A BROAD IN LONDON'S ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR WOMEN TRAVELLING SOLO
He (or in this case she) who is outside their door has the hardest part of the journey behind them. Dutch Proverb
According to a recent study women travelling alone are currently making the biggest changes to the global tourism industry. That’s a 131% increase over the last two years of women spreading their travel wings and flying solo.
And I can tell you why…
Travelling alone gives you a perfect time to reflect and really learn something about yourself.
You do what you want, when you want and what interests you. You gain a much needed appreciation and perspective on life, something no on else can give you. By climbing out of your comfort zone, by travelling alone it is truly where I have experienced the most amazing personal growth.
“Solo travel not only pushes you out of your comfort zone, it also pushes you out of the zone of others expectations”. Suzy Strutner
So how do you do it, take that leap and fly solo? Well like any journey it all starts with the first step.
A Broad In London’s Essential Travel Tips For Women Travelling Solo.
Must Have Travel Items
Cell phone battery charger
Swell Bottle (see my 5 essential travel items blog)
Small satchel, knapsack or bag (no fanny packs) unless you’re 80 or a tourist from Florida
Must Use Travel Apps
I am the most directionally challenged person on the planet. Even if I am trying to follow that little floating icon telling me what direction to walk I generally walk half a block to discover I have gone in the wrong direction. I recently discovered a feature on Google Maps that for me was a game-changer. It has a Live View AR feature which accesses your camera, so when you hold it in front of you it sees the surrounding buildings and streets and actually tells you if you are going in the right direction. Total genius.
If you have travelled to a foreign country you likely have struggled with a menu or directions in another language. Google translate lets you read, speak or write and it will translate into what ever language you need. I had a 20 minute conversation with my taxi driver in Hong Kong using the talk feature on this app.
If you want to feel like the star of your own movie montage plug in and listen to some regional music. You can download playlists or artists when in a Wifi area so you are not using up data. Plus sometimes especially if you are in a crowded tourist area it is a perfect way to drown out someone else’s conversations or their screaming kids. Listening to Gispy Kings walking the cobbled streets of Spain or Puccini overlooking the canals of Venice made me feel like dancing in the streets…Actually pretty sure I did that.
Calm and Audible
I am a huge fan of both these apps but I did stumble upon another reason to use them recently on a trip to Spain. Noise cancelling. My hotel over looked a busy square. Added to the busyness was the city had a festival going on...and on…and on. With these apps I played either a sleep story (Calm) or an Audible audio book on a sleep timer. So instead of listening to the rave outside my window at 3:00AM I had Colin Firth and his dulcet tones lulling me to sleep while he narrated, The End of The Affair. What girl wouldn’t want Colin Firth in bed beside her?
Great Things To Do By Yourself
Whenever I arrive in a new place the first thing I do is book a group guided tour at one of my top points of interest. You don’t need to do this at all of the places but if you do it up front you can get some really helpful intel that you would not necessarily get from websites. Talk to the local guide. Get their take on the “absolute must sees”, places to eat, drink etc. Some cities offer free walking tours. Just remember to tip your guide if it's free. Also being in a group gives you a chance to talk to other travellers, compare notes and who knows might even make a friend.
Of those places you are seeing without a guided tour it is always recommended, if available that you get an audio guide. In the world where knowledge is king you learn so much more about what you are seeing.
Listen To Podcasts About The Places You Are Visiting.
I have found many a interesting podcast on places that I was visiting. It adds an extra layer to your trip and gives you a deeper dive into what you are seeing.
Try The Local Food
If you are in Spain don’t go looking for sushi. Break beyond your normal diet and explore the local cuisine. That is what you are there for. Try something new, it will surprise you.
Eating Meals By Oneself
For many this is likely the hardest thing about travelling by oneself dining alone, especially dinner. Here are some tips that have made the experience fabulous.
Find a restaurant that is busy with a bar you can sit and eat at.
Unplug. Unless you want a dinner in complete solitude and sometimes that’s ok, put down the phone and stop playing Candy Crush, remove your earbuds and engage with those around you. I have had some great dinners and met some fun people sitting at the bar of a buzzy restaurant.
Ask People To Take Photos Of You.
There are only so many selfies any self respecting non-Kardashian can take. Sometimes you need to show the world you have legs. My advice is ask a millennial. They certainly know their way around taking photos on their phones and will usually give you tons of options.
As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are.
Do a pin drop of your hotel or other locations you plan on returning to. Don’t leave it to memory.
For safety I will always share my location with someone back home. Something that is easy to do on your cell phone for the duration of your trip.
Finally…The Added Bonus Of Travelling Alone
You meet fabulous, interesting people.
If you are traveling with someone you are more likely just to stick to that person. When travelling by oneself you have the incredible opportunity of engaging and meeting new people from around the world and that my friends is an absolute wonderful gift.
If you are a world wanderer like myself I’d love to hear any travel tips you might have.