As a woman, you may dream of visiting certain places but not feel confident enough to go alone. You don’t want to spend your solo vacation looking over your shoulder, hugging your backpack tight, and scurrying down quiet streets looking for more populated areas. You’re not game to get out your map because you don’t want to look like a vulnerable, lost tourist.
Instead, you dart from attraction to attraction, acting like you are confident, even though it’s a far cry from your feelings. There’s nothing worse than taking leave, paying for your vacation, and then spending it moving between your locked hotel room and the nearest café on your block because going any further makes you feel uneasy. Feeling paranoid is unfortunate, but it’s the reality for a lot of first time female solo travellers. Here are some ways to feel comfortable and confident as a female travel junkie.
Group touring lets you safely step outside your comfort zone.
Group touring stirs up all kinds of images – big buses, guides herding their groups with colourful paddles, and tourists draped in headsets, money belts, chunky cameras, lanyards, and name tags. Thankfully, that scene is not your only group touring option. You will find everything from small group tours to youth tours to special interest tours to solo tours to women-only tours. You certainly don’t need to let go of your individuality or independence on a group tour. Instead, travelling with a group can give you the confidence to find it.
Having a guide on hand means that you can step out on your own if you want but still know that a local is there to help you feel safe. They can tell you about which areas you should visit or avoid, where to eat, and which cultural faux pas you should never engage in. Your guide and your fellow travellers act as a safety net, so you can safely step outside of your comfort zone. And what’s more, with over 50% of group tour travellers being solo adventurers, kindred spirits are never far away.
Being prepared will help put your mind at ease.
Whether you join a group tour or go it alone, there a lot of rewards to travelling solo, but preparation is key. Researching the places you are going to visit will make you feel much more comfortable and confident once you get there. Check for customs and etiquette to avoid awkward and possibly distressing situations – you don’t want to nervously wait in line to enter a temple, watch people get turned away at the entrance for their attire, and hope you’ll be lucky enough to make the cut. Travel isn’t about luck; it’s about preparation, so study up!
Learning some of the local language before your trip is also handy.
Brushing up on your language skills won’t only help break the ice with the locals, it will also help get you out of sticky situations if you need directions. (Hot tip: Carry your hotel’s business card, so you can easily show a taxi driver where you need to go if your words fail you).
Ultimately, preparation physically and mentally equips you to head off on your first solo vacation. Don’t let fear stifle your desire to see the world and experience new things in new places. Take baby steps: Do a couple of trips closer to home to build your confidence, then tackle those more challenging places once you feel a bit more comfortable. Don’t forget: There are so many ways to travel the world solo – without being alone.