After Julia Roberts infected us all with her Eat, Pray, Love movie (which was firstly a beautifully written book by Elizabeth Gilbert) countless women seem to want to “find” themselves in Bali, eat pasta in Italy and pray in India! Who could blame them? There’s nothing adventure can’t cure!
But let’s face it; the movie makes it seem effortless no unexpected bumps what so ever, surely as a women traveling alone we have to expect surprises and be a little more cautious. Luckily some bloggers and women like Elizabeth Gilbert have willingly shared their knowledge with ladies who have yet to spread their wings, where to go, what to do and what to avoid.
Veronica Chambers, author of the memoir kickboxing Geishas, said that the most important thing she learnt when traveling solo was that a camera was the best prop, snapping some pictures was better than burring her head inside a book serving as a distraction which will lead to you missing some of the spectacular things on your trip. Taking pictures however, not only leaves you with a memory, but it reminds you of the times you cried, laughed and struggled while you were traveling.
Tools of the trade and what some women traveling solo had to say (all in a nutshell):
Be street smart:
Remember the things your mom taught you as a little girl? Well apply some of those rules when traveling. Try to be self-reliant so that you get as far as possible without asking for help if you don’t want to. Always let someone you feel you can trust know where you’re going or email family frequently. Don’t distance yourself too far from civilization. I get that the Japanese countryside is picturesque, but try and go with a guide or maybe even the local old lady who knows the surroundings, you’d be amazed at how eager locals are to show you their country!
People can harass you:
It’s a known fact! Be it a guy whistling at your behind or someone yelling at you for not saying hello or buying their products on the street market, people will say cruel things no matter where you find yourself. Remember you don’t have to stop for every “hello” and you don’t have to buy everything up for grabs. Be stone cold, it’s hard but sometimes necessary
Fake it till you make it:
Walk with confidence and a purpose, head up shoulders back as if you look like you know where you’re going (even if you’re lost into oblivion). Seek out help rather than accepting it, it, if you’re vulnerable people will immediately exploit it. If you have to fake the good old “my boyfriend is just around the corner” phrase then by all means make up a steamy hot hunk of a man – we’ll understand!
What to always, always have with you (Rick Stevens)
- Cash, not too much, but just enough for emergencies.
- A good map and guide book – even if you had to pay a pretty price.
- A little calling card or business card of the Hotel you’re staying at, it will have the address and number on it in case you get lost and have to call for a lift.
- I know this one sounds like a cliché, but keep the pepper spray handy.
Jennifer Delaney, a woman who has found herself traveling alone numerous times, says we all have the instinct to judge a situation cautiously. She gave an example where she was invited to crew a nicely equipped sailboat going from Zanzibar to Wales with three good looking, well-bred party boys. “They started stockpiling the boat with liquor and drugs and joking about sex acts with me”. She bailed, faster than you can say “Ai-ai Capitan”
She goes on by giving some more tips woman to woman.
- Dress down rather than up.
- Wear cheap easily removable jewellery or better yet – no jewellery at all.
- Don’t get involved in debates with locals about how they feel about your culture. We all want to be gallant and stand up for what we believe in, but this is not the time or place.
- “While there are certain threads throughout cultures, Americans, Japanese, Kenyans, Italians all come from different regions, religions, tribes, and most importantly are individuals and not part of the stereotypes or landscape”.
- Keep valuables like money or keys pinned to your bra.
- If you get sick or have a serious problem go to a chain of international hotels or older women.
- Don’t bring a lot of unnecessary stuff!!
Ideal parts of the world for your one on one time
Statistically speaking there are some countries safer than others. The Global Peace Index has actually gone so far to rank 149 nations for their peaceful and friendly nature. I ended up picking some of the favourites amongst women traveling alone:
Rafting on the Reventazó or heading out on horseback up to some of the most amazing volcanoes, the country is among the safest and friendliest, with low budget accommodations and peaceful surroundings.
Tough the chaos of Cairo is captivating some people other prefer to avoid it but the government is still very much politically stable and the country has arguably some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
Not much explanation need other than the fact that the country is flavourful and rich with a diversity of culture.
Hiking through a Sound-of-music countryside it’s an easy country to travel alone in. There are Hapsburg palaces and museums to explore and plenty of cafés that are ideal for single diners.
Full of cities for sailors, walkers and nature lovers Sweden is filled with unique European traditions. Cafés and artistic Monuments and museums will ensure you get lost and forget the time/
Berlin—the café, gallery, and nightclub-filled epicentre of hipster Europe, you’ll never want for company. You might even find Munich more to your liking in a traditional sense. I myself found it easy asking for help and this during 10 o’ clock at night, people were more than willing to help and I never once felt threatened.
Dutch are amongst the most laid back people – little bicycle tours crisscrossed with canals along the countryside and little pit stops in little towns seems idyllic and somewhat of a fairy-tale.
By far my favourite country and the best place to travel alone, although you’ll find the majority of people minding their own business the public tend to be friendly – but no matter it makes it easy to focus more on your “me” time and appreciate the wonderful lakes and cuisine (by cuisine I mean mountains of chocolate). The country in also influenced by French, Italian and German cultures which mean you get the best of all of Europe!
From hiking and climbing in Patagonia to exploring the volcanoes and geysers of the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, Chile is a veritable 3,998-mile-long adventure camp.
Instantaneously images of tropical beaches and relaxing resorts make their way into your imaginations. A major tourist attraction allows you to travel solo but leave with a few new acquaintances!