"Travelling solo is an incredibly enriching experience"

14th November 2018 Traveller of the week

Name: Victoria Narancio (@Toti)
Number of Countries on her profile: 25
Number of recommendations: 286
Follow her to: London, Uruguay, Myanmar and Portugal!
Particularities: Victoria was born in Brazil and raised in Uruguay, but has been a Londoner for nearly a decade. An intrepid traveller at heart, she recently left her eight-year job as an international arbitration lawyer to start a Master’s in Art, Business and Law at Christie’s. But prior to becoming a student again, she went on an amazing three-month trip, on her own. She tells us all about discoveries, finding yourself and obviously her best travel tips in this fascinating interview!

Tell us a few things about you…

“I recently sat in an art philosophy class where I was asked to explain “who I am”, this question feels a little bit like that! But all jokes aside, I was born in Brazil to Uruguayan parents, lived in Uruguay through my teens, qualified as a lawyer and moved to London 8 years ago to work in international dispute litigation. I then decided to quit my (relatively stable and successful) job to start a master’s degree in art, business and law at Christie’s, and at the same time to enjoy the things in life that matter the most to me and make me truly happy: spending quality time with my friends and loved ones, practicing yoga, having time to cook healthy meals, and of course travelling!  I love to travel, explore new restaurants, new exhibitions, visit galleries or museums.  I also love giving recommendations and tips to friends, family (and pretty much anyone that will listen to me), so Live2Leave has provided me with the perfect solution – all my friends need to do is follow all my tips there!”

What type of traveller are you?

“I’d like to think of myself as a blend between adventurous and relaxed, as well as extremely curious. I am passionate about learning, exploring new cultures, re-visiting places that had an impact in my life, and having different “life” experiences.  Curiosity pushes me to look for new and underdeveloped places (off-the-beaten track) but also to re-visit the “classics” (Paris is always a good idea).  I’ve also done quite a lot solo travelling over the past two years, as well as trips or weekends away with friends, loved ones, and family.  They are all extremely gratifying and fulfilling in different ways.”

When travelling, what are the three things you never leave home without?

“My dad used to say the only things you cannot forget are the three “P’s”: Plata, Pasaje, Pasaporte, or (in English): money, ticket and passport.  His advice still rings true.  When I start panicking about forgetting to pack something (iPhone charger…), I remember that the only two things you actually really need are money (make sure to budget accordingly and keep tabs on your budget), and your passport.  Everything else you forget you can borrow, purchase or live without. “

For a Christmas break, Uruguay or Bali?

“Definitely Uruguay.  This is not me being biased because I am Uruguayan, it is the best place on earth to spend your Christmas holidays.  There’s something magical, nostalgic and liberating about being there.  It’s summer and warm, everyone is happy, it’s relaxed and casual but chic all at the same time, and most importantly, it caters to all tastes.  If you want to relax in a deserted beach with a book, you can do this.  If you want to party, there are plenty of cool clubs and parties.  If you want the best wood fire barbecue, again, this is your place.  Sailing, golf, surf, yoga, paddle surf, horseback riding, or eating the most delicious pastries, meat and fish, the list goes on…”

For a weekend break: Budapest or Lisbon? 

“They are both different and wonderful, but I think Lisbon will always have a special place in my heart.  It’s the perfect city for a weekend getaway.  Nice weather, the most delicious (and cheap) food and wine, cute little cobbled streets, history, and art.  It’s historical, trendy, and rough around the edges: the best ingredients for a perfect city break!”

Suarga Padang Padang, Bali, Indonesia

@Toti

“One of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever stayed in. This rustic-delux eco sustainable resort is surreal ❤️”

Estancia VIK José Ignacio, Uruguay

@Toti

“Feeling nostalgic of my beloved Uruguay has me thinking of Estancia Vik ❤️ How stunning is this place only a few minutes from José Ignacio and Manantiales? Every room is different and has been decorated by famous local artists. Food is plentiful and amazing. And wait until you see the swimming pool!”

