Surprisingly simple tips for solo female travellers
Being an all-girl team here at Destinate, we’re passionate about women empowering themselves through travel. Whether it be for business or pleasure, to explore or to make a difference, we believe that setting off on a journey every once in a while, is essential to the wellness of your soul.
Having said that, we also know it can be a jungle out there. Especially when travelling on your own.
Being #WomensMonth here in South Africa, we’ve decided to take a look at a few simple travel hacks to keep you and your belongings as safe as possible on your next solo adventure.
Before you go
Save your travel documents THOROUGHLY
Firstly, make a few copies of your passport and put one in each of your bags – checked luggage and carry-on. This serves a double purpose – if something happens to your passport (heaven forbid), you’ll have these to support any diplomatic processes and if your luggage goes missing the copy of your passport will make identification easier.
Apart from this, also take photos of all your documents – passport, plane tickets, visas, accommodation booking, travel insurance – and save in a locked online account.
Book accommodation that has loads of good reviews
Whether you’re booking an Airbnb, a hostel, hotel room or couch surfing, do your research thoroughly and make sure you opt for a place that only has really, really good reviews. Do yourself a favour and snoop around a bit – don’t just rely on the reviews on the site, but see if you can find any other information online: complaints on Hello Peter or even a really great recommendation by a reliable travel writer.
Share a copy of your itinerary with at least two close family members/friends
Send copies of your documents, as well as a detailed itinerary to a close family member and a friend, so someone back home has an outline of your plans and knows where you will be when.
Learn the basics of the language
While it’s great to be able to ask where the local bar is, it’s more important that you also familiarise yourself with words that could help you in a difficult situation. We suggest you look up ‘police station’, ‘embassy/consulate’, ‘passport’, ‘hospital’, ‘doctor’ etc.
Connect with a local girl before you go
When travelling somewhere new and unfamiliar, it helps a lot to have a local female friend to help show you the ropes. While you can try connecting with someone via The Travelettes, Wanderful or Pink Pangea, you can even just ask within your own network – we live in a global village after all and chances are someone you know will know someone who knows someone in your destination.
Try planning your arrival during daylight
Of course, it’s not always possible to work out your travel plans in this way, but arriving in daylight sure does help a lot for wayfinding and feeling more secure.
Stick close to other travellers initially, so you don’t look alone
The fact that you’re doing a trip alone indicates that you’re quite an independent lady, but there’s no shame in feeling a little unsure at first. It helps to initially keep close to a group of travellers – maybe even a family – to familiarise yourself with the surrounds and ‘blend in’.
Take a photo of your taxi’s number plate
If you’re catching a taxi from the airport (and during the rest of your travels), taking a photo of its number plate is a good idea, in case you forget an item inside and need to trace the taxi again.
Make a fake phone call to make it look like someone’s waiting for you
This is great if you’re taking public transport and don’t want to seem like you’re all on your own. Just make a fake phone call to a ‘friend’, telling them you’ll be there soon.
Have a regular check-in time with someone back home
This might sound a bit pedantic, but if someone knows you check in with them at 13:30 (their time) every day and for some reason you forget, they can always check that everything’s okay with you.
Carry a power bank for your phone
This is especially important if you’re going to be in transit for a long time without the option of plugging your phone in for a quick charge. Carrying a power bank with you – and knowing you’re not going to run out of battery life any second – is great for peace of mind.
When you get lost (because you will), don’t make it obvious
If you’re not sure where you are, avoiding studying a map or trying to find directions on your phone in the middle of the street. Instead, find somewhere busy to sit down – maybe a coffee shop or restaurant – and peacefully get your bearings back. Try not to look panicky. If you’re still unsure, ask for directions from someone who seems trustworthy – maybe another woman.
Try to blend in
How would you walk around in your own city? Probably not with a camera draped around your neck or looking unsure about your surroundings. Try looking purposeful, keep your camera in your bag and make an effort to dress in a way that doesn’t define you as a tourist.
Avoid getting drunk
Nothing wrong with having a drink to wind down or make new friends at the hostel, however, getting drunk as a solo female traveller is never a good idea. Instead, as soon as you start feeling tipsy, stay on the safe side, and call it a night.
Never feel bad to say ‘NO’
It’s important to go with your gut. If something feels off about an invitation, there’s no point in trying to be polite. That simple two-letter word could end up saving you a whole lot of drama… or even your life!
We adore exploring new destinations, and we urge you to do the same. Happy travels!