Traveling completely alone is a concept that remains foreign to many. While others are galavanting around the Globe, others are longing to take the leap and hop on the travel trend that’s taking the World by storm.
In my early 20s, my first solo trip was to Zurich, and I know what you’re thinking.
It’s safe for travelers, relatively easy to get around, and the perfect spot for first-timers… And while all of these are true, the doubt and uneasiness inside me was still very much present!
That’s the harsh truth of solo traveling as a female. We could travel to the safest destinations on the planet, yet still feel the need to overly research.
Before we dive in, let’s address the elephant in the room. All travelers may feel a little anxiety at first, but us women definitely feel the need to take preparation to a new level – probably more so than our male counterparts.
After traveling Worldwide for over 10 years, I’ve experienced my fair share of cat-calling, interesting hostel experiences, and countries I probably wouldn’t return to again. These are the top 7 things that kept me safe during these times.
General Awareness & Sticking To My Guns
We all grow significantly from our early 20s to early 30s, but it’s always smart to have a general awareness when you’re solo traveling. Sure, it’s a little easier to say yes to parties with strangers when you’re young, but I’ve always stayed hyper-aware of what’s around me.
There have been times where I’ve found myself in a sticky situation once or twice, and realizing it’s okay to see no and miss out is completely and utterly OKAY. Stick to your guns. If I had listened to others and not trusted my instincts… I probably wouldn’t love solo travel as much as I do now.
Preparing The Apps
I could be in the safest location and still have a few apps ready up my sleeve. With the way of the World nowadays, it’s always smart to have a little piece of mind.
While I have a whole solo travel folder on my iPhone homepage, there are a few standouts that have been useful on almost every trip.
Noon-Light and Google Translate are MUST-DOWNLOADS. When I found myself stuck on the side of a dirt road 2 hours outside of Cartagena, Colombia… These certainly came in handy when communicating with my driver.
Choosing The Right Hostel
I can’t explain how important this is.
Personally, I’ve almost always stayed in mixed accommodations with men and women, but of course, some people aren’t as comfortable with that. Be sure to do thorough research and choose the right places for you.
After staying in dozens of hostels Worldwide, what’s important to me? Lockable storage space, communal spaces, 24-hour reception, bedroom doors that lock, and M/F bathrooms.
Part of staying safe is also keeping your belongings safe. Staying in hostels even in my 30s, I ALWAYS carry a mini personal alarm with me.
Under the pillow while sleeping, in my pocket at bars, and while walking the streets alone. Again… Peace of mind is crucial to keep you sane!
I also typically bring my TravelOn Safety Bag if I know I’m visiting a new place I’m unsure about. This lifesaver has RFID blockers, a flashlight, lockable zippers, and anti-slash straps.
Surrounding Myself With Good People
When solo traveling, I almost always choose to stay in hostels to meet people (and join in on the fun social events). It’s no doubt a misconception that solo travelers are lonely… If you want your own space, fine… But if you’re looking to meet people, then hostels are the way to go.
I’ve been lucky enough on my travels to meet some AMAZING people who will remain friends for life. I’m telling you, it’s indescribable to surround yourself with good people when you suddenly fall ill in a foreign country or want someone by your side when you’re walking home from a bar crawl at 3 am.
Don’t Be Naive
It’s a good trait to see the good in all people, but when you realize not everyone in the World is good people, it’ll make solo travel that much easier.
I have a pretty good gut instinct… And always trust it. This came in particularly handy when I was in Paris at the age of 24 and was approached by a group of women with babies. Most people’s reaction? ‘Aw, let’s listen to what they have to say.’ My reaction?… ‘This is a distraction, let’s leave.’ I'm not saying to be completely cold to the World; just don’t be naive, stick to your guns, trust your first instinct, and you’ll figure it out!
Thinking On My Toes
Exciting and nerve-wracking all at once, solo travel really stirs up a lot of emotions for most people. It could be your 1st or 100th time going at it alone, but those feelings are always there.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is to think on my toes. There have been a few too many times I’ve sat at the bar alone, drawing unwanted attention to myself. When you only have about 3 seconds to process what’s happening, what do you do? Quickly switch your ring to your wedding finger.
It’s unfortunate that we females have to think of these ideas at all, but when the time comes, always having a quick plan is advisable. While solo female travel is certainly changing for the better, it’s paramount to still look out for yourself and others around you.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.