Tips for a Solo Female Backpacker

Solo travel is my favourite.

With nobody telling you what to do or where to go, it means that you get to create the memories that you want for yourself. I also think it shows a strength in character, that you trust yourself enough to push the limits. Although this is inspired by female solos, these tips are interchangeable for anyone who’s taken the leap of faith. And trust me, you’re going to have a great time!

Pack Light = nobody is going to help you get that massive suitcase up the stairs, hun. If you can’t carry it all by yourself then you shouldn’t bring it. Simple as.

Copies = Photocopy everything. Passport, Drivers License, Tickets, Insurance, the lot. Copy it twice. Give one set to someone at home (someone you can trust. A family member, a friend) and store the other set at the bottom of your bag for safe keeping. This means that if any of your important documents go missing/get stolen, you still have proof of identity and/or purchase. It also means that the guys at home can chase up a replacement for you whilst you are away.

Split Money = In a lot of countries where card use isn’t as common, you’ll always need a stash of cash somewhere on your person. Now, the common option is inside a purse, and this is what pick pockets are also thinking. My advice would be to split your money however you choose, and store it in different places on your person. For example, when I travel I keep some money in my purse (I use this in shops etc. where I’m ok with them seeing me physically taking the money out. This is also good for bartering, as if they see you have a full purse, they’re not going to drop their prices.), some in an inside pocket of my backpack (this is probably my biggest stash,. I keep it in a sealed plastic slider at the bottom of my bag, and I ONLY get this out when I’m in private. whenever my purse money needs topping up, this is what I use), some in a concealed pocket in my jacket (similar to the purse, easy to get to and use safely. stick to a low amount though), and some either in my bra or inside the back of my phone case for emergencies. Along with this I hide my credit card in with the backpack stash and have a travel card in my purse. I used to use a body bum bag for storing cash, which worked well also.

Emergency Funds = You need a credit card with you (or a card that you know has money on and works abroad). You don’t have to use it, but just have one with you. You need to know that if all of your money gets stolen, you can get hold of enough to get you home/back to your hostel.

Tell Everyone = This one sounds simple, but its important. Tell everyone where you are going. Give a few details of your trip to your family. Tell the receptionist at the hostel if you’ll be back in a few hours. Tell your new roommates where you are going for the day. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but it’s always a good idea to have people looking out for you.

Say Yes = Say yes to any adventure, even if it’s just going to dinner or playing cards with your roommates. I met some of my best friends from just tagging along on some of their day trips. (Obviously, I’m talking about people you are comfortable with, which leads on to my next point.)

Trust Your Gut = To travel alone safely, especially as a woman, you have to realise that you are vulnerable. As lovely and friendly as most people are, there is still a small percent out there who don’t want the best for others. When something doesn’t feel right, leave.

Scout Your Surroundings = Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I spend a couple of hours just wondering around the area that I’m staying in. Hopefully, I’ve also done some research beforehand, and written down a couple of addresses that I might need (hostels, stations etc.). Technology fails, and it will always be when you desperately need it. So just spend a little time to get to know your surroundings so you can find your way back at the end of the day.

Find a Good Hostel = A nice place to rest your head makes all the difference. I’m not just talking about somewhere that feels clean and safe. A lot of hostels offer group activities or day trips, dinner nights, movie nights etc. It’s easy to make friends and get involved if you are in a great hostel with like-minded people. There are also a lot of female only hostels popping up in many countries, if that’s what you would prefer.

Don’t Forget About Your Health = There is nothing worse than being ill when you’re travelling and unfortunately, your mum isn’t there to make you chicken soup. It’s easy to get run-down, with the varying diets and sleep patterns, so you need to combat that. Its boring, but make sure you are drinking enough (clean!) water and eating enough veg. Make sure you are keeping regular with any medication or supplements you take. (and a #1 tip: chugging a Dioralyte at the end of a heavy night and 1st thing in the morning prevents hangovers. You’re welcome.)

It Gets Easier = Everyone finds it daunting. Sure, its terrifying the first time you move into a bustling hostel room alone, but it gets easier. Until then, fake it ’til you make it baby. You’ll get used to talking to strangers. you’ll become comfortable with eating alone in a restaurant. And always remember that all solo travelers are in the same boat, so just walk up to someone, smile and ask them a question. What’s the worst that could happen?

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