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How to Survive #Whole30 — 20 Best Tips to Changing Your Eating Habits

Originally source of the media http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AdventurousKate/~3/DY9D3grpWO8/

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Have you ever thought of doing Whole 30, or wondering what your friends doing Whole30 are talking about? I’ve done Whole30 twice — and loved it both times.

My body feels better than it ever has when I’ve been on Whole30. I have so much energy, my joints feel so empty, and my skin is outstandingly clear. And it’s also a good way to drop a lot of weight.

Committing to 30 days of giving up all your favorite foods can be challenging — but I have 20 tips here to help you get through it!

What is Whole30?

Whole30 is a 30-day eating plan designed to change your worst food habits. For 30 days, you don’t consume dairy, grains (including gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa), legumes, soy, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, or artificial flavors.

Whole30 is a stricter version of the paleo diet. Some of the differences are that you’re not allowed to consume any natural sweeteners like raw honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup.

Additionally, you don’t count calories, you don’t weigh yourself, you don’t snack, you don’t make “technically” approved junk food made of Whole30-compliant ingredients, and most importantly, YOU DO NOT CHEAT. EVER. If you mess up, you’re supposed to start over again.

It’s intimidating — but can you do that for 30 days? A lot of people can. A lot of those people didn’t think they could.

But if you give all those foods up, what do you actually eat?!

Short version: meat, eggs, and fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It’s pretty basic. You can build a delicious, filling meal from meat or fish and vegetables.


Order Nutpods from Amazon for your coffee. These nut creamers are Whole30-approved and I hear they’re delicious. (Most commercially processed nut milks contain ingredients that are not Whole30-approved.)

You could also try to ease yourself into drinking your coffee black, like me.

This isn’t a healthy diet, though. Isn’t it better to be vegan, or keto, or follow the Mediterranean diet?

Whole30 is not claiming to be the healthiest diet in the world, nor is the paleo diet the be-all and end-all of nutrition. Lots of foods that are forbidden on Whole30 have tremendous health benefits — sprouted whole grains, red wine, certain kinds of honey, and especially beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

However, Whole30 is a million times healthier than the Standard American Diet.

You know by now that the Standard American Diet is terrible for you — way too much sugar, processed foods, and high-calorie dishes. Eating this way has caused an obesity epidemic in America, leading to increased levels of cancer, diabetes, and other weight-related illnesses.

At its core, Whole30 is a diet that eliminates most of the foods that cause inflammation, and most of the foods to which most people have latent insensitivities. Doing Whole30 can make you feel amazing. It makes ME feel amazing.

You will probably lose weight. You might lose a ton of weight. But the point isn’t to lose weight — the point is to improve your relationship with food.

Simply cutting sugar out of your diet will lead to a massive reduction in your caloric intake, which will lead to losing weight. The vast majority of people who do Whole30, do it honestly, and keep it up for 30 days end up losing several pounds.

As someone who usually hovers between a size 6 and size 8, I lose around two pounds of fat per week when on Whole30. Some people who have more to lose actually lose more.

There are WAY more health benefits from Whole30 than losing weight.

While losing weight might be at the forefront of your mind, there are much more important benefits.

Clear, perfect skin. Before I did my first Whole30, I was 32 and was still nursing a giant zit somewhere on my chin at all times. Whole30 cleared it up — and miraculously, it has STAYED clear since.

Reduced inflammation. I didn’t know I even carried inflammation in my body until I realized that after a week on Whole30, my knees and hips felt SO clear and wonderful.

Incredible energy. I no longer get up slowly — I bounce up like Tigger.

Better sleep. Giving up booze alone makes sleep much better.

Pain-free periods. Every woman is different, but you may have reduced pain or PMS symptoms during your period.

Just feeling great. It’s crazy how a poor diet can get you into feeling general malaise — and you don’t even realize until it goes away.

Tip #1: Schedule your Whole30 for when you don’t have food-related obligations.

I’ve only done two Whole30s in the past year and a half because of my travel schedule. Yes, I could make it work if I absolutely had to, but part of my work is writing about local restaurants so it’s a non-starter. It’s hard for me to have a month with no obligations — which is why I jumped on it when I realized I had a free April.

Christmas and Thanksgiving can be hard, especially if you’re planning to attend holiday parties and are looking forward to a family member’s signature dishes and lots of pie. But if you can withstand a lot of holiday season temptation, go for it. It’s easy to plan a Whole30-compliant Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.

My biggest tip is not to plan Whole30 during a month when you have a wedding to attend. It’s hard to go to a wedding and say no to all that free food and booze, and you don’t want to make things hard on the people hosting you.

On the other hand, planning Whole30 over a holiday can save you from excess sugar consumption! I did one Whole30 over Halloween and one over Easter, and I felt proud of myself for completely avoiding candy on both occasions!

Tip #2: Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.

You are going to be doing a LOT of cooking while on Whole30. Why make it harder on yourself by making three unique dishes every single day? The answer is to meal prep instead.

I have never meal prepped in my LIFE until this month. Now, once a week I make eight salmon burgers and an egg/sausage/veggie bake. I roast sweet potatoes to go with the egg bake for breakfast and I roast whatever vegetables are on hand to go with the salmon burgers for lunch. It is amazing and convenient to always have a fridge full of ready-to-go meals!

When I make dinner, I usually make four portions, freeze one, and eat the rest over the next few days. That habit has always served me well, especially when I come home tired and don’t want to cook anything.

r/MealPrepSunday on Reddit is a great resource for meal prep.

Tip #3: You will be spending a lot of time and money on grocery shopping, but you might actually be saving.

Your grocery bills are going to go way up. It’s inevitable. But you’re going to be saving more in the long run because you won’t be going out to eat, you won’t be ordering takeout — and especially because you won’t be drinking.

Lately I’ve been treating myself to an eight-pack of the fancy new Pellegrino Essenza waters. They’re delicious fancy seltzers with flavors like tangerine and wild strawberry and morello cherry and pomegranate. And you know what? That eight-pack costs $7.29 at my grocery store…but a single large beer at my local bar on the next block costs $8. And how often are you going to stop at one beer?

If you’re looking to do Whole30 on the cheap, it’s tough when you can’t turn to staples like rice, beans, and pasta. I recommend looking for specials at your local grocery stores. Some cheaper items are bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (they’re cheap and tasty, and you can cut the bone out easily with kitchen shears), potatoes (and sweet potatoes), and frozen vegetables.

Tip #4: Shop smart, and often, at the grocery store.

Here are the most important things that I buy at the grocery store:

All kinds of vegetables: I especially eat a lot of spinach, kale, zucchini, green beans, and broccoli
Fruits: Berries, clementines, or whatever’s in season
Sweet potatoes, for breakfast each day
Canned tomatoes
Canned wild Alaskan salmon, for salmon burgers
Organic, pastured eggs
The best meat I can afford: grass-fed beef if possible, organic pork, and ALWAYS antibiotic-free chicken (usually thighs)
Nitrate-free chicken sausage without added sugar (Trader Joe’s has a compliant brand)
Fish: usually salmon, tilapia, or whatever is available and easy
Cooking fats: olive oil for most cooking, and ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, and/or avocado oil for high-heat cooking. Coconut milk irritates my stomach but most Whole30-ers rely on it.
Capers, lemons, onions, garlic, coconut aminos, Red Boat fish sauce, spices, and fresh herbs for flavoring everything
Superfine almond flour
Beverages: coffee (not flavored!), various herbal teas, various seltzers
Snacks and protein supplementation (for fitness reasons): Chomps grass-fed beef sticks, roasted salted almonds, grass-fed bone broth, boneless skinless sardines, RXBARs (for emergency hunger only as they’re made with dates and are considered “candy” on the Whole30 plan)
If you want to stock your fridge with condiments, check out Tessemae’s ketchup or their eight-sauce starter pack, which includes barbecue sauce, Caesar dressing, and more, all Whole30-compliant. You can buy compliant mayonnaise — but I suggest you make your own! It’s fun!

