January 19, 2020

TEN Tips for Solo Women Travelers

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Bath England

Lifestyle and Travel

Top Ten tips for women traveling on their own

Living in Europe for the last year and a half was undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made. And although I missed my friends and family back home, travel provided me with something I had struggled with before: independence. I wouldn’t say I was ‘dependent’ before I left, but I will admit that as a newly graduated twenty-one year old I had a lot of growing up to do. Just like the rest of the student body, I attended class, ate three meals a day (provided to me by the café), worked a job, and lived in a dorm. Because I paid some bills, did my own laundry, and only came home in the summer, I saw myself as someone who had it all figured out, an adult in fact, but the reality was that I knew nothing.

When I had originally decided to attend Grad School abroad, many of my friends and family were naturally shocked. I was the small town girl that organized the get-togethers with friends, had family game night, and hated to be alone. How the hell was I going move away and start anew? But with each month away came little successes, starting with my first edible meal, and things became easier. I can honestly say my experiences in Europe changed me for the better. Every challenge pushed me to be the strong confident woman I am today. With that said, I think it is essential for every woman to take a trip on her own at some point in her life, whether it’s a weekend to Cape Cod or backpacking the world, it’s a must-do.

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Alone in Vienna

So many of my girlfriends say to me, “I can’t believe you traveled Europe alone, that’s so crazy!” or “I wish I had your life” and my favorite is “you’re so lucky!” The truth is yes, I was very privileged to have the opportunity to study abroad, but luck had nothing to do with it. I worked hard to get into grad school, worked hard to adjust and then from there I made traveling a priority. Many people are scared of taking that initial plunge for fear of failure, believe me I used to be one of those people, but the best part of life is taking risks, and experiencing new challenges and hidden adventures. My advice to women out there is that as scary as the idea of traveling alone may be, nothing tops the sense of freedom it gives you. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to both traveling alone as well as in a group, but my aim is to help guide the woman, that are feeling ballsy enough to do it on their own, in the right direction. So here are a few tips I think may be helpful:

  1. Keep papers safe: I always made copies of my Passport, Visa, and license just in case my purse was ever stolen or lost. In the event that a student visa or passport does go missing, you just need to find the nearest U.S embassy and sort out matters with them. Just like in the States, if credit cards or forms of identification go missing or have been stolen, you call the card companies, explain what has happened, and they will issue you a new one. Keep phone numbers and Credit Card info separate from your physical cards.
  2. Reach out to other travelers: I feel like this is a crucial reason I made it the year and a half alone. The people you meet in hostels and on tours can transform your trip into something unforgettable. I met so many people, women and men, traveling alone and in groups; some only spent a day with me, others spent weeks and with each of them I had the time of my life. It is always good to feel people out before you decide to venture out on the town with them, but the truth is, most of the people around you are just like you, especially your fellow backpackers. They are merely looking for a warm bed to sleep in, some food, and an adventure with like minded travelers too.
  3. Be cautious: I know that this one seems like an obvious suggestion, but you would be amazed at how easy it is to get comfortable and then find yourself in a difficult situation. Always carry a map, some cash and a phrase-book with you, just in case. Use landmarks to help you navigate, and don’t be afraid to go into a restaurant or café to ask for directions. When staying in a hostel, try to stay in all female dorms, you’ll be more comfortable, and there’s less snoring.
  4. Stay confident: Confidence shows the locals that you know what you’re doing and therefore, they are less apt to take advantage of you. If you do start to panic, and have no trustworthy locals nearby, make that international phone call home because it’s worth it. Early on in my travels, I remember calling my Dad from a corner street near the Moulin Rouge in France one evening, almost on the verge of tears because I was lost and scared. Luckily, he Google mapped my location, and helped me find my way back to the hostel. Although they may be pissed about the phone bill later, they are just as concerned about your safety as you are, so be smart.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of the people around you and always be on your toes. The hard part about traveling alone is that you can never slack, you need to be alert and aware at all times, especially on trains and in crowded areas. Always wear your purse across your chest rather than over one shoulder, people are less likely to succeed at robbing you this way.
  6. Let friends and family know your itinerary: By doing this, people have a general idea of where you are, what you are doing, and where you are staying. That way, if God forbid anything did happen, people can help you.
  7. Use common sense: Don’t drink with strange men, walk around the city late at night alone, or stay in a dump to save a few dollars. Don’t ever hitchhike, and always know where all of the exits are at all times. If you are attacked, do not try to stay and fight, scream and run.
  8. Always carry a lock with you: This is mainly for your valuables. Often times, hostels assign a locker to every bed, but they do not come with locks, or you have to purchase one at the desk. The first few times I didn’t have a lock, and therefore slept with my purse wrapped around my body. It was super uncomfortable, so I suggest investing. Also, every day I ventured out on the town I would leave my valuables locked up in the room, so that if my purse was stolen, I still had the important things back at the accomodation.
  9. Dress conservatively: I know it may seem unfair to tell you to cover up, but it’s for your own good. To avoid attracting unwanted male attention, dress like other women on the streets. If you are visiting Religious tourist attractions make sure you are respectful. Often times, I would wear layers so that I wasn’t overexposed.
  10. Be Alert! Large tourist areas while seemingly guarded and safe can have isolated areas that make an attack possible. By aware of your surroundings and make sure you try to stay near others while meandering through ruins and scenic spots.

These few tips can greatly increase the liklihood of a positive experience for women traveling alone. I know they helped me. If any other female travelers have any advice they’d like to share, definitely post! Safe travels!


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