Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh. I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!
I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.
Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.
Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.
Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart. India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.
However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.
- Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.
Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.
For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.
- Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.
Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!
- Be Smart with Your Smartphone.
We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.
Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.
- Make Copies of Important Documents.
Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.
- Don’t be a fool.
You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.
- Don’t flaunt your cash.
If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash
- Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.
There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Blend In.
This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.
The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.
It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.
Good luck with your life’s experiences!