to get over the fear of doing so, through their platform.
IVY Magazine sat down with IVY member Chizoba Anyaoha, founder of TravSolo, to learn more about the company, the art of solo traveling, and what first time solo travelers may look forward to.
What is your background and what inspired you to create TravSolo?
I wanted to celebrate my birthday in style in Australia. As I started looking into flights, my friend who was coming with me asked if we could postpone for a month to fit his schedule. The next month came only to hear one of his co-workers recommend we plan to spend at least two weeks which made sense at the time. Months later, it was time to finally go only for my friend to realize he needed to renew his passport. Enough was enough (laughing). I would have to go alone or not go at all.
I found an amazing flight ticket and set off to both Sydney and Melbourne. Let me tell you, I had one of the most amazing times of my life and met some of the most genuine people. Day by day, I realized some of the many pain points solo travelers go through from my experience and hearing the stories of others. Coming back, I started working on my startup piece by piece.
What is TravSolo? How does it help travelers? What makes it different than other travel apps?
We provide the itinerary tools, recommendations, and interesting people to meet to create your ultimate travel story. As you complete your day filled with activities, it turns into a video for you to share privately with loved ones, and is easily integrable through social media.
We aim to help female travelers and those looking to travel alone for the first time feel safer away from home. While we can never promise complete safety, we help put people in better positions to worry less. It helps people save over 10+ hours in planning a trip and easily share their story – way easier than creating a travel blog.
We are a travel media startup where people are encouraged to share both their good stories and ones that seem unpopular or not the ideal story you think of. Social media is quite one-dimensional where there is pressure to convince your friends your life is perfect or always happy. Just like in the real world, crazy shit happens on travel, and we encourage people to share their true experiences in a much authentic way. We definitely want to see more diversity represented in the travel industry.
What kind of community does TravSolo foster between tourists and locals?
At the end of the day, we are all human beings who may think or do the same things in different ways. It all comes down to perspective, understanding our similarities and appreciating each other’s differences. All travelers are locals in their hometowns, so we emphasize the reciprocity effect, where you give before receiving. As locals are present to talk about their culture, foods and maybe take you around while on your travels, we hope you do the same for a traveler within your hometown.
What do you love about your work?
Getting people comfortable to share their real stories, the process of getting people to live their lives and travel. Even if they have to start alone, we provide travelers a layer of safety and help tackle loneliness. People are willing to open up if given the opportunity or the platform to do so. I enjoy the challenge of getting people who are fearful of being alone to take their first adventure and see the world.
Why should people travel? What is the benefit of it?
In my opinion people should travel to better understand the world around them, learn a new culture through real world experience.
You learn so much about yourself – new things to love, re-discover things you used to love, freedom to roam and do the things you truly want to do, not worry about someone else’s feelings and what they want to do, better understand yourself as a human, re-evaluate your life, understand the toxic areas and people in your life, be with your own thoughts, clarity, and meet different versions of yourself you never knew existed.
What advice do you have for young or first time solo travelers?
To just go and remember to start small. Most people assume solo traveling means backpacking through Europe or South America. Challenge yourself step-by-step like heading out to the town or city nearby you have always been curious to check out, treat yourself to a nice solo dinner or even a staycation to see how you react to being alone.
Fear is a hard emotion to deal with, but at the end of the day it is still an emotion. It takes time and practice to get over it, and creating a routine to do so. I know a few travelers who are afraid of air travel who still go to many destinations a year. Practice makes perfect.
Traveling alone comes in many forms – those traveling in groups but to want to explore that town no one else is interested in visiting, those who relocate to another city for a new job or just want a fresh start, those who feel lonely and simply want to do things while meeting new faces, or those who simply want to do activities alone on a boring day!
I want people to understand there is a difference between being alone and loneliness. It is okay to do things by yourself. Let me set the record straight – doing things alone does not mean you do not have friends or lack a social life; it means you want to live without limitations. I personally refuse to wait for people in order to try out that dish I’ve been craving for three weeks, go to that concert that only comes twice a year, or see that basketball game between two great teams considering I’ve been able to meet at least one person to share the experience with. Life is too short to wait for others to live a full life. I’ll leave a question here for everyone who reads this to ask themselves – how long are you willing to wait for others to live your life?
Whether you’re young, middle-aged or old, challenge yourself to live more.
As a travel media startup, we love storytelling. Reach out to us through our social media channels to have your solo travel story shared or receive tips on taking your first solo trip.