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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

One Woman, World Traveler

As a couple, we are fortunate to share our love of travel together. But what if you are single, or your spouse prefers the comforts of home to the challenge of adventure?

Czechoslovakia-born, raised in Canada, married to a Brit and currently living in Hong Kong, Hana Marley has been journeying around the world on her own for decades, both before and after she was married. An experienced traveler, she shares her insight, tips and humor in our interview with her below.

Hana, could you tell our Readers a little about yourself? We understand that you are teaching in Hong Kong presently, a job that would certainly appeal to many.

The short story is that Iím a translator-turned-secondary school teacher. Iíve been travelling around the world teaching English and French in international schools since 1989.

Yes, Iím in Hong Kong at the moment but Iíve been lucky enough to have worked in about a dozen countries over the years Ė in fascinating places like Thailand, Russia and Ethiopia.

One summer I also volunteered on a kibbutz in Israel. That was so much fun! I asked to go back the following year but they politely declined my help. Something to do with my clumsiness in the egg-packing factory.

Hana at the Tiger Temple, Thailand

How long have you been traveling as a single woman traveler?

Believe it or not, Iíve been travelling on my own since I was sixteen. My parents sent me to Switzerland on a student exchange that year so that I could improve my German. But instead of going to school, I bought a rail pass and traveled around Europe. Needless to say, my headmaster wasnít very impressed when I then showed up for the graduation ceremony at the end of the last term!

I hope none of my current students are reading this . . .

As a single traveler, what sorts of places do you choose to visit and why? Can you tell us the names of some of the locations you have been? What was your most exotic destination?

Most travellers have their own lists of must-sees and I visited most of mine fairly early on. They were the usual suspects . . . places like the Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal and Sydney Opera House.

But the more I travelled the more I wanted to get off the beaten track, and now I tend to visit the much less obvious, harder-to-reach places. When I'm deciding where to go, the fact that I'll be travelling there alone rarely crosses my mind.

Iíve travelled to about 65 countries so far, so it's impossible to choose just one as 'the most' anything. If youíre thinking hot and tropical, the two most exotic places Iíve been to are probably the Seychelles and Bora Bora. But even more interesting and unique were Uzbekistan, Easter Island, Antarctica and the Amazon.

How long a period of time do you tend to travel? How much do you budget for a trip, or does that amount vary depending on the location you choose?

Well, as Iím not retired yet, my holidays are limited to the amount of time I get off work. Luckily though, that's about 14 weeks a year in most international schools, with half of it all in one big chunk over the summer. Unfortunately, school holidays also mean high season, so I end up having to spend more when I travel than I would spend if I could choose when to travel.

Scuba diving in Hawaii, USA

Still, I always budget towards the lower end of the scale. I stay in hostels or guesthouses, use only cheap local transport, buy food in supermarkets or eat street food and stick to non-alcoholic drinks most of the time.

In India this could mean as little as $15-$20 a day, but in Japan it would be more like $80-$100 a day. It mainly depends on the time of year and what I plan to do there. Either way, I do the basics (food / transport / accommodation) the cheapest way possible so that I can then treat myself to fun activities like scuba diving, white water rafting or hot air ballooning without blowing my next holiday's savings.

 

How do you pack efficiently? Can you give us your best packing tip? What item would you pack and never leave behind? What items do you consider to be necessary?

Suitcases or other roller bags are too awkward and cumbersome for my style of travel, so unless I'm just going to visit family or friends, I only ever travel with a front-loading backpack.

I find the most efficient way of packing is to roll or fold everything tightly before putting it into separate sections in my backpack. Then I fill the in-between gaps with smaller items so that no space is wasted. To keep everything clean, I bring plastic bags for my dirty clothes.

To cut down on weight and bulk, I try to bring things that have multiple uses. A sarong, for example, can be folded in various ways to make a beach dress, long skirt, head scarf, tote bag, pillow case or carrying handle, and it can be used as a shawl, towel, bed sheet or sun shade. After the obvious clothes, shoes, toiletries and camera, I always bring a flashlight, a small padlock, some safety pins and a towel.