When I’m on Whole30, I usually grocery shop twice a week and stop in a few other times for random ingredients. This is actually the way we should all be shopping, buying the freshest ingredients and cooking them immediately.

As far as supplies go, there are a few I highly value: a lemon squeezer changed my life; heavy-duty kitchen shears are vital if you’re regularly buying chicken thighs (to cut out the bone); I love this meat pounder.

And I am perhaps the only New Yorker who has a toaster oven in her kitchen but it is the BEST for roasting vegetables for one. I use mine at least twice a day.

Tip #5: Get podcasts and audiobooks for your cooking and dishwashing.

You are going to be spending a LOT of time in the kitchen, both cooking and cleaning. And if you’re like me and you don’t have a dishwasher, you’ll be spending a lot of time scrubbing dishes.

So get a portable speaker (this one is mine), bring it into your kitchen, and listen to some podcasts! It makes the work go by so much faster. Here are some of my favorite podcasts:

For current politics: Pod Save America, The Wilderness, NPR Politics
For true crime: Dirty John, The Drop Out, To Live and Die in Los Angeles, Broken Harts
For history: Slow Burn, Bag Man
For episodic fiction: Blackout
For fun: Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, The Baby-Sitters Club Club

Looking for audiobooks? Even better! I borrow all of mine for free from the library. Generally I prefer lighter reads and especially memoirs read by the author. Here are a few recent faves:

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes

Another habit I’ve picked up? I drink a lot of herbal tea during the day, and whenever I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, I spend those two minutes cleaning up the kitchen.

Tip #6: Use Whole30 as a chance to try out new recipes.

Whole30 is an AWESOME opportunity to learn how to make new recipes! If you’re looking for recipes, Pinterest is a great resource.

My favorite Whole30 recipe site is Nom Nom Paleo. While it’s primarily paleo, all of the recipes point out how to make them Whole 30-compliant, and there are even 90 days of Whole30 recipes. Plus, they don’t go overboard on ads, which I appreciate as a consumer.

Here are some Whole30 recipes I enjoy:

Egg Sausage Veggie Bake (via 40 Aprons) — I prep this every week and have it for breakfast with roasted sweet potatoes each day.
Salmon Burgers (via The Real Food Dietitians) — I prep eight burgers every week and have them every day for lunch with Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Dressing. You can easily customize the recipe; I add capers.
Cracklin’ Chicken (via Nom Nom Paleo) — This recipe looks so boringly basic BUT THIS CHICKEN IS SO GOOD IT’S UNREAL. It reminds me of “the great chicken place” everyone loved off Nimman Road in Chiang Mai.
Potsticker Stir-Fry (via Nom Nom Paleo) — What a genius idea — make the filling for potstickers and supplement it with vegetables! I recommend using only half a Napa cabbage and using the other half for taco shells.
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (via Tasty Thin) — Serve it over cauliflower rice.
Perfect Tomato Sauce (via Chrissy Teigen) — This is how I make my marinara and it’s perfect.
Italian Meatballs (via Tastes Lovely) — These meatballs are made of pork and beef and are bound with eggs and almond flour. Add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for.

Tip #7: If you’re hungry, ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat a bowl of steamed broccoli?”

If the answer is yes, you’re hungry. If the answer is no, you’re looking to fulfill a craving. Learn to recognize that distinction.

Sometimes it helps to drink a full glass of water when you’re hungry. Much of the time when we think we’re hungry we’re actually just thirsty.

Tip #8: Keep lots of Whole30-compliant beverages on hand.

If you’re used to drinking at home, and especially if you’re trying to kick a soda addiction, you’ll need to be prepared.

For me, I love all kinds of herbal teas. I especially love super-fruity teas like Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger and Cranberry Apple Zinger (I buy them both in bulk from Amazon).

Seltzer is another big one. I drink a ton of seltzer — Polar is my fave (and Trader Joe’s, which is literally repackaged Polar), as well as Spindrift, and I love those new fancy Pellegrino Essenza seltzers. Just one thing: make sure it’s made with natural flavors only. There are lots of store brands that are made with artificial flavors and aspartame. Gross.

An added bonus? By the time you’ve been off sugar for a few weeks, non-sugary foods start to taste sweeter. By that point, Polar Orange Vanilla Seltzer tastes exactly like a Stewart’s Orange and Cream Soda to me!

Tip #9: Keep forbidden foods out of sight.

For me, just seeing a delicious forbidden food is tempting, but if it’s out of sight, I don’t think about it.

When I’m on Whole30, I keep noncompliant foods in my pantry instead of in my kitchen cabinets. It helps a lot.

Tip #10: Eating out is a challenge while on Whole30, but it can be done.

During my first Whole30, I was terrified to eat anywhere but Sweetgreen, where the Guacamole Greens salad (my favorite!) is Whole30-compliant if you omit the chips. On my second Whole30, I’ve relaxed a lot more, though I still eat a ton of Sweetgreen.

Make-your-own-salad spots, like Just Salad or Hale and Hearty, work well when you can choose the ingredients individually. Just top them with oil and vinegar.

Chipotle now has a Whole30-compliant bowl! You can only order it through the app, but you can get it at the counter by asking for a bowl with romaine lettuce, carnitas, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and guacamole. (Chipotle used to cook their fajita veggies in bran oil but they now cook them in Whole30-compliant sunflower oil.)

When I go out to a nicer restaurant, I’ll usually get a salad topped with plain chicken, shrimp, or smoked salmon. It definitely got boring by the end of Whole30, but at least I could eat something. You can also ask for a plain piece of meat or fish and some vegetable sides, but make sure they’re not cooked in butter. If you’re going out for breakfast, get a vegetable omelet and double-check that butter or milk will not be used.

Sashimi is a good option at Japanese restaurants. You can make your own compliant soy sauce by mixing coconut aminos and Red Boat fish sauce, or just have it with lemon juice if you’re in a pinch.

And at Harlem Public, my local burger brewpub, I had a plain burger with avocado, tomato, and no bun and a side salad instead of fries. (I had to send back the salad twice because first they topped it with beans, then they slathered it in dressing, but I made it work!).

Tip #11: The early days are HARD for lots of people.

Lots of people have a great first day on Whole30, then fall into hangover-like symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, irritability, general misery.

I lucked out in this respect — the first round of Whole30, I had one brief afternoon of irritability; the second round, I had one afternoon where pizza and Levain cookies danced in my head — but it was smooth sailing afterward.

But it’s smart to be prepared for this moment. There is a timeline of Whole30 symptoms — it’s good to refer to it.

Tip #12: You will have crazy dreams about food.

Almost everyone who does Whole30 has dreams about eating forbidden foods at some point. And it’s often something that you don’t even eat ordinarily, like Three Musketeers bars or Flaming Hot Cheetos!

This recent cycle, I dreamed I was shoving Twix in my mouth and then suddenly panicked that I had ruined my Whole30. Another night I dreamed I was mauling the hell out of a chocolate Santa. In April.

At least you wake up and feel relieved that it was just a dream! (And I’ll take these dreams over my usual “oh my God I have to take an exam and I forgot to go to that class all semester” dreams.)

Tip #13: Keep in mind that “good” foods can be problematic.

I fucking love cashew butter. I am OBSESSED with cashew butter. Give me the opportunity and I’ll happily stand at my kitchen counter with a jar of cashew butter and a spoon. Every spoonful I eat, I’m dreaming of the next spoonful. (Yes, don’t eat the cashew butter at my house, I double dip like crazy.)

And Trader Joe’s cashew butter, made with cashews, salt, and safflower oil, is technically Whole30-compliant.

Here’s the thing — I do NOT have good eating habits with cashew butter. Eating nonstop is not healthy. Dreaming about the next spoonful while you’re still enjoying a spoonful is not healthy. Eating for entertainment, not hunger, is not healthy.

I tried to be better. I bought some cashew butter last week and measured it out carefully, only eating one tablespoon at a time. And honestly, it didn’t work. I couldn’t kick my addiction. I would eat it when I wasn’t hungry.

