Back in my 20s was the time of my life. (apart from marrying my beautiful wife and becoming a Dad to the best son anyone could wish for, obviously!). My biggest venture was Australia of which I called home for two years, and have in total explored Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam all within 4 years. Although I have been many other countries and experienced some totally mind blowing experiences in since, I spent them four years traveling solo.
I remember that day at Heathrow handing my ‘big coat’ over to my Mum and Dad at the departure gate, with my whole world in a rucksack. At that moment, I was scared, nervous, excited, happy, sad but most of all I total wonder of what was ahead. At that moment off to Thailand first for a couple of months before I planned to take my next leg, to Sydney.
I loved traveling alone. I could do what I wanted and see what I wanted, whenever I wanted. Saying that though, for that reason I really did build some of the best relationships and best friends I have ever had in my life.
Solo traveling, I feel really set me up for the life skills I needed in my 20s, such as confidence, social skills, leadership and self empowerment in every thing I have achieved. I loved it.
As a 6ft 4 Inch cockney lad, you would think its totally acceptable and easy for a man, men are stronger “physically”, “It’s easier for men…” blah blah. Utter rubbish. I have been in some awkward situations traveling certainly some dangerous ones. Looking back now it was down to naivety and inexperience.
On my travels I met many women traveling the world on their own, and some of them were the strongest, street wise people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Over the last 22 years in the travel industry I have had many emails and phone calls from potential female clients, asking is it safe to travel alone as a solo traveler.
MY answer is always the same, a big huge fat YES!
Here are my 20 Best Tips for Women Traveling Alone and what to look out for. Go book your flights, plan your journey and bloody enjoy yourself….It will be the best experience of your life!
1. Leave your travel itinerary with a friend or family member
Whether you are going on a package holiday, cruise, weekend away or backpacking the globe, you will pretty much in your mind have a planned itinerary. Make sure you leave your itinerary with someone you can trust. This way they will know where you are likely to be at certain legs or dates of your trip and what accommodation you are staying in. You could also make sure they have numbers of the hotels or hostels you are planning to stay at.
2. Join Solo Traveler Forums
This is a great way of getting to know people who are not only extremely experienced on traveling alone, but may be in the country you are traveling to, and you will get chatting to people that will give you the low down on what to do, where is great to visit and give you some valuable tips.
3. Do your research on the city or resort you are planning to visit
With the internet at your fingers, no doubt you will research the places you are visiting. Make sure you check out the main tourist areas, with plenty of people, shops, bars, cafes etc. On the flip side make sure you have a good idea of the areas NOT to travel to, high crime areas and places that are off the beaten track for tourists. Again, travel forums will be a good source to ask questions regarding the where to go questions.
4. Be Confident!
You are a strong independent woman. Use your confidence, walk with your head held high and show the world no one messes with you!
With anywhere you are in life, do not show vulnerability this is a sign of weakness, especially in countries or cities you are a stranger to, this makes you a target.
5. Stay in touch with those close to you
Skype, Facebook, Wassap, and snapchat and of course your smartphone are a great way to keep connected to friends back home and people you have met on your travels. If anything is bothering you, or anyone, make sure you let friends and family know, or even people you are around on your travels. This gives you peace of mind that you are not alone.
6. Pre-book your travel arrangements
From landing into a strange country and pre-booking a taxi, to arranging travel to a different city or area you are planning to travel to, try to make sure you have transport booked from the airport. When you are doing a tour, ask how many people are going on the tour, and a contact number. If you haven’t pre booked a taxi from an airport or port, try not to jump in local ‘taxis’ such as Tuk Tuk’s or rickshaws. I had a rather bad experience in Bangkok once, where the driver took me out into the suburbs after asking him to take me to a hostel on a city center road, Luckily I jumped out and caught another one back to the city center straight away. I don’t want to put you off using such vehicles, but have you wits about you, try to hitch a lift home with people you know or use meter taxis that are licensed, at least until you find your feet. It is always worth paying a little more for a taxi or train that using ‘street’ taxis to get you around.
7. Keep your wits about you
Always keep your wits about you. If your sight seeing and listening to music on head phones, leave one earphone out of your ear so you are aware of sounds around you, or even better don’t wear headphones! Wearing ear buds with your smartphone will also make would-be-muggers aware that you have a smartphone. Keep you smartphone and money safely hidden and do not flaunt it in public. When staying in hostels or hotels try to get a higher floor with and make sure there are no easy ways of entry, and always make sure there is a lock on the door.
