Is it your time to go solo?

You don’t need to wait for anyone else to join you on your fabulous trip. Just go and do it! Plenty of ladies are traveling on their own. The BA Global Solo Travel Study of almost 9,000 18-64 year olds found that over 50 percent of women have taken a holiday by themselves, with 75 percent of women planning a solo trip in the next few years. Why not go for it yourself in 2020? Where have you always wanted to go to… Thailand, Spain or some amazing landmark, to see a breath-taking natural wonder such as the Northern Lights or be part of a wonderful cultural event? Which trip first? You can go on your own.

When I speak to ladies who want to travel alone but feel unsure, there are a few recurrent issues.

  1. Can I get the money? Yes, you can, read this Blog.
  2. I’m not confident enough to go. You can develop your confidence to enable you to go traveling.
  3. Is it safe for women to go traveling? The answer to this last one is yes and I’ll share my thoughts on why.

I’m Sarah Nicholson. I absolutely love traveling…. however, I am culturally aware and extensively research the countries I am planning to visit.  Listed below are some of my tips.

Don’t assume anything. Be alert but not alarmed. You need to be aware of what’s going on around you.

COMMUNICATE

Be friendly and smile. You will meet some wonderful people who will help you as you travel the world. Learn a few local phrases like; hello, how much, no, yes and thank you. If you mean no, say it with your words and your body language. Don’t give mixed messages, be very clear.

CLOTHING

Don’t wear an expensive watch, jewelry or clothing. Leave anything that you’d be upset if you lost it, at home. Don’t look like a target. Remember many people in the countries we travel to are dirt poor. They need to make a living, and exploiting tourists is a way of surviving.

PERSONAL SAFETY

Taking care of yourself is your highest priority. Be aware that when you’re tired or sick you naturally let your guard down and are more vulnerable. Get plenty of quality sleep so you’re at your best. You need to make sensible decisions.

Read about the current scams operating in the countries you are planning to visit. Type into your web browser eg  ‘scams in Morocco’. Your personal safety is the most important consideration. Be aware that culturally they may do things in a different way to your home country. In some countries, a woman walking alone at night is an open invitation for sexual harassment. I arrive in the light and plan my route to and from my accommodation in the daylight so I’m confident later. If walking isn’t a good idea, I get a recommendation for a taxi or tuk-tuk. I make sure I know which are the no-go areas in a city and I stay away. Use what you have learned about the country to plan your trip and make it safe.

GUARD WHAT YOU DISCLOSE

I trust my gut instinct about strangers. I am always friendly but don’t need to disclose that I’m traveling alone. If I feel unsure about someone, I let it slip that someone is waiting for me at my accommodation / next destination.

LUGGAGE

I can’t stress this enough, the less luggage you take the better. Be wise with what you pack. It is liberating to realise how little you really need in life. You can wash your clothes along the way. I have one bag on wheels or a backpack (not too heavy) and a little daysack.

My backpack/luggage goes everywhere with me. Yes, this includes to the loo/toilet. NEVER put your bag on the back of a chair.

If you’re traveling on night trains, secure your bag with a cable lock so it can’t be removed.

MONEY

Never put your money in your back pocket. Use small denomination notes like a local. Estimate how much you will spend for the day and keep this amount in your day purse, hide the rest. I use a money belt, with the notes in little plastic bags.

Travel with a minimum of 2 credit cards! It can be a challenge when you arrive in a new country to know which bank card will work with which ATM machine. Having your money slit into different accounts gives you options. Avoid using public ATMs on the street, go into the bank. You can use an RFID sleeve to protect your cards from being scanned.

EATING OUT

Don’t eat from restaurants in the major tourist area. Walk at least one block away and eat with the locals – the food will better and cheaper. Use your instinct to pick the one run by the best lady, she will look after you.

COMPUTER SAFETY

There are fewer internet cafés than there used to be. People seem to travel with a tablet or iPad. DO NOT use public computers to access bank accounts. To enhance your security, use a VPN on mobile phones/computers to access bank accounts.

Before you leave, create a travel email address. Scan your passport and email your travel documents to yourself.

PHONES

Check your contract before you leave and know you can do abroad. If you use a travel SIM make sure the provider speaks your language.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Always take out travel insurance: if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can afford to travel. Check what your travel insurance does and doesn’t cover, e.g. does it cover repatriation? Most don’t cover adventurous sports such as riding a horse or a motorcycle. If you want to be able to go skiing or white water rafting while you are away, make sure you buy the correct policy.

Expect the unexpected

As I said, I love traveling solo but also like to keep it stress-free. I plan my trips and love learning about the places I’m going to explore. If you want to find out how to plan your own trip, sign up now and join me on Adventurous Spirit in January. You will be traveling solo in 2020. Where will you go first?

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