Want to see the world but nervous about traveling alone? Here are my tips for solo female backpackers and how anyone can travel the world and live the life of your dreams!
1. Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
Read guide books on the country or area you are going to travel in, check out maps, book hostel reservations before hand.
2. Learn (a little bit) of the Local Language
Make sure you know a couple of key phrases such as “Help me.” or “Hello, where is…” (and then you can just point at the map or a picture. Also know the address and number of your country’s Embassy in case you get in trouble or need help. (or just write it down and keep it in your purse!)
3. Don’t Drink (too much)
Okay, us ladies like to let our hair down too. But getting absolutely trashed is a big No-No! Make sure if you are out have a few drinks that you keep a (somewhat) level head.
While I was in Chang Mai, Thailand, I met a group of English girls that invited me out for dinner. I wasn’t drinking that night, and to my horror I watched them get absolutely wasted and surrounded by old men trying to take them home! I stayed up all night watching out for them, but it wasn’t enough. One of the girls disappeared with a gnarly looking bloke that I am sure she regretted the next day!
4. Take Only Licensed Taxis
If you need to take a taxi somewhere, make sure it is licensed before you get into the cab! I was robbed in a taxi while in SE Asia on my way home. I thought I was safe after living in Thailand for nearly three years and being able to speak the dialect, but I unfortunately did not check and make sure the cab was a licensed taxi. They locked the doors and threatened my life for just a couple dollars, something I will never forget! Please, if you have to take a taxi, be safe!!!
5. Be Alert
If you get a tingly “Spidey Sense” that someone is dangerous or you need to remove yourself from a situation, trust your gut! Even if you realize later you were being silly or a little bit paranoid, its better to laugh that off then wind up in a tough spot that you could’ve avoided altogether if you just listened to your instinct.
6. Be Confident
Keep your chin up, shoulders back, and walk with confidence to avoid predators. If you aren’t very confident or feel lost, just pretend! That attitude will potentially discourage the person who is trying to target you.
7. Seek out Local Women (if you are in trouble)
Everyone knows the universal sign of distress and the need for help. If someone is following you or potentially trying to harm you, go into a public place and find local women to help you. Point at the man or person following you and show them that you need help right away!
While I was in Detroit, I was on my way home when I felt someone following me. I darted into the nearest public building that was a church and told the ladies in there that I was being followed. Right away, they took me in and helped me. Even if I didn’t speak English, they would’ve known by the look on my face that I was in trouble and helped me.
8. Use Common Sense
Don’t accept food or drinks from strangers, unless its a local grandmother or family on a picnic! Don’t take objects from strange people or carry things for them in your backpack. Be a friendly traveler, but also use common sense. If you just met someone in a hostel, they normally wouldn’t ask you to carry something for them unless they are sketchy! But then again, there are exceptions to every rule. Use your head!
9. Dress and Behave Appropriately
Be respectful to the local dress code and behave appropriately when you are in someone else’s country. When you travel, whether you like it or not, you are representing your country. If you behave and dress like Miley Cyrus in Wrecking Ball, most likely the locals are going to have a bad impression of your nationality! Try to act as if you are the first person they’ve ever met from your culture, and be respectful of theirs. (i.e. don’t wear skimpy bikini tops down the street of a little village!)
10. Talk to Other Backpackers!
The best part about traveling solo is you’re never really traveling solo! You are constantly meeting new travel buddies and swapping travel tips with other backpackers. Some of them might be in your life for thirty seconds, while others might be your best friend for thirty years! 🙂
Traveling solo is empowering, will test you in ways you never dreamed of, and will allow you to see a side of yourself you never knew existed, as well as the world!
Have fun and Safe Travels!