Setting off on a solo trip to a foreign country or even somewhere else in Australia is a brave and exciting choice for many women. There are things to plan, places to see and pit-stops to organise along the way. It can take a lot of preparation in the lead up, but the pay off once you’re sitting in a cafe sipping coffee on a sprawling street in Europe or somewhere exotic is second to none.
Before you leave though, there are a few things you should know to keep yourself safe and happy while you’re away.
1. Confidence is Key
While it can sometimes be scary and unnerving being on your own in a small city it’s best to keep a calm exterior – even if you’re freaking out on the inside! Looking lost or appearing panicked can be a calling card for someone trying to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists – this goes from everyone to potential muggers to savvy shop assistants – so the best advice is to tackle it with an air of confidence. In other words, fake it till you make it!
2. Do it like a local
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If you really want to blend in with the crowd and avoid any unwanted attention do like a local take note of what they wear and how they act. Some countries have more conservative dress codes than others, so it’s best to do a little research and find out what you should pack in your suitcase and what you should leave behind.
3. Get to where you need to be before nightfall
Anyone walking the streets with their luggage or a map can become a target so play it safe and stick to the daylight hours when you’re transferring hotels or using public transport. Try to arrive at your hotel before nightfall, this way you can find out what’s near by and plan where you might want to head out to later on.
4. Trust your instincts
If you have a moment of doubt or feel unsafe about being in a particular area, trust that feeling and do something about it. Wondering around a new city opens up many avenues for exploration and amazing discoveries, but it can sometimes lead you into some not-so-safe areas. If you feel uncomfortable in a particular neighbourhood make a quiet retreat and move to somewhere you’re more comfortable. Most of us have experienced arriving at a hotel and finding the pictures online are nothing like the reality of the place. If this happens don’t be afraid to let staff know that you don’t feel comfortable and organise a transfer to a new hotel if necessary.
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5. Leave a trail
Keeping in contact with your family and friends back home is relatively easy now thanks to social media and using Facebook is a great way let people know where you’re going and where you’ve been. Uploading photos of places you’ve been to at the end of the day will let you’re family know where you are and what you’ve been up to. Set up a social media time frame with them before you leave, too; if they don’t see you upload a photo for four days they know to get in touch and make sure you’re ok.
6. Understand that you might get lonely
Travelling solo is a great experience but like most single travellers you might have bouts of loneliness along the way. This is ok though. It’s all part of the experience of getting out there and doing it on your own. You’ll learn to deal with these emotions along the way and know that feelings of homesickness and loneliness will pass.
What all comes down to though is embracing your time alone and your chance to explore new places and new experiences. Take photos, talk to new people, take time to soak it all in, and be mindful of the amazing experiences you are living.