Photo Credit: Abena
Meet Abena: The Solo Gen Z Traveler Rejecting Hustle Culture
Abena, aka TravellingTuesdays, is a 24-year-old Gen Z world traveler sharing her expertise on how to travel to some of the best locations solo and on a budget.
Curating travel content on Instagram and TikTok, she shares her travel hacks and keeps it real about her adventures while encouraging other Gen-Z’ers to take the leap. Here is her take on hustle-culture, going solo and making unlikely friends abroad.
1. How did you get into traveling?
When I was 19, I took a year-long study exchange, through my university, to France. My idea was to go and learn French, but unfortunately that didn’t happen (whoops!) Instead, I fell in with a group of Canadian and American international students who just wanted to travel around Europe, and they opened my eyes to how affordable it could be!
That year I hitchhiked, stayed in a hostel for the first time and did the most crazy shenanigans with my friends. Those are my core memories that really taught me to cherish every opportunity I have to see more of the world. My friends never knew when they would be back in Europe, meanwhile mainland Europe is less than an hour away from me on a daily basis, so I knew I had to keep on taking advantage.
2. Do you meet many travelers who are your age? How does that feel for you?
I do, but not a lot. It’s mostly people in university or college who are on study exchange/funded opportunities or older people in their mid/late 20s, early 30s who are more settled and have the funds to travel. When I do see people my age travelling it’s really great because whilst the world tells us to focus on hustle culture and toxic productivity, we’re out here seizing our youth and expanding our experiences. There are some things we won’t be able to do when we’re older.
3. What inspired you to share your travels online?
My non-travelling friends. Honestly, though, when I came back from my study exchange in France, I really missed being surrounded by a group of like-minded people who were willing to take a spontaneous trip on a whim.
My friends at home would “say” they wanted to travel, but never follow through on plans. It was even sometimes awkward to suggest it, because when you’re in your early twenties, everyone is just trying to find their feet – get a job, make use of their degrees, show that they’re not an educational failure. And as a Black Ghanaian woman I get it, we have societal pressures on us.
I would travel solo and share my trips online, so I felt like I was bringing people along with me. I just wanted to tap into the online travel community I didn’t have in real life anymore.
4. What is your best trip as a solo traveler so far?
I backpacked Thailand, Vietnam, Bali-Indonesia and Singapore in 2019. It was my biggest solo trip ever. I learned so much about budgeting, made the most random of friends, and explored beautiful places.
Within Europe, my solo trip to Croatia really stands out to me. Good weather, blue water and nice wine! I highly recommend it for new solo travelers.
5. In one of your posts on your beautifully curated Instagram, you mentioned that 'Sometimes what is for you isn't on your doorstep'. Could you elaborate on that?
I’ve learned from a young age that the things I needed to learn about life, I wouldn’t learn in the country I was living in. Though I was born in London, I actually went to boarding school for 6 years in Ghana as a teenager and as I mentioned, I studied in France whilst at university and honestly, these 2 experiences have been the most formative and groundbreaking of all my life.
The cultural shock, the interracial exchanges, the level of independence, being confronted with different religions, beliefs, societal norms and more have really shaped how I think and interact with others on a daily basis. They’re life skills.
The Alchemist is a book about a shepherd boy who has a treasure – but he has to cross several seas, meet different characters, head into the deserts of Egypt, find love, become a different man completely – before his eyes are finally opened to the treasure that was right in front of him the whole time. That’s what travel can do.
6. Do you feel supported by your family and friends in your desire to travel the world?
My family kind of support it. Naturally, they’re concerned for my safety when I travel solo, but they respect that I’m an adult and can make my own decisions. My friends really support, and some of them are finally coming on trips with me, so we’ve made some progress!