The flashlight comes in handy at one time or another on almost every trip Ė you never know when the lights might go out in the hostel! I use the padlock for various things from securing the zips on my backpack to locking hostel room doors. The safety pins are great for quick repairs and various DIY, and you can think of the towel as you would the sarong: beach mat, pillow, tablecloth, curtain, blanket . . .

When you really think about it, though, the only absolutely necessary items to bring with you are your passport, plane ticket and money. Pretty much everything else you might need (including the backpack) can be bought pretty much anywhere you might go.

My best packing tip? I have three, actually.

Hana on Mt. Cook, New Zealand

First, leave the jeans at home. Theyíre heavy, hard to wash and take ages to dry. Go to an outdoor gear shop and get a decent pair of lightweight cargo pants instead.

Second, keep the just-in-case stuff to the bare-bones minimum. If it turns out you do need that fishing rod for a one-day boating trip along the Croatian coast, chances are youíll be able to rent it, borrow it or buy it when you get there.

And finally, don't travel with anything you can't afford to lose, damage or have stolen.

Do you ever utilize a tour group? Do you prefer to travel alone? What about meeting up with fellow travelers on the road? Do you ever travel with your husband?

When I was a student I travelled on tours a few times, but I would only do that now if I had no other choice (North Korea and Antarctica come to mind). I much prefer to travel independently because itís usually a lot cheaper, you can plan your own itinerary, on your own time, and you never have the frustration of waiting around for anyone else.

Travellers are generally a very outgoing and friendly bunch. You get chatting to someone on a train platform, on the bus, waiting in line at the post office, in an Internet cafť, at the bike rental shop . . . and next thing you know youíre joining them on an excursion the next day or planning to meet them a week later in another town.

I donít travel much at all with my husband. Only about once a year. Part of the reason is that he doesnít get as much time off as I do, but the other part of it is that he often doesnít even want to come.

In his words: ĎGetting up at the crack of dawn every day is not a holiday.í Okay, yes . . . fair enough. But I see it more as 'making the most of my time'.

What is your goal on the types of trips you take? What is it that you are seeking? Experience? Adventure? Are you pursuing a Spiritual Quest? Are you looking for insight into humanity?

Nothing that deep. I guess mainly I travel to learn Ė about people and their cultures, traditions, food, art, history, architecture, landscapes. But I also travel to see the unusual, to experience the adventures and to take part in the fun.

Tell us about your lodging choices. Do you stay in hotels? Hostels? Do you book ahead or take your chances upon arrival?

 

My lodging choices basically boil down to whateverís cheapest. In more expensive countries, that often means sleeping on a bunk bed in a dorm room with a dozen other people and a shared bathroom down the corridor (or even on another floor).

But thatís fine with me. I prefer to save on accommodation and then do something fun with the extra money instead. For example, on one trip to Hawaii I saved enough out of my daily budget to take a 90-minute helicopter flight over one of the islands. That experience was more than worth every single night in a bunk bed for three weeks!

As for booking ahead Ė I never do. Partly because itís a bit of a hassle to book places when youíre on the road, but mainly because I canít always be sure where Iíll end up by dayís end. Iíve always been able to find a place to sleep no matter how late (or early) Iíve arrived anywhere, but Iíve often had to knock on quite a few doors before I found a place that wasnít full.

Motor biking on the island of Sicily

Hana, have you ever gotten ill while traveling? Found that you needed medical assistance due to something unforeseen? Had to see a dentist? Do you pack a small emergency kit? What kind of advice could you give others who find they need medical attention while on the road?

Yes, I have gotten ill a few times while travelling but I was always able to find someone who could point me to a private clinic where at least one doctor spoke English -- usually because he'd been educated in North America, England or Australia. Embassies and upscale tourist hotels can sometimes give you a list of English-speaking doctors as well, or you can just go straight to a hospital. 

