The Female Nomad: Tips on Traveling Alone as a Woman
Top five tips to make your solo travels an adventure to remember
Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to go to Ireland. So when I found a dirt cheap RyanAir flight to Ireland, I was sold. However, I couldn’t find any study abroad friends willing to spend more than a few days in Ireland. I refused to cut short my trip to my dream destination merely because I had no friends joining me. I knew I would forever regret my decision if I only stayed in Ireland for three days.So despite my fears, I decided to embark on my first solo adventure. And to my surprise it ended up being one of the best trips of my life.
For women, traveling alone can seem very daunting. There are many people who say that traveling alone as a woman is not safe. I personally disagree. I’m not saying that traveling alone as a woman has zero risks. The sad fact is that women do need to take extra precautions while traveling solo. However, this should not dissuade you from traveling alone. If you have a good head on your shoulders and make smart choices, you can avoid potentially dangerous situations.
And then there’s the dependency issue. Ladies, let’s just admit it. Not all but most of us have the tendency to need constant companionship (hell sometimes we even insist on traveling as a pack to the bathroom! ) I’ll be honest, I still feel insecure being in situations like eating in a noisy restaurant by myself. And it doesn’t help that I’m an introvert and making fast friends was never easy for me. But despite these fears, I still decided to travel alone. Why? Simple answer: I love challenging myself and I wanted to be more confident. Two weeks gallivanting around Ireland with no friends to latch onto seemed like the perfect prescription.There were certainly times when traveling alone where I all I wanted was to pack my suitcase and call it quits. But more often there were those breathtaking moments where I felt life couldn’t get much better. So here’s the punch line. More women need to feel confident enough to travel alone. Leave the boyfriend at home (just kidding…buy hey that’s an idea!) and plan your next adventure. To help you out here are my top five tips for first time solo travelers. As a warning of caution, I’m not an expert on traveling alone but here are some things I learned from my first solo trip.
1) Choose an easy destination
Maybe ever since reading Eat, Pray, Love, you’ve been dreaming of exotic, balmy India. But remember to be realistic about you abilities as a first time traveler. Traveling alone is an art. Like any other skill, you are going to make mistakes your first time. Certain countries are easier to travel in then others so I would recommend choosing a place a little less intimidating. Ireland was the perfect place for me. The people were so friendly and helpful. And most importantly there was no language barrier. If I ever got lost, I was able to ask for directions with ease. If you take on more than you can handle, you’ll end up feeling stressed during your trip instead of enjoying it. So choose your destination wisely!
2) Plan but don’t “Over Plan.” Be flexible!
For me it was nice to have all my hostels booked before I arrived. I had an itinerary so I was never worried I’d be spending the night on a bird poop park bench (um no thank you!). But I also hadn’t expected Ireland to have a bus strike either. Luckily they postponed the strike but for a while I felt a little panicked I’d be stuck somewhere. I learned traveling doesn’t always run smoothly so you have to run with the tides. I also know people who didn’t book any of their hostels beforehand and preferred that strategy to increase their flexibility while traveling. If they didn’t like a certain town they’d book for night or two then move on. However these people did run the risk of finding that there were no available rooms in a popular town. So when it comes to booking in advance, choose whatever method you feel comfortable with. And don’t “over plan.” I hadn’t booked any tours or have a set schedule of activities when I arrived. This meant I was flexible if I met people who asked me if I wanted to join them on some activity. Which leads me to….
3) Hostels vs Hotels
I’m a poor college student, so there was no option but hostel. But personally I prefer hostels, please do your research on websites like Hostelworld and apps WeHostels’. WeHostels has a handy app that helps you book hostels on the go and connects you with other travelers. So be sure to check it out! Hotels, although much more comfy, are not the most social setting. And if you are traveling alone for a long length of time, chances are you’ll be starved for company at some point. Hostels are always teeming with young backpackers and so it’s an easy place for solo travelers to make friends. If there’s is no one hanging in your dorm room, be brave and venture into the lounge or kitchen and strike up a conversation with someone. Most travelers are very friendly, so don’t be fearful of rejection. And before you know it you’ll be sharing a cooked dinner with a group of cool, interesting people you just met. So be outgoing and put yourself out there!
4) Better Safe than Sorry
There are a few horror stories about traveling alone as a women. This should not make you afraid to leave room at night and prevent you from having fun. However, do use common sense at all times. Don’t walk in the streets late at night and keep an eye on any drinks you are given at bars. Most importantly, don’t overdrink! You will not be making smart choice after one too many pints of Guinness and nobody will be looking out for you. I also advise that you make copies of all your important documents (passport, hostel bookings, visa, flight reservation) incase the original copies get lost. Also it’s smart to leave your trip itinerary with a friend or family member. Assure them that you will keep in contact so that they will be aware if something goes astray.
5) Embrace being alone
Fact: You will get lonely traveling alone. But think about it this way, Back home you have friends and family waiting for you. Relish the silence because it’s a rare gift nowadays. It gives you time to think and learn about yourself. In between the silence however, make new friends and memories! I had some of the best moments of my life while traveling alone. I learned that you are never really alone. Company is out there, you just have to go out and seek it.
Safe travels ladies!