Let me tell you about that time back in 2018 when I was sent on a solo business trip to Paris, France. That was my first time traveling alone and I remember having mixed emotions— excitement for what was to come and fear of the unknown. Prior to the trip, I had the mindset that solo travel is not for me. I had the preconceived notion that it would be boring or scary. Countless questions hummed in my head— what if something bad happens to me like in the Brazilian movie Turistas, with whom do I exchange funny moments, what would happen to me if I get into an accident or get sick, what if my money or valuables get stolen?
To make the story short, I buried my worries in the corners of my mind and boarded the plane to Paris. My excitement and curiosity were my driving force. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself and who am I to say no? I eagerly dove headfirst into the postcard city, nervously spoke to strangers in my broken French, and the rest is history. To this day, that trip remains surreal and goes down as one of my fondest memories ever.
So if you are a female and considering traveling solo, this article is for you. Read on and follow my tips to fight your anxieties and have the best time of your life.
Conduct your own research.
Before anything else, research the place you’re going to. A quick Google search will do because to know something is better than to know nothing. Get an idea of the place including the culture, the currency conversion rate, the weather, and the available transportation. Unbeknownst to us, thieves and scammers are well-versed in the art of character-reading. An ignorant tourist is an easy prey and bad guys can effortlessly spot one.
Check the weather forecast on your days of travel. This will help you determine what clothes and other essentials to bring. Make sure to pack light garments for summer days, and a coat or jacket for the rain or snow. Be armed with an umbrella and boots if needed.
Familiarizing the transportation system of your destination keeps you right on track. Although getting lost can sometimes lead to serendipitous discoveries, be safe by knowing your way out
and back to your accommodation.
Learn the language.
Whether or not you will stay long-term in one place, learning the local language is strongly suggested. No, you don’t have to be fluent but at least know the basics like greetings and numbers. This demonstrates appreciation and respect for the local culture. Moreover, you are empowered to communicate and made aware of words exchanged around you. In other words, let language be your weapon.
Find an accommodation with a private bath.
If you are a budget backpacker who keeps away from expensive hotels, make sure to stay in a hostel or Airbnb that has a private bath. Sharing a common bathroom opens up opportunities for strangers with bad intentions This tip saves you from physical harm and theft. If your bath is within the confines of your bedroom, you are protecting your safe space. You won’t have to worry about someone stepping into the bathroom or stealing your valuables while you’re taking a bath. A stressful trip in Bangkok, Thailand taught me this important life lesson.
Have a mental checklist.
Always stay on top of things when traveling solo. Remember, you have no one to depend on besides yourself. There’s no one to remind you if you forget your keys, mobile phone, or passport. For this reason, create a checklist in your head. Ahead of your trip, think of what you need to bring and practice listing them down in your thought bubble. Before you leave your accommodation, recite your things to bring, out loud if you must, and tick them off one by one until you’re sure that you got everything with you.
Bring enough cash and keep it hidden.
Cash is the most preferred payment method anywhere in the world so bring a sufficient amount with you. It is not only handy for tipping or buying from street vendors but also saves you from bank charges and fluctuating conversion rates.
Now if you have a bundle of cash, it follows that it should not be displayed for everyone to see. When I travel, I divide my cash—one-half kept not in my wallet but in a zipped compartment inside my bag, and the other half hidden in a secret pocket of my coat, jacket, or pants. Putting your eggs into different baskets lessens the probability of them getting lost, forgotten, or stolen by at least fifty percent.
In the time of modern technology, apps are our best friend. Be ready to travel alone with the guide of apps on your mobile phone. Personally, I have Google Maps, which gives a bird’s eye view of my destination; Uber, so that I have a backup means of transportation; and my bank app, for real-time tracking of my cash flow.
Join communities that exclusively cater to women like the NomadHer app.
If you are a digital nomad and will be staying in a destination for a month or more, find like-minded individuals through community apps like NomadHer. Downloaded by over 170 nationalities from all over the world, the app claims to be a “safe space for solo female traveler.” Its contents revolve around the subject of traveling as a woman with tips, guides, and helpful experiences.
Another way to find a safe company is to search for digital nomads on social media platforms like Instagram. Many of them are generous enough to share lessons learned from their own journeys as well as practical travel tips.
Sometimes what’s perceived to be a dangerous place turns out to have the friendliest locals. The only way to unravel the wonders of a destination is to have a first-hand encounter so go ahead and travel the world with this guide. Feel free to add to it as you bring out the globetrotter in you. Be the fierce female who conquers the world one destination at a time.
Written By: Frances De Guzman