We’ve all heard it before – travelling alone is one of the most freeing, liberating things you can ever do for yourself! But how do you go about doing it, if you’ve never done it before? There are a lot of things to be aware of and safety concerns to learn about before you go. Lucky for you, we’re here to help with our top tips for solo travel – so you can push yourself as far out of your comfort zone as need be.
1. Pick a safe destination
Although we’d love to encourage you to get lost in a new place anywhere in the world, the reality is, that’s not necessarily the safest bet for women. There are a few destinations that women should try to avoid if they plan on travelling alone. These destinations can seem safe if you’re around friends or other people, but if you’re on your own, you’re more of a target for armed robberies, sexual assault, and food/drink spiking. Here’s a round-up of some of the destinations you should avoid, if you’re a woman planning a solo trip in the near future:
- Bahamas (drug activity, armed robberies, crime at cruise ship terminals)
- Brazil (unofficial taxi assaults, armed robberies)
- Costa Rica (drug-related crime, sexual assault)
- Egypt (unwanted attention, verbal abuse)
- Jamaica (spiked food and drinks)
- Morocco (harassment, verbal abuse)
- Sri Lanka (unwanted attention, spiked food and drinks, sexual assault)
Once you decide where you want to go, make sure you do plenty of research, and take a look at the Government of Canada’s website for any travel advisories. Maybe you get travel inspiration from a book, a friend, or a podcast. Whatever it is, make sure you dig deep, decide on exactly where you’re going, and why you’re going there. That’s not to say you need to have everything planned out – be open to opportunities as they come. But you do need a strong draw to that specific destination, because that’s what will push you out of your comfort zone for the most enriching experience possible.
2. Watch your belongings
We all know to watch our belongings while on vacation, but when you’re travelling alone, you’re more of a target for crimes like petty theft. Make sure your travel documents, passport, money and identification are well hidden, and in a safe place at all times. Next, ensure your belongings and valuables are tucked away, or with you everywhere you go. It’s a safer bet to travel without valuables, because plenty of armed robberies happen across the globe, so pare down and try not to draw attention when you’re by yourself.
Lastly, when you’re out at a restaurant or a bar, it’s important to watch your food and drinks being made, because food and drink spiking is highly targeted at lone women. Check out our top tips for avoiding spiking on vacation to ensure you’re prepared.
3. Be open to meeting others
Some of the best friendships are made on the other side of the world – even more so when you’re travelling solo. It’s important to be open-minded and talk to other people on vacation. The last thing you want to do is isolate yourself and be anti-social – you’ll have plenty of time to recharge later. Be friendly, and you’ll easily be able to meet others at hostels, in cooking classes, day tours, or at museums. Who knows, the people you meet might pleasantly surprise you!
4. Support local
When you’re exploring a new place, the best way to experience it is from a local’s perspective. That doesn’t mean you can’t see all the touristy sites you want to see – keep those on your list too, but if you have the opportunity, a local’s point of view is the best view. They’ll give you insight into some of the best-kept secrets, what to do to avoid tourist traps or inflated tourist prices, and will give you so much more appreciation for the place you’re in, and the people living there.
When I was travelling in Bali, my private driver took me everywhere – including some of his top recommendations for beaches, local warungs, coffee plantations, waterfalls and temples. It was the best experience I could have ever imagined, and he became a great friend, too!
5. Take a digital detox
Lastly, when you’re off exploring the world, the last thing you’ll need to look at is your phone. Try to limit your screen time, and embrace living in the moment. Try doing things you don’t always have time to do at home: read a book in a café, try a yoga class in the rainforest, visit a museum, join a tour group, keep a travel journal, go on a hike, volunteer, or take a fun cooking class! These experiences will shape your trip for the better, and taking time away from your phone will really put the things that matter into perspective. You may even come to a few realizations along the way!
Everyone travels differently, and there’s no rhyme or reason as to how you make the most of your trip. But it’s your responsibility to travel safely, and make sure that you have travel insurance to cover you for any unexpected medical costs on vacation. That’s the last thing you’d want to worry about!