It's honestly adorable that couples' travel has become the new "thing." Those "follow me" Instagram posts and sweet (and even risque) snaps of dynamic duos exploring the world is heartwarming.
But let's get real. Not every lady has a companion to wander the globe with. Not every woman wants a travel partner. At the same time, being a single backpacker on the road all alone can be... well, a bit disarming. So, what can ladies do to feel confident and comfortable while traveling solo? We have a few tips.
First, Hide Your Cash From View
Honestly, in any country you visit, there will be predatory people who want to swipe your cash. The best plan of action is to keep your money tucked away. Many travelers' sites recommend stowing cash in different places, whether on your person or in your luggage (or both) so that the odds are lower that someone will take it all. If it comes down to it, it's better to let a would-be mugger get away with $20 rather than your entire wallet with your whole trip's funds in it.
You can find cool bags and wallets that strap to your arm or even your inner thigh if that makes you feel more confident. But you can also tuck a few dollars (or pesos or yen or baht) into your sock, your bra, or an inside pocket of your windbreaker. That way, you also have a just-in-case reserve if you run out of money while out and about.
Watch Your Drinks While Out
This is a tip that all ladies need to know whether they're going to the local bar or traveling across the globe. Whenever you're having a beverage at a restaurant or bar, you shouldn't leave the drink unattended. There have been too many instances of bad things happening when a little something extra is slipped into a traveler's cup. In fact, some questionable events have even happened on-site at resorts. But when you're backpacking, you're not usually in any spot long enough to fall victim to such dangerous games. Still, keep an eye on your drinks, and carry a reusable water bottle when possible so that you can clear your head if the drinks get to be too much!
Don't Be Overly Cautious!
The fact is, there are far fewer instances of solo women backpackers having trouble than you might think. In fact, most people are more likely to share negative experiences about backpacking rather than the positive ones. People just want to warn you against potential dangers, no matter how low the probability!
One of the best ways to protect yourself is by being informed. You should check ahead to see if your country has any travel advisories against your planned destination(s). In the United States, the US Department of State provides would-be travelers with guidelines on where and how to visit certain locales. Use your discretion and choose places with decent safety ratings, and then go forth on your adventure without cowering every time someone passes you on the street!
Always Have A Backup Plan
When you're backpacking, your accommodations won't always be the most luxurious. That's kind of the name of the game, after all. And staying in hostels and room-shares can be a bit intimidating, especially if it's your first solo trip, let alone your first time traveling, ever. The thing is, having a backup plan for your living arrangements is always a smart idea. If something goes down that makes you feel uncomfortable, or you just get bad vibes at a certain place (or with a certain roommate), head on to your next destination. Know where you're going and what is available there so that you can plan your next move in safety and comfort.
Make Friends Throughout Your Travels
Making friends has dual benefits. First, it's another layer of protection against potentially scary things happening to you. The more you associate with other people, the more you can build a network (however temporary) of fellow adventurers who will look out for you. You may even form lifelong friendships through those connections. But at the very least, you'll have the benefit of the whole safety-in-numbers thing. Your costs could drop for travel, too, if you stick with your newfound friends for another leg of the journey. Oh, and your companions can also help you nail those social media shots.
But another reason to make friends while you travel is that it can help you enjoy the trip more. Talking with other travelers can shed light on otherwise unknown attractions and opportunities. You can get groups together to partake in events, split food and lodging costs, and enjoy socializing so that you feel less homesick. Because no matter what trip you're on—whether your first or fifteenth—you're bound to feel a bit lonesome at some point. If things get overwhelming, it'll be nice to sit down next to someone whose name you've learned and motivations you understand and hash things out. Other travelers always offer the best advice, too, especially if they've been-there-done-that.