Are you a baby boomer woman who hesitates to travel by herself? I’ll be taking my first solo international trip soon when I travel to Cancun to blog for Marriott Resorts as part of blog paradise (follow the twitter hashtag #blogparadise to see live reports). I asked seven wise women travel bloggers for their best solo travel advice to help me prepare for my trip.
My #1 rule for independent women solo travelers is to stay in public. Public is always safer than private. I meet a lot of great people in my travels and I’ll go to pubs with them or on excursions, but I always stay in public. If I’m invited to the family home for a traditional meal, I politely decline unless I have some really good reason to know that it will be safe. I’m not even keen on sharing a cab unless the taxi has been picked up from a legitimate taxi stand. I’ve missed a couple of good opportunities this way but I have so many great opportunities as I travel solo that I don’t see this as enough of a downside to break my rule.
I’ve been traveling solo much of my life. In addition to common sense actions like asking for a room above the first floor and checking to make sure the windows and slider doors are locked upon returning to the room each day, I also suggest that travelers pick up several hotel business cards from the front desk on the way out. Then, when it is time to return, you need only hand the hotel’s card to your taxi driver or show it to people when asking for directions.This is especially helpful when in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. It’s also a good idea to leave your room key at the front desk when you leave, as large fees are often charged for lost keys.
Solo Friendly is Gray Cargill‘s blog, which aims to generate interest in solo travel by highlighting Gray’s personal experiences as a solo traveler. She also writes Vegas Solo.
When you’re a woman traveling alone, have fun, enjoy the new friends you make, but don’t allow yourself to get drunk, and avoid doing drugs. When your judgment is impaired, you’re at your most vulnerable. Keep an eye on your drink (whatever it is) at all times so no one can slip something unfriendly into it. I never drink to excess when I travel, and I still manage to have a great time.
Sherry Ott shares her solo travel experiences combined with eye-catching photography at Ottsworld. She’s also one of the founders of Briefcase to Backpack, a site offering travel advice for career breaks and sabbaticals.
Facebook: Briefcase to Backpack
My best tip is plan on eating alone—embrace it, love it, revel in it. For some reason women seem to be very self conscience about eating alone and it’s simply a mental hurdle that you have to get over. My best advice about eating alone is to take a book. If it has an interesting cover, all the better, someone may strike up a conversation with you. Also, eat at the bar whenever you can as opposed to being seated at a two person table alone. When you eat at the bar (with a book), you are completely approachable. I’ve never met a bartender that won’t talk to you; and generally, anyone sitting next to you will also talk to you. You may find yourself being asked to join other people before you know it! However, if you sit at the bar with your book and eat dinner alone and no one approaches you; then simply revel in the quietness of the night and the peace that you seldom get in your busy life. Sometimes, being alone is the best medicine one can ask for.
If you are travelling in developing countries, pack a small flashlight. Power failures can be frequent.
If touring solo for the day, leave a note in your room explaining where you are going. If you don’t return as planned, this information could be used to help track you down.
Before you leave home, check out the website, www.HERmail.net. This is a free directory of women around the world willing to mentor other women as they travel to their part of the world. For a solo woman traveler sometimes the advice and assistance of a local female can be immeasurable.
My travel tip for solo female travelers is to find free accommodation through travel networking websites like Hospitality Club or Couchsurfing. These websites connect travelers who may offer free accommodation, meet up for a coffee or meal or just offer helpful advice — I often host solo female travelers through Hospitality Club. At first sight, it may seem a bit scary to stay with a complete stranger that you’ve only connected with on the internet. However, the trick is to check the prospective host’s profile carefully and choose someone who has similar lifestyle and interests to you, and probably stick to female hosts or families. You can also review comments that other hosts and guests have made about them to reassure yourself that you’ll be meeting someone who you’ll have a good experience staying with. By traveling this way, you’ll have an instant friend to advise you about the best things to see and do and you’ll probably also tap into their social life—no lonely evenings eating alone! By saving money on accommodations, you’ll be able to travel for longer although don’t forget to bring some small gifts, offer to cook a meal or help out around the house in return for your free board and lodging.
I travel to seek out experiences and learn something new which sometimes means traveling down the literal beaten path. While I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, I’m a believer in staying aware of my surroundings and trusting my instincts. If a setting doesn’t feel comfortable or look safe, I will leave or avoid it altogether. When staying at a hotel, I make sure the desk clerk does not say my room number aloud when other guests are around to prevent someone requesting my key from the desk. I’m careful not to mention what hotel I’m staying when meeting people while exploring during the day, and I avoid posting information about the hotels I’m staying on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, waiting to post the information after I’ve checked out.