Travelling solo is exciting, daunting, challenging and totally wonderful. As a solo female traveller you need to make sure you plan well. That doesn't mean over- engineering your itinerary and planning every second, it just means making sure you take steps to avoid stress on the solo-travel road! Here are my top tips to ensure you've got yourself covered.
Planning & choosing your destination
Choosing your destination is the most important part of the journey. Looking at things such as language, dress code, attitude towards women and access to transport are important. If you are embarking on your first solo trip and are feeling nervous, maybe choose somewhere a little closer to home that is easier to navigate and will allow you to gain confidence.
This is a must. It provides you with protection should something happen to you whilst you are travelling and is one of the best budgeting things you can do for yourself. Make sure you have a good comprehensive travel policy that has excellent medical, evacuation, cancellation and baggage coverage. If you are looking at using your credit card insurance, please make sure the cover is as good as specialist travel insurance companies, as sometimes they are not as comprehensive as they are offered... free???.
Choosing your hotel
One of the good things coming out of the growth in women's travel is the appearance of female-friendly hotels/sites. There is a great site Maiden Voyage , offering a list of hotels that are female friendly. If you are booking your hotel direct or via a travel agent, ask about floor security or if there is someone on the front desk 24/7. It is also a good idea to check the location and that it has access to good transport, shopping, and restaurants as you want these close by.
Take a Walking Tour
One of the first things I do on arrival into a city I don't know, is to take a walking tour with a local guide. There are heaps of companies that offer half day tours, and the good thing about this is that not only does it familiarise you with the city and therefore build your confidence, there will probably be other solo travellers you can meet on the tour as well.
Dress: make sure you dress appropriately for your destination as cultural awareness is crucial. Many churches and sacred sites will not allow you to visit if your shoulders are uncovered and your dress/pants are too short.
Intuition: always follow your intuition. If it doesn't feel right or something doesn't look right then don't go into an area or situation, just walk away.
Technology: have your phones, iPad, computers etc password protected to ensure no-one can just access your information should any of them be stolen or you lose them.
Copy Your Documents: download the app Genius Scan or similar and copy your passport and credit card information onto it. This way you don't have to carry your passport, and should you get scammed you have a copy of your credit or debit card information for when you contact the banks. It is also a good idea to keep a photocopy of this information at home with your family just in case you lose your phone!
ATM's: always, always put your hand over the pin-pad when you are putting in your pin number to withdraw money. If you don't your number could be recorded, your card skimmed and then your details are used to access your account. (It has happened to me in Barcelona).
Stay in Touch: send a little update via email or closed FB & Instagram accounts. It means that the people that matter know where you are and that you are ok. Another good thing is to download an app such as Viber or whatsapp to phone / message home for free when you have wi-fi access. Skype or Facetime is brilliant if you are feeling a little homesick, as you can have a face-to-face chat that will put the smile back on your face.
In Your Room: never open the door without checking the visual of who is there, even if you are waiting for room service! If you don't have an eyehole to look through, then put the chain/lock on and check before opening the door fully. Keep important documents in your in-room safe, and if there isn't one use the hotels.
This is one area some people really struggle with but dining alone can be great fun. I always sit at the bar if possible, to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and eat there if I can. There is usually someone to chat with, plus there is always the bartender and they can be great for local travel tips.
If this is not an option make sure you have a book downloaded on your phone, or take a magazine to read. This really makes dining alone quite comfortable and you might be surprised at how many people do this!
If you are still unsure why not book onto a women's small group tour as a single traveller? I have many clients who travel this way, as they enjoy the company of other like-minded women but still have the independence to wander off on their own should they feel like it. Plus they have great dining companions in the evening!
I hope these tips help. These are the things I do whenever I am travelling solo (which is very regularly) and they do make life a lot smoother when you are enjoying the adventure of a life time! So book yourself away now and just go with it! it will be amazing.
Cheers Andrea x
Andrea Powis is the owner and Chief Diva of the exclusive women-only Boutique Travel Company, Travelling Divas. Find her at www.travellingdivas.com.au