As a woman, the thought of travelling alone can be pretty intimidating.
Yes, it can be difficult and uncomfortable at times - but ultimately you get to know yourself a lot better. I wouldn't trade my experiences of travelling solo for anything.
If you are about to embark on a journey around the world, or you're just planning on visiting a different country for the first time, here are a few things I wish I would have known to before going solo abroad...
Do Your Research
For some, this is a given. I researched every thing I could before going to Costa Rica for the first time.
I wanted to be prepared and have an idea of what the culture was like. Being aware of the culture will only make your trip that much smoother.
That being said, I recommend learning the language beforehand. It is not that you need to be fluent by any means, but knowing words and a couple of helpful phrases will make all the difference.
The Culture Shock Is Real
People scoff at the thought of culture shock. But some countries are so different to our own, you shouldn't be surprised if you're overwhelmed when you first get there.
Research and preparation before you get there will definitely help, but sometimes things will take you by surprise.
The best advice I can give is to just let it be. You may find a new place difficult to understand at first, but eventually the frustration turns into adjustment and adjustment into understanding and feeling comfortable in the new culture you are experiencing.
Travelling As A Woman Is Not Always Easy
Traveling as a woman is very different than traveling as a man. We have to think about our safety often than men do because we are considered a target.
This is not to scare you into not travelling by any means—only to let you know that awareness is key. Staying safe while travelling solo is simple:
Do Your Research
When getting to a place that you are not familiar with, research a few things about the area. It only takes a few minutes but it will save you feeling unsafe.
Although you can let your hair down and have fun when you are travelling, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. The second you let your guard down completely is when things happen. Take time to check out what is going on around you and stay conscious.
If you do not know something, ask. Often times, as women, we get intimidated to ask questions however, this is very important. Ask the locals for advice or fellow travellers. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Don’t Go Out Alone at Night
It is easy to make friends in your hostel or even on the buses, trains, and planes you take to get to your destination. Although I know it is tempting to go out alone at night, I recommend going with at least one other person. It will end up making you feel much more comfortable and prevent you from feeling unsafe.
Get To Know The Locals
The best thing I have ever done while travelling is getting to know the locals. They are your best resources.
Having local friends allows you to ask questions and really immerse yourself in the surrounding culture. You might be travelling alone but you've got to connect with others too.
Also, reach out to fellow travellers. They are in the same boat you are and are great people to converse with about plans. Some of the people I have met while travelling have become some of my best friends.
Embrace Being Alone
Travelling solo is about enjoying the journey. Although you may decide to travel with friends made along the way, it is important to create your own experience.
Personally, I prefer to do a little of both. It is nice to have travel companions and connect with others however, there are times when I know for my own personal growth, I need to embark on my own journey.
Try to balance travelling with friends and traveling solo. You will see that traveling alone makes all the difference.
It might seem lonely at times, and trust me, sometimes it is, but you are your own best friend.
Enjoy The Journey
It might seem like travelling is just a long list of things to do, but it is so much more than that.
Travel tips and advice definitely help make planning your trip more effortless. Regardless of what advice you choose to take or where your research leads you, the most important part of travelling is to simply enjoy the journey.
Document the things you see and the people you meet. Be sure to put your phone down sometimes and really soak in everything you are seeing, smelling, hearing.
Travelling alone is amazing and you deserve to enjoy it!
Nena Ocampo is the founder of TuCamino Travel, a women's only travel tour of Mexico and Costa Rica.