I’ve been told more than once that as a woman I shouldn’t travel alone. I call bullshit. Travelling alone as a girl has been the best thing I’ve ever done. Going it alone is the most rewarding way to see the world. With no responsibilities for anyone but yourself, you can create an experience catering entirely to your own wants and needs.
My main tip is to plan before you leave. For my weekends in NYC and LA last year, I wrote up a list of everything I wanted to do and what I wanted to prioritise. So I hiked up to the Griffith Observatory and I spent a while at Coney Island. These were things that I was desperate to do, and because I didn’t have anyone else’s needs to cater for or think about, I just went for it.
It can be scary at times. Walking back to my hostel several blocks in the deserted Upper West Side of Manhattan on a Friday night was scary. I wasn’t aware that the subway lines only do “local” trains all night – I never figured out what “local” meant and how it worked – but during that walk home I toughened up and trotted as fast as my legs could carry my while trying to put on my “I’m a bad bitch” face. Shit like that happens. Shit worse than that happens. But you can’t let it put you off.
Solo travel is the ultimate life-changer. It will shape you in so many ways you don’t even understand until you’re out there.
If you’re a first time solo traveller, a group trip – like Trek America or Contiki – is a great option. It allows you to be part of a group setting while maintaining your individuality. You don’t have to do whatever the group wants; there’s always options to do your own thing.
Don’t allow yourself to worry about what your parents think. Obviously they will worry about you, but don’t stop yourself from doing something because you’re worried about what someone else will think. You do you. Keep in contact, show them what an amazing time your having and they’ll be happy that you’re happy.
Download useful apps – like Citymapper and Google Maps – to make sure you’re sorted.
Look at local laws and customs. For example: are there clothing requirements for women at your destination? What’s the deal with alcohol?
Create a back-up plan just in case.
Stock up on tampons.
Consider doing a defence course before you go – it can teach you some valuable skills if you’re ever in a situation and will be useful for the rest of your life.
If someone is creeping you out, alert the nearest authority figure – like a bouncer – and remember that you don’t owe these people anything. Excuse yourself and get the hell out of there and to somewhere you feel safe and secure.
Don’t take drinks from strangers that you haven’t seen the barman make. That’s a general life rule.
Ultimately, don’t be afraid. You are a badass.