Let’s start a new series of entries called ‘Female Travellers’ in which I would like to bring you profiles of travelling women (currently and in the past), as well as empower women and men to make this first step, break their fears and concerns, and simply travel in an unusual way.
For the beginning, I would like to introduce you to Edyta Siedlecki, a Polish traveller and blogger on travelerka.com (the blog is in Polish). Normally Edyta is married and has a full-time job in an electronics company and now she decided to undertake an unusual and ambitious challenge.
In about 10 days she is going alone for 2 months to Patagonia (Chile And Argentina), where she will travel 2000 km (~1243 miles) by bike. The aim of this expedition, which is named CHILE-out (Polish: WyCHILEoutowana), is to collect some material about the inhabitants of this part of the world and prove herself and other women that expeditions like that in difficult conditions are not for men only.
And because, as you probably already know, I love ambitious girls, who fulfill their dreams and inspire others to act, I decided to support Edyta in her journey and I gave her a set of travelling bags for her bike. Because I think that women promote and support ventures like that.
I also asked Edyta to answer some of my questions. I’m not going to ask about her expedition but I want her to say a bit about herself and being a woman on the road.
You are about to ride alone 2000 km in Patagonia by bike. What caused you to make such a decision?
It is difficult to answer this question unambiguously. A lot of factors decided about my trip to Patagonia. However, I conclude that the driving force behind almost all of my decisions is a constant desire to collect new experiences. I do not like constants in life and travels help me to get away from everyday’s reality. “Unfortunately,” this is a vicious circle because the more I go, the more I need to leave :). I think I became addicted.
Do you have already similar feats on your account?
It depends on what can be classified as feats. If you mean some breakneck mountain climbing without equipment, diving with sharks in the ocean or crawl crossing of the Baikal Lake, unfortunately it’s all ahead of me ;). I treat my bicycle traverse of Patagonia as a prelude to further challenges. Who knows what will come to my mind when I get to the end of the world?
What was the reaction of your family to this idea? How did you convince them?
One day I bought a map of Chile and left it surreptitiously on the kitchen table. Some time later I added a book guide to Argentina and a few more maps, this time of Patagonia. It was a sign for my loved ones, that something is going on. When I finally said what was in my head, it turned out that they were not surprised, because they felt what was coming.
This probably means that I have become boringly predictable ;).
What three adjectives would you use to define yourself and your approach to travel?
Spontaneous – it’s my middle name. I’m not talking about ways of travelling, because I like to plan my trips in advance. This feature in my case is the pace of making decisions when cheap tickets appear on the horizon. When I see on the screen of my computer an exceptionally good price I don’t wonder too much but just book. Reflection comes later :). Because of this I flew, for instance to Japan for 67 euros, to New York for 150 euros or Iceland for about 70 euros.
Creative – I do not like boredom. I use this feature to diversify the time during travelling for me and others. I always find something necessary to do, see or eat. Week holiday on the beach is not my cup of tea. But sometimes I like to laze, too.
Conscious – in other words, I just like to know where I am going and what waits for me there – good or bad. I’m not a fan of making rigid schedules of sightseeing, but having the knowledge of the region, where I’m going to, has never hurt me yet.
Is there someone or something in your life that inspires you to take action?
This may sound corny, but for me, every day brings new inspiration. Is it a story once heard, or an article in a magazine or encounters with people, or beautiful photographs – all this can wind up the action and bring fantastic ideas. I used to look for the inspiration in books, now I can find it almost everywhere, and when I’m out of creativity I just take another trip.
Look at yourself from the perspective of time and say what exactly travelling changed in your character and approach to life.
Travelling exerts a strong influence on the psyche, there is no doubt. It helps you to change the perspective from which we perceive ourselves and our surroundings. My impression is that very often we do not appreciate what we have. And even a week spent in the tent without a shower and basic amenities, that we have every day, is a real school of life. After such a journey, even an ordinary shower with hot water seems to be a fulfilled dream and an ubiquitous luxury.
I think I can venture to say that thanks to the travelling I am more confident, aware of my abilities and certainly much more resourceful in life. I also try to cultivate an extremely important feature for me – tolerance and openness to other people. Travelling teaches humble approach to life. It makes you gawk in amazement and seasons goosebumps, but never leaves a man indifferent.
In your opinion, what kind of obstacles a woman has to face while travelling alone?
In general, I think it is much better to be a solo female traveller than a male. Ladies more often than men arouse in strangers the instinct of caring, they experience more often human kindness and selflessness. Of course, because of gender they are more vulnerable to unwanted advances from men or other more or less persistently made behaviours from men, but let’s not get crazy. Always and everywhere the common sense needs to be used. In this way, you can avoid many potentially dangerous situations.
I think that the more obstacles to overcome for women are BEFORE a travel. For ages woman has been a guardian of hearth and home. Few would be surprised if a man went on a lonely journey. On the other hand, when it’s about woman, almost everyone is surprised. It’s hard sometimes to go beyond the framework imposed by society. You need a courage to do this and to fulfill your dreams in spite of adversity, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find these features in yourself and their absence is the biggest obstacle to travel alone.
How would you encourage other women to dare to do something new in their lifes, something unusual, step outside their comfort zone?
Life is only one, and no one will live it for us. It’s worth to do something crazy from time to time and recharge the batteries discharged by daily routine. Trips give strength to act in real life, develop and learn. Life is not just a home, work and material needs, it is also about fulfilling the dreams, overcoming your own weaknesses and about self-improvement. It is worth remembering while following the path chosen for yourself.
The hardest part is to make a decision. All the rest is just a great adventure.
I thank Edyta for the answers and wish her luck in Patagonia and I encourage you to follow her Facebook fanpage (in Polish, too), where she puts all the great photos (photos are international). 🙂
Do you know any other inspiring female travelers for this serie? If yes – write me an e-mail or share your opinion in the comments below!