I took my first international trip as a solo traveller about a year ago. Seven domestic and international trips later, I couldn’t possibly imagine travelling with anyone (for now). It is 2020 and my calendar for solo trips is filled for most of the year.Ebun Oluwole
Here’s a little insight into my travel routine: I make sure I take one domestic day trip once a month. This typically just involves picking a random city in England and spending an entire day there. I set out as early as 10 am or whenever the first train arrives and return to Manchester (where I reside) between 6 – 10 pm depending on how many important attractions that the city has. Then during major holidays like Christmas & Easter or any long bank holiday weekend, I take an international city break. This is where I spend 3 – 5 days in a new country.
So far, all of my trips have been by myself. This means that I don’t go with any family, boyfriend, friend or group of friends. I might meet a couple of friends here and there but most of the trip is spent by myself. With all of these experience, I feel like I can give a few pointers that have helped me make the most of my solo trips without feeling the need to go with someone.
Doesn’t it feel lonely?’ You might be wondering. Well, except that city is like Blackpool that makes you miss your family or Paris, your significant other. No. Not really. It’s not lonely. Then again, I’m a big fan of my own company so loneliness is relative.
So, if you’re a female solo traveller about to take your first trip, here are five incredibly helpful tips for you:
Don’t be afraid but be security conscious
This really goes without saying. I’m sure we can all agree that not every country is safe for women or even black women for that matter. This means that you need to be extra security conscious. Just because you’re in a new country doesn’t mean you should throw safety to the wind.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for a night out or have dinner by yourself. Just apply all of the safety rules you follow at home. This way you would be fine. This also doesn’t mean you should go about walking with the fear of the unknown. Don’t ruin your trip by being afraid.
One way I keep myself safe during my international trips is buying sharing my live location via Google Maps. Yes, there is a feature where you can share your location for a period of time with anyone with a Gmail account. It could be a parent, sibling or significant other. This way if anything goes wrong, they know how to track you.
Create an experience tailored for yourself
Most times when people travel with other people (family, friends or spouses) they usually just follow an itinerary that works across the board. They choose attractions to visit that everyone can communally benefit from. But the problem with this is that you as an individual might have other places of interests that others might not fancy.
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One of the biggest benefits of being a solo traveller s the freedom to create a tailored experience for yourself alone. You’re not considering your kids or aged parents. You’re exploring all of the places that interest YOU. In my experience, these places might not even be popular but you go anyway because you’re interested enough. So the next time you’re travelling solo, don’t forget to prioritise yourself.
Learn to approach strangers
Depending on how you look at it, the only downside of solo travelling is having to approach strangers to help out in different situations. But it is what it is and the earlier you get with the program, the better for you.
I mean how else would you find your way to the nearest train station when you’re lost or get those bomb Instagram pictures without a tripod? Yes, some people can be downright annoying and standoffish but the more you interact with strangers, the more your instincts can tell you the right people to approach.
For instance, it was during one of the solo trips that I found out that Asian women take the best pictures of me. How would I have found that out if I hadn’t tried different people?
Learn how to make friends quickly!
Just as it is important to approach strangers as a solo traveller, it is equally important to learn to make friends quickly. If you’re anything like me and you need some time to decide if a person is worth being friends with, don’t fret there’s a way around it.
Making friends as an adult is hard enough. Making friends as an adult on a short trip is even harder. You meet different people all at once and you have a rather short time to meet, connect and hang out with at least one person before the end of your trip. In my experience, I’ve realised that it is not worth forcing it but here’s what helped me make two friends during my last trip;
- Pay attention to the people that you get along with the most.
- Just like a relationship, make sure you can communicate in the same language well enough without offending each other. In situations where they don’t speak English, use Google Translate to show and sustain your interest.
- If there’s enough time, find a common interest.
If you have decided that that person is worth being friends with, don’t forget to collect their contact details and keep in touch.
Learn a few new things about yourself
A lot of women go straight from being daughters to wives and mothers without pausing to be themselves as individuals. They have always been overwhelmed with different responsibilities at different points in their life without prioritising self-care.
If you want to take time out for yourself as a woman, solo travel is one of the ways you can do so. Asides from the fact that you get to take a break from your day to day activities, you also get to explore a new country where you can learn a few new things about yourself. It can be during the course of a trip or when you have returned home. As long as you’re a self – reflective person, those seemingly little things you learnt will always reveal itself.
For instance, it was in Paris that I decided that I was going to prioritise multilingualism for my child. This was something I thought about before but after that trip, my decision was made.
While a lot of people equate female solo travelling for promiscuity, I urge you not to lose out on one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Even if it is just once a year, take time out to travel by yourself.
I hope these five tips will help you take that first step as a female solo traveller.
Ebun Oluwole is a Content Strategist by day and Lifestyle & Travel blogger by night. She’s currently obsessed with strength training, Korean skincare and solo travel. You can learn more about her through her blog at Ebun & Life.