After a day and a half I put the cashew butter in the freezer.

There are lots of foods that are technically compliant but problematic if consumed in excess. I struggle with macadamia nuts as well. Those “just mango” slices from Trader Joe’s are FULL of sugar, even though it’s natural sugar. And if you’re eating steak for every meal, that’s slightly less than ideal.


Whole30 refers to SWYPO, or Sex With Your Pants On, to re-creating junk foods using Whole30-approved ingredients. Some examples of that: making paleo brownies and cookies, making your own potato chips or French fries from scratch, or blending coffee, pureed dates, and coconut cream to create a Frappuccino-like beverage.

(They call it “sex with your pants on” because it will never be as good a the real thing.)

Why does this matter? The point of Whole30 is to get yourself into better eating habits. You’re not in good eating habits if you’re using junk food as a crutch. The point is to choose healthy foods instead.

Get yourself through the 30 days of Whole30 — then you can make all the “technically Whole30” treats you’d like. I have to admit that after finishing Whole30 I’ve enjoyed blending unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds, dates, and a little bit of water and rolling them into balls.

Tip #15: Get used to peer pressure from your friends, family, and coworkers.

I guarantee that you’ll have people in your life that won’t understand why you’re doing Whole30. Navigating these relationships is going to be one of the hardest tests.

I can’t tell you how many of my friends have said to me, “When you’re done with Whole30, let’s go out drinking!” or “We’ll have to get some Levain cookies/gelato/go for afternoon tea once your Whole30 is over!” or “But Kate, we’re going to an ALL-INCLUSIVE in 10 days!” I love my friends and I know they mean well, but I don’t want to slide back into my old habits.

And even worse are the people who say, “Just have one drink. Just one munchkin. You’ve been good for so long, does one tiny bite even matter?” YES! IT MATTERS!! Not slipping up is the point!

And if you have a partner, especially a live-in partner, he or she needs to be supportive. There is a world of difference between a partner who encourages you and a partner who complains the whole time. Whole30 can be a litmus test for your relationship.

Sometimes your gentle refusals of, “No, thanks,” have to turn into a more firm, “I’m not interested in eating that. Please stop asking.”

However, Whole30 can also show you how people can be respectful to your needs. One friend brought me a banana at her kid’s birthday celebration when everyone else was eating cupcakes. When a dinner I ordered came unexpectedly covered in barbecue sauce, another friend offered to eat it the next day for lunch and walked with me to pick up sashimi instead.

Tip #16: Whole30 is a lot easier when you have accountability.

It can be helpful to do Whole30 with a friend — just having someone in there with you will give you strength on the hardest days. You can cook together, you can trade recipes, you can grumble about coworkers throwing donuts in your face. (You do want that someone to be reliable, though — if they quit a few days in, that could make you quit a few days in.)

If you don’t have someone, I recommend joining a group on social media. The Whole30 subreddit is a bit quiet, but a nice community, and there are plenty of Facebook groups, too. They’re a great place to get positive feedback when you need it most.

Tip #17: If you REALLY want to kick things up, increase your workouts.

If you’re already in a health-oriented mindset, you should take that and run with it. Use this as an opportunity to go to the gym more often, or increase the intensity of your workouts, or try a class you’ve always wanted to try.

This month, I upped my weekly gym sessions from four to six (I’m not scared of you anymore, Wednesday Zumba!) and added high-intensity boxing to my repertoire.

Just keep in mind that you might be miserable the first week when your body is detoxing from sugar. Once you get over that hump, get to work.

Tip #18: Know that Whole30 doesn’t work for everyone.

I’ve had a few friends who did Whole30 who were absolutely miserable the whole time. Some didn’t lose any weight; others had hangover symptoms for all 30 days. Anecdotally, some of those friends have autoimmune disorders and were already somewhat restricted in what they could eat. And a lot of people have sensitivities to Whole30-approved foods like eggs, nuts, or nightshades.

If you’re a vegan, this challenge is going to be all but impossible, unless you eat a freaking truckload of nuts and seeds each day. Vegan staples like soy and legumes are forbidden during Whole30.

Additionally, if you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, this kind of restricted eating may bring you back into unhealthy habits. If you want to do Whole30, you should discuss it with your doctor.

If Whole30 doesn’t work for you, don’t let it get you down. Everyone’s body is different.

Tip #19: There’s a case for breaking some of the rules.

Whole30 is very strict about following the rules. I recommend following all the rules to a T for your first round, but once you’ve had a successful Whole30 under your belt, feel free to bend where it fits your lifestyle.

On my second round, I decided to track everything — my weight, body composition, and everything I ate. I did it for science reasons — I was genuinely interested to see how my body reacted to tweaks in my diet, especially when it came to fitness. Plus, it’s important for me to be eating at least 100 grams of protein each day.

Additionally, snacks are strongly discouraged while on Whole30, but if you’re an athlete, it’s stupid not to snack for the sake of a rule. My strength workouts are meaningless if I don’t consume protein afterward. (There are lots of protein-rich Whole30 post-workout snacks. I usually had a combination of Chomps grass-feed beef sticks, roasted almonds, and boneless skinless sardines.)

Some of my friends had one cheat — like a wedding meal, or special occasion, or just one drink, and they were at peace with their decisions.

As for me, during my first Whole30, I was in a tough situation already by being at a writing group at a sports bar. There was nothing on the menu I could eat, and the coffee machine wasn’t working. So I opted to get a cup of tea. I later looked at the label and saw that teabag contained soy lechitin, which was forbidden! According to Whole30, I should have started over again after 27 perfect days — but COME ONE. One teabag. I chose to ignore it and continue.

A word to the wise — if you ask in any of the online communities, whether on Facebook or Reddit, if it’s okay if you break a rule, everyone is going to jump on you and say you need to start over again. Know that going in.

Tip #20: Consider doing a reintroduction after Whole30.

The worst thing you can do is dive back into your old habits, starting with a giant pizza followed by an ice cream sundae. The point of this challenge is to change your worst food habits. What’s the point if you’re going to immediately give it up?

Whole30 recommends doing a slow reintroduction of your foods, ideally over the course of 15 days (waaaaah!). I totally get if you refuse to do that. You’ve worked hard for 30 days already. But if you’re trying to figure out if your body has a problem with certain foods, this can be invaluable.

I didn’t do a reintroduction on my first round. This round, I’m going to be reintroducing dairy first, then gluten, just to see how my body reacts. Those are the two most common sensitivities anyway.

What I Learned from Whole30

I learned that I reward myself with food far too often. That is going to be the toughest habit to break, and it’s going to take longer than 30 days. At least I recognize it for what it is, and I’ll be able to keep an eye out for it.

My daily coffee break is something I look forward to each day, and over time, it has snowballed into me having a large latte and a pastry. A s’mores cookie or a Brooklyn Blackout donut or three of those iced mini vanilla bean scones from Starbucks.

Today I reward myself with a black coffee, or herbal tea, or a cool flavor of seltzer. But I know that’s a crutch — I should be rewarding myself with something that ISN’T food. I’ll have to figure out what that can be.

I learned that if I want to lose weight, a Whole30 or paleo diet will do it quickly and safely. Right before I started traveling long-term, I essentially starved myself while working 18-hour days and lost a ton of weight. Being on a paleo diet, working out, and making sure I eat more calories than my TDEE every day is a healthy and safe way to drop pounds. I lose about two pounds per week while on Whole30.

I learned that I’m not an asshole if I go to a bar and don’t order alcohol. Plenty of people don’t order alcohol at bars for various reasons and the bartender will not hate you for not boozing it up. Tip nicely and you’re officially a good customer.

I learned that I crash if I don’t have slow carbs in the morning. I eat a cup of roasted sweet potatoes every morning with my breakfast. The one day I didn’t, and had a double portion of my egg bake instead, I was so exhausted that I had to take multiple breaks sitting on a bench while walking in Central Park!

