21 April, 2017

Solo-Female Traveling

Let me first start out by saying, I'm no expert when it comes to solo female traveling and I didn't venture to a country where the customs, language or even the fashion was all that different from home. But I do have a few tips on how to be a confident and safe Solo-Female Traveller. If you're a Plus-Size Traveler, please visit my post: My Plus Size Travel Tips!

Before, during and after my travels to London I had a lot of people comment and tell me how "brave" it was that I took the trip on my own, and while I can understand how they can view it that way, it didn't feel brave to me. Almost every single American child has been told from the time they're little if you want something bad enough, you just have to work hard and you can get it. Well, I did work hard, for three years, I worked really hard. I was then blessed beyond all imagination with a gift that allowed me to pay for most of my trip to England. Going to England wasn't even a thought, going by myself, wasn't really a thought, though I would have loved to bring Mr Bear, we just didn't have enough money. Following my lifelong dream of visiting the country that I've been obsessed with, isn't brave, it was as simple as breathing. So if you feel the pull of wanderlust, to see the wide open world, and beauty that is the planet we call home, don't let anything stop you, least of all going by yourself, but do it smartly. 

Before I begin this article, I want to first and foremost point out, I suffer from mental illness, including anxiety, and I'm an abuse survivor. So I take my safety very seriously, I'm also hyper-vigilant. I say this only to make you aware, as some of my tips are born from this mental area. 

Tip No. 1 - Carry a whistle and maybe hairspray - What kind of whistle is up to you. I ended up with a paracord bracelet that had an attached whistle. The UK like a lot of European countries have strict weapons laws, but I knew that having a whistle on me would add a level of comfort that would at the very least make me feel that if something did happen I had a way to grab attention. I also walked around in downtown London with a travel size bottle of hairspray in my bag. Pretty innocent except when you shoot that into someone's eyes, it not only stings but get's sticky. While I know I sound like a paranoid psycho, if you're worried about travelling solo, consider it. 

Tip No. 2 - Carry Two bags and never combine the two - I figured out very quickly that when you're visiting a metropolitan area (whether it be London, NYC, or Paris) you will want a large bag to load souvenirs, maps, jackets, and in my case my handy fan and solar recharger combo so you don't have to carry something on your arms. The first day I was there I didn't do this and instead bought a reusable bag from a grocery store and carried that around for a few hours, and I was miserable because the bag's straps were incredibly painful and I had to hold it the whole time. So having a backpack was a lifesaver the rest of my trip. 
You also want a purse, I say this because you need to have a bag where your passport, cash, cell phone and any other valuables can move to the front of your body in large crowds. In a large crowd the risk of being pickpocketed increases, and if the bag with your valuables is on the back of your body where you can't see it, and maybe not feel it well you're more likely to have your things stolen. 
Do not put your purse in your backpack. I know after a long day of walking around you'll get tempted to just throw everything together back you're tired, but again if you put your purse in the backpack all a thief has to do is reach into the backpack and pull it out and everything is gone. 

Tip No. 3 - When sitting down keep your bags attached to your body and in front of you -  You don't have to keep your backpack on, but if you sit down on a bench to get a drink of water, loop your foot through the leg of the back strap, this prevents someone from running by and just grabbing it, and for the most part don't even think about taking off your purse if you're at a major tourist destination, or if you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings. Even if you have a chance to put the bag next to just be aware of your environment and keep track of it. 

Tip No. 4 - Put your purse on first then your backpack - This was a handy thing I learned but I thought that if someone came up to me and asked for my purse it would take me longer to give them my purse because I would have to take my backpack off first and it would give me a chance to scream of get someone's attention. 

Tip No. 5 - Store your passport away from your wallet and keep some cash hidden away from your wallet as well - This can be inside one of the zippered pockets of your purse, but don't put it inside your backpack, you need to be able to check on it frequently. In case someone happens to be able to sneak your wallet, at least your passport has been separated from that and you'll be able to get home. 
This also goes for keep some emergency cash away from your wallet. Whether it's hidden in your backpack, in a makeup bag in your purse or wherever, but somewhere you won't need to open in a common area that someone might see or it might fall out. 

Tip No. 6 - Build money into your budget for an emergency uber or cab - Sometimes you might just feel uncomfortable, trust your gut and take the uber or cab. I know it's not cheap, trust me, but your safety is far more important than the cab fare to get you back to somewhere you know. You can always ask to get out early if you get back to an area you're familiar with. 

Tip No. 7 - Know where the Embassy is - Put this address not only in your phone but also on a slip of paper in your suitcase back where you're staying. Just know where it is, you never know when you might need it.

Tip No. 8 - Have a check in time every day with someone at home - Just because you're travelling doesn't mean you shouldn't check in. You need to check in every day, and it shouldn't just be a message. That person needs to hear your voice and see your face every single day of your travels. Not only does this prevent some homesickness for you, but it allows that person to make sure you are actually doing ok, and that you're safe. They should also have all of your contact information while you're in the country. This includes where you're staying, phone numbers, and the address of the local Embassy. 

I hope some of these tips help! It was my first-time solo female travelling, but I'm sure it won't be my last because I loved it!!! I have never felt so confident, free, capable and independent in my life. I truly felt like I could do anything in this world and I was beholden to no one but myself, a truly life-changing experience!
Where are you travelling to? And what travel tips do you have for solo female travellers??

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