Last Minute Travel interviewed Nicki Sunderland, a travel blogger from Michigan, to discuss her life of travel and her experiences as a woman on the road. Nicki was able to inspire us and to tell us about herself and life as a female on the road. If the fear of traveling as a female has ever held you back from exploring the world, this interview may put you at ease.
Last Minute Travel: Please tell us a little about yourself, your brand, and how you got to where you are today.
Nicki: Ever since I was a kid I was obsessed with seeing the world. I read a lot and have a colorful imagination. I grew up in Detroit with a single parent and basically paved my own way. I put myself through college studying law and then just recently finished my MBA. All while studying I kept traveling and seeing places I had only read about in books or learned about in classes.
I got into luxury travel about 9 years ago with my husband and we would take vacations and loved to just relax and eat good food. Everyone kept asking me about my travels so I thought I would just start a blog and share photos about where I went.
Once I started my blog and noticed my social channels take off I realized I could turn it into a business. For the last year I have been traveling as a business (mostly) and I love every second of it. I choose mostly where I want to travel and I teach others how to get into this line of work through consulting.
What inspired you to start traveling?
Reading books and learning about history in school. I started off small, visiting local areas when I was kid and as I got older my curiosity kept pushing me to go further. At 18 I started taking seasonal jobs around the United States and that is when I really got interested in seeing more. I was able to see 48 of the 50 states before I even turned 23.
What have you noticed about safety and treatment of women when traveling?
I have been fortunate enough to travel to places where I felt safe while I was there and never noticed any mistreatment. That does not mean it doesn’t happen – I just haven’t witnessed it.
I was robbed in broad daylight in Hawaii about 8 seconds after walking away from my car. Someone broke the window and took all my stuff – right at the beach. Lesson learned – take your stuff with you.
What is a myth about solo female travel that you would like to debunk?
That it is easy. It is more than the magazine photos with flowing hair and ball gowns in iconic locations or in front of colorful walls. It’s hard and you have you to rely on. You have to make all the decisions and be that person who can stand alone and be comfortable with just yourself on this journey. There will be times when no one speaks your native language, when you get lost, sick, maybe you hurt yourself or even get robbed – you have to deal with this. It is NOT all glamorous Instagram photos.
What are your ultimate travel packing hacks? What are some items you simply cannot travel without?
I fly carry-on only. Saves money AND I don’t have to worry about my luggage being lost. That being said, I also use packing cubes to get the most amount of space possible in my suitcase.
I always pack a moisturizing face mask (my skin gets dry on planes) and I will wear it on a plane too – haha.
What are the best destinations for shopping and why?
Beverly Hills, Ca., Paris, France, Grand Bizarre in Istanbul – Turkey – from luxury goods to handicrafts these are my top picks for shopping.
I should warn you – the Grand Bizarre can be intense but its also amazing. Come prepared to get lost in a maze of beautiful china, rugs, jewelry, and Turkish men ready to negotiate.
What are the best destinations for solo travel and why?
My favorite solo destinations have been Iceland, Bali, Philippines, and Singapore. All for their own reasons but mostly I found them all to be beautiful. Whether it was the landscapes, the hospitality, the adventure – they just left a place in my heart ❤️️
What are some of your strategies for deflecting unwanted attention as a female on the road?
I actually haven’t experienced this much but I always tell people I am married… and they go away.
What advice do you have for female travelers who are worried about safety/how they will be treated when traveling?
If you are planning to travel solo – do as much research as possible and then do more. I never just buy a ticket and go. Everyone has a different experience and know that yours will not be identical to anyone else’s. I have had people tell me they love it and that they hate it.
People are generally nice and will help you when you are traveling. I have been robbed in an area that you would think was safe – and in broad daylight. Be cautious of who you trust on the road, use common sense always, trust your gut feeling, don’t put yourself in inherently dangerous situations, and guard yourself.
What’s been your favorite travel experience thus far? (If you can’t choose 1, 2-3 is ok too 😊)
Flying in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia in Turkey 6 years ago is my top item! Then, going to the top of the Burj Khalifa, watching the sunset at the Marina Bay Sands (world’s highest infinity pool in Singapore), island hopping in El Nido, seeing the glacier lagoon in Iceland, and getting married in Turks and Caicos – only fitting I would have a destination wedding ❤️️