I think it’s something that most people should do once in their life. I genuinely believe that you can learn so much about yourself when you’re forced to be independent and not rely on someone else. When you manage to push aside your fear and accomplish something that scares you there’s such an overwhelming feeling of pride. This is closely followed by the belief that you’re stronger than you think you are. You can do anything. Okay, okay, let me level with you; I’ve never solo travelled. I’ve flown solo to destinations, but met up with friends once I arrived. For me, that was phase one. I’m scared of flying so flying 14 hours across the world with one three hour lay-over was a huge step for me. Phase two is complete the entire trip solo.
A lot of people believe it’s not safe to travel alone. Particularly for women. When Grace Millane was found dead in New Zealand last year a feminist argument erupted as people essentially victim-shamed Grace for ‘allowing’ herself to be killed. Even her parents were targeted for allowing their daughter to go travelling on her own. What were they thinking? What was she thinking? When the truth is, a woman is statistically more likely to be assaulted or killed by someone she knows. This means that you’re essentially more at risk in your home town than you are on the other side of the world on a solo trip. Sure, you still have to take precautions and don’t take unnecessary risks, but I’d say that to everyone, man or woman. At home or abroad. I’ve done quite a bit of research into solo travelling as a woman in the hope that one day I’ll be able to do it myself. So I thought I’d share some of the best tips I’ve come across. It’d also be great if you shared your top travel tips in the comments.
Book a tour
You’ll find it easier to meet people on a tour and might even find other solo travellers to befriend for part of your trip. Whether you join a tour group for the duration of your trip or pick day tours while you’re away. Ask your hotel/accommodation for recommendations on which tours are good/safe.
Sit at the bar in restaurants
Solo travel can feel lonely at times. When you go to a restaurant, sit at the bar and chat to the staff or other bar seat occupants. The staff might even be able to give you some tips of things to do and see in the area.
Go out by yourself
Put your big girl pants on and go out by yourself. Don’t get drunk, but have a dance and chat to people. You know how friendly girls are in pub/club bathrooms, if all else fails you’re almost guaranteed to make a friend in there! (I’m only half joking about that bit…)
Go to a concert or gig
If there’s a band you like playing nearby buy a ticket and just go. Similarly, if you can do any other hobby you might have while travelling then do it. Putting yourself in a situation where you’ll meet like minded people can only be a good thing.
It’s really easy to feel homesick when travelling alone so make sure you fill your days with exciting/interesting things. You’ll be having too much of a good time to feel like you want to go home!
Join an online forum
I’m a member of a group on Facebook called Girls LOVE Travel and so many friendships seem to have been born out of it. When a woman posts that she’s struggling or needs advice about a particular country/city then the other members rally round with advice and suggestions or even the offers of coffee and company. Usual rules apply when meeting someone from the internet though, right? And I’d say that to a man too, just so you know.
Booking a hotel, hostel or Airbnb.
Before booking your accommodation, read the reviews of the place you are interested in staying. Always make sure to read the negative reviews and decide whether you can accept those things if they were to happen to you.
Get a sim card for the local country. Many can be picked up at the airport and booked ahead of time. It will be easier to navigate around cities using Google maps (or the local navigation maps – not all countries use Google maps!) , look up restaurant reviews, and look up events or anything you want in real time. Also, you can post your travel pics on the go (if that’s your thing).
Get a travel money card
There are many of these cards on the market. They are pre-paid cards that can be used in most countries (each card may differ so do your research). I got mine from the Post Office, but there’s also Caxton and Monzo.
There are loads of apps that are useful when traveling; consider downloading google translate to help with the language barrier, Uber for getting around, accuweather, citymapper, tipit… do some research and get downloading.
Research your destination
This may sound like an obvious one, but I mean specifically the rules and laws of your destination country. You might not know that chewing gum is illegal in Singapore or what medication you can and cannot take into Dubai. It’s also worth knowing if there are places you are expected to cover up so you’re not seen as disrespectful.
If you’re doing multiple flights then pack to your lightest luggage allowance so you don’t rack up extra charges. There are loads of websites offering advice on packing methods and tips; checkout The Anna Edit, The Travel Fashion Girl, YTravelBlog, HerPackingList and TwoScotsAbroad.
Tips on staying safe (whether you’re a man or a woman)
- Try to keep your belongings in front of you so wear your rucksack on your front so that it’s harder to pick your pockets.
- You obviously want to take lots of pictures, but take your pictures and then put your camera away. You don’t want to draw attention to your valuables if you can help it.
- It’s a good idea to carry a lock and cable so if you’re traveling on a sleeper train or overnight bus then you can loop the cable round your bag and maybe the seat so no one can steal your stuff.
I’m sure there are many, many more tips, so please share your top tips in the comments below. We would also love to hear your experiences of traveling solo; where did you go and what did you get up to?