Saturday, June 12, 2010

Women Traveling Alone

Posted on June 10, 2010 - by Solo Traveler

10 tips for Women Traveling Alone

I’ve written all sorts of posts on how to travel alone. Posts on solo travel safety, eating alone, how to spend evenings… This post could cover all those again because they all apply to women traveling alone. However, I’m not going to try to say everything. This time I am writing about things specific to women – serious issues and girly things.

1.  Have patience. Even as an experienced solo traveler, every time I start a new trip it takes me a day or two to get solo stable — to shed those initial nerves of being out there on my own managing all the details, logistics and documents. Be patient. You’ll find your strength.

2.  Be cautious. If you are a young woman you need to be far more careful about unsavory characters than us more mature women. At least, that certainly is my the Solo Travel Safety section [at Solo Traveler] for lots of tips on staying safe.

3.  Pack light. You’re going to save money and be more mobile if you pack light. It requires a bit more planning to have a wardrobe that stretches from hiking boots to high heels but it can be done. Choose a base color (black, brown, beige, navy), a contrast color (white, beige…) and a color or two to accessorize and pull it all together. Watch the videos in my post on packing light.

4.  Dress conservatively. Maybe revealing tops and short skirts should be fine but, in reality, they can get you into trouble in many countries, including North America and Europe. You are always more vulnerable when you’re off your home turf so compensate by dressing conservatively. Read 10 Tips to Survive Culture Shock for more on this topic.

5.  Don’t make your hair an issue. Before I left on my long term trip I had long hair that was colored blond. It took too long to dry and the roots showed every five weeks. It was going to be a hassle that I didn’t need so I had it cut less than an inch long and let it go gray. Your situation need not be this extreme but it is worth having easy hair options so your travel time is not consumed with such a mundane task as your hair.

6.  Plan your first night well. At minimum, have a place to rest your head on the first night and plan to arrive by mid afternoon. It’s important to have the time to find your hotel or hostel in daylight and time to change your accommodation if you determine that this is not the place for you.

7.  Other women are not necessarily safe. Women often feel safer with other women. And, when it comes to small time danger, we probably are. But there are also dangerous women who are just as capable of luring you into bad situations as men. Be cautious.

8.  Choose your purse carefully. While a day pack designed with security features is ideal for travel you may prefer to carry a purse. If you do I recommend purses that you wear across your shoulders. In Naples a few years back I was the victim of a “scooter bandit”. What’s that? Two guys on a scooter. The driver charges through a cross walk against the light and behind a woman. The passenger grabs her purse. In my case, all he got was the strap.

9.  Take care of your feet. Nothing will ruin a trip faster than sore feet. Women’s shoes are notoriously bad for feet. Choose comfort over fashion.

10.  Pamper yourself. Women traveling alone are, just that, alone. No kisses from family. No hugs from friends. A manicure, pedicure, massage… are all safe ways to get a little human touch. Everyone needs that once in a while.

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