You’ve just come back from three months of solo travel. Where did you go and what’s the best thing about it?

“After quitting my eight-year job and starting my MSc at Christie’s, I decided to take some (well deserved) time off to travel to places I always wanted to visit.  In addition to travelling and exploring new places I also wanted to learn new things, so I started off by heading to the Maldives to rest and learn how to dive.  I then came back to Europe and went to Portugal to explore a few new places (Porto, Comporta, amongst others).  After Portugal I headed to a surf and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka, which was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had! (A big shout out to Sunshine Stories, the only place you should consider in Sri Lanka if you’re keen on giving surfing a real go).  I took some time to explore Sri Lanka after the retreat, which was great too! I had signed up to do a photography course in Kerala with Creative Escapes after Sri Lanka, but unfortunately they had to cancel at the last minute because of a force majeure event, so I ended up going to Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore instead.  (Full disclosure: I didn’t travel solo the entire three months, part of my travelling was with my boyfriend.)

The two key takeaways for me after three solid months of travelling were: (i) you don’t need very much to live a fulfilling life; and (ii) experiences which at first may seem unfortunate (like your trip being cancelled two days before it starts), open many new paths that lead to incredible new adventures.  Be open, be flexible, be curious, be adventurous, but be cautious as well! An important part of travelling solo is knowing when to embrace new experiences, when to say no, and when to avoid uncomfortable or awkward situations that may lead you to unpleasant experiences.”

Would you recommend it to fellow female travellers?

“Absolutely! Travelling solo is an incredibly enriching experience.  You learn to be confident on your own, with your own thoughts, to look out for new experiences. It’s really fascinating how you are more open and more alert to the world and to others.  These experiences stay with you for life. I am so grateful for being able to travel solo and learn so much about myself and others.  I am grateful for all of those who helped me along the way, for the fascinating people I’ve met who have challenged my ways of thinking, and for being able to appreciate the small things in life.  I cannot recommend it enough!”

Sunshine stories, Ahangama, Sri Lanka

@Toti

“Much more than a surf and yoga retreat / it’s a journey of self-discovery and fun times! The house is beautiful, the food is absolutely delish, the staff took so much care of us I felt home, and the teachers are PHENOMENAL. One of the best holidays I’ve had and on top of everything, I am now a surfer!”

Tha Mu Hti Temple, Myanmar (Burma)

@Toti

“Watching the sunrise. No schedule, no shoes, no worries! During July-October be there before 6:00am to avoid the crowds.”

You’ve become quite a yogi as we can see on the app… What are you best yoga experiences and destinations?

“In another life, I used to be quite skeptical and cynical towards yoga and “yogis”.  Two years ago, after being quite ill and struggling to find motivation and strength, I stumbled into a yoga class and I was hooked.  At the risk of sounding cliché, yoga changed my life in countless ways.  The main takeaway, however, was finding the space for myself.  That hour in my day in which I could just be, when I didn’t have to think about what would happen, who I needed to call, or whether I was doing a good job at work.  I started finding space to be kinder to myself, I found positive thoughts, and little by little, my health started to improve.  I was finding motivation again, but above all, I was finding mental clarity by focusing on today and the things that really mattered to me.  Yoga is such an important part of my life I signed up to do a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Goa next year!

If you’ve never done yoga before, I’d recommend signing up to a short yoga retreat; don’t commit more than two-three days as you may not like it.  Also, make sure you go somewhere warm! There are plenty of long-weekend or week retreats in Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece).  If you want a more immersive experience however, the top three yoga destinations you should consider are: Bali, India, and Sri Lanka.  These yoga retreats are magical.  Think good healthy food that nourishes your body, lovely and interesting people from all over the world, a healthy routine, and warm weather… just bliss!”

ONEWORLD Ayurveda Panchakarma Center, Bali, Indonesia

@Toti

“For those in need of rest and a proper detox this is your place! Two daily yoga classes, authentic Ayurveda meals (and they are delicious!), rice field walks, workshops, and two treatments per day – cannot recommend enough! Ayurveda is really the key to a happier / better / more energised you 🙏🏻❤️”

Sri Yoga Shala, Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

@Toti

“Loads of yoga classes in a beautiful shala, followed by tea and a swim in the pool- magical. They also have treatments, make sure to book in advance!”

