Solo traveling as a woman sounds really daunting at first, but it really is not. With proper precautions and a solid plan, solo travelling can be one of the most enriching experiences of a woman’s life.
If you’ve read our previous article titled 10 Safest Trek Destinations In Nepal For Solo Female Travellers, you know we encourage solo travelling for females. However, it is important to stay safe and mindful. In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips that might be useful for both national and international travels.
1. Do some online research
While research is a basic step to take for all travellers, it is especially important when travelling solo. Be familiar with the area you’ll be staying in and where you plan to go. Plan your days ahead of time and make adjustments as needed so that you don’t feel lost when you’re there. Plan for emergencies. Think of backups. Have hotlines/emergency numbers ready. It’s alright if you want to explore, but make sure you can always find your way back. Doing your research can also let you know about underrated places in the city that aren’t typical tourist traps.
2. Ask people with firsthand experience
There are many things one can often overlook while planning to solo travel, but the people who have already experienced it will often give you the best insight. Such as, which restaurants have the best food, or the best time to visit a tourist destination. They will tell you about the tiny details that often slip through the crack.
Shristi Shakya, Winner of Swoyatra 2016: “I had a difficult time in the mountains just because I forgot a chapstick!” This is something most of us would overlook had we not heard it from a traveller herself. Insight is very valuable.
3. Send a copy of your itinerary to your family
Even if they are miles apart, it never hurts to let your family know where you’ll be if the worst case scenario happens to occur. Sharing your location with them is the best way to let them know where you are.
4. Download travel apps
Travel apps can be invaluable while going on a solo trip. There are several apps that can find you cheap flights, tell you where good restaurants are, give you travel hacks, and many more. Apps like TripAdvisor, TripIt, AirBnB, Google Trips, Google Maps, etc can be extremely handy. Also if you’re going to a place where you don’t speak the language of, don’t forget to download translation apps like SayHi, PapaGo, TripLingo and of course, Google Translate.
5. Get a Travel Insurance
Travel insurance acts as protection in case something unforeseen happens during your stay abroad. While it’s easy to dismiss this as ‘I never get sick’ or ‘I’m a very careful person’ you never know what could happen. Getting help in a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the language will be incredibly difficult and isolating. Even while travelling within your country, getting travel insurance is the wise choice. Companies like World Nomads might be helpful in providing insurance for Nepal. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
6. Book your hotels
‘I’ll just find a hotel when I get there’ is almost never a good idea. Know where you’ll stay beforehand so that you don’t scramble to find a place at the last minute. Read reviews of hotels online, choose the best fit, and book a room. This way you won’t be stranded if there are no empty rooms, especially if it’s peak season.
7. Capture the moment
Take a notebook with you to record your experiences. Journaling can be very helpful. Traveling alone makes you notice many things and have realizations that you wouldn’t have if you were with a group. It’s nice to take a moment and write these things down at the end of the day. Describe your experiences so that you can look back on them years later and relive those moments. Take many pictures and make a scrapbook.
8. Learn to interact with locals
You’ll meet many new people with different ways of life on your journey, talk to them! You’ll learn many new things and gain new experiences by talking to the locals. Talk to the tour guides, locals, drivers, fellow travelers, and they might help you understand more about the place, people, and how you can make the best out of your stay there. People you meet can really make your journey so much more worthwhile. Just remember not to give away all your intimate information and when you feel uncomfortable, learn to say no as explained in the next section.
9. Stand your ground
Tourists are often targets of local scammers and pickpockets. Especially solo female tourists. People who get very up close and personal in an attempt to swipe your purse and local street vendors who will follow you around despite saying no multiple times are not uncommon in most places. When this happens, do not hesitate to tell them to back off.
It’s okay to haggle while buying something because tourists are often scammed. It is also okay to tell locals who are trying to ‘help’ if they make you uncomfortable. Learn to say no and when someone is making you uncomfortable, stand your ground and let them know sternly that you do not appreciate it. Know that it is okay to be rude sometimes and do not let anyone disrespect your boundaries.
10. Be protective of your belongings
Do not carry things that do not need to be carried. Do not flash your wealth. Even using AirPods in public can be dangerous in some places. People in remote areas might consider our day to day items as a luxury, so it is important to be mindful. Take only your basic essentials while going sightseeing. Invest in pickpocket-proof jackets. Protect your phone like your life depends on it because it actually might.
11. Stay sober
Vacations are obviously the times to let loose and have fun, however too much fun can also be dangerous. It’s fine to get carried away and go wild if you’re out with friends who can ensure your safety, however, traveling alone is different. You need to take care of yourself and being intoxicated makes you vulnerable. Drinking in moderation might be the way to go. You might also want to hang out in bars that are safer. Go for family restaurants with bars or for bars with ladies’ nights.