Traveling solo is an extremely liberating experience that every woman should try at least once. You can do whatever you want without having to consult with a group or partner, and gives you the freedom to explore destinations at your own pace.
As a woman in a foreign country, you’ll need to take a few precautions to ensure an uneventful trip, so here’s a few pointers to keep you on your toes while you explore new cultures on your own terms.
1. GET AN INTERNATIONAL DATA PLAN
I swear Google is a woman because that chick knows everything. When you’re traveling alone, she’s the best friend you’ll ever have. If you get lost, Google Maps can help you find your way. If you need someone to understand the words coming out of your mouth, Google Translate can mend your broken Spanglish.
But if you can’t access data on-the-go, you can easily find yourself lost and frustrated. Pay for peace of mind with the best international data plan your carrier has to offer. That way you can use Uber, Spotify, and other data-draining apps without worrying about your phone bill. In addition, every photo, phone call and social media post will be attached to your location, making your paranoid mother feel more secure as you galavant across the world!
2. STAY POWERED UP
Smartphones are such underachievers these days. By the time you get off work, your phone is on life support, with barely enough juice to post your happy hour selfies. That’s a #firstworldproblem back home, but when traveling solo your phone is your most valuable asset when it comes to safety. Always carry a portable charger to ensure you have access to directions and taxis, and can place emergency calls. The one picture above one carries a full charge for most phones, and is slightly larger than a tube of lipstick, making it easy to carry in your travel clutch!
3. NEVER SAY YOU’RE ALONE
If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me if I’m traveling alone, I’d be a rich woman. 9 times out of 10, my answer is no, followed by a beautifully fabricated story about my husband back at the hotel that retired from B613 and now works for the Secret Service as an emergency neck-breaker.
If you’re in a cab, tell the driver you’re meeting a friend. If you’re walking and someone gets extra chatty, tell them your man is waiting for you. While most questions are harmless small talk, this little white lie can dissuade shady characters from getting caught up with your imaginary associates.
4. TONE DOWN YOUR SASHA FIERCE
We all love to look fabulous for those Instagram moments, but when exploring a foreign country solo, try not to draw too much attention to yourself. If you’re walking around looking like Queen Bey every day, then be ready for lingering stares and inquiries about your marital status (Not kidding. Folks will try to marry you swiftly for that green card!). Tone down the makeup, save the skimpy outfits for a single ladies trip, and allow your beauty to shine through in conversations with the people you meet.
5. SEIZE THE DAY
I’m totally not a morning person, but when traveling Iv’e found it’s best to hit the streets early to make the most of daylight hours. Mornings are the best time to take walking tours, explore neighborhoods and get a feel for everyday life in that city. You’re probably fine to be out during happy hour and dinner time, but unless you’re meeting someone, once it gets late it’s best to head home or hang out near your hotel for the sake of safety.
6. RIDE WITH UBER
Uber’s taxi service has expanded to 56 countries and counting, so if it’s offered in your destination, use it! The app stores tons of valuable information, including your driver’s name and license number, and tracks your location from beginning to end. You can even send your trip to a friend with an ETA, and if you leave something in the taxi, you can call the driver directly.
If Uber isn’t an option, snap a photo of the taxi’s license plate before you hop in, and carry small bills in local currency in case they claim to have no change.
7. HIDE YOUR MONEY
I know people who’ve been robbed at 4 star hotels, so don’t let your guard down just because there’s a mini-bar in your room. If there’s a safe, use it, and if not, don’t keep your cash all in the same place. Get creative by hiding it in places like your suitcase lining, prescription pill bottles, or at the bottom of tampon boxes, and lock your suitcase with a TSA lock for extra protection.
8. DON’T BE A STRANGER
While it seems counterintuitive, traveling solo as a woman is not your time to go completely off the grid. If you’re the type that shares frequently on social media, keep it up! If not, be sure to check in daily with someone back home. The same goes for the locals in your destination city. Whether it’s the bellhop at your hotel, or the barista at the local coffee shop, make an effort to say hi and make friends with the people you see each day.
I went to Zambia solo, but ended up connecting with @omartakespictures who was in town and captured all of the photos photos during my crazy bridge swing. On my helicopter ride I made friends with the lovely couple pictured above who let us into their hotel so we could get reduced admission to see Victoria Falls. Being friendly with people you meet takes you out of the “foreign stranger” category, making it more likely for them to help you on your journey!
We all have that one friend or family member that swears we’ll be kidnapped or sold off to become the wife of a goat herder while traveling alone. Calm down. You’re going to be fine, and your trip is going to be amazing! Focus on what attracted to you to your destination in the first place, and you’ll soon join the thousands of women who venture out solo each day to experience the best of what this world has to offer.
Have you ever taken a trip abroad by yourself? Any tips or great memories for ladies nervous about taking their first solo adventure? Share the love and leave them in the comments below!