I learned that sugar is in literally EVERYTHING. Sugar is dangerously addictive, and it’s in everything processed. For decades, the government tried to scare us into thinking that fat was the problem, but all along, they sold us on low-fat foods that were full of sugar as everyone kept getting fatter. This makes me furious.

I learned that my body is sensitive to coconut milk — and perhaps even coconut as a whole. I don’t notice this when I’m eating normally, but when I eat clean, if I eat something with coconut milk in it, my stomach aches hard. It even hurts a bit when I have a Coconut Chocolate RXBAR, which I love. It’s too bad that coconut milk is the basis of so many paleo recipes.

I learned that I can rewire my mind in 30 days. After 30 days, I don’t even dream of sweets anymore. It’s natural to eat this way.

Life After Whole30

The biggest challenge of Whole30 is learning to stick with your habits afterward. After my first Whole30, I went straight to Vegas — I tried to be good, but it was SO hard at times. And while I kept up a lot of my better habits, eventually most of them collapsed in a year.

Here is what I’m doing going forward:

Meal prep is here to stay. If I have my egg bake and sweet potatoes for breakfast and my salmon burgers with roasted vegetables for lunch, that takes care of most of my food for the day. And I enjoy doing the prep once per week.

Keep up my six days a week workout schedule. Now that I’m used to it, I want to keep it up.

Make an effort not to combine food binges and booze binges. Some of my most indulgent nights involve going to At the Wallace, my local weird bar, for a hot dog, waffle fries, dinosaur chicken nuggets, and a few beers. Or sharing a huge pizza at Rubirosa with a friend after having several rosés at a PR event in SoHo. It seems reasonable to choose to splurge on one or the other but not both.

Try to eat clean five days per week and splurge for two. This seems to be reasonable. I’ll see how it works in practice.

Continue trying new Whole30 recipes. I want to make pho and kimchi soon!

Have you done Whole30? What tips do you suggest?

The post How to Survive #Whole30 — 20 Best Tips to Changing Your Eating Habits appeared first on Adventurous Kate.

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AK Monthly Recap — April 2019

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I used to freak out whenever I spent a month without leaving the confines of New York City. It brings to mind that episode of Sex and the City when Miranda briefly dates the guy who hasn’t left Manhattan in a decade.

These days, it happens about once a year, but I don’t mind anymore. It’s nice to have that respite from trips and concentrate on the things that mean most to me — spending time with friends and family, working out, and enjoying my routines.

And of all months to spend ensconced in New York, April is one of the best. It’s cherry blossom season!

Destinations Visited

New York, New York


Meeting Julián Castro and Stacey Abrams and attending a fundraiser with Pete and Chasten Buttigieg. What an awesome month for meeting the future of the Democratic Party!

Julián Castro appeared for a speech at 92Y, where I love attending lectures. I just wanted to hear him speak, then I was elated to learn that he was doing a meet and greet afterward! I took that time to tell him I was a donor, to tell him my favorite part of his book, An Unlikely Journey, and to talk to him about what it’s like to run a small business today.

I told him about my site and all the people I know who have quit their jobs to run small digital businesses, often boot-strapped businesses. People often talk about the gig economy, Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts, but not as much about digital entrepreneurs. As exhilarating as the freedom is to run your own business, we almost no protections if things go south. And as more and more people choose this method of employment, we need our leaders to prioritize our care. You shouldn’t have to be independently wealthy to run a small business and survive a trip to the hospital. Julián agreed wholeheartedly with me and said that we need to have a safety net — good healthcare, childcare, and more.

Julián has always fought for the rights of the most vulnerable. I respect him enormously and we would be well served with him as president. He is also JUST short of the 65,000 unique donors he needs to qualify for the debates — if you’ve got an extra $5, please consider sending it his way. He’s an important voice and we need him in the debates.

Stacey Abrams was incredible. She also spoke at 92Y. And I say this without exaggeration — I haven’t been this electrified in a theater since the first time I saw Hamilton. I was buzzing with excitement. Stacey is hilarious — she was cracking us up nonstop — and heartfelt, and so incredibly smart. She has got that magical quality. We would be so well served with her and it’s a tragedy that voter suppression kept her out of the Georgia governor’s office.

I met Stacey briefly for a book signing. She was a lot more personal than the other signings I’ve been to, like John Kerry’s and Cecile Richards’s. We chatted for a minute and I told her, “Anything you decide to do, you’ve got my money and you’ve got my volunteer hours.”

I was thrilled to snag tickets to Pete Buttigieg’s fundraiser in Brooklyn. And even more thrilled when I realized that his husband Chasten would be speaking there too!

The fundraiser, held at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, was pretty basic — Pete took questions from the audience (including mine, on behalf of my friend Beth, about paid family leave!) and the answers lined up with pretty much anything you’d expect.

But it was great to be there surrounded by Pete fans and enjoy the phenomenon of his unlikely candidacy. I was only 15 feet from him. And I loved when he and Chasten bickered over loading and unloading the dishwasher. I never thought that in 2019 that we would have a viable gay candidate for president and have his relationship with his husband be not only a prominent part of the campaign, but so beautifully normal.

Spending a month on Whole30. I really enjoyed Whole30 the first time I did it, and I felt the need to do it again this year because I had a free month with no travel plans and I could tell my eating habits had gotten a lot worse over the winter. It’s been great to get myself back into positive eating habits. I did it for 35 days in total, from March 29 until May 1.

My first boxing classes. I’ve really upped my workouts this month, from four times per week to six times per week, and I’ve added a new class: boxing! And I really like it! It’s higher-intensity than the classes I usually do and I sweat absolute buckets, especially when doing the rounds of push-ups and burpees in between. And it’s awesome going to town on a giant sandbag and pretending it’s Mitch McConnell.

Celebrating the first birthday of a special little boy. Just a year ago, I was telling you in my recap that I became an auntie for the first time ever! Since then, two more babies have become part of my life, and this month my first practically-a-nephew turned one as he ate a cupcake, clapped for everyone, pointed at dogs while yelling, “Da,” and tried to stick his hand in the burning candle.

Seeing two great Broadway shows: Oklahoma! and Beetlejuice. Lately I’ve been getting complimentary tickets to Broadway shows and these two shows were comped. First I saw a new and offbeat version of Oklahoma! at the Circle in the Square theater.

I always thought Oklahoma! was a cheesy show, which isn’t my thing, but I appreciated how much they modernized the musical. There were some absolutely CRAZY moments in the show — like a Tarantino-esque moment that sent me to Wikipedia because surely that could not be in the original Oklahoma! The lights are on and everyone faces each other; it feels like a community meeting in a barn. The dream sequence dance is different from anything you’ve ever seen. They even serve chili and cornbread at intermission!

The highlight of the cast was Ali Stroker, who played Ado Annie — and Ali uses a wheelchair. In fact, she was the first Broadway actor who uses a wheelchair to be cast in a Broadway show (she debuted in Spring Awakening). She was the most hilarious one in a show that, frankly, is very dated, and the fact that she made us laugh uproariously from those 1943 lines is a testament to how good she is. Most importantly, her wheelchair was never played for laughs. She was just herself. And yes, she danced — on her own and with the whole cast.

Secondly, I saw Beetlejuice and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS SHOW. It was so hilarious! I had actually never seen the movie, so I got in a quick viewing (it’s on Amazon Prime for free) and was delighted to see that the show improved upon the movie in every way possible! It’s totally updated for 2019 and they break the fourth wall frequently to make fun of other shows and say how different it is from the movie.

One thing I especially appreciated was how they updated Beetlejuice’s marriage to Lydia, who is a CHILD. In the movie, it’s extremely creepy; in the show, Beetlejuice points out how creepy it is and says that it’s like a green card thing!

Best of all? Beetlejuice is queer as hell. Seriously. Yes, this Beetlejuice loves the ladies but he loves the dudes (and one dude in particular) even more, and that just makes perfect sense. Go see this show. You’ll laugh hard.

Enjoying cherry blossom season. It’s one of my favorite times of year in New York.

