Solo travel can seem like a scary thought, but it’s a great opportunity to feel some independence, gain some confidence, and learn a bit (or a lot) about yourself. As a solo female traveller, this can seem even more frightening, but there are a few tips you can follow on your solo adventure to ensure you feel comfortable, safe, and still experience that refreshing freedom.
This list also includes some tips that every solo traveller should keep in mind. So read through, then Go GlobeHop with confidence!
1. Search for Hostels with All-Female Dorms
If you’re travelling on a budget, hostels are usually the most cost-efficient option for accommodations. They also include a great opportunity to meet fellow solo travellers from all around the world. Oftentimes, hostels will feature group walking tours or pub crawls, creating inclusive and fun experiences. However, hostels mean shared dorms, so look for locations with all-female dorms if the idea of sharing a room with male travellers makes you uncomfortable.
If you are staying in a private room in a hostel or even in a hotel, and want an extra layer of precaution against anyone entering, there are alarms designed for such things. Lewis N Clark Alarms hang on the doorknob with a pair of prongs that slide between the door and doorframe. If someone opens the door, the prongs will slip out and set off the alarm. They are easy to use and can offer an extra feeling of security.
2. Join Group Tours
Sometimes there are sights to see that are located far from where you are staying, or are outside the city, and getting there on your own presents a problem. For this type of situation, joining group tours are a good option, because they are usually more affordable than trying to go alone, plus they allow for meeting other travellers. Small group tours especially are the best for such a situation because everyone gets to know each other and frequently the age grouping is similar.
An added benefit of group tours is that you don’t have to worry about navigating yourself for a day. Having to research and guide yourself throughout a trip can become exhausting. Group tours give you a break while seeing some awesome sights, and more often than not with some extra background and history that you wouldn’t have received if you had gone alone.
3. Familiarize yourself with Local Customs & Culture
Every destination has its own customs, and it’s important to be familiar with them. Something as simple as knowing what side of the road the people drive on can assist in how you navigate the destination.
Also, look into any existing dress codes. For example, in some Asian countries, it is inappropriate to wear pants or shorts above your knees or shirts that expose your shoulders. No matter where you travel in the world, if you plan on visiting any religious sites, expect to encounter enforced dress codes, especially for females. Do some advance research to find out if you need to cover your head or are expected to cover your shoulders, arms or legs. If you’re not sure, be sure to take a scarf and sweater along so you can be compliant and won’t miss an opportunity.
Learning some the language of your destination is always useful, too. Even if you know English is commonly spoken, it is nice to be respectful and use some of the local dialects. Plus, you can’t expect that absolutely everyone you encounter will speak English, so learning some key phrases will help you to get around.
4. Map out Routes and use an Offline Maps app to Navigate
If you have a day of activities and sightseeing planned, figure out ahead of time where you need to go and how to get there. Download the routes from Google maps for use offline. There are some other apps as well, that you can use without the need for wifi. For example, with maps.me you can download a city’s map, and then use it to find your destination and map out your routes as if you still had wifi. These preparatory steps will give you some ease of mind when you set out for a new city!
5. Act Confident when Wandering the Streets
You don’t always want to have a full day of activities pre-planned. Whenever you are in a new location, the best way to get to know the place is by wandering the streets with no real destination. It allows you to see sights that might not be in a tour book, experience some of the local cultures and cuisine, and learn some navigation.
While doing this is a lot of fun, it is important to act like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. An aura of confidence will help you to avoid being approached by strangers or perhaps someone that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you do need to ask for directions, you have the advantage of choosing who to ask.
Be aware of your surroundings when you’re exploring. This should be common practice for everyone no matter where they are but it’s particularly important when you’re in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar faces, and especially if you don’t speak the language. Also, avoid distractions that can avert your attention from potentially dangerous situations, like using headphones that might drown out noises, or being preoccupied with your phone and constantly looking down. And, no matter where you are, never use an ATM alone at night or become publically inebriated and vulnerable.
6. Add these Key Items to your Packing List
Carry a first aid kit with you, with supplies for minor injuries like cuts and scrapes. Being able to clean these and bandage them up will come in handy, especially if you go hiking. Carry a whistle or alarm in case you need to call for help. Make copies of important documents (passport, vaccinations, visas) and keep them with your baggage at the hotel. All of these items are precautionary and can make you feel more secure.
For more great suggestions for supplies, see Don’t Forget to Pack…
7. Leave an Itinerary with Folks Back Home
Travelling solo for the first time can make you feel a bit more at ease if you’ve planned an itinerary. If you do, be sure to leave a copy with your family or friends at home so they have an idea of where you expect to be. It will not only give you peace of mind that someone knows your whereabouts, but will help them to feel less worried as well. If you don’t have much of an itinerary, check-in with them when you arrive in a new location so someone always knows where you are!
8. Don’t Be Afraid!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to travel solo! It’s an amazing experience. As cheesy as it might sound, it allows you to learn more about yourself and what you’re made of. You may be put in situations that are outside of your comfort zone, but having to look out for yourself in this way allows you to grow as a person. It opens your mind to new perspectives and experiences that you may not have thought of before and is incredibly rewarding.
If you have any other tips and tricks for solo travellers, leave them in the comments below.