“Travel is rebellion in its purest form. We follow our heart. We free ourselves of labels. We lose control willingly. We trade a role for reality. We love the unfamiliar. We trust strangers. We own only what we can carry. We search for better questions, not answers. We truly graduate. We, sometimes, choose never to come back” – Anonymous
This essentially holds true for most people with an unwavering wanderlust. Social media is now filled with wanderers who have left behind their corporate jobs to see what the world has to offer. Leaving behind material luxury , people are now looking for enriching and novel experiences in this well connected world. But, there are still many more waiting in the wings, who look up to each of these solo travelers for inspiration to break free and travel the globe. There are even more who are inspired but are deterred by the incidences of increasing crimes against women.
Undoubtedly, we always had an itch to roam, never browsing without a Lonely Planet tab open and always lurking near the travel section in a book store. And we overcame the fear, we overcame it one step at a time – my first solo trip to Paris was a disaster, in retrospect; I could have done more, seen more and experienced more! With my subsequent trips, I warmed up to people and started smiling only to realize solo travel is exhilarating!
The world that we live in might not be perfect, but here are some of our tips, heart to heart, for navigating this big bad world as a solo woman traveler!
Don’t let your paranoia get the best of you
Bad things can happen anywhere, even in the comforts of your home, so don’t spend all of your energy on thinking about things that might go wrong. Leave your fears behind at your doorstep and you will be ready to go on the best adventure of your life. Take that first leap of faith even if it means that you do not leave the hotel room later!
Let go of your cultivated perception of the world
The world is not all the same as your neighborhood; things are different, so be aware of your surroundings, do a little research on the place that you are visiting, observe the people around, respect their culture (never ever do this), respect their religion and cover yourself if the place demands it, even if it’s against your feminist beliefs! Learn a few key words of the local language. Keeping your wits about you at all times and in all places should be your foremost concern. Updating your Facebook, Instagram and everything else can be pushed back in the priority list! Now this tip will help you tread even murky waters!
Walk and talk with confidence:
Confidence is the only thing that will help you work your way around awkward situations. Leave behind your inhibitions, take a deep breath and walk with confidence and poise. Smile a lot and don’t hesitate to ask people if you need help. During my first solo trip, I missed out on the love lock bridge simply because I was afraid of getting lost! *Facepalm*. But what would have been the worst thing that could have happened if I had ventured out? I would have lost my way only to find a taxi or a wifi spot to bring me back on track.
Hold your head high and look everyone in the eye. Like the awesome Meryl Streep once said “A strong-minded woman is a different animal“.
Befriend strangers and locals:
Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers or locals. There are some very bad people in this world, but they are rare. And if you find yourself lost in an alien country with zero knowledge of the native language or even in a situation like this, most strangers will help you else there is always the police. Be careful about petty thieves and keep your belongings safe. The worst that can happen to you, other than being lost, is losing your passport and that has already happened to me. Go straight to the police and keep your emergency numbers handy. Without delay, walk straight into your country’s embassy with all the details.
Like I mentioned earlier, don’t be naive and be aware of what to do if things go wrong, even if the possibility is 1 in a 100! This means knowing when and where to not venture out alone in a new city – a simple Google search will help this.
Trust them – your instincts
If there is something or someone giving you that uneasy felling in your stomach, don’t go ahead with it. This does not mean a full-blown panic attack but do pay attention to your instincts. If something does not feel right, then probably it isn’t. Arm yourself with a few simple self-defense techniques – like carrying a pepper spray (but avoid this), kicking the balls of an attacker, carrying things that can be used in emergencies like keys, umbrellas, pocket knives etc. or even a whistle or door locks. In emergency, recall this simple lesson from the Miss Congeniality herself 🙂
Inform others about your plans
When you are travelling alone, it’s always best to keep your most trusted friends and family aware of your location. A quick email, private location share or Facebook message can be reassuring to your loved ones besides it enables them to look out for you in case of an emergency. Always keep your hotel address and important numbers separately just in case you lose your phone! And in case you lose your phone, you can use this and this.
Well, these are some of our personal experience tips. But we would also love to hear from our fellow travellers, solo or not! Please don’t forget leave your own tips and stories behind in the comments 🙂
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