At least once in a lifetime you should travel alone, because regardless of the destination, there is no place on earth you learn so much about yourself as in the self-chosen loneliness.
Of course, not every solo-traveller must automatically feel lonely. But on a solo journey there will be a multitude of moments, in which you will get encouraged to grapple with yourself. Sure you can always distract yourself from the long waiting times and directions, but at least at the end of the day at dinner time you become aware: you are alone. And instead of hiding in your room netflixing – as you might do at home – you’d rather choose to enjoy your surroundings completely. Live the fullest when you´re making new experiences, get new contacts and return from the journey stronger and wiser than before. That´s what we all want at the end of the day, right? But if you travel alone as a woman, there might be some dangers that you better protected yourself from by a good preparation. I´ve travelled alone multiple times by now, so I summarized some tips and tricks for you guys:
1. Caution is better than goodness
In preparation for my foreign year 2015 I went into a boxing class for a few months to improve my self-defense skills and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately at the end of my traveling year I really needed to use the new learned techniques, when I got attacked on my first night in Auckland on my way home to the hostel. In the surprise moment of the attack I didn’t think much and reacted out of a reflex – luckily, because nothing to bad happened to me except for a few scratches.
Of course even the best training can not prepare yourself for every situation, but at least you get a safer feeling and sometimes one deters potential attackers by his self-confident appearance. In any case, it cannot harm.
2. How to indentify dangers and protect yourself against them
If you are traveling alone for the first time, you should inform yourself well in advance. Some countries can be regarded as more secure than others. For example it is more dangerous to travel alone as a woman in latin america than in australia, new zealand or southeast asia – most european countries can also be regarded as predominantly safe. If you want to be able to assess how (un)safe a country is, you should look at the risk of violence like for example robbery and the probability of natural disasters. Further you can check if it´s necessary to get special vaccinations or if there is a high risk for diseases.
3. Listen to your instinct
Let’s say: if you take your common sense with you, you don’t have to worry too much about travelling alone as a woman. Of course you should not stroll through dark alleys alone at night time or walk along the beach alone in the dark. ´Cause one thing is clear, as soon as the sun has gone down, a lonely beach can mutate very quickly from beautiful and romantic to creepy. Likewise you should not get overly drunk, use other unknown substances or follow strangers to empty places. But that´s all things you probably wouldn´t do in your own country either, right. So every traveller who only does what he or she would do carelessly in their home country aswell, is taking the first step of protecting them selfs in a good way.
A bit of caution is also advisable when you´re trying out new dishes. I love to try out dishes of little food trucks on the streets and luckily I have never had a problem with it, but not every stomach can tolerate it. So beware of unknown dishes and especially tap water in some exotic countries.
4. Use white lies
You won´t meet most of the travellers again anyway, only in the rarest cases you´re building up a friendship for life. So if you have no desire to go on a trip or to come to a certain restaurant in the evening, you can simply refuse without a bad conscience. To unpleasant admirers you can respond with a white lie, that there is a partner waiting for you in the hotel/hostel or at home. Sometimes it´s just easier to use a white lie, to not hurt anyones feelings.
5. Overcome your own fears
Just as important as it is to say no, when you dont want to do something, it´s also important to say “Yes!!” and to oversome your own fears. Because if you always stay on the safe side, you will miss lots of fun. So even if you are more of an introverted type, you should push yourself on the journey to expand your horizon and well-known circle. Otherwise it can be quite monotonous and lonely after a few days alone. Extending your vocabulary with a few words of the national language can also help enormously, as you benefit from a higher willingness of the people in the country. Even though travel friendships don´t stay long, it´s important to make them. Especially in emergency situations you will be thankful for the freshly knotted friendships. For example when I was in australia I got sick. I don’t know how I would have passed the flu without the medication and help of my neighbor. I was so sick, that I layed in bed for two weeks and without her help and a little grocery shopping of her I wouldn´t have got better so easily.
6. Dedicate a trusted person
Whether in the home country or on your own destination, it is always good to have an initiate who is informed about the planned itinerary and knows where your last stop was, in case you get lost.
7. Minimalist packaging
The hand luggage always includes an alternating outfit as well as a bikini in case the luggage arrives later and who travels with a backpack should only take what he/her can carry without any problems by themselves. It´s always helpful when you inform yourself about the customs of the country in advance and instead of valuable jewelry, you better take an alarm whistle. Even though I have to admit that I´ve never had one. But when you remember the attack from obove (number 1.) it would´ve definitely been better when I would have had one.
8. Taking security copies
I usually scan important documents like the passport or the return ticket and send them to myself as an e-mail. If I have made a special trip or had an unique experience, I will always make a backup of my photos afterwards so that I can´t loose them on the rest of the trip. Unfortunately you can never protect yourself completely against thieves, so it´s better to pack your camera away when you´re finished with taking the pictures and not run around with it the whole day for show.