“It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to be brave, and to want, to need, to hunger for adventures. To embrace the chance and risk so that we may breathe and know what it is to be free.”
– Mae Chevrette
As much as this shouldn’t rightfully be an issue, it is a reality that women face certain risks on the road. Travelling alone to any country can be intimidating, especially if you are female. The risks are greater. It might not be possible to get your friends or family to come along with you all the time, but that shouldn’t stop you from going places.
In this day and age, women know that there is close to nothing that men can do that women can’t. We are roughly at par with our male counterparts, even exceeding them in some fields. If men can travel alone, why not women too? In fact, according to George Washington University School of Business, almost two-thirds of today’s travelers are female.
So how do women make sure they make the most out of their solo trips?
Here are five tips that guarantee you a very safe and memorable solo travel as a female.
It is crucial to research about the country you are travelling to. Read up about what to expect when you step off the plane — the local customs, culture, tradition, societal norms, and more in order to avoid a culture shock.
If this is your first time traveling alone, consider a country that has a relatively stable political climate and low crime rates. The last thing you want is to be involved in street violence or civil uprisings, or get mugged. With that said, choose destinations which will make you step out of your comfort zone as well. A little risk is essential for growth, and will definitely make you a stronger person.
Check out safe places of accommodation to spend the night in, and make sure you book them beforehand! Have a physical copy of the address itself, and not saved in your phone such that you need WiFi to access it. This is to prevent scenarios where you are not able to access the internet and are unable to search your destination. Carry some extra cash and keep it along with your passport in a sealed compartment in your bag.
Inform your close contacts
Maybe you want to pursue a solo trip just to get away, maybe you need some space to clear your head. But informing your close friends or family about your plan ensures at least someone knows where you’re at, in case of an emergency. It is always a good idea to leave a breadcrumb trail of your travels on social media — provided it’s private only to those your trust! — to reassure your close ones that you are safe and well.
Learn the basics of the local tongue
There is no harm in learning a few useful words of the local language commonly spoken in the country you are travelling to, especially the translations for basic necessities and directions.
A communication barrier is most disadvantageous to a solo traveler, but can be easily overcome with an open mind, and Google Translate. This will also make you more confident in dealing with your daily activities, and avoid potential rip-offs. It bodes well with the locals when a foreigner attempts to learn a little of their native tongue, and they in turn, show more respect and become more friendly.
It is a common trap to fall into whether you are travelling alone or as a group. Imagine you are on the side of a deserted road waiting for the past hour to hitch a ride, and your shoulders are crying in agony from your heavy backpack. That might sound quite dramatic, but you really don’t want to lug around a heavy luggage when you hit the roads. In any cases of emergency where you need to make a quick run for it, having less items on you will work in your favour.
Make a list of the things you want to bring, and cancel out at least a half of those items. Bring along clothes which you can mix and match, such as shirts, shorts, pants, and dresses. I usually opt for three pairs of footwear myself when I want to travel — a casual pair of sandals, a pair of comfortable sneakers, and a pair of cross-fit sports shoes.
Also, be informed of the way the locals dress in the country you are visiting. Most Southeast Asian countries have a more conservative dress code than some Western countries, so ensure you are dressed appropriately — that prevents you from garnering much unwanted attention as well.
Wear a smile!
Do not forget to bring along your best possession — your smile! Many might think that traveling solo means you get lonely, you are never truly alone. Solo journeys are the best ways to connect with fascinating like-minded travelers such as yourself. I personally find it is easier to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger when I am alone. It makes me more approachable and more open to the idea of meeting new people. However, do not make the mistake of broadcasting the fact that you are indeed travelling alone, as it could attract some unwanted attention your way.
Wearing a smile and a positive body language goes a long way in giving a good first impression to locals when you first meet them.
Traveling solo does not have to be scary and lonely. I have the best memories by traveling alone and making friends along the way. Sure, it came with a fair share of risks, but I have no regrets. Any woman regardless of her status or age can indeed travel solo.
You make the rules. You have nobody to answer to except yourself. Everything is absolutely in your hands. Let yourself discover the independent woman in you, and go out there and own it!