We also can’t get enough of your coffee shops recos in London. But we have to ask you now: any top 3?

“Coffee is my one true love, my only addiction and a true obsession.  I cannot live or function without coffee (believe me, I’ve tried and decided it’s just not worth it!)

London has the most amazing coffee shops and cafes.  We are really spoiled, so it’s incredibly difficult for me to choose only three spots.  I will, therefore, choose the top three based on purely selfish reasons: they are the closest to where I live and study and therefore more accessible to me (and my top three go-to options on any given day).  In no particular order:

  1. Over Under (Earl’s Court)
  2. Caravan (Fitzrovia and King’s Cross)
  3. Glow Bar (close to Oxford Circus)

Glow Bar, Marylebone, London

@Toti

“Vegetarian café which serves Detox kitchen food, holds natural beauty brands owned only by women, and has infrared saunas and facials all in one wonderfully beautiful and pink space. Female power and ownership and its finest. The bowls are to die for ❤️”

Caravan To Go, Fitzrovia, London

@Toti

“Caravan has made its way to Fitzrovia! Amazing coffee, food, and treats to take away or eat in. The space is super lush too, with big windows and a lovely communal table to work away. It’s a bit loud for work meetings, but the place was buzzing today so it might be different over brekkie”

What was your biggest travel fail? And about your biggest travel Wow?

“Biggest travel fail: taking the night bus from Yangoon to Bagan.  Not because this was a bad idea, it’s safe, really tidy and efficient, but I got food poisoning that day and it was the worst 16 hours of my life… I should have waited one day before travelling.  Sometimes, losing money (and this wasn’t too much: USD15) is better than having a terrible experience!

Biggest travel wow: there are too many to choose from! It’s too hard, but the south of Cambodia was a big, big WOW for me.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as beautiful and unexplored as it was, and it blew me away.”

What do you use Live2Leave for?

“I love providing tips and recommendations of the places I love, so of course I ask all my friends to follow me there! I also search for new coffee shops, new destinations to travel to.  Sometimes I’m not looking for anything in particular, but I’ll see a picture I like and save it for inspiration when I sit down and draw my “list of places I want to visit this year”.  (For the record, next year I’m heading to Rome, Japan and India, so stay tuned!)”

In your view, what are some of the undiscovered/under talked about places that people should visit?

“The south of Cambodia (think Thailand 20-30 years ago, with no tourists and beautiful unexplored beaches), Lombok (the “new” Bali), Palermo in Sicily (such a cool city and perfect for a weekend getaway), and Myanmar. “

Any travel literature or playlist?

“I always try to read books related somehow to the places I visit, it helps to set the mood.  More generally however, I’d highly recommend “The Path” to anyone interested in opening their mind to Chinese philosophy.  It’s really engaging and easy to follow, but the advice provided is incredibly useful and I have found that I always come back to it. A more recent book I also highly recommend is “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi.  It is beautifully written, sad and inspiring at the same time.  There were a number of moments where I was just stopped in my tracks because he said something that resonated so well with me, others where I cried, and many which made me feel a clarity about what matters to me that I hadn’t felt in a while. It’s a must-read, especially when travelling, because it gives you a sense of perspective and makes you appreciate the opportunities ahead: to explore, to discover, and to feel alive.

Playlist-wise: always something motivating and upbeat! My Spotify playlists are super eclectic.  I go from mellow to indie, to old-school rock, jazz, techno, and of course reggaetón and cumbias! Music is so personal, it’s hard to give advice, but since I have a few songs that remind me of a place or moment and I will always associate them with that place, I recommend upbeat (non-cheesy) songs.  A recent song which has been on-repeat is “Looking for Knives” by DYAN.  It reminds me of Bali, how I felt about life in general when I was there (happy, excited, alive), and always brings a smile to my face.”

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