Solo travel is one of the best character-moulding, incredibly life-rewarding adventure to accomplish in life. You get to create your own itinerary, making all decisions by yourself with total freedom and choice. You get to fantasise your would-be, want-to, try-this, try that trip as far as your wildest imagination can carry you even before you book your flight tickets. But life’s irony is, even with the most meticulous and grandeur itinerary planned in your head, it always looks great. When it’s written down and as the travel dates draw near, you’re probably going to start thinking of a 101 reasons to ‘chicken out’ or procrastinate another year.
For ladies, taking your very first step to solo travelling is definitely not easy. Especially with the ‘should I’ or ‘should I not’ paradox lingering in your head. You struggle to feed on lots of encouragement ‘pills’ to buck up your courage to make it happen and finally strike it off your bucket list. Even to a seasoned traveller, you’ll tend to feel scared at times when travelling to a new destination. All these uneasy feelings and doubts you’re feeling are very normal. I felt the same way too.
So I’ve gathered my solo travelling experience and compiled a solo female travel guide to encourage you, pointing you in the right direction and to kick-out all those negative thoughts in you.
Select The Right Destination
Low crime rate and stable social security is of the utmost importance. The knowledge of feeling safe about a place before setting your foot in can mean a whole universe, putting you in a positive dimension. It helps to drain away the security anxiety which taxes most individuals to the brink of ‘abandon ship’ status. You’ll feel more excited about your trip, and more relaxed to accomplish all your planned itinerary objectives without worries.
Follow your gut and pick a destination you feel most comfortable with. For first time travellers, start with female-friendly regions like Barcelona, Dubai, New Zealand or even the Scandinavian countries. You can also start with countries that speak your own language, if that’s a barrier you’re deeply concerned of.
Understand Your Destination
Research on your destination and what it has to offer allows you to get the most out of your trip. Gather the necessary information on its weather, cultures, dress styles, cuisines, transport systems and the general places of interests that you’re interested in. Knowing what you’ll expect beforehand will aid you in planning your trip wisely.
In this modern age, getting your mobile cellular data lifeline is your first priority upon landing. It gives you immediate access to internet and social media platforms for impromptu research and navigation.
Prepare for the unexpected. Having a backup plan will always come in handy in the event of unforeseen circumstances or weather changes that may occur along the way. In every situation, keep your head together. Stay positive and you’ll enjoy the little things you put together in your contingencies. As Kurt Vonnegut Jr said: “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.”
The right accommodation gives you the ultimate comfort throughout your trip for a good night’s rest. It need not be expensive, but must be safe and clean. There are many female-friendly hotels or hostels across the globe. Choose a reputably safe location. Always check out its reviews before making your booking. Make sure your choice of accommodation has a secure room lock system, personal lockers and good cleanliness. Plan well. If the location saves you loads on logistics, transportation and travel expenses, that place may be worthwhile as compared to one that is way out of place and hard to find.
Unless you intend to splurge on relaxation on a small island and plan to catch up on your annual dose of ‘pamper’, find a hotel that syncs with your heart and less with your head.
Book In Advance
Make your booking in advance for hot attractions and popular activities to prevent queuing behind last-minute-tourists at the venue’s ticketing counter or experiencing ‘sold out’ disappointment. Sometimes through booking online, you’ll get special price and value add bonuses.
Get information about the places and understand what you need to do or how you should dress for the visit. This will save you the hassle on the day itself. Especially in Asia, certain places of interest and religious complexes have strict rules on appropriate dress codes.
Bring only what you need. This is a solo trip. You don’t want to end up carrying your house in a heavy suitcase all by yourself!
I know we girls always tend to bring everything we thought we need or would need. But trust me, you do not need everything you pack into your suitcase. So whatever you’ve selected from your wardrobe, just take half of it. That’s enough. Who knows…you might end up coming home with more clothes than you brought!
Some basic necessities are inexpensive and can be easily found in the local convenience stores. In fact, most cities have large hypermarkets and departmental stores that could fill your creature comfort gaps.
