It’s no secret that the number of solo female travellers has been growing, and with good reason! Travelling alone gives you the opportunity to find out what you really want – be it getting out of your comfort zone, experiencing a new culture, tasting lots of different cuisines or reflecting upon what you value most in life. It may sound like a cliche, but travelling alone really can give you clarity on who you are and what you want from life. It gives you the space to conduct your trip without sacrificing your own wishes to meet the needs of others, and encourages you to feel comfortable in your own company (which isn’t always easy).
Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have – regardless of gender – but if you have never embarked upon a solo journey before, the idea of it can be daunting. Women who are planning a solo adventure can often be met with the concerned glances of family members and horror stories, which can overshadow the transformative power of going it alone.
So what can you do to ensure that you stay safe as a solo female traveller? We’ve put together the top tips that any female should know before embarking on her solo travel adventure!
1. Do your research
The first thing to do before you travel is research, research, research. Make note of local traditions such as covering your shoulders or wearing hair covers when visiting religious sites. This kind of information (particularly with regards to etiquette in sites of worship) will be well documented when you arrive in the country as part of tourist information or in any decent guidebook. As well as being common politeness, it will help you to feel less conspicuous if you are respectful of the culture you are enjoying. For further reading on dress codes and dressing like a local, this blog from Travel With Jane is useful.
You can also look into common tourist scams in different countries to be aware of. Lonely Planet guidebooks usually have a good section regarding this, but a quick Google of the place you are visiting should also help you.
2. Book accommodation in advance
While the spontaneous nature of solo travel is often one of the perks, booking accommodation at least for your first couple of nights is advisable – especially if you are arriving late at night. This also allows you to research the best places to stay and find reviews from other female solo travellers who can give you some advice.
On the subject of accommodation, it is good practice to be vague if strangers are trying to find out where you’re staying. Only give out the exact address to people that you trust, and always note down the address and number of your accommodation in case you run out of phone battery.
3. Let people know your itinerary
A great way to ensure you (and your loved ones!) feel more secure when you head off on your first solo holiday is to keep friends and family updated on your itinerary. To start with, this may be sharing your flight number so that they can follow your journey and know when you’ve landed safely. A rough idea of where you intend on going will put any potential worriers at ease, with a short update when you arrive in new places.
Now that 3G and wifi are so widely available across the world, it’s much easier to stay in touch with those back home. As well as letting them know that you’re okay, they’ll love to hear what you’ve been up to (if the Instagram posts haven’t given it away)! You can even look into apps such as Find My Friends which allows you to share location with your contacts.
4. Learn some key phrases
While many places do have large populations of English people, it can be stressful if you find yourself in a situation where communicating becomes difficult – especially when you are on your own. By learning a few key phrases you’ll be more confident and will be able to exchange pleasantries with people that you meet in their own language. There are lots of free apps these days that you can download to help you learn a new language (such as Duolingo), and whether you’re with Apple or Android you’ll be able to use translation services if you get stuck,
If you’re concerned about your first trip, go somewhere that speaks your language or is more touristy while you build up confidence. This shouldn’t feel like a cop-out! There are many wonderful places that you can go which will fulfil these needs and are still an adventure, for instance interrailing around Europe or exploring Australia.
5. Make friends
When in doubt – ask! Wherever you are in the world, you are bound to come across fellow female travellers that can give you advice or even become a travel buddy. Staying in hostels is a great way to make friends, and the owners are likely to be able to arrange tours where you can meet up with other travellers. Spending some time with a group is also great if you want to have a few drinks, as you can all look out for one another. While it’s always nice to relax with a drink or two, being drunk alone in another country can put you in a vulnerable position so it’s best to make sure you’re with someone that you trust.
If you’d like to meet people in advance, check out apps like Tourlina which can put you in touch with other solo female travellers. Some of the more popular hostels in certain well-travelled countries may have Facebook pages or groups that you can join to reach out before you even get on the plane.
6. Take care with valuables
This may seem obvious, but when you’re away enjoying yourself it can be easy to forget the little things. Trying not to wear too much valuable jewellery when you’re out and about is a useful way to stay safe, and remember to split up your money. Don’t keep it all in one place – in the worst case scenario, if something happened then it would be all your money gone. If you’re taking money out with you, have some in your purse and some concealed under your clothes – a money belt is a worthy investment. If you’re leaving some money in your accommodation, make sure that there is a working lock on the door, and bring your own padlock to lock your bag.
And finally – trust your instincts!
One of the best tips for solo female travelling that you will ever receive is to learn how to trust your instincts. The likelihood is, if a situation feels wrong, it probably is wrong. Even if you’re not sure whether your instinct is correct, you’ll never lose out by being more aware of your safety and surroundings.
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