For many women, traveling is a great source of joy, adventure and fulfillment as they get out into the world, explore new destinations and meet new people. However having a companion is not always possible or enticing, and let’s be honest some people in our inner circles just don’t love travel like we do. We all have had people flake on our travel plans after they “swear they will go” or they do go and we realize that maybe they make better domestic friends than travel buddies! Somehow, we have all landed on the option of Traveling solo!
However there are some who have yet to experience the excitement and confidence of being an experienced solo traveler… AND THAT’S OKAY!!! We were all there once, at one point or another we have all had an empty passport, even though some travel experts will never admit it! Having traveled to over 14 countries alone I find it gives you a sense of freedom and independence like no other and is now my favorite way to travel! However let me be perfectly honest, before you get good at it, and build up that experience, YES it can be nerve wrecking, YES there are worries, NO you aren’t over reacting (okay maybe you are, but this article is here to help with that) and NO it isn’t for everyone. For those willing to leave all things domestic behind and travel into the international unknown alone here are 8 helpful suggestions for females (or anyone really) traveling alone:
I literally can't stress this enough, just because you are traveling alone, doesn’t mean you have to drop off the face of the earth! Stay connected to loved ones, let them know your travel plans (yes they can change day to day but send them what you know). Be sure to update someone with unexpected changes too.
I have an international travel phone, and I make sure I set aside a budget to buy the international sim card. Many international arrivals area’s have service carrier booths so I usually buy this right when I land in a new country. How to know which carrier is best? Either do your research ahead, or do what I do and ask which has the biggest/best coverage area, then see which one has the longest line of people waiting to purchase (aka most popular one), and which one charges the most (typically you get what you pay for). Also don't forget the data, this is really important not just because you want to "go live" in some epic location, but because you need it for your Google Maps, or that email search for the hotel you were staying at, and it also comes in handy when you call an Uber!
Not every country uses 911, and the worst time to be figuring that out is during an emergency! I usually do this while I am at the carrier booth purchasing my new plan and ask them to write it down or save it into my phone directly.
Personally I stay away from flying into a brand new country really really late at night. I know it is completely unavoidable at times, and yes travel deals usually coincide with extremely inconvenient times but just keep it in mind. When you arrive late, you have to travel in an unknown area in the dark (not everywhere has great lighting) making it harder to recognize landmarks... and let’s be realistic who wants to be dragging luggage through poorly lit streets alone in the middle of the night, lost AF?! Also there can be less people on the streets making it harder to ask for directions or any help in general. In some places the later you arrive the less options you have for transportation and you may end up paying more for the inconvenience, waiting longer, or having limited options… This can go on and on but essentially my point is make use of daylight, crowds, public help, visibility, higher supply and more alternatives.
Yes, I love repeating things three times for effect haha. But seriously, where you are staying is very important. I know that housing costs can really eat at your travel budget, but it is possible to find reasonably priced accommodation in safe areas. There are plenty of questions but here are a few to consider:
- Do you know the neighborhood and have you done your research on it?
- Is it populated or isolated? Is it easily accessible, well lit, easy to find?
- Is it safe (ask google and/or the accommodation owners/staff)?
- Have you read the reviews on the place? Do you feel comfortable with the person you will be renting from if it’s an Airbnb type accommodation?
- Would you feel comfortable walking / arriving back to this location alone after a night out?
- Are there fellow travelers in the area you can link up with and join?
Even if you are lost, which is totally fine, it happens, it actually can be kind of fun ... but DON’T look lost! It makes you an easy target, and yes you stick out like a sore thumb! Take a deep breath and fake it till you make girl, pull out that phone, pretend to check it, be on maps, call your destination and ask for assistance. You can even step into a coffee shop or store and ask for directions, or simply remember that YOU GOT THIS! Either way, use your common sense, keep calm, be confident and you will get there… eventually! Also some tips to keep you from getting lost :
- Add pins to your map to help you return.
- Take pictures of landmarks, bus stops, train stops, platform signs
- Take little notes, anything to help jog your memory.
Following some cultural norms and trying to fit in can really help prevent you from being an easy target! Do a little research on your destinations customs and practices, the weather may not be the only indicator for if short shorts are appropriate. Yes, you want to look fly, who doesn’t love shining bright like a diamond, but keep in mind, it may draw some unwanted attention and put you in avoidable sticky situations. Personally I have a local shopping budget which I use to buy some local styled clothing. Which is a win, win because this not only helps small businesses, the local economy, and makes my Instagram pictures much more authentic, but I also get some really cool souvenirs that help me fit in with the locals better!
This may be the most important one so pay attention… FOLLOW YOUR GUT!!!! It's probably the most straightforward piece of advice given to me, and it has never failed me yet! I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is, use that crazy sixth self-preserving sense we all are gifted with! It’s like some ancient wisdom and I don’t know what triggers it, but when you get that DM from your gut, you better not ignore it!!
Keep racking up those stamps, the world is waiting to be explored!
Well know that you have read some of my tips, do you have anything you want to add to the list? Any questions? You can ask me anything in the comments below!
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