If you know me even a little bit, you know I am always very grateful for the exhilarating travel experiences I have had, and most of them have been solo travel. Travelling alone, whether from one city to another or even within a particular city has been extremely mind boggling and I have a few travel tips for all you girls out there, waiting to fly solo and explore the world by yourselves.
1. Trust your instinct:
This is by far the most important and crucial tip anyone will ever have for you. Always trust your instinct, whether it's about a place, person, thing or animal. If you're feeling uncomfortable or unsafe and the first thought that comes to your mind is to leave, then leave. Even if you are with friends and they think it's absolutely fine while you don't, leave. Nothing but your own instincts and senses can help you to be safe and sound.
2. Confidence is key:
The worst thing that you can do to yourself as a solo girl traveller is to look confused, worried or fearful. Even if you're lost or in trouble, remain assertive and aware of your surrounding - no matter how tough it is. If you tell yourself that it'll all be okay in the end, that itself will give you the confidence to move forward or think of a way out. You may feel helpless and vulnerable but it is just a phase and it'll be over. After all, this is part of the challenge of solo travel.
3. In your Handbag -
Make sure you carry a water bottle, power bank, sunglasses, sunscreen, cap/scarf and some tissue paper or a napkin in your handbag wherever you go. It's important to be equipped with the bare necessities when you're on your own. I don't usually carry a pepper spray with me, but if you think it's important then you must!
4. Arrive early:
Plan to arrive at your destination before nightfall, that way you can familiarise yourself with the surroundings and the area you're staying. Keep an hour before it becomes dark to explore restaurants, shops, public transport, supermarkets and pharmacies so that you find your bearings.
5. Think, behave and dress like a local:
It's important that you blend into the culture and lifestyle of the locals. Learn the basics of the language, eat traditional, local food and try to dress accordingly. If you really want to soak in the culture of the place and truly enjoy the smallest things that the place has to offer you, this is the only way to go!
6. Be street-smart:
In case of an emergency or an uncalled situation/person, remember to have a false version of yourself - an alter ego. Remember as a child, you're parents told you not to talk to strangers? Imagine you're at a café or restaurant and a creepy old man walks up to you and asks you where you're from and how long you're in town. In such a case, you obviously don't want to give out information or start a conversation, so a simple "I'm here for the day with my parents" will do the job. Plug in your earphones and you're good to go!
7. Don't worry about loneliness:
Feeling blue and lonely is inevitable at some point in your journey. You may feel homesick, miss somebody or simply be tired of your own thoughts, but it is not the end of the world. You will learn to cope with your emotions and feelings, and that's all part of the challenge of travelling solo. Don't be afraid to talk to people from whom you get a good vibe. Make interesting conversation because that is where you'll find the most beautiful stories.
8. Ask for help:
Never ever shy away when you are in desperate need of help and cannot do without it. It's important to know whom you can ask and when to ask for it. If you've rented an Airbnb apartment and the owner is helpful and kind, ask him or her for help. When you really really need something, ask for it- because it'll never come to you on its own.
9. Update your loved ones:
In this time and age of ever-growing social media, one of the benefits of it for the solo girl traveller is that it serves as a great tool and acts as a kind of safety device. A simple check-in at a new location/restaurant or a quick photo upload will help your family and friends know of your whereabouts. If it's been long since you posted anything then they know something is probably wrong. Most places these days have Wi-Fi facilities, so it's never a problem.
10. Embrace this opportunity:
Most important of all, do not be scared or worried. Don't let negative environments or off-putting situations boggle you down or take the better of you, the world is inherently a good place, believe me. A few challenges and hiccups during your period of travel is part of the entire experience. You will learn a lot of beautiful things; but most about yourself and this life. This is just as important a time in your life as any other. Being able to stand on your own two feet, as an independent and fearless woman is just as essential than any life experience. This time in your life is solely about you, your personality, and what you take away from your challenges and experiences. Celebrate yourself.