cycling around Bagan

How To Be a Solo Female Traveller

20 years old with a desperation in my heart to see the world. There really was nothing that could hold me back.

I had just completed my 1st year at university, which in itself had been quite an adventure. Sure, most Freshers have the time of their life during those heady first few semesters away from home. Me? Well, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it per se, but ‘adventure’ is certainly the word.

They say you find yourself when you leave home and go to university. But instead of taking three years to find it, I managed 3 weeks. I came face to face with myself, experience acute loneliness and then battled with a depression that finally surfaced after years of bubbling beneath my adolescence. I was ill. But I persevered, determined to a) complete all the work necessary to pass the year and b) support myself financially whilst doing so. I worked as many hours as possible at a local american pool hall and made a few local friends. It wasn’t the best year, but I experienced some fun times. I did what I needed to do for my health and my degree.

It was during this turbulent time that I found the space to read and think. I was able to work through what I wanted rather than what society or my family wanted. I decided that I need to go it alone.

There was a whole world out there to be seen and I would be a fool to not discover what it had in store for me.

After my first year I informed my parents that I would defer my degree and take a gap year. I figured it was much the same as many others did at 18, I was just taking the unconventional route.

During that year off from academia, which was just what the doctor ordered, I worked as many jobs as I could and saved to leave the country.

Originally I was planning to explore South America, in particular I was fascinated with Peru, Bolivia and Chile. But neither of my parents were particularly ecstatic about me trundling off on my own on another continent when it was my first trip away on my own.

In the end, we compromised with a backpacking adventure around Europe.

It was EXACTLY the kind of adventure and challenge that I needed.

I’ve never looked back, and since then I have gone on to experience adventures, travels and more on my own. I highly recommend it.

How To Be A Solo Female Traveller_Awesome Wave

How to be a solo female traveller?

Sure, it can be pretty scary for most when travelling on their own, particularly the first time. But having backpacked twice on my own plus various other short breaks I am pretty confident as a solo female.

Firstly… just do it.

I cannot recommend solo travelling enough. I strongly believe that everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime. The experiences, life lessons and sense of achievement you’ll get from solo travelling will stay with you forever {if you need a pep talk I am more than happy to talk you into it :-D just pop me a tweet here and let’s chat solo travel}.

Exercise reasonable caution

When you’re on your own there’s nobody to watch your back. That doesn’t mean don’t have fun, just be relatively sensible with who you trust and where you go. If in doubt, ask around seek advice and trust your gut (sounds wishy-washy but it works).

Check in

I always text or call my parents when I get to a new destination just to let them know I’m safe. I think it’s considerate to keep them in the loop, and as it’s a habit now they’ll know if something is up.

Buy a local SIM card

I travel with a mobile phone, which most people do these days. To save on ridiculous roaming charges I buy a cheap pay-as-you-go local SIM card.

Research, research, research

Knowledge is power! Research your destinations as much as possible before going. It’ll give you peace of mind along with an idea of the ideal places to visit. Knowledge and forward planning always feel reassuring. Although in my experience I always end up changing plans and itinerary once I’m on the road and feeling confident.

Make note of emergency numbers

I’ve not needed to use them yet but again for safety and peace of mind I make note of the local emergency services number and the British Embassy.

Dress modestly

Whether we like it or not ladies on their own may attract unwanted attention. So try to dress modestly, particularly in a conservative country. It’s also worth checking out how the locals dress and trying to dress like them.

Keep your bag and valuables close

I tend to wear my bag or rucksack pushed around to the front when I’m in cities or crowded areas. Pickpockets and thieves are everywhere so it’s best to be alert. But as is the way when in a new country you can be overwhelmed and sometimes lost. Keeping your valuables conscious in your mind will help prevent anything going missing.

Mention your ‘boyfriend’

If you do attract some unwanted attention casually mention your boyfriend/husband/partner who is probably coming along real soon. It helps bat away any potential uncomfortable situations.

Accept that loneliness happens

So many people tell me they couldn’t travel solo as they’d get lonely or they aren’t as sociable as I am. This could not be further from the truth. I get lonely every single time I travel. I’ve called home from payphones in tears. I have wandered around Thai temples full of culture shock thinking “oh, crap… what have I done?!” It’s totally normal to feel lonely sometimes. But that should never be a reason to stop you travelling.

Separate your money

Speaking from experience here, always, ALWAYS, keep your money and cards in separate wallets and in different places on your person and luggage. Because if your lose your purse on an overnight train from Venice to Vienna on a Sunday morning when the national marathon is on and the embassy is closed and half the public transport isn’t working and you haven’t eaten … you will regret it.

Hold your head high and be confident

With all that said and done, know where you’re going (do that research where you can) and try to exude an air of calm and confidence. It’ll make all the difference to your sense of self in a strange situation.

Finally… enjoy!

The opportunities you get from travelling solo are incomparable. So enjoy every little moment, suck up the fear, take the necessary cautions and live the adventure.

Are you a female considering solo travelling for the first time?

What are the biggest barriers in your way?