A version of this was originally published in the Love of Dixie Magazine – a beautiful online magazine for women, by women.
When I mention to people I traveled from Singapore to Australia alone for my birthday one year, some will gasp with wonder and amazement. Then, the look of “Could I ever do that? Would I ever WANT to do that??” washes over their face. And my answer is always, “YES! Yes, you could! And you should!”
It’s a sad truth in the world we live in that, as women, we need to be on guard. We should always be careful, but we do ourselves a huge disservice when we abandon the possibility of adventure because of fear.
As I write this article, I have made my way from Texas to Hong Kong – alone. I’ve planned, I’ve packed and am really enjoying my adventure. The travel tips below are ones I practice. I think you’ll find them helpful.
What you take you’ll have to haul! Sometimes there will be a nice strong person who is willing to help but don’t count on it. Don’t take more than you can handle alone. Take only what you need. Limit your “just in cases” to only a few – or none. All those “just in cases” add up. If you really need something you can buy it or find a substitute.
Arrive in the daytime.
Plan flights to arrive in daylight. Trying to navigate a new city in the dark is challenging and often unsafe. If you can’t arrange a daylight arrival, arrange for a hotel shuttle or a private chauffeur service to meet you when you arrive. Likewise, if you will be out and about at night, know you’re route and the safest mode of transportation to get you safely back to where you’re staying.
Have a safety plan.
Of course, there are serendipitous moments on any trip worthy of appreciation but not having a general plan is a dangerous way to travel. It can set you up for being in all manner of situations you could have avoided. Research safety issues for the area(s) you are traveling to. A few things you can do to stay safe are:
• Plan your daily adventures. Make some reservations. Book some tours. Being in a new place alone might leave you feeling paralyzed with options. You’ll end up missing out on something awesome or worse, wandering to places you should have avoided.
• Never ever let anyone take your phone to take a picture of you. Unless you know you can run faster, it’s not worth it.
• Remember that you’re a guest in their “home.” It’s easy to become too comfortable with the ways of our own culture and forget that things are done differently in other places.
• Stay away from “ducks.” As the old saying goes, “If it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.” Another old saying says, “listen to your gut,” can be a valuable tool when traveling alone. Always be aware of your surroundings and your belongings.
• Know how to look for hotel room cameras. Turn out the lights and look for small lights around the room and in air vents. Hang a towel over anything you think might appear to be a camera. Take a small screwdriver with you so you can look inside any vents that might seem questionable. Purchase a hidden camera detector to scan the room. If cameras are located, contact hotel personnel and have them removed.
• Know when NOT to look for hidden surveillance cameras. Certain countries, like China and Russia, will brand a traveler as hostile if camera detectors are found amongst their belongings. They may also not appreciate the covering or dismantling of cameras. When traveling to specific locations, just know you’re going to be watched and simply behave while enjoying your stay.
• Always carry your passport and important documents on your person when traveling. Travel with a copy of your passport safely tucked away separately. In the event your passport is stolen, a copy of it will make the replacement process more manageable. Likewise, keep cash and credit cards in separate places. In the unfortunate event that everything gets stolen, if you have your passport and a credit card, you will be okay!
• Never offer strangers any more information than is absolutely necessary. It’s fun to chat with other travelers or locals, but divulging too many details about yourself or your excursions could land you in discomfort. Be friendly but not overly so.
Traveling alone might seem daunting, but it’s most definitely doable. I encourage you to muster the moxie and go! There are so many amazing things to see, foods to eat.