My basic packing list always includes:
- Two dresses with matching accessories (i.e. necklace or earrings)
- A matching outerwear and a scarf
- A pair of slippers or sandals and a pair of wrapped shoes of boots
Assure Your Loved Ones
Talking to your loved ones about travelling solo is definitely not easy. Let them know your travel plans and itinerary. Give them the assurance that you are well-prepared and well-informed of your destination. Promise to call home or instant message them every now and then to update them of your whereabouts. Leave a copy of your hotel details and any other booking confirmation with them. This will give them a peace of mind, knowing where you’ll be.
I’m sure those addicted to Facebook and Instagram would have no issue leaving their bread crumbs for their loved ones to follow.
Get out of your comfort zone! Be confident and battle whichever fear you face! Don’t let the unreal negative thoughts in your head hold you back from exploring what this beautiful big big world has to offer.
Solo travel expands your life’s perspective and moulds your character with confidence and independence. It empowers you to move beyond your self set boundaries. You’ll get to witness your own unbelievable capabilities you never thought you ever had unfolding right in front of you every step you take. Try everything and prove to yourself that you can!
Smile is the greatest gift on earth. A smile opens the door of opportunity to meeting people, to engage in a conversation, melt the ice and warm the heart, or even to ask for help. Even if you can’t speak the local language, always remember to put on your best smile because a smile is a universal language.
Be friendly and friendliness will be returned gratuitously. You never know if you’ll meet your special one!
Dress appropriately and behave like a local. Keep your surrounding in check and walk confidently to prevent from falling prey to tourist scams or getting unwanted attention. Always speak politely with respect. Relax and be open to new experiences that comes along the way as it adds on to your valuable insights gained as well as lending a new perspective in life.
You’ll find that you’ve learnt a lot in life lessons from abroad that would never be taught in school.
Refrain from alcohol and caffeine beverages. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water and take only moderate meals. For those with a weak stomach for turbulence, eat light and dry meals to keep the meals down in your stomach and not up in your throat. A small pack of fresh mint can do the magic of freshening your mind after a long arduous flight. It also helps to clear the air pressure blockages in your ears during take off and landing.
To stay comfortable, wear loose fitting clothes and slippers. Relax yourself and do something you like to keep yourself engaged along the journey. Reading or listening to music is a great way to pass the time on board a plane.
With all the delicious food awaiting you, it’s hard to control your temptation. Always check out freshly cooked meals, savouring it alongside salads and fruits. Cut down on sugary fare and avoid alcohol. Stay hydrated at all times especially in countries with hot weather.
Heading to the gym is highly impossible with all the touristy visits and ‘must’ on your itinerary. Walking is a good exercise, at the same time allowing you to explore the hidden parts of the city at a more relaxed down-to-earth paced adventure.
For those of you who have little resistance to the temptation of delectable street foods and local delicatessens, walking helps to forgive the calories you’ve binged up on.
Have your first night’s accommodation booked in advance, no matter what so that you’ll have a place to recharge in peace after a tiring flight.
Keep important belongings separately on different parts of your body. Always bring your passport with you as you may also get special tourist privileges or tax free incentives at certain stores. Bra and boots is definitely a safe place to hide some of your cash. A money belt worn underneath your clothes works wonders too for keeping travel documents and credit cards. A cross-body bag slung over your body is a secured and easy way to keep things in sight and in reach especially when you have so many photo taking gadgets to operate with.
Wherever possible, avoid changing money in busy and crowded places. Go to more secure locations like banks and shopping malls with CCTVs. It’s good to have a chip-based credit or debit card activated with an overseas withdrawal limit in case you’ve ran out of cash. You can easily withdraw if needed at any ATM that supports your card type (i.e Plus or Cirrus). In some countries like Korea and China, there are NO money changers in the city or towns. You’ll have to deal through banks. Sometimes paying with your credit cards or even NFC-smartphone based applications saves the anxiety and hassle of finding a good money changer. Do check with your bank on the charges on overseas payments and withdrawals.
If you need private transport services, be sure to select a reliable service provider and agree on the fare before boarding. Most countries have reliable public transports while some others are more remote. Use transportation apps to help pinpoint your location and destination, ensuring you’re being taken to the right place and on the right route. Transportation apps helps to keep track of the driver’s profile in the event you’ve accidentally left something behind or have an issue to report regarding your trip.
Solo travel is not scary after all. Stay vigilant and you’ll be fine. Be confident. Bring your common sense with you and trust your gut. Plus don’t forget to keep your belongings safe!
Enjoy and happy travelling.