These 5 tips for traveling alone may seem basic, but they are easy to assimilate and, in fact, traveling alone is far from being the 7-headed beast that many people paint!
So, 5 tips for traveling alone safely!
Are you thinking about traveling alone but are you afraid or are you not comfortable doing it? As I said, it is not a 7-headed beast and, I can say from experience that traveling alone is, without any doubt, an adventure that we should all embark on!
On my first time traveling alone, I went to Iran, we were in the year… 2008 maybe, I don’t know?! At the time, it seemed crazy to me, they painted such a scary picture of that country, almost like saying that they ate little kids for breakfast. Many hours later, with a halfway stop in Paris, and when I arrived, the only thing that scared me, do you know what it was? The bathrooms. They don’t eat little children, but they are a bit different from ours. It’s a small cultural barrier (and a very small one!), nothing more.
We are educated from childhood to believe in countless myths and prejudices, then the media perpetuate and reinforce these ideas, most of them completely absurd! One of them is that a person who travels alone – especially if it is a woman – is antisocial, doesn’t have all the screws in the right place, or something like that.
On top of that, they also put together preconceived ideas that “Westerners are right” and that “everyone should live like us westerns”.
None of this is true!
Traveling alone. Why not?
So I’m a strong advocate that:
1 – Those who travel solo follow paths that they might not otherwise discover. And with that, I’m not saying that it’s not good to travel with other people! These are different experiences and both can be amazing. What happens is that, when we are with other people, we tend to stay inside our “bubble” and, when it comes to visiting this place instead of that one, the choices are often not consensual. It depends on the choice of the majority or who presents the best arguments (I don’t know about you, but I suck at this!).
2 – If a region or a country has cultures, traditions, and religions different from ours, this opens doors to new experiences, which make us leave our comfort zone. What may seem scary turns out to be the discovery of incredible realities!
3 – There’s a whole world we don’t know about. I also believe that we can visit the same destination over and over again, and each time one discovers new things and embarks on unprecedented adventures.
4 – Traveling alone is very rewarding and helps us to be more resilient and independent. It is not independent in the sense of not needing anything else or anyone else in life, I speak of independence in the sense of learning, of you knowing how and when to take a step forward when a challenge arises without having someone by your side to do it for you.
Traveling alone. Is it dangerous?
As with almost everything in life, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on the circumstances, the place, the people around us, the environment… it depends on our judgment and reasoning skills.
Traveling alone helps to boost self-confidence and, as a result, boost self-esteem! We find ourselves having to lose our shame and put aside our shyness (characteristics that my personality never gives up!) and talking to strangers, meeting new people, speaking in other languages, and even sharing experiences with people we don’t know the name and that we will probably never find again.
A native of an Asian country once told me that I looked like a wild animal, always suspicious and evaluating what was happening around me. Personally, I wouldn’t describe myself like that, because I’m quite distracted.
What happens is that when I’m in an unfamiliar environment, I tend to be more vigilant. Not so much because I think something bad is going to happen, but in an attempt to absorb everything that’s going on, so as not to miss a beat!
5 tips to travel alone and break prejudices once and for all!
5 tips to travel alone and break prejudices once and for all!
5 Travel Tips – Stay vigilant and always take safety precautions
In fact, all the precautions that a woman (or a man!) takes on a daily basis must be applied when traveling alone.
a) Do not lose sight of your belongings (especially identification documents, money, cards, mobile phones, computers…)
b) Beware of drinking! For those who want to have a few more drinks, don’t do it with people you barely know or who you don’t know at all, you could be exposing yourself to a situation of vulnerability that you may not be able to control! I would say, “Save those tequilas for when you’re among friends!”
c) Pay extra attention at night, avoid alleys, areas with little or no lighting, poorly frequented, or unfamiliar areas. Leave these tours for the day, when it’s easier to assess.
d) Always comply with the formal or informal dress rules of the place where you are located. We must respect the places we visit and avoid unpleasant exchanges or censorious looks that can lead to conflict situations.
e) Make sure you always keep someone – family and/or friends – aware of your movements: where you are and what you plan to do next.
f) Use your sixth sense! Your intuition can be your best friend when traveling solo. If something doesn’t seem right to you, don’t be afraid to refuse or use a lie to get out of this situation as soon as possible. If it doesn’t look good to you, it’s not worth the risk!
And research a lot about solo travel, take advantage of the sharing knowledge and experiences of other people who have also traveled alone.
