I’ve been on three solo trips so far in my life. To some, that may seem like a lot. To others, that may be nothing. Having just entered this new decade of my life, I can only hope that there will be more adventures and destinations to come (after quarantine, of course).
I love the freedom that comes with solo travel. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. And nobody can tell you otherwise. With that said, you are never truly alone when you solo travel. Most of the time I am either meeting new people or hanging out with old friends. These people, from all walks of life, inspire me to continue visiting new countries and experiencing different cultures.
The questions that I am frequently asked after returning from a trip, tend to fall along the lines of: How do you travel as a young adult woman? Isn’t it dangerous? Aren’t you afraid of being mugged or kidnapped? Or, even worse, murdered?
The short answer: it depends on where you are.
I have definitely had my fair share of encounters that left me terrified. For example, this one time while I was travelling solo in Barcelona, I decided to take the metro back to my host family’s apartment. Before having the chance to step off the platform and into the train, I could feel someone’s hand reach into my pocket. I immediately turned around, but the person was already gone. Luckily, I had my phone gripped tightly in the other hand and nothing was stolen.
The event definitely made me a lot more cautious. I constantly checked and re-checked my belongings as I walked through the city the next day.
But, to all you girls out there, do not despair! Please, if anything, do not use gender as an excuse as to why you should stop travelling.
If you remember to stay cautious and diligent, you will be fine. Honestly, it goes with living in any major city. If you leave your belongings unattended and on the ground, chances are they will be stolen.
Here’s the truth, not everyone has good intentions. It’s important that you know how to maintain your composure while dealing with these types of people.
If you hone your skills and sense danger before getting yourself into a sticky situation, then travelling solo will be easy!
Here are some tips I picked up during my last few trips as a solo female traveler:
Carry a Money Belt
This tip is a life saver. (Although I can’t take any credit, my mother taught me this one). It’s easy to carry a money belt under your shirt and it’s a safe way to carry your passport in a busy airport.
Like most, my greatest fear will always be the possibility of losing my documentation in a foreign country. It can be hard to keep track of everything, especially if you brought multiple pieces of luggage.
A money belt is an extremely cheap purchase and some even have RFID blocking sleeves. I suggest buying one off of amazon for $15 -$20.
A con of travelling with a money belt is that it’s hard to disguise. My trick is to stick it slightly under the top of your jeans. That way, it doesn’t bulge out from beneath your shirt.
Most of the time, while travelling in 40°C+ heat, I sweat A LOT. By the end of the day, my back is completely soaked. Since I keep my money belt under my clothes, it tends to get a bit wet. Luckily, mine is also waterproof.
It might also be good to wash them out every now and again.
This tip is definitely a good one to remember. Before hailing a cab, download the offline version of google maps. You can use it to route your way to your destination before jumping into the car. That way, you can make sure your taxi driver is not taking you a longer path than necessary. You don’t want to have to pay more.
Another tip, especially if you are travelling light, is to stick your bag in the seat next to you. Refuse to put it in the trunk. That way, if you need to make a quick escape, your belongings will be easy to access.
Lastly, always remember to negotiate the price with your cab driver before getting into the car. That way, with a definite price, you won’t have to pay more (sometimes).
Approached by a Stranger?
Whenever I am approached by a stranger, I immediately pull out my phone and click on Whats App. That way, worst case scenario, I can make a quick call to whichever contact pops up first.
Luckily, I haven’t been in this situation too many times. However, when it does happen, I suggest to listen politely to what the person has to say (they might sell you a product or ask you to follow them somewhere). Do not run away, quickly make up an excuse as to why you can’t help them and move to a busier location.
Remember, you are NOT obligated to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. We are all individuals who possess the liberty to walk away from an uncomfortable situation. Use that freedom!
With all that said, do not be afraid to travel alone. There are so many incredible experiences and places just waiting to be discovered. The world is such a big place and you will meet so many amazing people on your trip. I just hope that you remember to travel safely and proceed with caution.
I have a few more tips up my sleeve for solo travelling, so give a thumbs up to this article to let me know that this post interested you!
If you want to read more articles like this one, check out my post 5 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Barcelona.