According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of flâneuse is “a woman who is or who behaves like a flâneur.” Well, what is a flâneur you may now ask? Good question! “Flâneur, from the French noun flâneur, means ‘stroller,’ ‘lounger,’ ‘saunterer,’ or ‘loafer.’ Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations.” For centuries, the term was reserved for men, but we are here to take it back (this book was the inspo!). In this series, we talk to female travelers who are exploring and strolling the world in their own way, on their own terms.
This month’s Flâneuse is Efia Sulter!
+ Hello! Introduce yourself!
Hey, I’m Efia, solo traveler and professional napper at effytalkslife.com. I’m passionate about empowering women to travel the world alone, especially young black women who are hugely underrepresented in the travel space. I’m originally from Scotland, but I’ve been traveling since 2016 and currently living abroad in Melbourne, Australia!
+ When did you first start traveling?
My first trip abroad was when I was eight. I remember it so vividly because it was my birthday on the plane and the flight attendant gave me a bag of sweets. Haha, oh, the simple joys! Unfortunately, it takes a little more than a chocolate bar to make me happy these days!! I first started traveling independently when I was in Uni. I went abroad for a couple of music festivals and won a scholarship to work in San Diego for three months. It was that trip to San Diego that really started things in motion for me.
+ How would you describe your travel style?
Listen, I’m not one of those people that will plan their trip to a T. It’s just not in me. I’m very much a kind of go with the flow person when it comes to travel, which is ironic because I also experience a lot of anxiety from ‘the unknown.’ I do it anyway because otherwise, I’d never get anything done.
+ Why is travel so important to you?
Growing up, I experienced a lot of adversity. I was orphaned by the age of 14, and I’ve struggled a lot with mental health and chronic illness. The idea that I could create a future for myself, despite those things, blows my mind. And don’t get me wrong, I say despite, but those things have very much made me who I am. It’s why I’m so passionate about helping other women see the world. I never had parents to support my travels or my dreams in my teenage years, and I’ve suffered a lot of mental and physical pain, but it still happened for me, and it can happen for you too. That’s the message I want to put out there. And not only that anyone can do it – but I’ll help them get there be it through sharing my stories, advice – whatever. That lights me up.
+ Most memorable travel experience?
Oh man, there have been so many. Hmm, in terms of ones I can share with the world, haha? Probably visiting Hawaii for the second time. I managed to score a super cheap stopover just a few months after I visited the first time. At the hostel, I befriended this girl, and we spent the whole three days together before later meeting up to travel around mainland USA together. Now we’re both living in the same city, and she is one of my best friends!
+ Best parts/challenges of being a female traveler?
The best part is that it’s empowering. People say the world is so dangerous for women, and in some ways, it is – but solo travel is a huge way to reclaim a bit of your freedom. Challenges (such as unwanted advances) unfortunately happen everywhere, not just when you’re traveling.
+ What steps do you take/plan to take to be a more “conscious” wanderer?
I always opt for the carbon offset flights when available, and I carry a reusable water bottle. I think the most significant way I’m a conscious traveler, though, is my commitment to being mindful. I don’t participate in animal tourism or take photos of other people’s kids for Instagram likes, and I don’t judge other cultures for doing things that I may personally not agree with. I’m aware that my passport and financial situation makes me privileged, even though, as a black woman, I’m a minority. Traveling the world and being able to experience other cultures is a gift, and I do my best to treat it as one.
+ Top tips for other ladies who want to start traveling?
1 – Just do it.
2 – Book the ticket.
3 – Go.
We, human folks, tend to overthink things, so I say just jump and then find your feet instead of waiting for the circumstances to line up. Because they never do. I’ve recently written a book all about solo travel and gaining the confidence to going it alone. It’s not released yet, but you can sign up to the waitlist to hear when it drops in February!
+ What is one thing you never travel without?
Haha sounds lame, but I have this stuffed toy (Sadness from the film Inside Out) that I’ve had with me since I left the UK in 2016, and she gives me a great deal of comfort! I think having little anchors like that are important.
+ What upcoming adventures do you have for 2020?
Eek, nothing yet, so we’ll have to see what happens!
Thank you, Efia!
+ If you need some destination inspo, six female travelers shared their must-visit destination for 2020.
+ To reduce your impact while traveling, use these sustainable carry-on items.
+ Conscious Travel 101: the first steps to take to reduce your negative impact while on the road.