Six tips to be exact…
- Assuming you intend to stay in a hostel (because who wants a hotel, they’re boring) check out the photos and reviews before you book. Many have limited amenities so make a point to book a hostel with a lounge or shared common room; it’s the best place to meet people. Otherwise you might be left chillin’ out in your temporary bedroom all alone. And that would be sad.
- Join a small-scale event. Going to Malaysia for the Rock Your Eco Business event gave me a point of orientation. It allowed me to meet cool, like-minded individuals who by the end were offering me their sofa. Although I travelled by myself, I had a network to pull from so I didn’t ever feel alone (for instance, if coming to Singapore in Jan, join me at Entrepreneur Xfactor, as referenced in my last blog).
- Trust your intuition. When travelling, meeting new people is part of the journey. You have to learn to trust people. Most people are not crazy or murderous. I meet the most incredible people on the road, more so than when I go about my daily life. Travelling can make you realise how open and accepting the world really is. That being said, I do pay heed to predators. But like most women, I have a built-in ‘creep radar’. If you get the feeling the body language or chemistry is wrong, trust your gut. Always follow your instinct – it’s the only thing that really guides you during solo travels.
- Load up on your cultural sensitivities. Kind of a no brainer, right? But I’m gonna say it anyway because it includes everything from strange foods to household customs to cultural expectations. The main challenge for solo females wanting to roam the world is down to the occasional [insert: antiquated / traditional / (or even) / backwards / unreasonable] expectations of women. Most of it is harmless, but it’s something to be aware of. Recently I found myself being inadvertently cross examined for marriage (total awkward moment) because I dropped the proverbial ball and over stepped some cross-cultural boundary (I obviously sent the wrong signal to this poor chap). In my defense I don’t think there was anything I could have said or done to mitigate it, but it was an uncomfortable reminder that cultural misinterpretation happens. And it can be pretty sucky when it does. So. In conclusion, it’s always a good idea to read a few articles/blogs/trip adviser reviews about the area you plan to visit beforehand for a bit of context (as if you wouldn’t) and be on your merry way.
- Female dorm rooms. I happened to hangout with couple of male travellers on my last trip, but a good way to make quick friends is to stay in a female dorm. Mixed dorms work too, but many solo females opt for single sex rooms, so it’s a good place to join forces.
- Pack light. It should be obvious, but packing light is an art form. For a week in Malaysia I took an average to small size rucksack which included my towel, laptop, clothes and basic biodegradable toiletries. Remove packaging (and recycle) to make room. Only pack what’s essential. Minimize the shoes (I usually bring one pair of flip-flops, one pair of comfortable walking shoes). You’ll be surprised how little you need to survive and it makes it whole lot easier when you’re on the move. It also allows room for bringing back the odd souvenir.
Go for it! Don’t hold back; enjoy life and your freedom, fellow globe trotters!