I’ve taken trips solo for years, but it wasn’t until my most recent visit to Budapest when I received a flood of messages from people asking if I was alone (as if it was a big surprise). It still shocks me that people either find it so fascinating that I take all these trips by myself or they try to convince me that I’m being stupid for doing so.
“Wait, you’re by yourself?!”
“You’re taking this trip alone?!”
“Is that safe??!”
“But what will you do?”
“Aren’t you bored?”
“Why would you ever want to travel alone?”
And on and on and on.
Traveling solo is something I recommend every woman do at least once. At the end of the trip you come home with such a feeling of accomplishment and empowerment that can’t be matched. You just navigated foreign public transportation across borders in different languages, hiked mountains, learned about new cultures, adapted to any situation, and solved problems LIKE A BOSS. Hell yeah you should feel awesome about that. And once you’re home you realize that if you can handle all of that, then all of your challenges back at home/work are easy-peasy compared to what you just did.
I understand that traveling as a solo female can have its own set of risks, but it’s no more risky than me wandering around in Florida by myself either. Here are my tips that I share with friends when I’m encouraging them to book an adventure alone:
Always be aware of your surroundings. I’d say this to anyone whether they’re going to Miami or Mumbai. When you travel alone you’re forced to be more alert to what’s happening around you. Pay attention to what’s going on — if someone or something seems sketchy, then avoid the situation and get yourself to some place safer. Always trust your gut instinct if something just doesn’t feel right.
Don’t make yourself an obvious target by coming across as a tourist. Imagine there are two people walking down the street: the first has her backpack or purse wide open with stuff spilling out of it, she’s carrying a big city map or travel book, she looks nervous or lost, and she’s lugging around a bunch of purchased souvenirs. The second is walking confidently down the street (even if it’s a farce), her backpack/purse is closed and always in a position that she can see/control, and if she thinks she’s taken a wrong turn down the street she’ll pull to the side or pop in a cafe to reassess the directions and go back on her way. Now, which of those two people seems like the easier one to rob? Don’t be the first person; don’t make yourself a target.
Research your accommodations before booking. Make sure that you don’t unknowingly put yourself in bad neighborhoods if you plan to do a lot of walking. Read the reviews from other people and see if the lodging itself is even decent. It’s worth it to spend a little bit more per night to be in a safer location.
Be smart. You wouldn’t walk home by yourself in your hometown at 3AM, so why do it in a foreign country? No one is invincible, not even when you’re on holiday.
Have a plan. Let a friend or family member back home have an idea of your itinerary/accommodations as back up in an emergency.
And, lastly, enjoy yourself! The perk of traveling solo is you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and however you want. Don’t be afraid to go to a restaurant or something alone; you are your own best date and you deserve to be treated as such.
I’ve found that life is always better when looking at the bright side. I’m a creative and inspired communicator with experience in marketing, public relations, new media + graphic design.