Travel solo - never alone. That's something I lived by when I travelled by myself. I told you why you should travel, and I've waxed lyrical about globetrotting on my own, but like it or not, when you're travelling by yourself, you have to take precautions, particularly if you're a woman. I don't mind it - the extra precautions that you have to take when you're a woman no matter what you're doing.
There are double standards and unfortunately - or fortunately, in some cases, there will always be. Sure, I can't pee standing up [I could with this, but why the fuck would I want to?!], I want to hurl my body into a wall and make the pain stop every 28 days for about 3-5 days, and my underwear is way more expensive than my boyfriend's, but if I had a choice, I'd be a woman still in my next life too. Maybe by then, someone would have invented a way for women not to have periods but still have babies. Here's hoping.
All that said. Here are some tips as a solo female traveller. Travel far, and travel safe, my lovelies.
Use Your Gut When It Comes to People
We have periods, we have to stand in lines to use the bathroom, and we spend too much time trying to figure out if this lipstick/ nailpolish/ dress/ shoes would work with our hairstyle/ body shape/ skin colour/ mood. Women around the globe have a sort of informal pact; we all watch out for each other. That said, there are also dangerous women who are just as capable of luring you into bad situations as men. Be cautious.
Use your gut instincts. I have asked for help from a group of men when I had a man following me before. Families are also good to approach when you feel like you're in danger.
Bring a Book
It goes without saying - a book, or in my case, my Kindle, makes great company when you're travelling solo. Admittedly, there are situations when I'd feel like I need company - in a cafe when my iPod has died on me, waiting for a meal at a restaurant, so a Kindle makes an awesome companion. It's like having someone tell me a story without having the trouble of making small talk with this person. I also bring my travel journal, that I bring with me on all my trips so I can scribble my thoughts when I'm desperate to talk to someone.
Confidence goes a Long Way
I have felt unsafe in some places before, and I always think the best way is to look like you're sure of yourself - whether it's inconspicuously trying to blend in, or simply looking like you're too blase to care, and get out of there fast. Travelling solo is also about travelling smart. Just because you're not a martial arts expert doesn't mean you can't pretend you're one. I've been mugged, I've been pickpocketed - but whatever. In these situations, your safety is more important than your money.
Before you find a place to stay, find out where is safest for a solo female traveller to stay - there are women-only hostels still, or stay at a family-run bed-and-breakfasts. And old people. I LOVE OLD PEOPLE. They love me just as much.
Boys, Boys, All Types of Boys
Ah, foreign boys in far away lands speaking languages that sound like strands of pearls are dripping from their mouths as they mutter words you don't understand and steal touches as you dream of a time you tell your grandkids of how you met.
I've learnt a few things from perving at cute boys in far away places:
- Wear shades. Sometimes when you're perving, you can't help but to giggle to yourself and grin. Not only would people think you're a weirdo grinning randomly, the guy[s] you're perving at would take it as an invitation. Depending on whether you welcome a random man coming up to you or not - it's just makes it easier.
- Bring a fake wedding ring. Whether you're single or married, when you're going at it solo [travelling, I mean!], bring a fake wedding band. A cheapo one, so it won't get stolen, and it makes all the difference when you're trying to get rid of someone who's trying to pick you up, by going, "I'm married." Sure, sometimes when I use the line, I'd like it to be true, but I only use the line wisely.
- Making out in exotic lands is far more fun. Don't believe me - try it. ;o)
- Be self-reliant so that you don't need to depend on anybody unless you want to. Always carry cash, food, water, a map, a guidebook, and a phrase book. When you need help, ask another woman or a family.
- If you're departing late at night and the bus or train station is sketchy, ask your B&B owner if you can hang out in their breakfast room — generally untouched in the evening — until you need to leave for the station. Cafés, including busy Internet cafés, which are often open late, can also be a better spot to kill time than the train station waiting room. (If you arrive at a train station you'll later be departing from, note if the station seems clean, well-lit, and safe.)
- When you use cash machines, withdraw cash during the day on a busy street, not at night when it's dark with too few people around.
- Take your clothing cues from other women in the town/ city - be appropriately dress so you don't attract unwanted attention.
- The same good judgment you use at home applies to wherever you are in the world: begin with caution and figure out as you travel what feels safe to you.
Most of all, take a chill pill, relax and have a ball of a time. It's gonna be one hell of an adventure!
What are you handy tips if you've travelled alone?