7 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Traveling Alone

By on May 6, 2013


For me, traveling alone is one of the most liberating, most rewarding experiences. Like a caged bird being freed for the first time, a feeling of wild abandoned, unhindered independence; I feel alive.

This isn't to say that sharing the world with a travel partner isn't rewarding, I've done this also, and though it's always been a fantastic experience, my solo adventures have had the little something extra. As much as I don't like to admit it, traveling as a woman carries a risk that traveling as a man doesn't.

This is a generalization of course, and there are certainly places in the world that are considerably less risky to travel as a solo woman, than others, so forgive my generalization. But let's face it ladies, there are just some things that men don't have to be concerned about and some places that are downright scary. I don't want any woman to fear going abroad on her own, but if you do decide to go, I want you to do it safely.

Ignorance is never bliss when you step into a culture that isn't your own, so here are 7 things to consider before you jet-set off to the land of the unknown:

1)  Get Real

The world isn't as scary as according to Forbes.com, the United States "8th highest count of intentional homicides" last year! Pause and think about that for a moment. The way CNN puts it, the world is just a minefield of suicide bombers, tyrannical leaders, and psychopaths. I can assure you, after having traveled to what would be considered some of the less ‘savory' places in the world, there is good in just about every corner of the planet. So don't get all hung up on the headlines, look at your destination specifically, read their local news, spend some time on travel forums and get the real story!

2)  Pack Light & Don't Bring Finery

Don't roll your eyes at me, you know it's great advice! Seriously though, what good are your diamonds and rubies when you're trekking Tiger Leaping Gorge in China, or taking a mokoro into the Okavango Delta? Leave absolutely everything and anything that you don't need, at home, for a number of reasons. Most importantly because any woman struggling up and down a foreign street has big fat screaming sign over her head that says "mug me"! Unless you're spending your holiday wheeling your way from one swanky hotel to another, snag yourself a sturdy backpack and only pack the essentials!

3)  Stock Up on Birth Control

Controversial? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely if you're traveling in the Middle East, South East Asia, most of Africa...I think you get the point. If you're on the Pill, you're going to want to make sure you have enough plus extras in case you lose some or it gets damaged somewhere along the way. The Pill is banned in many places in the world, and its often in places where rape is a higher than normal occurrence. No one wants to think about such horrible things, but there are risks.

4) Research Your Destination, Specifically Customs

This may seem like an obvious step, but I cannot begin to tell about the array of absurd cultural blunders I've seen, committed by naive tourists who obviously never bothered to do a stitch of research before getting on the plane. Traveling as a woman is part research, part common sense. Frolicking through a Moroccan souk wearing little more than a pair of Daisy Dukes and a less than modest tank top is going to get you into some trouble, (we all remember what happened to poor Samantha in Sex in the City 2. Right? Traveling in a foreign country, especially in places where the culture is particularly patriarchal, is not the ideal place in which to flex your overt beliefs on feminism. You may not like it, but you can't not expect trouble if you do!

5)  Tell Someone Where You're Going

Who doesn't love the idea of dropping off the face of the earth for a spell, only to surface when you're good and rested? Okay, maybe not everyone. There is that cohort that suffers from separation anxiety if their iPhone is other room. Personally, I think powering down is one of the best aspects of traveling. But I digress. Leave a list of hotels, flights, tour companies, and countries you check into, along with any other pertinent information with at least one person. That way if something happens to you, and you miss a flight, or don't check into a hotel when you're supposed to, and heaven forbid, something happens to you, you've just narrowed the window down for local and international authorities.

6) Start Your Blog

If you're dead set against letting someone know where you are at all times, then consider starting up a travel blog to serve not only as a record of your amazing travels, but also as an unofficial way of tracking your goings on. You don't have to do it daily, but often enough so, again, if something goes awry or you need help, there aren't massive chunks of time missing, and its easier to find you!

7) Take Self Defense

You don't have to go all GI Jane, but if you're traveling to some seedy parts of the world and you're legitimately concerned about someone putting their hands on you, you may want to consider enrolling in some self defense classes or a martial art like Judo. It's something you should take anyway, but it can be that little something extra that gives you some peace of mind.

Now go book your flight, pack your bags, get the heck outta here and tell us all about it when you get back!

Jordana Manchester
Jordana Manchester
Contributing Writer at ExcelLiving.com
Jordana is an award nominated freelance travel and fashion writer, a former model, an anthropology student and photographer. After spending a year abroad working with lions in Zambia, trekking through the jungles of Sumatra and wandering medieval castles in Portugal, she settled down in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She makes use of her eclectic background by incorporating her infatuation with fashion and style, her obsession with xenophilia, and her obvious love of wayfaring, into every piece she writes.

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