Even before Nellie Bly set off on her record-breaking trip around the world in 1889, women have travelled by themselves. There will be people who’ll tell you it’s not safe to travel alone as a woman. It’s true that solo female travel comes with its own set of challenges, but it also comes with its own adventures. So should you do it? Of course you should! If you need a bit of inspiration and peace of mind, here are some tips and lessons from women who travelled the world.
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Do your homework
Not being prepared is one of the most dangerous things you can do while travelling. Far & Wide writer Meagan Drillinger suggests that you research your destination before you go. This will give you an idea of the possible dangers to watch out for and how to avoid sticky situations. Be aware though that some travel advisories can make things seem worse than they are. Don’t let this put you off your plans.
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Connect with other solo female travellers
Another tip from Far & Wide is to reach out to women who have been to your destination and ask them about their first-hand experiences. There are many online forums and social media groups for solo female travellers. Apps like Tourlina will also connect you to women who are travelling in the area at the same time and who share your interests. On your travels, you’re likely to meet even more members of the intrepid sisterhood who can give you up-to-date information and support.
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Step out of your comfort zone
Adventure biker Nikki Misurelli suggested to Forbes that instead of sticking to the tourist areas, you step off the beaten path to truly experience the region and the culture. For instance, exploring the hidden gems of Mexico and Central America will give you a much more unforgettable adventure than hanging out in bars.
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Mind your dress
You don’t have to dress like a local, but being mindful of how the local women dress and choosing your travel wardrobe accordingly will definitely make for smoother sailing. Ask almost any woman who has travelled alone and she’ll tell you that people will treat you with more respect if you in turn dress more respectfully.
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Travel with a purpose
As travel writer Lavinia Spalding told Forbes, solo travel can be lonely at times. It helps if you give yourself a purpose, whether it’s volunteering or looking for the most beautiful sunsets. Having a personal mission will help you connect with other interesting travellers and locals.
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Support woman-owned businesses
Supporting businesses owned by women when you’re travelling, whether it’s a guesthouse or a street vendor selling some popular souvenirs, can make a huge difference to those women’s everyday lives. It’s also a great way to make new connections. Travel blogger Nneya Richards told Forbes that she met one of her closest female friends while the friend was working in a jewellery store in Mexico.
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Register with your embassy
If you’re travelling in a country for more than a few days, you should register with your local embassy or consulate. This can be very useful in the event of an emergency or if a natural disaster strikes.
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Get travel insurance
As adventure biker Nikki Misurelli told Forbes, having insurance for medical emergencies will give you peace of mind while you’re being adventurous. Taking out travel insurance doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg either. Most of the best travel credit cards come with comprehensive travel insurance.
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Share your itinerary
Far & Wide says that sharing your itinerary and details like your flight information with someone back home is a good way to cover your bases. You can also use social media to share updates, which will reassure your loved ones that you are safe.
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Don’t share too much information
Tweeting about your travel adventures and misadventures can help you have one of Canada’s funniest Twitter accounts. However, be careful about sharing too much information which could make you vulnerable. As travel expert Kelly Lewis told Forbes, she’ll share where she is but she won’t share specifics like what hotel she’s checked into.
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Talk to people
Travel expert Kelly Lewis told Forbes that one of her tips for female travellers is to talk to people. The more people you talk to, the more folks will recognize you and have your back. Of course, talking to people also lets you learn more about your destination and the culture.
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People will reach out to you
According to Gap Year, one of the life-changing lessons you learn as a solo female traveller is that your vulnerability lets you get closer to people. They will reach out to you and take you under their wing.
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Eat at the bar
One of the reasons why Canadians are loved abroad is that we’re outgoing. If you’re worried about the stigma of dining alone, Far & Wide suggests that you eat at the bar. This way, you can chat to the bartender or to other people who are alone too.
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Walk with confidence
According to Forbes, a tip from travel blogger and influencer Alyssa Ramos is to walk around with confidence. If you look like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, you also look like someone who isn’t to be messed with.
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Travelling alone gives you more confidence
As Gap Year points out, when you travel alone, you’re in charge. Dealing with travel hiccups shows you just how competent you really are and this, in turn, gives you more confidence. If you want a practice round before braving exotic destinations, you might want to first go on one of the best Canadian trips for solo travellers.
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Watch your drink – and your drinking
Always watch your drink. Have the bartender open and pour it in front of you and never leave your drink unattended, since there are unscrupulous people who spike travellers’ drinks. Also watch your drinking: drunk tourists are magnets for criminals and being drunk will also impair your judgement.
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Wear a ring
Travel expert Julia Pond shared this interesting tip with Forbes: wear a wedding ring, whether you’re attached or not. This will help fend off unwelcome advances. Just make sure your ring doesn’t look like the most expensive jewellery ever worn to the Oscars, since this can attract robbers.
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Put down your phone
One of the best things about solo travel is that it gives you tons of opportunities to meet new people. However, you’re not going to meet anybody if you’re constantly busy on your phone, your tablet or your laptop. As travel host Juliana Broste told Forbes, you need to put down that phone and open your eyes to the exciting things to see and the interesting people to meet.
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Get a sarong
You don’t have to be visiting any secluded beach gems to discover the usefulness of a sarong. You can use it to cover up, as a towel, as a scarf, even as a makeshift bag. It doesn’t have to be a sarong either: Legal Nomads suggests a longyi for Myanmar to help you fit in, for instance. Similar options include a Polynesian pareo or an East African kikoi.
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Trust your gut
Most experienced travellers will tell you that, above all else, you need to trust your gut when you’re travelling on your own. Avoid streets or hotels that seem dangerous and avoid people who make you feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.