Travelling solo is one of the most exciting and liberating things you can do. Don’t let being a female stop you. We’ve all heard the horror stories about women getting raped or kidnapped abroad, and, although these awful things do occasionally happen, most women have an incredible time. So go for it girl! Below are a few tips I’ve compiled and used since I was 15 travelling solo which have ensured I travel safely and happily.
Love, Sophia x
Trust your instincts. If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, if you feel uncomfortable in the slightest, then remove yourself from that situation as soon as possible. Adopt either the fight or flight method- what usually works is to either make a massive loud fuss about the situation (to get the attention and help of others around you), or to physically leave. I’m a very trusting person, but I always listen to and trust that voice in the back of my head.
Research the culture. Read blog posts to get an idea of what kind of behaviour to expect. Often, there are myths about a place or culture that are completely untrue for the majority of cases. By reading other travellers’ experiences, rather than listening to stereotypes, you are in a much better position to know what to expect when you get there. Things to research are: attitudes towards hitch-hiking, dress code for women (dress conservatively!), and the general hospitality to expect. For example, in some places, it is almost normal for locals to invite travellers into their homes for dinner, whereas in other places, this isn’t the case, so if you are invited in, you know to be a little more cautious. Preparation is key. Read this post for more tips on how to be best prepared.
Veer on the side of caution. Sadly, in some cultures, if a man invites a woman into their home, there is an expectation that she will ‘return the favour’ with sex. The difficult part of solo female travel is the paranoia. You never know if a man is just being gentlemanly and sweet to you, or if he is trying to get in your pants. 9 cases out of 10, there is absolutely nothing to worry about, but I would advise you to stay alert and trust your instincts in these situations.
Don’t get too drunk. I would advise you to not get drunk (or high), because it makes you more vulnerable and also warps your ability to judge a situation and use your instincts. I’ve gotten into a couple of stupid situations, like when I nearly got attacked by wild dogs in Goa at 4am, that could’ve been avoided had I been sober. Have a read of this post if you want to learn how to avoid rookie errors when travelling.
Look and act confident. If you’re ever lost or confused, just confidently walk into a restaurant or hotel and ask for directions. If you look nervous, or start crying, this will make you seem more vulnerable and thus increase the risk of anyone taking advantage of you.
Packing tips for girls
- Pack less. You will honestly only need half (or less) of what you think you need.
- Don’t bother with cosmetics or dressy outfits. No other travellers will really be wearing makeup or aiming to look gorgeous. I like taking a couple of things with me though, maybe a mascara and one pretty dress for any special occasions.
- A long skirt (or maxi dress) is a must. They’re modest yet also keep you cool.
- Bring a floaty scarf to cover up when needs be (for example, if you visit any churches or mosques).
- A bandanna for bad hair days is essential.
- Pack sanitary products (tampons and pads), because in some countries these will be hard to find.
- Plan your contraception before you go. If you’re on the pill, make sure you bring enough pills with you to last. Also maybe consider bringing some morning after pills with you in cases of emergency.
General safety tips
Most of these are common sense but remember that if you look like an easy target, that will make you an easy target. Especially if you’re female.
- Check your phone can make calls abroad in case you get into any sticky situations and want to talk to family or friends.
- Avoid arriving at a new place after dark. Make sure you know where you’re heading to avoid wandering around looking lost.
- Never carry more money than you need with you. Also use a money pouch hidden under clothes.
- Make sure your passport is somewhere safe. I personally like to carry it with me at all times. You can travel the world with nothing but your passport, but this one crucial item is the most important thing to not lose! Be wary of hostels that ask for you to hand in your passport as a ‘deposit’, only ever accept doing a cash deposit.