I could honestly talk all day about this topic!
I have already done a video about this topic, which you can check out below. However, I know some people, myself included, prefer a list that they can go back to, or bookmark on their phone or computer. So let’s get into it!
Sort out travel insurance. You should not be travelling without this! Take it from someone who has leaned on it in the past when things have gone wrong, it is a non-negotiable safety blanket. Travel insurance will cover you for so many different eventualities. If you get travel insurance for a year, it works out so much more reasonable than for singular trips. Do yourself a solid, go online and compare until you find the right coverage for you, baring in mind where you’re going. For example, I know people who have been to Bali, and when volcanic ash was erupting nearby, all flights were cancelled. Ensuring that you’re covered for that eventuality, means you won’t be paying out of pocket for extra flights.
Sort out your finances. I would recommend having multiple bank cards when travelling. You never know when one might not work, or it isn’t accepted somewhere, or you’ve mislaid a card but need to pay for things. Having more than one bank card solves these issues. I got a Revolut card before I went travelling. This is essentially an internet, fee free bank card, that you can top up from your bank account. It was so handy! Especially for big purchases!
Share a copy of your documents with a family member or friend. Have a copy of your passport, visas, itinerary, health insurance, travel insurance, whatever you may need available to a family member or trusted friend. Either a physical copy of everything, or use something like Dropbox or Google Drive to keep everything safe. You never know when you may need a copy of something, and this will help a lot in those situations!
Keeping last seen on Whatsapp on. If you don’t use Whatsapp, sorry this may not be useful! But keeping your ‘last seen’ on Whatsapp can be a great comfort to loved ones at home. It’s just a small thing to you, but could provide a lot of reassurance to friends or family members.
Find Friends app on iPhone. Useful if you loose your phone, you’re trying to find people in a busy place, like an airport or market, or again, for piece of mind for people back home. Sorry Android users, I don’t know what the alternative is, but whatever it is, use it! It will come in handy in the most random times!
Tile for important things. Tile is a small chip that you can put in your purse, tie to key rings, or generally keep with anything important. It connects with an app on your phone to help you find lost items. Super handy, not just for travelling, but in general! I have had mine in my purse for about 6 months now and it’s very reassuring to know I could easily find my purse if needs be.
Don’t bring important, meaningful or expensive jewellery with you. Guys, that heirloom that your late grandmother passed down to you may be gorgeous, but if you lose it in the middle of a busy temple, you’ll never find it again! Don’t bring meaningful, important or loved jewellery. It’s not worth the upset of losing it. Keep it safe at home and enjoy wearing it when you’re back. I lost my watch in Central America, while it wasn’t particularly expensive, I did love it and was pretty annoyed when I lost it!
Have rings you can slip onto your ring finger. Ladies, this was a lifesaver a few times while travelling. I couldn’t believe how often taxi drivers, tuk tuk drivers, random guys on streets or on beaches, asked me if I was single, or if I was travelling alone. Firstly, never say that you’re travelling alone unless you trust the person, you’ve built up a rapport, and even then I would take precautions. I found that having a ring on my ring finger, as if I was married, shut down a lot of uncomfortable conversations. “Nope, my partner is just checking out the local market/shop/beach/pool etc”, a quick look to the ring on my finger and the conversations would stop. It may not work every time, but it definitely helps!
Portable chargers. At home, running out of battery on your phone is a nuisance, travelling, it can cause issues. Not being able to access your boarding card on your phone before a flight, not being able to find your way back to your hotel, not being able to call for help, not to mention being super bored on a long journey! Invest in a half decent portable charger and save yourself the headache.
Take down the licence plate number of taxis before you get into them and make sure it’s licensed too. Your safety is paramount. It’s an easy mistake to make, my mom and sister were recently in an unlicensed taxi in New York, totally by mistake. To say it was a dicey ride is an understatement. Always take down the license plate number for your own safety, or in case you leave something behind, and travel smart.
Preload your trip into Google Maps before you get into a taxi, tuk tuk, transport etc. So if I’m heading back to my hotel from a restaurant, I’ll google my route and make sure that we’re going in the right direction. Maybe it sounds a little paranoid, but I think it’s worth it to make sure your safe and not being scammed. I’ve been in taxis before that have tried to take me the long way to my destination and charge me extra, don’t let them away with that. Know your route and make sure you’re not getting scammed.
Suncream. I’m basically see through in the winter I’m that pale, so suncream is a non negotiable for me, as it should be for everyone! The main point I want to make here is to get a suncream that sprays like a can of deodorant. If you’re by yourself, it can be really tricky to make sure you’re getting suncream everywhere and keeping your skin safe. Suncreams like Neutrogena Sprays are amazing for making sure you’re completely covered and protected. I wore the Ultra Sheer Body Mist the entire time I was travelling and it was a live saver!
