Travelling alone is one of my favourite feelings. The exhilarating sense of freedom that comes with it, priceless! It’s a sense of liberation that stays with you, perhaps, forever. But being a young female traveller, I am often asked if I find it safe to travel solo. Well, while there can be no ‘one fits all’ answer to that question and the degree of safety varies substantially with place and time (amongst a lot of other factors of course). Having said that, here’s a list of some tips that can definitely come in handy.
To the extent you can, dress, behave and think like a local
Of course there are a whole lot of subtleties there, that you may not be able to understand and emulate but learn a few phrases, look confident and dress appropriately. If not a local, try to look like someone from elsewhere who lives in the city. The idea is to not stand out or attract undue attention. For instance, you don’t want to be in shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers in Paris as normal as that would be in parts of North America.
A dash of confidence can go a long way
Look like you know your way around. Hold your head up and walk around with confidence. If you do lose your way, the best way to get information is to walk into a shop or café for help.
Get some research done beforehand
This includes reading about a place and knowing about its cultural nuances, notorious areas, common scams, medical centers and the like before-hand as well as inquiring about these when you arrive at your resort or hostel. Check the safety ratings of your lodging before booking as well.
Spend a little more on staying safe
You may be traveling on a budget, but if you’re a solo female traveller, it is completely worth it to spend a tad bit extra on facilitating safety. Take a flight that gets you to your accommodation before nightfall instead of a late night flight. Take a reliable cab back instead of using the public transport or walking back. Stay in a place that has high safety ratings.
Take what you need, lock the rest up
Avoid walking around the city with your credit cards, all your cash, passport and the like. Just carry the amount of cash you need and lock everything else up. Most accommodations have reliable lockers. Also split the cash you carry.
Watch your drinks when travelling alone
Well, this doesn’t get said too often and it is very tempting to just lose yourself in the moment when you’re on a holiday but it’s wise to pace your drinks and not let yourself become totally vulnerable when you’re travelling alone. Maybe go out drinking with friends you’ve made a day or two ago. Also, when you know you are going to be drinking don’t have any valuables with you and carry a couple of business cards of your hotel/ hostel. Better safe than sorry.
Put that iPod away
Don’t wear your iPod when you are walking the streets or using public transport. Not only is it a distraction for you, it will also attract more pick pockets and robbers.
Have small change handy
Always have smaller change handy in a separate pocket and larger notes in another one. You don’t want to flash big notes to everyone around you while you’re trying to get your way around.
Get that travel insurance
This one’s not just for solo female travellers. We always tend to debate if we really need that travel insurance. Well, you must get it, especially in today’s day and age where you have so many convenient and cheap options available.
Stay in touch
Some of us often like to disconnect when we travel. I am one of those myself. But when you are travelling alone, it’s a good idea to have at least one family member or friend updated of your whereabouts. You can decide on a duration in advance but make sure you text, call, email regularly at that interval. Also give this person a copy of your itinerary. If you haven’t planned it in advance, send them the details when you check into a place.
So don’t deny yourself the intoxicating experience of solo travel. Just keep these tips in mind and go for that trip you’ve always wanted to take. What’s life without a little adventure after all ;)