I traveled alone a few times I went to Belguim, The Netherlands, France, Germany Austria on my own. And I intend to rack up more solo trips once I am able to. As a female solo traveler, I learned a few things along the way. Solo travel can be rewarding. It has it’s challenging to in here are a few tips to help you if you are an aspiring solo female traveler.
Walk with confidence
Don’t look lost even if you are. Don’t walk around with a map in your hand it indicates to everyone that you are a tourist. Rather use Google maps and listen to the directions using your earphones. If you need directions, go to a coffee shop or restaurant and ask a staff member. I have mentioned this before it does bear repeating be confident a lack of confidence makes you an easy target.
Practice resting bitch face
You have to hone a stone cold bitch queen face. Learn how to look mean. It is terrible that as a solo female traveler you are much more likely to get unwanted male attention. Some guys think solo female travelers are all lonely, single and desperate. You have to be able to give some people the, don’t mess with me look if you do I will pepper spray/embarrass you. The look needs to be lethal and give the impression that you will cause trouble and kick the guy in the balls if you have to.
You might miss a flight and have to catch the next one. At times flight staff can be difficult and you may have to speak up a bit louder and be firm. I had this happen to me and I had to be abrupt with a woman who thought it was her duty to lecture me on missing my flight instead of helping me even though I was polite. I’m saying assertive, not rude there’s no need to be rude. But, not adding a smile, raising your voice, changing the tone of your voice might be necessary at times. If you are accosted by a stranger and don’t want to talk to the person you might have to tell them clearly no I don’t want to speak to you. I mentioned before that I had a guy want to show me his bicycle at night in Amsterdam. He pretended not to be able to speak English or Dutch as he was Egyptian. This bicycle of his was apparently parked away from the city center. I told him no way. I straight out told him that I wouldn’t leave with him to see his bicycle. And that I was not interested in his bicycle. I told him as a South African I generally don’t trust strangers and that I had just met him. I wish I had told him to just leave me alone when I met him on the street at first I fell into the, I want to be a nice girl trap. Being nice can get you into dangerous situations or ones that just piss you off. If you have to speak up for yourself say no, say it loudly. Don’t care about causing a scene if you must. Most women are taught that being assertive is a masculine trait and that good woman aren’t assertive. It’s time to shatter this notion especially if you are a solo female traveler. Be assertive when you need to be.
Trust your gut
I ignored my gut feeling about the guy I met on my first trip to Amsterdam and ended up having to get rid of him by slipping into a museum. Other solo female travelers have been catcalled, groped, they’ve had men try to kiss them or take them to their apartments etc. Everyone has gut instincts which tell us if the situation is safe or not. Follow yours don’t be the nice girl at the risk of getting into an awful spot. Similarly, I read a story about a woman who broke her ankle in Greece and was helped by a guy she had met the night before in a bar. Along the way to her next destination, many men and women helped her. She trusted her gut and accepted help from a guy whom she had just met. Follow your instincts as they are your best guide.
Get used to eating alone
I’m kind of a pro at this (cough, cough at the brag). I ate out alone in Cape Town before I started traveling. For many solo travelers dining alone is one of the cons of solo travel. I’ve written up a guide to give you tips on how to enjoy solo dining. The key thing is you shouldn’t care about other people staring. They probably won’t and if they do they are strangers and it won’t kill you to continue eating and ignoring them. If you managed to travel alone to your destination then eating alone at a restaurant isn’t a big deal at all. You already are brave enough to be independent and travel alone so get used to eating out alone it’s enjoyable once you embrace it.
Get used to couples who are so in love
I visited Paris and Venice two of the romantic capitals of the world. And whilst my boyfriend was sitting in South Africa I was traveling alone to these places. I made friends along the way still it didn’t change the fact that he wasn’t able to join me. I saw people kissing, and taking cute couple photos and guys spoiling their partners. I couldn’t kiss my boyfriend on top of the Eiffel Tower or take a gondola ride with him. Solo travel isn’t all about happy moments. If you happen to be single whilst solo travelling it can be even worse. But, then you need to remind yourself about all the great things you can do as a solo traveler. You can eat what you want to do what you want. There are no compromises needed. You will develop new skills and see everything in a more focused way because there’s no distraction. And then you will also see couples arguing and you will remember that relationships have their ups and downs. You will also be happy that you have no one to argue with like that to ruin your trip. Or you might see a really adorable older couple who have made it through many years of marriage and it will melt your heart to see them still in love. Either way, just do you and take the time to love your solo travel even if you aren’t in romantic love or your love is far away. Love comes in different forms and it’s important to love yourself.