Download offline maps on Google Maps. This is a really handy one. As someone who has run up some pretty nasty phone bills while travelling before, being able to find places offline is a game changer for me. Especially in places like Vietnam, where the roads are twisting, narrow and trying to find that amazing Bahn Mi place someone told you that you have to try, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack! Download while you’re in the area, delete when you leave and save your storage.
Get a sim card if you’re staying somewhere for a while. I didn’t bother doing this when I was travelling as I was moving around so much. But if you’re planning on being in a country for a while, a sim card can be really handy to have. If you’re planning on travelling in Europe, you can now use your data across different European countries for no extra cost! Check with your provider for the data limits before purchasing.
Have a padlock if you’re staying in a dorm in a hostel. Seems obvious, but also easily forgotten. I had arrived in Miami after a long flight and honestly just wanted to curl up in bed. I quickly realised that I had forgotten a padlock, and so I had to go traipsing around Miami, looking for a padlock so I could lock up my things and go to sleep.
Search for private rooms in hostels. The filter “best for solo travellers” on Booking.com is a god send! I’m not a big fan of dorms, having had a few crappy experiences in the past with them, but I do love the hostel experience. If you’re travelling solo, it’s much easier to meet people in a hostel than a hotel! If you’re like me and want the best of both worlds, get yourself a private room in a hostel. Yes, it will be more expensive. But, it’s worth it when you can sleep soundlessly with no one waking you up by turning on all the lights and loudly speaking about their favourite Taylor Swift song at 3am…
Lock your things in the safe in your hotel. Even if you’re in a really secure hotel, in a really safe place, unexpected things can still happen. Don’t get caught out. Any valuables that you do not have on your person when you leave your accommodation, put them in the safe and make sure they’re secure.
Have a torch for night time. Last thing you want to be doing at night is taking out your phone and putting the touch on. Be smart, and get a small torch that will fit in your bag or pocket. I didn’t really think about it when I threw it in my bag before leaving, but it actually turned out to be a great thing to have to hand!
Upload your content to the cloud or to a hard drive. That soul destroying moment when you lose a memory card… Been there. It’s painful! Make sure you’re occasionally uploading pictures and videos to the cloud or onto a hard drive. The last thing you want is to lose all those memories!
Have a secure bag when you’re out and about. It’s so important to keep important or valuable things separate. The best thing is to have a bag with loads of pockets so that you know exactly where everything is, but no one else does. I used my Celine Trio that I’ve had for a few years. It was brilliant because I could have my passport in one pouch, my camera in another, my purse in another. It just reduces the risk should someone get their hands in your bag! I also had a larger tote for on the plane where I would carry my laptop. If you can get a tote that zips, closes or gathers at the top, that’s ideal as it means the contents of your bag aren’t open for the world to see!
Give yourself time to relax. Travelling alone can be exhausting. You’re having to do all the navigating, all the negotiating, and travelling from place to place alone. You’re trying to put yourself out there, meet people and make friends, all while embracing the experience and looking out for yourself. I am not an extravert by nature. When you first meet me, I’m generally quiet enough, I’m not the greatest communicator. However, when you get to know me it’s impossible to shut me up. Being introvert means that travelling alone can be really tiring as you don’t want to turn in on yourself, you want to meet new people and try new things, but it does drain you more than it would drain an extravert. What I’m getting at is, give yourself a break from time to time. Switch off. Spend the day at the pool. Watch a few episodes of your favourite show on Netflix. Get a massage. You don’t have to feel bad that you’re not always doing something, seeing something, going somewhere while your travelling. Sometimes it’s enough to just be there and experiencing the day to day. Be kind to yourself.
Don’t let anxiety get in your way of enjoying, exploring, embracing the experience. Anyone with anxiety, know that if I can travel alone, then you can too! Yup, it’s going to challenge you, it will make you feel very far outside your comfort zone at times. But it will also help you grow in confidence and make you feel that you can accomplish so much more than you give yourself credit for. My advice is, if you’re feeling anxious, take steps to calm yourself, a call with my Mom, followed by a hot shower and a bit of distraction with Parks and Recreation, always did the trick for me. Don’t let it get the better of you, because there is so much to see, eat, drink, explore and experience out there. You don’t want to miss out.
Travelling as a solo female traveller will challenge you in a lot of ways, but it will also make you grow so much as a person. You can do what you want, go where you want, eat what you want, all on your own time. There’s a lot of power in taking control of your experience. Solo travel is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. My wish is that you get to experience it to.