Getting my passport renewed. It was time — I only had a few spots left. It’s unnerving to have a brand new, unblemished passport. My old passport was the one I had been using since mid-2010.


Seeing Notre-Dame burn. It broke my heart and I know it broke a lot of yours, too.

When I was a high school sophomore, my drama club wrote our own version of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. We called it Le Bossu and performed it at Dramafest in 2000. I played a gypsy (I wince at the use of the word today and also the fact that my school was so white that I was one of the darkest people in the cast).

That was my play. I was such a francophile and I lived for drama club — Le Bossu was my favorite play we did in all four years. I attempted to read it in the original French and gave up each time. And the following year, I went on my first trip overseas, the school trip to France. At that time, the French musical Notre-Dame de Paris was popular and it became my soundtrack for the rest of high school. Seeing Notre-Dame in person moved me so much.

One of my friends on the trip, Chris, had been in Le Bossu as well. We decided to climb the towers of Notre-Dame, even though we knew we didn’t have enough time. We called it “Chez Quasi” and squealed with delight when we got to the top. It was one of my favorite moments of that pivotal trip.

Chris and I got back — and our teachers were PISSED. We nearly made everyone late getting our train back to Rouen. We were reamed out in front of the whole group. It was absolutely worth it. Looking back, though, I’m so glad we didn’t miss our train!

Blog Posts of the Month

What’s it Really Like to Travel Guyana? — Not surprisingly, everyone wants to know!

Solo Female Travel in Central America — Is it Safe? — I unravel the truth about this misunderstood region.

How to Survive #Whole30 — 20 Best Tips to Changing Your Eating Habits — Required reading before you attempt 30 days of eating clean!

Quote of the Month

Six-year-old girl: “Kate, do you like Friends?”

Me: “I LOVE Friends.”

Six-year-old girl: “Paper! Snow! A ghost!”

What I Watched This Month

I mostly stayed off TV and movies this month. Wake me up when The Handmaid’s Tale comes back.

I’ll give you a few tidbits from what I searched for on YouTube this month: “snake juice,” “how to clean a cast iron skillet,” “kevin covais part time lover,” “how to wrap hands for boxing,” “aoc green new deal.”

What I Listened to This Month

Lots of podcasts! I really enjoyed To Live and Die in LA, a story about a missing woman in Los Angeles that goes in a lot of directions you wouldn’t predict.

Blackout is really interesting — it’s an episodic drama starring Rami Malek about what happens when the United States loses all electrical power. It takes place in a far northern New Hampshire town and as you would expect, mayhem breaks out. The sound quality is gorgeous and the New England accents are atrociously authentic. I say that with affection. And I could listen to Rami Malek talk about anything for hours. Also, I was listening to the credits and was surprised to hear that my dad’s friend, a voice actor, plays the mayor!

Another one I enjoyed was Rachel Maddow’s Bag Man, about Nixon’s criminal vice president, Spiro Agnew. What a story!! I didn’t know anything about Spiro Agnew, in part because as soon as my AP US History class got to the sixties, it became time to drill for the AP exam. This guy was insanely corrupt and there are so many parallels to Trump today. It’s an entertaining listen.

What I Read This Month

I’m continuing to read up a storm, and this month, I started borrowing audiobooks from the library. Why haven’t I been doing this all along?! I can get through so many books this way! I listen to them while I cook and clean, while I commute, and even when doing cardio at the gym!

So far I have read 42 books in 2019, which blows my mind. My record is 72 within a year and at the end of April I’m already more than halfway there. That’s what joining a library will do for you.

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (2017) — Comedian Tiffany Haddish burst onto the national scene in 2017 when she debuted in Girls Trip and stole every scene she was in. Shortly after, she became one of the funniest guests on late night shows, telling such insane stories that Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel lost it, repeatedly. This book is a collection of the funniest, strangest, and most unbelievable stories of her life, from her childhood as a foster kid to her high school years as a team mascot to when she decided to work in comedy — and lots of tales along the way.

THIS IS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ. And I implore you to listen to the Audiobook version, because Tiffany’s voice is hilarious and she adds SO much to her stories. The story about Roscoe in particular has received a lot of press, and justifiably so — there is no book like Tiffany’s out there because there is nobody like HER out there!! I am SO happy for her success because SHE DESERVES IT, and I hope she is starring in films for decades to come. Also, interestingly, her co-writer for this book was Tucker Max. I LOVED Tucker Max back in the day, though looking back he was so problematic, so if you loved his crazy stories, you will love these ones too. Listen to this book!!!

Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010) — When Patti Smith moved to New York City, she was young, broke, and had nowhere to go. Again and again, she ran into an equally young and broke artist named Robert Mapplethorpe. They became friends, and lovers, and soulmates who acted as muse and artist, inspiring each other to create the best work possible while living in the most rundown conditions. This is the story of their relationship — an unconventional relationship, but one of two true soulmates.

This is one of the best books about New York City I have ever read. And it was so beautifully written. I love Patti Smith’s gentle, ethereal words — it reminds me a lot of Steve Martin’s writing, actually. I love a memoir that is centered on nostalgia, and this is pure nostalgia. It made me cry a few times from the very beginning. They were so young. They were so poor. They cared about nothing but art and each other. They lived in a New York that existed for a moment in time, a New York that we will never get back. New York is a playground for the rich these days, and I wonder if art will ever be able to flourish here the way it once did.

Atomic Habits by James Clear (2018) — We all have habits that we want to develop. But what allows us to start habits that we will actually keep up? We all fail at developing positive habits because we are focused on our goal, when really we should be focusing on our systems. The best habits are developed just a tiny bit each day — you could call it the atomic level.

This is one of the most useful books I’ve read in a very long time. It’s dense and packed with so many thoughtful tips — like stacking habits, where you make sure you do a set of things in a specific order, ending with a reward. And sometimes just starting is the best thing you can do. (It reminds me of Terry Crews’s tip that when you join a gym, if there’s a lounge or cafe, just go and hang out there for a few days without working out. It will get you in the habit.) Especially helpful was learning how to design your environment to let you achieve your goals. This is a great book, it really helped me, and I bet it will help you too.

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes (2016) — Most people know Dave Holmes from when he came in second in MTV’s Wanna Be a VJ contest in 1998. That was the golden age of MTV, when the Backstreet Boys, N Sync and Korn were duking it out for the #1 spot on TRL. Dave was the smart, knowledgeable music geek and this memoir tells the story of being a perpetual outsider who found happiness in music, pop culture, and life.

I LOVED this book, and not just because I was MTV-crazed in those days. Dave is so smart and has a wonderful way of looking back at his life. I love that he basically talked and networked his way into an MTV job. I love how he wrote about the difficulties of coming out as a student at Holy Cross. I love that he blazed his own trail, was sometimes disgusted by the culture at MTV, and eventually carved out a life that fulfilled what was important to him. And I love that the book ends with revelations from a day doing San Pedro in a canyon! I listened to this book as an audiobook, which I highly recommend. As a fellow perpetual outsider who nodded my head more or less constantly while listening to him talk, I feel like Dave and I would be friends if we knew each other in real life.

The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner (2015) — There are places in the world where people tend to live to an extraordinarily old age, often while staying very healthy — places like Okinawa, Japan; the hills of Sardinia; Ikaria, Greece; the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California. This book calls them the Blue Zones and finds out what connects them: a mostly vegan diet with lots of beans and very little fish, meat, and dairy; constant, moderate physical activity; and a strong family and community. The book also tries to turn American communities into healthier zones.