5 Travel Tips – Before traveling, read and watch videos about the destination country
There is basic information we should know before boarding:
a) what is the currency and how will I make my payments while in the country
b) what is the cost of living or staying for tourists – it is common to have a price for residents and a price for foreigners
c) what is the health system – my advice is to take out insurance if you travel outside the European Union
d) if specific vaccines are needed, something you can know in the traveler’s consultation
e) what is the predominant religion and if there are clothing requirements – in Muslim countries it may be mandatory to cover hair and body
f) if the culture tends to be sexist, double your precautions, PLEASEEE!
When I told you about my trip to Sri Lanka (by the way, it was also a solo trip!) I also told you about Portal das Comunidades Portuguesas, do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros de Portugal, I always visit it before traveling abroad, the information is not binding, but it paints an approximate picture of the destination.
Apart from that, I always research the country’s history, whether there are or have been conflicting situations, whether or not there are areas that should be avoided and what are these zones, and what other travelers who have already been to this destination in the last year recommend.
I’m also paying more attention to international news, to keep abreast of potential political, social, or economic changes that influence my stay.
For example, a week after buying the ticket to Sri Lanka, there were several attacks in the country. Until boarding, I always kept abreast of the situation and, during my stay, I was no longer surprised by the policing and police barriers (nor with the reduced number of tourists at that time of year).
5 Travel Tips – Avoid displays of wealth (even those who think you are not wealthy)
Poverty is relative. Remember that in many countries there are those who live on less than €2 or €3 a day.
We are not talking about happiness indexes, because money is not everything. But if you are going to travel to a country outside the European Union, there is a high probability that you will be in better financial conditions than people residing in your destination country. And this is the perception of a native when he sees a European tourist. It doesn’t matter that you’re on a tight budget and that you’re counting your cents!
Therefore, avoid displaying money or going out with jewelry, watches, or flashy accessories. Keep your phone away and use it only when you need it. Oh, and don’t be like me, I’m always leaving my cell phone everywhere. Reaching into your pocket and realizing that your phone is not there can take years off your life, believe me!
5 dicas para viajar – Choose wisely your stay (and the transport you use!)
The ideal is to make an itinerary before traveling. This gives you time to search for hotels with good recommendations, even for those on a tighter budget. If you improvise during the trip, pay attention to your choices.
Booking, for example, uses that “only 1 room left” marketing technique to pressure the user to buy, but don’t book without realizing if it’s a trustworthy site with good reviews. Try to see comments and photos from other visitors before making a rash decision.
Oh, and always use official transport so you don’t have trouble! Before traveling, research which means of transport are available and which are the safest. For solo travelers, this is crucial!
Once I booked a room at a small hotel in a rush, I soon realized that the manager was a gloomy guy and I felt quite insecure during the 2 nights I spent there. In addition to this unwise choice, I made the mistake of hiring a taxi through this hotel.
“What happened, Ana?”, you’re asking
I was already inside the car when I realized that it had no badge, therefore it was not a taxi and that the boy was far from being a taxi driver, but a kid with little or no experience in driving. It was the most painful eight hours of this vacation. It didn’t go sideways, but I spent every minuteeeeeeee of those eight hours thinking about the stupidity of getting into that car without any hesitation.
May my mistakes serve as a lesson to you!
5 Travel Tips – Don’t make that disoriented look of someone who has no idea where they are
Have you ever seen those people who are in the middle of the street looking scared or disoriented? What do they convey? Fear and insecurity. These are the called “sitting ducks” or “easy targets” for anyone less well intentioned.
So, even if you are lost, never show it. Poker face, always. It’s okay, it’s normal to get lost.
If there is a commercial establishment nearby, come in to consult Google Maps or the paper map or even to ask for information. If there’s nothing like that around, take a break, like someone who needs to catch a breath, sit on the steps of a house or in a more discreet corner and consult the map.
It has happened to me (more than once) to walk an entire street, having no idea where I was, and only consult the map after turning a corner and finding a place with no people in sight.
Taking part in group activities such as tours, tours, safaris or guided tours can be a way of not getting lost and visiting places that you would not otherwise discover, always in the company of other people.
To avoid bold and even abusive approaches, there are two tricks: 1. wear a very large wedding ring and display it with pride; 2. have a prepared story – true or false, it doesn’t matter – for example, that you have your husband and children waiting for you at the hotel, anything that shows you are not alone and that someone will come looking for you if you take too long.
For those who have never experienced solo travel, I can only recommend it! Of all the times I traveled like this, I never regretted it and I can say that it was always a fantastic and enriching experience.
Will I stop traveling with other people to travel exclusively alone? No. But I can’t wait to book the next solo trip and set out to discover a little more of the world.
And you, where are you thinking of going?
You already know, in case of doubt, we are here to give you some help (or some ideas!)!