It has been my experience, more often than not, that when I talk to people about my big travel plans, especially if I am planning to go on a solo trip as a female traveler, I get a lot of “advice” on why I should not go and how dangerous it will be. Yes, solo travel does carry some risks, but it’s not as scary or dangerous as it is made out to be. Traveling on the whole is safe and one of the best ways to help you learn and understand the world around you. Obviously things happen in the world. People are hurt or lose things or have bad experiences. This happens. But what I am saying is this should not be a deterrent to anyone, especially solo female travelers, in heading out into the world. The world can be uninviting for those who identify as female, but we can change that by not letting fear and intimidation keep us home. Here are some tips that help me embark on my travels.
1. BE CONFIDENT
No one starts out feeling completely confident solo traveling, but over time it gets easier. When I set out to travel I try to go into with confidence. Traveling around the world is not any different than getting yourself around your own city (well minus the language barrier, but minor details.) So I try to remember that when I start feeling flustered. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I are more than capable than I feel in that moment. That I am resourceful, intelligent, and also that people are generally good. I don’t hesitate to ask for help as most people are more than willing to extend a hand when asked. If you can stop a travel experience from becoming larger than it is, it becomes more manageable and you are free to melt into the experience with confidence.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND BE PREPARED
It is important in travel to prepare just as in public speaking or teaching or getting a root canal. Before you head out on your grand adventure take the time to learn the some of the language, learn about the history and culture of the place. What are the social norms? What is frowned upon? This will help you feel more comfortable and at ease when you are traveling. It also helps me to locate ahead of times where the places are that might help me in a jam. Where is the embassy? Local tourism organizations? Chamber of Commerce? Preparing and educating myself also shows locals you are trying, that you are there to learn and be part of their home. This will open doors to connection and make getting around easier too.
3. BE SMART
When you are traveling on your own use the same judgement you would at home. Don’t leave your possession laying around, be cautious when you handling your money in public spaces. I try to just generally conduct myself as I would at home when it comes to being aware of my surroundings. I try travel in the day and get my barrings before I head out for the day. Just knowing the general layout of the place I am gives me piece of mind when moving around. One of the big things I try to do too is never make it obvious that I am staying alone or where my home base is. I often see solo travelers who identify as female forgetting those simple safety precautions, which I know they would use at home. When traveling solo just keep your head on straight and it’ll be great!
4. YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Almost all of my most cherished travel memories involve people I have met on the road. Sometimes I meet so many different people when traveling, I will actually find myself seeking out some quiet time! The world is big and there is a ton of people out there wanting to explore and discover the world just like you. So even if you feel like you are alone, remember that you are not. This will not only make your experience that much more rich, but give you a sense of community and confidence being around other folks like yourself or who know the area well. In the same vein as #3, always be smart about who you spend time with and trust your instincts as well and your travels will be enriched.
5. KEEP IN TOUCH
One of the things I love most about traveling in far off destinations is that sense of remoteness, that sense of distance from the familiar. So for me, I have to make a conscious effort on this one. I know it sounds maybe not as important, but keeping in touch with family and friends back home is not only for your own comfort, but a good way for people to know where you are and where you might be traveling next. This can give you piece of mind and also, in the super unlikely event something happens, you will have a few people who know where you are and what your plans are. It is never anything in depth for me, I stay off social media for the most part and limit my internet time as much as I can. It’s usually a simple email or message, just to check in.
6. HAVE FUN AND LIVE YOUR ADVENTURE
At the end of the day travel is very personal. It holds different meanings for everyone and has tremendous power both personally and collectively. One of the most important things you can do is have fun! Traveling does not have to have a time frame or an expiration date so immerse yourself into it. Solo traveling as a female is unique in that how I perceive the world and how the world sees me is often times out of line with how things really are. Being open, being honest, and having a positive attitude always serves me well in bringing those things in line. I would say, live the adventure that pushed you to set out on your trip in the first place and don’t look back. I live by the words of Hellen Keller when she said “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”
HAVE FUN OUT THERE!