This was a fascinating read and it gave me a lot to think about nutrition-wise, especially while doing a Whole30, which is very different from the diet prescribed in this book. What they do have in common is that sugar is almost never consumed — only for very special occasions. Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are EXTREMELY important. I was surprised that fish isn’t eaten that often. I think the most important takeaways from this book are that we need to start doing things the hard way — like mixing things by hand rather than using a mixer — to get used to being physically active all the time. And having a close community matters. In Okinawa, groups of five, called “moais,” stay close friends their entire lives and visit each other almost daily. I wonder if my constant text message chat with my three best friends from home has a similar effect.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (2018) — This young adult novel, written in verse, won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2018. Xiomara is a teenager living in a Dominican community in Harlem. She hates being catcalled by the men in her neighborhood — but she channels her frustrations into writing poetry. When Xiomara falls for a boy at her school — something forbidden by her devoutly Catholic mother — she is forced to choose what kind of life she wants to have, and what kind of person she wants to be.

I was so excited to read this book because I live in the Dominican part of Harlem. These are my neighbors! This is a beautifully told story, and I love how it’s written in verse — every word, every beat, is thoughtfully chosen. This is a fantastic coming-of-age novel told from a point of view that isn’t heard often enough in America. The book also had a very satisfying ending, going in a direction that I didn’t think could even be possible. I highly recommend this book, especially for the teenagers in your life.

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (2017) — When Ariel Levy left for a writing assignment in Mongolia, she was married, five months pregnant, and financially secure. By the time she returned home, she was no longer any of those things. While that event is the center of this book, this is also a memoir that tells the story about how a girl found her escape in writing, and ended up turning it into a career. It’s the story of marriage and infidelity and addiction and choosing an unconventional life.

I’m conflicted about this book. It’s extremely well-written and I appreciate it for what it is. As David Sedaris pointed out, this book turns grief into art. But at the same time, it’s just so sad. It’s not just about losing her baby; everything in this book has an undercurrent of sadness to it. I like having someone I can root for, and it wasn’t that she wasn’t likable (though at times she certainly wasn’t likable), but things just kept getting bad over and over again. I wish the book had more of a narrative arc and built to something; it seemed quite flat.

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller (2013) — When it comes to their businesses and their lives, people are often too unfocused, trying to manage several things at once. This book recommends choosing your ONE THING instead and focusing exclusively on that to get your results. Make your focus narrow instead of broad. Eliminate all other things from your life.

Have you ever had a meeting that could have been an email? Well, this is a book that could have been a blog post. It boggles my mind that it sold so many copies. It’s a good concept, yes, and I did find some tips from this book that I can use in my business. But so much of the book is filled with fluff (and it’s only 133 pages) that I would have gotten much more out of this had it been a meaty blog post. Prioritize the most important thing. Lesson learned.

Antigua (Image via Pixabay)

Coming Up in May 2019

I’m going to Antigua! I’m so excited — I vowed to see more of the Caribbean in 2019 and Antigua and Barbuda will be my 79th country! I’m attending the weeklong Traverse event, which is part conference and part unstructured press trip.

In addition to be spending a week at an all-inclusive with 40 of my friends, and learning new skills, I’m excited to check out the island. I’ve heard from many people that Antigua is one of the best Caribbean islands — it has so much beauty and variety. I especially hope to take a trip to Barbuda, which has been uninhabited since Hurricane Irma annihilated it in 2017, and report on what it’s like today.

That is my only trip for May, unless something springs up at the last minute. June will be very busy so I doubt I’ll do much more in May.

What did you get up to in April? Share away!

The post AK Monthly Recap — April 2019 appeared first on Adventurous Kate.

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Solo Female Travel in Australia — Is it Safe?

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Australia is a fantastic destination for solo female travel! I love Australia and if it were easy and cheap to fly halfway around the world, I would go all the time!

Australia is probably the #1 country that people tell me they want to visit. Many people keep Australia as a “someday” destination, wanting to visit but put off by the long, expensive journey to get there. And I won’t lie — Australia isn’t a trip that you can plan casually on a whim. For most people, it’s going to require diligent saving and careful planning.

But it’s worth it. SO worth it.

And for that reason, I urge you not to save Australia for “someday.” Someday you might not be able to travel the way you can now. Don’t put it off too long.

I’ve traveled Australia with others, and I’ve traveled Australia solo. Australia is a particularly good destination for solo female travelers and this guide will give you an overview on how to stay safe in this unforgettable country.

Why Travel Solo to Australia?

Australia is an easy-to-visit country that also has a high exotic factor. Australia is endlessly interesting. The wildlife is one-of-a-kind. The nature is bonkers. And the cities are just different enough that you feel slightly off-kilter — in the best way.

If you’ve never been to Australia, you’ve never seen the best beaches in the world. It’s almost embarrassing how good the beaches are, from white sand behemoths in Western Australia and Queensland to the gorgeous urban beaches of Sydney. Nothing you’ve seen has prepared you for this.

Besides, you’ve probably been dreaming about visiting Australia since you were a kid! Isn’t it time to fulfill your childhood dreams?

Finally, as a solo traveler, you have so many options in Australia. Do you want to join a group tour? Go for it! Do you want to be part of a hop-on hop-off bus? That also works! Do you want to go on a solo road trip through the Outback? Challenging, but you can pull it off solo! Whether you want to meet people or be solo, whether you’re interested in cities or nature, whether you prefer touristy areas or getting off the beaten path, you can find so many things to do as a solo female traveler in Australia.

Is Australia Good for First-Time Solo Female Travelers?

Australia is a wonderful destination for first-time solo female travelers. Australia has some of the best travel infrastructure on the planet: everywhere is outfitted for travelers. English is the spoken language and Australians are incredibly friendly and helpful. The only mark against Australia is that it’s an expensive country, which becomes a bit of a pain when you’re not splitting costs with anyone.

Of course, not every Australia trip is equal — if this is your first solo trip ever, I wouldn’t recommend going extremely off the beaten path, like driving solo in the Outback. Driving in Australia requires its own set of skills unless you’re sticking to extremely well traversed areas. You can see more about driving in Australia below.

But for the vast majority of trips to Australia, particularly when driving is not a factor, it’s very easy to travel.

Group Tours to Australia

If you’re nervous about traveling solo in Australia, consider joining a group tour. You’ll meet lots of people and all the work will be taken care of for you! G Adventures, whom I’ve traveled with and recommend, offers several tours to Australia.

Best of Australia — 14 days, Cairns to Sydney
Outback to the Top End — 14 days, Adelaide to Darwin
Queensland Sand, Sailing and Dreamtime — 12 days, Brisbane to Cairns
Complete Australia — 28 days, Melbourne to Cairns
See all Australia tours here.

Is Australia Good for Experienced Solo Female Travelers?

Absolutely, Australia is terrific for experienced solo female travelers. I had already been to more than 40 countries before arriving in Australia and I was delighted in all senses of the word.

If you’re already an experienced solo traveler, chances are you’ll have different interests than a newbie. You might be drawn toward hiking and culinary exploration in Tasmania or exploring tougher-to-reach areas of the Kimberley. Then again, you might simply want to do the classic route of Sydney, Melbourne, and the Queensland coast. It’s a cliché for a reason.

I’ve spent time in two regions of Australia that are more challenging to travel: Western Australia and the Northern Territory. If you’re driving on your own in rural parts of these states, be sure to heed the driving advice below. Driving can turn deadly in the Outback, so be sure to take all the precautions you can.

Is Australia Safe?

Generally speaking, Australia is a very safe country. Likely safer than your home country. The kind of country that provides healthcare to its citizens and bans the vast majority of guns after one massacre, not thousands. (How about that?!)

The important thing is not to get lulled into a false sense of security in Australia. Anything can happen here, including crime, and it’s best to remain conscientious at all times.

If you’re hanging out in touristy or especially backpacker-filled areas, be conscious of petty theft. Many people prey on tourists who are drinking and are less aware and have fewer inhibitions. You can see the following advice for tips on keeping yourself and your belongings safe while traveling in Australia.

Travel and Safety Tips for Australia

For the most part, traveling safely in Australia is about having common sense. I’ve added a few travel safety tips specific to Australia, but for the most part you should be fine behaving as you would traveling in any other destination in the world.

Don’t forget to get your ETA before you arrive. The ETA, similar to a visa, is a requirement upon arrival in Australia, and you must secure it in advance. You can apply here. The current cost is $20 AUD. While ETAs tend to process within a few days, do not wait until the last minute!!

