When I was younger, I was scared to even walk to the next aisle of the supermarket without my Mum. I would never have imagined that I’d have the courage to stay in a hostel on my own or move to a new country by myself or even be writing about solo female travel hacks! Solo female travel has been on the rise the past couple of years and it’s only set to increase even more as we decide to see the world on our own terms.
Now, exploring my home town or even heading to a new city for a couple of nights solo doesn’t daunt me. The key to travelling as a woman alone is taking precautions. Here are 10 solo female travel hacks that you should ALWAYS implement. Most of these, I even do when wandering around London in the UK (i.e. my home) because… you never know. Besides, it’s good to get into the habit for when you take your big trips:
Never keep all of your money in the same place
If your wallet is stolen and it’s your only source of money, then it’s going to be a lot harder to do things. Keep some emergency money hidden in your bag in a place like underwear, a sock or within a book.
Never keep your various IDs in the same place
Same theory as the money (but probably way more important depending on where you are). If your wallet/ bag is stolen, then you’ll also lose your only ID. I’d recommend taking photocopies of your important identification and leaving multiple copies at home with friends and loved ones. Similarly, if you’re travelling with multiple bags, leave a copy or two in each bag.
Never drink too much alcohol
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you get super drunk and have no idea what you’re doing, no one is there to look after you. Even worse, there are always bad people around who will be actively looking to prey on your vulnerability- especially as a woman. I’ll limit myself to a maximum of one glass of wine with a nice meal. I could probably drink more and be fine but it’s just not worth the risk. It’s also worth noting that I implement this policy both at home and abroad.
Keep an eye on your drink (all your drinks- not just the alcoholic ones)
You should obviously always watch your drinks when you’re at home but this rule especially applies when you’re abroad and might not even speak the language. Never accept drinks from people you don’t trust (read below). This also goes for previously opened tins and bottles of water/ coca cola etc.
I always buy my own bottled drinks and carry them with me. If I were ever in a bar, I would make sure to watch the barman too (some friends have horror stories about this). Like I said, you can never be too careful.
Don’t trust people too easily
I’m not saying that you should lock yourself away and never talk to anyone. Some of the best people I’ve met were in bars in Paris, cafés in Italy and across Canada. However, this doesn’t mean to say that everyone who’s nice to you is actually a nice person. Keep your wits about you, your valuables close and never ever ever get drunk around people you’ve only just met.
Arrive somewhere during the day
Arriving in a new city can be daunting, even when you’re with a travel partner. Arriving at night can be downright terrifying…
Research where you’re going
It’s important to look up a city before you go. Print off maps and addresses or write them down somewhere. Technology can (and often will) fail when you need it most so it’s important to make sure you don’t rely on it too heavily. Similarly, if you’re not familiar with the local language, make sure you have at least a simple phrasebook. Be wary of any tourist scams that take place in the area you’re visiting (read more: 5 Parisian Tourist Scams and how to avoid them).
Buy Travel Insurance BEFORE you go
This isn’t really one for solo female travel hacks, but relevant for everyone. If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. Even if you’re the healthiest person in the World, you never know when accidents can happen.
Look after yourself (and give yourself breaks)
Of all the solo female travel hacks listed this, this is arguably the most important.
Take breaks and don’t let yourself get too worn down or tired. Make sure to keep eating plenty of healthy fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water. When I was in Canada, I ended up with a kidney infection due to not looking after myself properly. I had no one to remind me to look after myself but me and I didn’t pay enough attention.
If you’re taking any medication (including contraception), make sure that you bring enough to cover your trip and more in case your trip gets extended for any reason. The main rule that underlies all these hacks is prevention is better than cure. Also, it’s always important to remember that tour safety and health is always more important than material possessions.
Make sure that someone knows where you are (whenever you can). If you’re travelling to a new city or staying in a new hostel/ hotel, let someone back home know and make a point of telling your loved ones when you’ll be checking in with them. That way, if the worst does happen and you don’t check in, then someone is looking out for you and knows all the details of your last movements.