Be an Independent Champion - Travel Alone

We all know what it is like to pin down a group of friends and get them to agree on dates, price and destination for a weekend break. Considering others when planning a holiday can be a mammoth task.

If you do manage to get away with friends, sharing a bathroom, choosing where and what to eat and synchronising your collective waking and sleeping hours can be exhausting.

Taking a break, alone, can be a liberating pleasure.

Many women live alone, visit movies, the theatre and galleries by themselves, but, flying to an exotic destination and staying there, for a while, alone - phew!

Women are moving in leaps and bounds in business, politics, culture and technology but even the most forward-thinking friends and family can be negative about a woman travelling solo.

Travel is a mind-broadening experience, it opens the whole person to this exciting world we live in.

Destination - Dreamland

Follow a dream, take a chance and journey to a place you have often thought about. If you fancy feeding elephants in Thailand, helping orphans in Romania or walking mountain tracks and climbing mountains, do the research, read books about others who have done it and make plans.

Write down your travel ideas and explore possibilities. This will clear the mind and help you to fully understand who you are and what you like to do.

Going Solo

A friend of mine regularly travels alone. As a designer she has travelled for business but recently has taken holidays by herself. She loves the freedom. A week in Hawaii for a Christmas treat is heaven, for her. Left behind is the Christmas tree, the solar lights and sweet mince pies. On holiday she walks, takes breakfast at a beach cafe, swims and reads while lounging under a palm tree.

The most difficult thing, she says, is to get a table in a restaurant. Restaurants need bums on seats and two or four people at a table is better than one. She gets around this by having a picnic and sometimes eating at a restaurant bar. By doing that she can have a glass of wine and choose small salads and dishes from the bar menu. Plus, there is always the barman to chat to.

Travelling alone tips

Meet the locals and have a few phrases of their language to greet them with. Chatting with other travellers can be a fun way to share experiences and any fear of travelling alone is eliminated.

Be safety conscious, trust instincts and be safety smart about who to talk to. If you are concerned about stepping out alone at night, sign-up for a tour and go exploring in a group.

Take an adventure excursion and meet people with similar interests.

Harassment is a concern for women travelling alone. Just as at home, be prepared and self reliant, so that you do not need to depend on anyone else. Here are a few tips we've picked up along our travels to help you stay safe and prepared while overseas:

Carry a guide book, map, phrase book and cash and mark your hotel on the map for easy reference.

If asking for help, talk to a woman, a family or go into a friendly shop. Before straying too far in a strange neighbourhood take a photo of your hotel, your room number and the bus or train you are boarding. Pick up a hotel business card for address and phone number.

Withdraw cash from a machine during the day not when it is dark. Wear a cross-body bag to keep your valuables close and secure and utilise hotel safes for larger valuables.

Dress modestly to minimise attention from men and leave your jewels at home if visiting a poor country. Do research into the customs of the country to be visited. Always have a lightweight scarf or to wrap in or cover up. Be observant, if women have their heads or shoulders covered, cover yours. In certain religious buildings open-toed shoes may not be permitted and knees may need to be covered.

Before departure ensure your mobile device has service in the part of the world you are travelling to. Know the local phone system and note the emergency dial number.

Research public transport before travelling and be aware of bus and train networks.

Stay in email communication with someone you know. Tell them your plans, flights and itinerary. Give them your hotel number for personal safety reasons.

Plan to arrive at your destination in daylight. Pre-arrange transport to accommodation. Hotels often have their own secure shuttle service. If not, stay at an airport hotel until daylight.

Use your intuition if hiring a driver for a tour. Get a card and sort out the charges before agreeing to use the services.

To limit unwanted male attention wear a wedding band and avoid direct eye contact.

In some parts of the world it is unacceptable for a woman to venture out after dark without a male escort. Acquire basic social knowledge and be a safe female traveller.

Solo travel is empowering

Relish the joys of travel, the beauty of new lands and the people who live there.

Solo travel is liberating, self assuring and increases self-confidence.

Travel with an open mind and return home with adventures to share.


Barbara Bailey CONTRIBUTOR