During the pandemic, as the world began to close, I missed the idea of traveling and connecting with other cultures, which prompted me to reflect on my trips, the things I’d noticed, and the lessons learned. In the boredom of the lockdown, I thought: What if I created a place where I could connect with other women from different backgrounds who traveled solo too? And so I did. Since then, I’ve taken on the mission of not only sharing my solo travel stories but also the ones from many other women around the world. An idea that started as a way to keep myself occupied became a show that has been listened to in over 80 countries. This is my podcast journey.
By Lu Colmenares
How My Love for Solo Travel All Began It All
In 2018, I went on a trip around South East Asia on my own. It wasn’t my first trip alone, but this time I noticed something that had escaped me before: most of the time, I was the only woman from the Americas traveling alone. I came to the realization that many women from my side of the globe are not used to the idea of solo travel or don't know what it means.
The pandemic gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect upon that trip and what I’d noticed. As someone who had done a few solo trips already, I was familiar with the fears, hesitations and difficulties of being a girl traveling alone. But I also knew about its joys, teachings and benefits.
So, I decided to create a space where women from all walks of life could share their travel experiences, fears, doubts, lessons, and wishes. And, why not? Maybe I’d inspire others to take the leap and go and explore the world. It was from this, that The Solo Female Traveler Podcast was born.
But where do I begin with a podcast?
It wasn’t an easy start. There were a lot of doubts and ruminating thoughts: What if no one listened to it? Am I making a fool of myself? English is not my first language, will people understand me? The only thing I could hold onto at the time was the idea of sharing mine and the stories of others, and showing that travel is possible no matter your background, social-economic level, or race.
The idea was clear in my mind, but there was plenty of work to do. First, I had to find guests, create outlines for the episodes, and figure out how to edit audio. Mind you, I had no idea how to do any of those things. I simply… started.
I was surprised to find out how willing people are to share their stories, and once I knew who the guest for an episode would be, creating an outline based on their story felt easier.
Learning the Art of Podcast Editing
Editing the episodes was an entirely different beast: after recording episodes non-stop, I found myself with tons of raw audio files and zero knowledge of how to edit them. I am forever grateful to YouTube tutorials! It was a period of intense research, learning, watching tutorials, deciding on an audio-editing software, and learning how to use it, but after about two weeks, I was ready.
At the beginning, each episode took 3 hours to edit because I wanted to get rid of all the verbal fillers and awkward silences. But after posting every week for about 2 months, it was inevitable that I began to feel burnt out. This (originally) fun hobby started to feel like a very demanding and unpaid job.
I stopped recording for months until, one day, I received a DM from a listener thanking me for an episode she had listened to; then, she started asking me questions and advice on planning her own first solo trip. Right after that, I got another message asking me to be a guest on another travel podcast. I realized there and then that this hobby of mine was having an impact out there and that I shouldn’t stop.
Now I record by seasons, keeping in mind that I need time to recharge and allow myself the space to reconnect with my creativity.
Sharing Is Caring
Planning, recording, and distributing are one aspect of podcasting, and you can create the best podcast in the world, but if you don’t promote it, no one will find it. That was my next challenge: How was I supposed to get my show in front of the people that would most appreciate it?
I turned to social media first, sharing the episodes in my personal profile and then asking my guests to share them with their audience as well. After a year and a half of constantly posting episodes and growing my Instagram page, listeners started to find me, the show started to get consistent downloads, and my audience began to grow. Today, I have listeners from all over the world, and brands want to partner up and support The Solo Female Traveler Podcast. The journey hasn't been without its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My Podcasting Tips
If you are interested in starting a podcast, here are some tips for you.
The first step is to pick a problem to solve. There are 8 billion people in this world; if the topic of your podcast is relevant to you, it will most likely be for thousands of other people out there too.
Once you’ve identified a main topic or problem, the second step is to pick a subtopic that is broad enough to give you content for multiple episodes and seasons, but are specific enough to draw in a certain group of podcast listeners. In my case, the main topic is solo female travel (which is also a subcategory of the larger topic of “Travel”) and, within that niche, I have many subtopics to choose from.
When it comes to recording materials, all you need is a computer, a microphone, and editing software. That's it!
Once you are a few seasons in and have an established audience, podcasting can become a source of additional income. There are many companies looking to partner up with podcasters, and ways in which, as a creator, you can offer memberships to access exclusive content.
And the biggest advice of all is this: do not quit!
Even though there are more than 5 million podcasts in the world today, many podcasters quit before they reach the point where listeners can find them. Be ready to play the long game and choose a topic that you are so curious and passionate about that you will have fun with it!
I can tell you that podcasting has been a fantastic experience and one of the best decisions of my life. The Solo Female Traveler was a mission and also a curious experiment. It started out as a hobby to keep myself occupied which then turned into a learn-as-you-go journey where I got to make many friends around the world.
If it’s something you’ve been wanting to try, go for it! There are many resources out there to help you along the way. Just a heads-up: your first episode will not be perfect, and it shouldn’t be, but you can improve and get better as you go. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun and enjoy the ride.
About Lu Colmenares
Lu Colmenares is a Venezuelan traveler, podcaster, and psychology student. She is the creator of The Solo Female Traveler, a podcast where she shares and validates the stories of solo female travelers around the world.