Australia is very strict in what you can bring over the border. When you arrive by plane, you may be questioned extensively by the customs agent to make sure you don’t have wooden products, homemade food, fruits, or vegetables in your luggage. See the full list here. (I’ve been to Australia twice; once I was questioned extensively and once I was questioned briefly.)

Australia has a big drinking culture. I burst out laughing on my first day in Australia ever, in Darwin, where I saw people sitting around in lawn chairs, drinking beers from coolers. It was exactly like the stereotype I had in my mind.

As I mentioned in my UK travel guide, you need to be cautious about “shout” culture where one person buys drinks for a group, then another person buys the next round, and so on. It can lead you to drinking more and faster than you want to, especially if you’re with men or heavy drinkers. Four beers may be fine for a larger guy, but that can be a LOT for a woman, especially if they’re strong beers.

The best thing to do is to tell the group early that you don’t want to drink much — two drinks, maybe three at most. People will totally understand.

Australian wildlife can be dangerous. While drop bears may be a myth, there are very real wildlife dangers. The box jellyfish is a deadly animal dwelling in northern reaches of Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory roughly from October through May. Locals will advise you on the precautions to take to avoid these creatures.

And in the Top End and other parts of the country, crocodiles are a very real danger. Always ask a local before going near any body of water. They know what is safe and what isn’t.

Furthermore, kangaroos may look cute, but they are actually quite vicious. Keep things safe by not approaching any wild animal.

It’s Always Croc Season in Darwin and the Top End

Be cautious of the ocean. Australia is famous for its surfing beaches, and with surfing comes riptides and dangerous currents. Always ask locals about whether it’s safe to swim. In most places in Australia, swim between the red and yellow flags, as these designate a safe area. If you get caught in a riptide, don’t fight it — swim parallel to shore until you escape the current.

Get a SIM card from Telstra. Having a SIM card is especially important in Australia, as wifi is slow and expensive. There are a few different carriers in Australia, but Telstra tends to have some of the best coverage. Keep in mind that there is no cell service in many rural areas, including on highways. When driving through rural Western Australia, I had zero signal until I landed within the city limits of the nearest town.

Be careful about your drinking. Drink less than you ordinarily would at home — two drinks is a good limit. Only take drinks from bartenders, never take a drink from a stranger, and always keep it with you and keep an eye on it.

Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. If you carry a purse, hold it close to you. I recommend a crossbody purse, made out of a tough material like leather or fake leather, that zips shut. I recommend many purses in this post. Never let it hang behind you — always keep it in a place where you can see it, and keep your hand on it if you’re in a crowd.

If you carry a wallet without a purse, don’t keep it in your back pocket. This is obvious to thieves and they will grab it and run.

If you use a small backpack, lock it. I use a Pacsafe backpack where you can lock the compartments shut.

Never leave your bags anywhere unattended. Take them with you. While in cities and touristy areas in Australia, if you’re keeping your bag under the table or otherwise out of sight, keep it between your feet or hook the strap around one of the chair legs.

Keep your valuables locked up in your accommodation and only take with you what you need that day. I do this with my Pacsafe Travelsafe and I consider it the most important thing I pack. Keep an extra debit card and at least $100 hidden in obscure parts of your luggage.

If someone robs you, GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT. Things can be replaced. Nothing is worth your life.

Don’t carry tons of cash around with you. You can use credit cards almost everywhere in Australia, and carrying lots of cash leaves you vulnerable to theft. Don’t be the traveler who loses her wallet and the $500 in it.

Only use ATMs at banks if possible. If your card gets eaten, it’s a lot easier to retrieve it from a real bank’s ATM. If you can’t find a bank and it’s at night, use an ATM indoors, in a vestibule or in a shopping mall.

Get a digital guidebook and keep it on your phone. Even today, I always keep a guidebook PDF on my phone — it’s great for calculating approximate time of journeys, knowing what days places are closed, and it lists medical centers you should go to in case of emergency. I’m a big fan of Lonely Planet guidebooks — I recommend Lonely Planet Australia.

Spend extra money on staying safe. If you’re not comfortable walking home at night, spend money on a cab or Uber. If you’re hesitant on spending money on a not-as-nice-looking hostel, pay for a nicer place. It’s worth the peace of mind. Don’t pinch pennies on your safety.

Most importantly, you have no obligation to be nice to anyone. Women often feel the need to be nice and please people at all costs. You don’t have to anywhere — especially so in Australia, where the laid-back culture might convince you that you’re being “difficult.” If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable, just leave. Trust me — you won’t be the rudest person they meet that day. And so what if you were? You’re never going to see them again.

Top 10 Travel Safety Tips for Women

How to Get Around Australia Solo

Australia, once again, is huge and sparsely populated. Flying is the best way to get around unless you’re on a tight budget and have a LOT of time. Even Brisbane to Cairns, which looks close on the map, is an 18-hour drive! Take the 2.5-hour flight instead!

There are train lines that run along the east coast. You can see them here. There are also Greyhound Australia bus lines, which have more extensive coverage.

There are a few luxury long train rides in Australia — the Indian Pacific, from Sydney to Adelaide to Perth and vice versa; the Ghan, from Darwin to Alice Springs to Adelaide and vice versa; and the Overland, from Melbourne to Adelaide and vice versa. In late 2019 the Great Southern, from Brisbane to Adelaide and vice versa, will begin operations. If you’ve got the time and cash and love spending long train journeys staring out the window (and I do!) these are a great choice. See them all here.

While there are lots of tour companies in Australia, there are also hop-on hop-off backpacker buses like Stray Australia and Oz Experience. While those two companies also offer full-fledged tours with accommodation and activities, you can also just book the transportation and have the freedom to move on whenever you’d like.

Finally, you can rent a car. More on that below.

Driving in Australia

Driving safely in Australia requires a higher level of conscientiousness, particularly if you’re driving in the Outback or other rural areas. First off, they drive on the left side of the road, and they turn left at roundabouts. If you haven’t driven on the left before, it can take your brain some time to get used to it.

Wildlife is a major issue when driving in rural Australia. Kangaroos in particular will vault themselves straight in front of your car. It’s wise to drive slowly and be extra conscientious when driving in remote areas. Be especially conscientious at night and during dawn and dusk, when animals tend to be most active.

In extremely rural areas, there can be long stretches between service stations and roadhouses. Be sure to get gas (“petrol” in Australia!) as often as you can; this is not a place to wait until the next station. Additionally, when traveling the very rural route from Coral Bay to Tom Price in Western Australia, I was shocked that many of the towns on the map were a roadhouse and nothing else.

Cell service is more or less nonexistent in rural areas, even with Telstra, the network with the best coverage. I found that frequently there wouldn’t be any phone signal at all until I entered a town.

Look out for “road trains” — huge, long trucks. Give them a wide berth as it’s tough for them to swerve or slow down.

Another issue is driving long, monotonous distances on your own. For some people, driving long stretches where you see the same unchanging view in front of you can have an almost hypnotic effect, affecting your senses. It’s important to take frequent breaks.

If you’re driving in remote parts of Australia, you should know basic car maintenance, like knowing how to check oil and change a tire at the very least. You should also have an emergency survival kit packed with enough water to survive for days. Even though I’ve driven all over the world, I don’t consider myself a skilled enough driver to handle driving in rural Australia. I don’t even know how to change a tire. You should know your limits.

How to Meet People in Australia

Australians are gregarious, good-natured, and fun. In fact, I’d put Australia up there with Ireland as one of the easiest countries in which to make local friends! Australia is a country where you can walk into a bar and leave with a whole crew. Here are some ways to meet people while traveling.

Consider staying at a social hostel. There are tons of great hostels all over Australia, from surf lodges along the Queensland coast to modern chains in Melbourne to a hostel built in a former prison in Fremantle. Many of these hostels offer private rooms, if dorms aren’t your thing, and quite a few of them offer tours and other activities. If there is a bar in the hostel, it will be a very social place.