8. Watch your drinks!
I know this is an obvious precaution, but all the same extremely important. Never take your eyes of your drinks, be it cocktails, coffee, beer or water. Don’t let them out of your sight. You never know who to trust and anything can be slipped into your drink.
9. Get to know the locals and make friends
When traveling alone whether you are male or female you will meet more people. I love solo traveling for this very reason. When you travel with friends and family you don’t tend to socialize as much as you would traveling alone. Go outside your comfort zone and chat to the locals, ask them about their culture, architecture, traditions, history and the local area. Most of the people I met that became like family over the years, are the ones staying in the hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts. You will find talking to people and making friends will enhance your experience, as Let’s face it they all have the same interests as you. Traveling! Although the thought of traveling alone is daunting, you very rarely are alone with the people you build relationships with and become friends with.
10. Wear a wedding band!
Don’t let anyone know your are single, this will ward of unwanted attention. Wear a wedding band on your left hand.
11. Learn a few phrases
Learning the language in any country will not only give you kudos and respect with the locals, but will help you in communication. You don’y need to speak fluently but learn phrases such as hello, goodbye, how are you and please and thank you. Also, it will also be worth learning security words like ‘help’ and ‘go away’, so locals will know if you are in any stressful situations.
12. Dress appropriately
When traveling try to dress to fit in with the culture and surroundings. A few countries look down on females that don’t cover up their arms and legs. I’m not saying wear a sari if you are in India for example, but keep your attire conservative. If visiting temples and places of worship, there are normally sarongs or scarfs to cover up with at your disposal.
13. Stash extra cash!
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have a secret stash of money where no one could find it. That way if you did lose your purse/wallet/bag you will have spare cash in an emergency. If you have more than one credit or debit card, don’t carry them together. Leave one in your hotel or hostel.
14. Leave your ‘Do Not Disturb’ Sign on your door.
This will deter thieves when you are out and about.
15. Drink in moderation
your are venturing out alone, be mindful of the amount of alcohol you consume. Being alone and drunk can leave you in a vulnerable position. If you want a good night on the wine make sure you are with people that you can trust and will get you home safe.
16. Use the track my phone app on your smart phone
With the technology of today on smart phones you can track your phone. This not only would be a good idea for you if you lose your phone, but a good idea if you have someone you trust or a relative to track your phone they will know where you are at all times. Handy app to have!
17. Do your research on local scams
Use google to research what the local scams or things to be wary of in the respective city or resort you are traveling to. You can get a wealth of information of how local hoodlums target tourists and what their dirty underhand tricks are. Keep your luggage or bag in the back of a taxi with you in case you need a quick get out. If you feel something doesn’t feel right. Get out the taxi.
18. Make a note of the local police and hospital numbers
A good tip is to find out the local emergency number for that country, and even better, seak out the number of the local police station in case you need them in an emergency. It would also be wise to know where you local medical centers or hospitals are along with contact numbers.
19. Keep a dummy wallet on you
This is a superb idea in the event you did get mugged. You could face an aggresive mugger that can get angry if you have nothing to offer, so keeping a spare money wallet with a couple of small bills in could be a life saver. Stash you bigger bills and money safely away or in your bra/shoes for safe keeping.
20. Research Reseach Research!
Before you plan your trip as I have mentioned many times on this post, research is essential. Use google, use forums and social networking to find out exactly what are the safest places to travel to, and the places to stay away from.
Learn a little about the local culture, what is acceptable and what is not, what to wear, and the best and safest way of traveling around. Learn a few phrases and most of all keep your wits about you at all times
Firstly, I do not want you worrying about a few of the tips in the above list. Mentioning mugging, spiking drinks etc, are alarming when metioned. This is the case anywhere in the world though even in your home town, and is extremely rare. As long as you bear this in mind and keep your wits about you, and go with your gut feeling you will be absolutely fine.
Speaking to a female friend that traveled Asia on her own, she informed me that people actually tend to look out for females traveling alone and will do the upmost to make them feel comfortable.
Traveling is the most mind broadening venture you will ever take in your life. The confidence you gain from traveling alone especially is so valuable to your outlook on life.
Book your flight, you train or whatever way you are looking to travel and go and enjoy the best experience of your life!
If you have any questions please feel to to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below 🙂