How long have you endured itchy travel feet, waiting for someone to take the trip you’ve been fantasizing about with you? Wait no longer! Your destination is calling, and sometimes you just have to chase your dreams solo. In this edition of Travel Tip Tuesday, we’re sharing the best solo traveling tips for women – well, really for anyone.
“Fear is just enhanced excitement.”
Firstly, nerves and anxiety toward your solo departure to a foreign land DO NOT mean you aren’t cut out for this. Many female travel bloggers confess fear presents itself regardless of whether it’s their first or hundredth unaccompanied voyage. Arm yourself with the following wherewithal to ensure you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way:
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
The first step is to prepare yourself as much as possible. Familiarize yourself with the destination’s surroundings, rules, attractions, WiFi availability, languages and even dress code. Make yourself knowledgeable through internet searches, blogs, and joining a travel group on social media (check out the Girls LOVE Travel® Facebook group). Use the platform to share concerns and receive advice from experienced others. Supportive and valuable feedback immensely reduces anxieties.
Ask Provider About Overseas Phone Plans
It’s cool to go off the tech grid while traveling, but not bringing your cellphone doesn’t prove anything. It’s a lifeline with unparalleled safety features, and it can hold photos of important travel documents. Check with your provider about what your plan offers in regards to overseas travel. Some let you purchase a plan that charges you only when your phone’s data is used. Others allow unlimited text and free data usage when connected to WiFi. We’ve come a long way from expensive long-distance calling, so take advantage of what your plan offers.
The beauty of solo travel is not being weighed down by excess, and that includes what’s in your bags. Most solo travelers stay in hostels or shared social spaces where security is reduced to a locker or cubby. If you plan to be on-the-move, you don’t want to drag an enormous rolling suitcase around places that may not even have paved roads. Pack intentionally, and limit your belongings to what can fit in your backpack. There’s a powerful sense of liberation when traveling with only what you can carry on your back.
Other Quick Tips
- Tell someone – leave your comrades back home with as much info as possible on your whereabouts
- Book hostels with lockers, and pack your own lock
- Learn basic phrases in the local language
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Protect Your Belongings
Ensure your stuff is secure at your lodging while you’re out, and protect what’s on you. Wear a passport holder or belt under your clothes to keep your money and important documents in front of you at all times. Note: there have been instances of thieves snipping the holder/belt from the body with scissors, then running away with it. Not falling victim to this maneuver is as simple as being aware of your surroundings. When in a crowded place or on public transit, hold your purse or bag in front of you. This keeps your valuables in your field of vision and makes you a difficult target for pickpockets.
Don’t Share too Much About Yourself
You’re likely to be asked your name, where you’re from, and where you’re traveling when you meet someone new. These questions are usually well-intended, but be very particular about the details you give. Be wary when questions pry toward “Where are you staying?”, “Are you alone?”, and “Where will you be next?” It may be genuine interest, but framing questions like this also divulges personal information. We’re not asking you to be standoffish, but there’s nothing wrong with being vague. And if you feel uncomfortable at all, walk away. Your safety greatly outweighs perceived rudeness.
But Also Talk to People
On that note, you’re going to meet a lot of people while traveling solo. Many are also traveling alone and are just as eager to form a little tribe with likeminded spirits. Talk to those staying at the hostel with you. Oftentimes, you find people to join you on local excursions. A lot of tours require a minimum of two people, so going with a group opens more opportunities. Plus, there’s safety in numbers.
The best thing to do is listen to your instincts when it comes to people, and be smart about what you share. There’s really no reason for a stranger to know you’re traveling alone or where you’re staying that night. Other travelers will understand.
Say “NO” and Don’t Feel Bad About It
Whether you’re solo or in a large group, you will absolutely be approached by street vendors and beggars. This isn’t unique to a particular destination and, while some are friendly (and even flattering), all are persistent. They won’t quit after a single “No, thank you”, so you really get the chance to practice your refusals. If you want to haggle over an enticing souvenir, that’s fine. If you’re not interested in what they’re selling, move on.
Check for Bed Bugs
Checking for bed bugs is just a useful know-how. Keep your luggage far away from the bed when entering your room, then follow these steps to properly inspect for bed bugs:
- Pull up sheets to check mattress and box spring. Look for any abnormalities: Rust-colored spots (could be an exoskeleton), dark or white specks (eggs), or actual bugs. Although they are quite small, they are all visible to the naked eye.
- Check divots in mattress, paying special attention to the head of the bed
- Lift and check underneath the mattress
* If you see any signs of bed bugs, alert staff immediately and ask for a new room. Don’t stay in a room that has any evidence of bed bugs.
Above All: Trust Your Instincts
Consider your safety your biggest priority, and know solo traveling requires you to be a little bit selfish in that regard. If you feel unsafe, it’s up to you to remove yourself from the situation. As women, we are targeted more often than men when seen alone; so, whether it’s fair or not, we have to be more alert. Although putting ourselves first doesn’t come naturally, solo travel is when we encourage you to do it unapologetically. There isn’t always a reason to justify your nerves, but if you’re feeling uneasy toward a person or situation, get out of it and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When your concerned parents bring up the movie Taken, remind them his daughter was traveling with a friend and her friend was the reason she got into the mess she did. It doesn’t cancel out any of the above information, but it’s a good point. Be smart.
Did you know a travel agent can enhance your experience, while also adding an additional level of safety? Our Jaya Travel agents know which destinations have the best reputations among solo travelers, where you can book an all-female dorm if you’d like, and fun excursions at any given place. They’ll also equip you with an itinerary you can share with others on your whereabouts – whether you plan out every detail or leave days open for whatever. Call Jaya today!