Ladies, don’t let media, rumors, reviews, and the negativity of other people keep you from solo travels or filling your passport with stamps. Traveling alone as a woman need not be scary. You’ve probably read all sorts of pieces on the beauties and dangers of international travel. Whether factual or opinionated, they all hold little morsels that should be paid attention to and some that should be cast aside. I want to see women fearlessly globetrotting with friends and by themselves, making the world their living room and becoming confident citizens of our fabulous planet.
It is a big planet and the combination of people, places, sights, sounds, foods, and vistas can be pretty overwhelming, but even more beautiful. I am determined to make your independent travels as liberating as they’re meant to be, along with some practical advice that’ll keep safety in the forefront without worries clouding your sunshine.
Preparing for a solo travel
Obviously, preparation is key to any trip regardless of distance, length, or company. It’s easy to skimp on the safety precautions when preparing because good deals are good deals and it’s easy to fold when the savings are prime. Vacation prep shouldn’t be a hassle, but you should en garde for things that seem too good to be true, because very often they are too good to be true. Some of these preparation hints will seem like common sense, but they’re overlooked more than you think. Not only will they ensure that your trip flows smoothly, but while you’re having the best time, you’ll be ready for anything.
- Read the reviews:
- Travel reviews should be an immediate source of information that inform your trip. Hotel/hostel accommodations, local activities, bars, restaurants, clubs, travel, cultural experiences, and anything attached to your destination has been seen by other people. Crowdsourcing information gathered from the experiences of others will gather a test group of unbiased data. Remember, experiences are subjective, so do your best to identify facts and opinions; leave room to make your own judgments, too.
- As a woman, traveling alone to a foreign place can be intimidating and finding safe housing is especially important when solo adventuring. Preparing for your trip, you should look into well-known places that are popular with traveling groups. You’re not the only person traveling alone! One of the best possible friendship building experiences is meeting fellow solo travelers. Planning to stay in hotels and hostels that accommodate groups helps keep lone travelers safe and builds a little social network. You contribute to the safety of the community while they do the same for you.
- If you got it, don’t flaunt it:
- As much as we love and cherish Beyonce, solo travel isn’t the time to be glam flashing like you’re cat walking for Tom Ford. Excessively valuable clothing, jewelry, and accessories may be your favorite way express yourself, but when traveling alone you’ll be a target for unwanted attention. Leave that stuff at home. You can still be chic without peacocking your way into a diamond caused dilemma.
- Money troubles:
- Believe it or not, managing your money before and during a solo trip is an important aspect of safety. Let your bank know ahead of time that you’re traveling. The last thing you want is to have your account locked or frozen because your bank is wondering why your last purchase was Starbucks in SoHo and now it’s in Dubai.
- It’s also important to have a few forms of payment. Cash, casual international credit card, and an ICE credit card are three financial nets to keep you safe from a foreign fiscal disaster. Cash money is the universal language. Everyone understands it and everyone honors it; cash can communicate in situations that you might not be able to.
- International credit cards just make sense. Look into some that your bank may offer and keep them for traveling. Not only will they eliminate international transaction fees, but they often carry flight, hotel, and local entertainment perks. Who doesn’t love perks?
- The In-Case-of-Emergency card is exactly that. Don’t keep a balance on it, store it securely, and hopefully, you won’t have to use it. However, if an emergency situation does arise that requires a substantial expense, having an option outside of cash and day-to-day travel expenses is prudent.
- Most importantly, your financial information and payment utilities shouldn’t all be kept in the same place whilst traveling alone. Manage your handbag accordingly and keep financial fallbacks in place.
Technology is your ally
Your smartphone is a weirdly overlooked accessory that’s veritably a part of your body. Gone are the days of shutting off your phone on vacation because you don’t have service; it’s 2018, girls! Get a SIM card for the place you’re going and keep that phone live because it’ll help you out. Just don’t be on it so much that you’re missing what’s in front of your face!
- Luggage gets lost, things get stolen, broken, dropped in the ocean, any manner of disastrous things can happen to our worldly possessions. Luckily you can’t drop the cloud in water and it doesn’t need to be put in rice, it’s a secure location in the technosphere. All important documentation, itineraries, sensitive information, bookings, tickets, whatever is vital enough to warrant having backup copies is worth saving in cloud storage. Why? You can access it anywhere in the world that has internet, which is practically everywhere. Also, the cloud is the most secure place you can store sensitive information. Petty thieves and pickpockets are no match for Google and friends.
- Location services:
- The GPS services in smartphones are excellent for solo travelers for sharing real-time location with people at home. Used as a background feature, the ability to periodically check in offers peace of mind to loved ones and yourself. Keep emergency contact information handy on any of your preferred mobile technology, too!
- Uber, Lyft, and any ridesharing services across the world are optimum ways to travel securely on the ground in diverse locations. The connected technology companies have GPS mapping, electronic record keeping, language support, and vetted drivers that are connected to their networks. Plus, you won’t have to look around for taxis, buses, trains, or any other type of transit, especially when your location is unfamiliar.
Eyes and hearts open
Wherever you’re coming from and wherever you’re going, there will be differences. Language, culture, practices, foods, transportation, time zones, communication, anything can be different. This gets its own special attention because it’s by far the most important part of traveling. You can have everything booked safely, travel securely, and be the most street savvy gal to cross the world, but if you’ve paid no attention to the socio-cultural differences of the places you’re going, you’ve made a grave mistake.
This enters into safe solo travel, especially for women. Standing out as that oh-so-obvious western traveler isn’t a good look and makes you a target. It also speaks to the time–or lack thereof–you’ve invested in the culture you’re choosing to visit. A socially conscious, the respectful traveller should take the time to learn a bit about the place, people, beliefs, rituals, rules, and differences they’re immersing themselves in. Remember, new experiences are a gift and learning experience, they are not something you are owed. Being conscientious of how you interact with new cultures speaks volumes on how you represent yourself and where you’re from. A little respect goes a long way in this regard.
While planning, preparation, and a realistic notion of the not-so-savory parts of the world is smart, don’t let it fully control your experience. Human beings and new places are beautiful to see, meet, and live in! Plan wisely, stay safe, but let your feet and intuition guide you on your adventure. The best part of traveling alone is dancing with the unknown and getting to know yourself and the world around you better with each rhythmic step. Dance away, friends!
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