Traveling as a solo female traveler has its challenges but a keen sense of adventure and a passion for seeing human nature at its best. All this whilst exploring the amazing landscapes that make up our wonderful earth bring a greater awareness of oneself. I am a totally random traveler. I can plan trips months in advance or book a flight at the start of the week and jump on a plane that weekend. For me, life is too short not to be exploring but a few of the tips I have learnt along the way have served me well and perhaps even saved me from harm at times.
My tips are not new, they have been taught to me by other solo females and by the many men, couples, families I have meet alone the way. They have been laced through the pages of the inspiring books I’ve read by women who have got out there and put one foot in front of the other along a mountain pass or a busy city street. They have served me well and I hope they help inspire you to travel too.
Trust your instinct: This is not about letting your fear of getting out of your comfort zone and traveling to amazing wonderful new lands or just over the county line paralysing you from packing your bag. This is the moment that your heart and soul says do not turn down that road, stay in the shop just a little longer. If you blindly walk whilst in unfamiliar lands you may place yourself in situations that are dangerous. Cultivate your instincts and listen to what they tell you. It may just save your life. If you need assistance, ask a woman first. In most of the countries the younger generation tend to speak some English so approach a young adult female to ask for directions or help.
Be humble: No-one enjoys a ‘tourist’ that is obnoxious and disrespectfully. Leave behind any materialism, pride and assumptions on the people and places you are visiting. Learn from the culture you’ve chosen to visit and place yourself in their shoes for a moment and realise their life skills while completely different to your own may very well be much more developed regardless of the setting. Don’t flash your wealth around like its a symbol of your being better than those who do not have running water or 100 count sheets. Enjoy the blessings that new places reveal.
Pack Light: Unless you have a team of assistants at your beck and call, packing light means freedom and increased independence. Most journeys can be managed with only carry on luggage. Trekking and winter sports require more equipment but this should not mean bringing your entire wardrobe. Whilst they are not everyones idea of fashion, I love clothes from North Face, Salomon and Colombia, they mix and match well together and are easy to wash and dry overnight. Lay everything out and make sure they can all be worn together and that they cover all events you will likely be encountering.
Enjoy the loneliness: A lot of women struggle with the idea of traveling alone as they fear they will be too lonely. I have found to combat my work or person life stress is to travel alone so that I am completely on my own time schedule. Meander through market places or sit with a chai and a journal while watching the scene of life unfold in front of you. I also take a slice of home with me in the form of a travel mutt so if I feel lonely I can cuddle him and remember all the wonderful people and things I have in my life. He has 31 countries so far.
Learn a little of the cultural differences and smidgen of the language: In many countries women do not socially interact with men. A simple way not to offend but greet a male is to place your right hand over your heart and bow your head slightly. The western feminist in me screams at bowing to a man but my travels have taught me what is unacceptable to me back in Australia must not be carried with me. This simple bow of the head and hand on the heart shows respect but doesn’t break any religious or acceptable customs. Learn basic greetings and phases; even if its just hello, goodbye and sorry I only speak english, the effort is always much appreciated.
Travel should change you more than it changes the places you visit and the people you meet along the way. The world is ready and waiting for you to step outside your comfort zone and get busy living.
I often hear the line, ‘I just can’t afford to travel like you’. Yes my salary is above the average Australian income and I do not pay tax but I also live in an extremely expensive country. My priorities are just different. I do not own a car because I would rather spend the money on a flight to my next destination. I buy mid-street clothes rather than high-street so I can travel more than five times a year. I stay in every thing from Buddhist Monasteries to 5 star hotels. As a solo female traveler the world is my playground and I fully intent to enjoy the adventure. Are you?