You will miss your friends, family, your dog your house, your city, your favourite hometown restaurant the list goes on and on. There will be times when you see crowds of people with everyone looking so connected and you will feel like a total friendless, unlovable loser. It’s important to text, call, Skype send smoke signals at these moments to the people you love. Talk about how you are feeling and don’t dwell on it. Feel the loneliness and deal with your negative thoughts. Keep yourself busy doing things to distract you from negativity. Realize that you aren’t the only solo traveler in the world. Find other solo travelers and build new friendships. Try new things and find joy in being alone. Our lives often revolve around others and you do deserve a moment just for yourself.
Learn to strike up a conversation
Be friendly, exhibit positive body language, use props like wear something unique from home or carry a book. If you are in a restaurant or pub put your guidebook or maps on the table. Ask someone who’s local what their favourite place is in town. You might end up visiting it together. Offer to buy someone a drink. There are so many ways to strike up a conversation if you want to learn more follow the link
The golden rule is to be yourself and be genuine don’t feign interest people can see straight through that. So be kind, friendly and authentically you.
Ignore people who pity you
There’s going to be the yessss Queen crowd who will support you. Then there will be the negative Nancy’s who will ask questions like “ Couldn’t you find someone to go with you”, “You shouldn’t travel alone it’s not safe” and my all time favourite “ You should find a husband and then he can take you on holiday rather” Now you explain to the nagging negatives that you actually want to travel alone because it’s enriching and you like being free to do your own thing. You can tell them that there are many solo travelers who chose to regularly travel all over the world and that you will be safe because you are an informed traveler. You could also respond to the get a husband comment with a polite but, I want to travel alone to be a better partner when I’m ready for a relationship. You seriously could do so much explaining the reality is that you will most likely be wasting your breath. Naysayers may be people you love who are truly concerned about your safety discusses your travel plans and itinerary with them. Tell them about your travel safety precautions if it’s someone you trust to leave them a copy of your travel insurance, address where you will stay, flight info and other important information. The other naysayers who happen to be spiteful and mean, ignore them. You don’t even have to answer them when they make bad remarks. Be calm, stick to your guns and have a fantastic trip. Don’t let toxic people bring you down.
Up your street smarts
I have written a lengthy post on how to stay safe as a solo traveler. South Africans, in general, are very street smart as our country experiences high levels of crime. If you happen to be from a more safer place then you are more likely to be more trusting. This may open the door for opportunists to exploit you. That being said street smarts are built over time but, you can stay informed by researching your destination. If you Google scams in whatever your destination is then chances are a list of scams will pop up. Travel bloggers and tourism boards of cities write about scams. So stay informed and aware.
Take care of your camera equipment
Solo traveling means you don’t have anyone else to take care of your stuff. Your photos are a catalog of your memories. This is why taking care of your camera is important. Cameras can be costly, losing your camera normally means losing your photos to. Take care of your stuff. My advice is to take out the memory card of your camera when you are done taking photos and put it in a place closer to your person. If you lose your camera your photos won’t be lost.
Learn to take good solo photos
Selfies, selfie sticks, timers on your phone’s camera, remote clickers, and tripods use these things to your advantage. Taking good solo pictures on your trip is possible. I got better at this over time at first my photo’s made my face look like a balloon.
Find your tribe
There are many other solo female travelers and you can meet up with them. Do a Facebook or Google search. The solo female travelers’ network, on Facebook, is a wonderful group to join. There are also sites like sheswanderful.com where you can connect with other female travelers. I’m still friends with many of the women I met whilst traveling. You might make lasting friendships out there if you put yourself out there.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment.
Wishing you happy travels!
xxx Nikki xxx