I have to add here that I've always gotten excellent care abroad. Probably even better and definitely much cheaper than I would expect to get in the UK. Fees have ranged from almost nothing to very reasonable, and my travel insurance (DON'T SKIMP ON THIS WHATEVER YOU DO!) has covered pretty much everything every time.

I would highly recommend World Nomads travel insurance. They're considered by many to be one of the best insurers for long-term, independent, backpacker-type travellers. It's available to almost anyone anywhere, and is especially useful to those who might not be sure how long they'll be away for or where in the world they might end up going.

It's not the absolute cheapest insurance around but it's very reasonable. Even more importantly, though, it's comprehensive, reliable and hassle-free. Plus, you can extend your policy online at any time for as short or as long a period as you need. I always compare how much it would cost me to insure each of my individual trips in one year with how much it would cost me to get a full year's insurance in one go. I then take whichever's cheaper.

I did use to travel with a small medical kit but in all the years I carried it around I never used it once. Now I only pack a few minor items like Band Aids and aspirin. That's about it. If you're doing any serious adventure sports, mountain or jungle trekking, though, it's a good idea to be prepared for more than just a few blisters.

As for dentists . . . I try to avoid them wherever I go! 

What is your best money-saving tip for travel?

I know itís hard when youíre working, but you should try to be as flexible as possible with your travel dates, times, routes, airports and airlines. Check out all your tranport and accomodation options before you decide where and how to spend your money.

On a recent trip to Sicily, for example, instead of flying into the main city of Palermo, my husband and I flew into the much smaller town of Trapani, about 100 km further west. That pretty much halved the price of our plane tickets right there.

Oh, and donít be too shy to bargain. In many parts of the world you can get everything from bus tickets to hotel rooms cheaper just by asking. The worst anyone can do is to say Ďnoí!

Do you have any advice for single women considering traveling alone? How do you ensure your safety? What is your best safety tip?

Michael and Hana in the United Arab Emirates

Itís impossible for anyone to be 100% safe at all times, but of course there are many things you can do to ensure that youíre as safe as possible.

First, familiarize yourself with all the various rip-offs, tricks and scams that are pulled on travellers around the world and be immediately on your guard if it looks like someoneís trying to sucker you into one. Itís easy enough to find out what these scams are by going to any search engine and typing in the phrase 'travel scams'.

Second, be aware of your surroundings. If youíre concerned about the location of a certain hostel, for example, go elsewhere. If you donít like the way a group of people have eyed you up on a bus, get off and wait for the next one. If you suspect someone's following you, stay in busy, well-lit areas until you can find safety.

And finally, keep in touch. Have at least a rough itinerary in mind and email or call someone at regular intervals so that they know where you are and that youíve arrived at certain locations on certain dates.

Thereís no need to be overly paranoid, though. In many parts of the world itís rare to see women travelling alone, so youíre more often than not just a bit of a curiosity to the locals. In that case a smile can go a long way.

Do you write about your travels? How can someone learn more about your style of travel?

I used to keep hand-written diaries of my travels, but those took a lot of time to put together. So, about 10 years ago I started typing up my travelogues instead. I would just stop by an Internet cafť at the end of every day or two and email them to my family or friends.

Thereís so much information out there geared towards backpackers and people wanting to travel on the cheap that itís really just a matter of typing something like 'budget backpacking around the world' into a search engine and clicking on the links that youíre most interested in.

You might also want to check out my new website: www.shoestringbackpacking.com. Itís currently only in its beginning stages but will eventually cover everything from choosing a backpack to bagging cheap round the world tickets to finding the most comfortable train stations to sleep at along the Trans-Siberian Railway.

And in case youíre wondering . . . the best one's in Slyudyanka!

We'd like to thank Hana for taking her time to share her travel wisdom and experiences with us. For organizations and links to single travel sites and forums, visit our Traveling Singles Page. For other engaging interviews click on our Successful Retirees and Captivating Characters Page.

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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