Join tours and activities. Tours are a great way to meet new people! Whether you’re doing a day trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney or a river tubing trip from Cairns, you’ll meet people excited to explore the local region. I met so many wonderful Australians (though they were mostly 50+) at the Sounds of Silence dinner at Uluru.

Look for Couchsurfing meetup events throughout Australia. Couchsurfing isn’t just for free accommodation — they also put on meetup events where everyone is welcome. Many major cities have weekly meetups, and they always draw a great crowd.

Join a meetup on Meetup.com. Whether you’re into travel, running, movies, board games, or just want to meet a group of nice people, there’s a Meetup for that.

Put out feelers on social media. Often a friend of yours will have a cousin or friend living somewhere in Australia who will offer to meet you for coffee, just so you know someone. Take advantage of this if you can.

Tinder. If you’re looking to date or hook up, have fun! If you’ve always wanted to date a guy or girl with a swoon-worthy accent, this is your chance! Honestly, I was stunned at how many hard bodies there were in Sydney, but I much preferred the quirky folks of Melbourne.

Melbourne: The Coolest City on the Planet

Kate’s Picks: 10 Things You MUST Do in Australia

Hang out with the quokkas on Rottnest Island in Western Australia! Quokkas are my favorite animals on the planet. They are so adorable and look like they have smiles on their faces! And in Rottnest Island, especially near the settlement, they come right up to you and want to meet you! Just search #quokkaselfie on Instagram to see how cute they are.

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is one of my favorite things I’ve done anywhere in the world — I’ve wanted to do it since seeing it on the second season of The Amazing Race while in high school! While it looks intimidating, it’s not nearly as bad as you think. The operation is so professional, they even breathalyze you beforehand, and while heights usually bother me, I felt fine on the bridge.

Watch the sunrise and sunset at Uluru. It’s worth every bit of hype — the giant rock changes color so many times as the sun goes down. It’s best watched with a glass of champagne in your hand. And if you can swing it, the Sounds of Silence dinner is a beautiful way to go from sunset to darkness.

Get lost in the little neighborhoods of Melbourne. Melbourne is full of hidden treasures — it’s like a nicer, more expensive version of Berlin or Bushwick. Australia has some of the best coffeeshops on the planet and I loved dropping in for a flat white in neighborhoods like Fitzroy and Northcote. Don’t miss the graffiti on Hoosier Lane.

Snorkel with the most wonderful tropical fish. Most travelers to Australia head to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef for diving and snorkeling. But I LOVED Ningaloo Reef, near Coral Bay in Western Australia. The reef is a five-minute boat ride from the shore, far closer than the Great Barrier Reef, and you can even swim with giant manta rays!

My Favorite Experiences in Western Australia

See kangaroos in the wild. You’ve heard about kangaroos your entire life, but it will thrill you to high heaven the first time you see them in real life! And if you want to see koalas in real life, your best bet is heading down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, near Melbourne.

Swim in rockholes in the Top End. This part of the Northern Territory is home to hot, dusty places like Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. You’ll likely spend the day forming a crust of dirt and sweat as you hike around the region — but sliding into a cool rockhole filled with fresh, croc-free water is one of the best feelings in the world.

Walk along the gorgeous beaches of Sydney. I think Sydney has the best urban beaches on the planet. It’s uncanny to see beaches so soft and white and clean, with bright blue water, in the heart of a major city! The best way to enjoy them is to walk the coastal path from Bondi to Coogee or in reverse. Manly is great, too.

The Glorious Beaches of Sydney, Australia

Feel like you’ve gone back in time in Karijini National Park. If you want to go somewhere off the beaten path in Australia, Karijini National Park is one of the best places to do so. It’s in the heart of Western Australia, a day’s drive from civilization — and home to red rock canyons, swimming holes, giant trees, waterfalls. As you swim through a narrow canyon, you’ll expect to see a dinosaur around the corner.

Eat the best breakfasts on the planet. I’m convinced that Australia is home to the best breakfasts in the world — it’s standard for a restaurant to have several outlandish dishes on the menu! Whether poached eggs over spiced brown butter pumpkin mash on sourdough bread, or a coconut rice pudding with starfruit, pomegranate seeds and pineapple, I was blown away by the creativity of breakfast dishes in Australia.

Recommended Accommodation for Solo Female Travelers in Australia

While I’ve stayed in a mixture of hotels, apartment rentals, and crashing with friends in Australia, and not all the places I stayed are still open today, there are a few I highly recommend for solo travelers:

The Mangrove Hotel in Broome, WA — Staying at the Mangrove Hotel was the highlight of my time in Broome. It was the perfect place to kick back and chill, as well as meet Australians on holiday. In the early evenings, this is the place to be, especially during the Staircase to the Moon event during the full moon each month.

Sydney Harbour YHA The Rocks in Sydney — If you’re looking to stay in a hostel, this is a GREAT one. It’s clean, comfortable, and has an unbelievable view of the Opera House from the rooftop deck — perfect for selfies!

Outback Pioneer Lodge at Uluru National Park — This mid-range hotel is one of the better value options at Ayers Rock Resort, which is comprised of several hotels. There is music and a great atmosphere at the barbecue restaurant at night! If you want to splurge, stay at the shmancy Sails in the Desert.

Alex Hotel in Perth — This is a trendy, upscale boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Perth. It feels super hip and you can get anywhere from here!

Karijini Eco Retreat in Karijini National Park, WA — You can sleep under the stars in this beautiful tented camp in the national park. There are dorm-style tents for backpackers and standard and upscale private tents for people with more cash to spend.

Travel Insurance for Australia

A lot of people don’t think it’s necessary to get travel insurance for Australia — after all, it’s a safe country with good healthcare. But you need it. If you get sick or injured on your trip, if you get robbed, or even if you have to be flown home, travel insurance will protect you from financial ruin. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Australia.

The first time I went to Australia, I had been suffering allergic reactions to an unknown substance for the last few weeks. Sometimes it got so bad that my lips or face swelled up, and I had to go to the doctor several times in Australia. Once I had to go to the hospital in Alice Springs when it got really bad. (Fun fact: lots of Australian doctors prefer to go by their first names.)

While prices aren’t anywhere near what the US would charge you, you could end up paying a lot of money for a serious medical issue like mine. But travel insurance protects you and refunds you for your costs. It’s the kind of thing you don’t know you need until you need it.

My #1 Australia Travel Tip

See as much of Australia’s natural environment as you can. Don’t spend too much of your time in cities.

Australia’s cities are very cool, especially Sydney and Melbourne, but they are not what make Australia special and unique. What makes Australia special and unique is its nature and wildlife. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world, and for that reason that’s what you should prioritize seeing. I recommend that you try to see at least two different kinds of outdoor destinations during your trip — like the Queensland coast and the Red Centre, or the Top End and the Great Ocean Road. If you can do more than two, even better.

Too many people plan trips to Australia centered around Sydney and Melbourne. You’ll probably land in Sydney, and I definitely recommend spending a few days there (if only for the Opera House, the BridgeClimb, the beaches, and attempting to spot Hugh Jackman!), but once you’ve done that, it’s your cue to get out. As much as I love Melbourne, and it’s one of my favorite cities, I think it’s better to include it as part of a longer Australia trip only.

If you’ve already planned a city-centric trip, consider adding in some day trips. From Sydney, you can visit the Blue Mountains; from Melbourne, you can visit the Great Ocean Road; from Perth, you can visit Rottnest Island; from Adelaide, you can visit Kangaroo Island.

Australia is waiting for you!

You are going to have the best time in Australia. Everyone I know who has been has loved it, and that goes for solo female travelers as well as everyone else. Australia is magical. It never lets you down.

Go have the time of your life in Australia. Then come back and tell me all about it!

Is Australia a Value Destination?

Have you been to Australia? What would you suggest? Share away!

The post Solo Female Travel in Australia — Is it Safe? appeared first on Adventurous Kate.

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