Travelling has always been one of my passions. Knowing each country, exploring its culture, learning from its ideas, is for me one of the best experiences and in recent years, I have visited many countries and lived for some months in different continents. Many of those places I visited alone, and I learned a lot from it.
I am convinced that travelling is something that all women should be able to experience because it enriches life and fills us with learning.
That’s why today I want to share with you the travel tips that I hope will help you break down the typical barriers that prevent us from travelling, overcome possible obstacles and fears, and help you plan your adventures around the world without anxiety, but taking some precautions.
Travelling alone is an incredible experience and if it’s your first solo trip, then my recommendation would be:
- Start from places where you feel more comfortable or safe. For example, start with countries or nearby cities where you speak the language fluently, or countries that are popular for women backpackers where you can easily connect with other travelling girls.
- One of the great things about travelling alone is being able to meet fabulous people, something that when travelling as a couple or group often does not happen because we tend to focus on our group. Also, connecting with other girls can help you feel secure, so I recommend you to proactively seek to connect with other travellers, if you stay in a hostel, for example, it will be effortless to meet other backpackers and make a group.
- You can also participate in meetings of travellers; I recommend you to join Couchsurfing meetings, which are organised in almost all cities of the world regularly and are an excellent place to meet travellers and locals who also love to travel.
- If you happen to meet unknown guys in a bar or somewhere else, better mention that you travel with friends or family but that they are waiting for you somewhere, or stay somewhere else nearby, or something similar. It is a small precaution that can frighten undesirable people with bad intentions.
- If you use Couchsurfing to stay, do not forget to review the references of people in-depth, do not stay at anyone’s house that does not have a good number of positive recommendations.
- Investigate the reality of the city you go to, options to enjoy it with little risk, and adjust your plans accordingly. I recommend asking in groups of travellers on Facebook to give you their personal and realistic opinion.
For example, one of my favourite countries is South Africa, and I recommend you to go there because it is AWESOME, but the crime rate there is indeed high, so there are areas where walking alone at night is not recommended, but you have the option of being able to take taxis at a low cost. Also, there are areas where walking with your smartphone, and expensive camera insight can put you at risk of theft.
- Always have money or even better a prepaid debit card separately, in a different place than you have the main one. If you get to lose your wallet, you can count on that emergency fund, and the situation will not be so bad.
- Always have a photocopy of your passport stored in digital, you can have it in a secure email, or you can send it to your family. If for some reason you lose your passport and identity documents, at least you can use that copy as an ID proof.
TIPS TO GET FLIGHT OFFERS
I use Skyscanner.com as a search engine, but there are many others, such as google flights. Tricks to get the best flight options are:
Check the possibility of anywhere. It allows me to know what reasonable offers are there from my city/country to other places.
This way, I found some great United Airlines booking offers and ended up visiting AMAZING sites that I probably would not even have thought about knowing because they are not so publicised. One can also visit Faremart.com, which provides discounts and offers many deals on flight booking with other air travel facilities as well.
Check dates from a month to a full year, instead of a specific time to discover what times have the best offers and based on that I plan my trip.
Also, check out these top 14 flying tips by the frequent flyers.
In the upper corner of Skyscanner page, you can change the country of search, and I have noticed that many times the price can vary A LOT depending on the country you have there. I generally compare placing USA, UK, and the state of departure and destination, but I always leave the currency in USD.
It is true that if you search several times for the same destination, some websites show you a slightly higher price; for me, it is usually a couple of dollars of difference. What I do is that when I have the date and place already clear, I search from a new search engine or use the cell phone to verify the price.
If I plan to travel to a place that does not have a direct flight, I first check the stopovers that are most common from my city according to Skyscanner, and then separately check how much it costs me to travel to that place with layovers or separate flights.
Many times there are better prices in that way because mostly, the packages that are automatically generated in the web pages do not include all airlines, but only those that have agreements between them, leaving out low-cost options.
Also, sometimes I find that I can pay much less and take advantage of a stopover to get to know another place a couple of days, and then continue to the final destination, enjoying two trips in one. It means you can spend 3 days in Rome and catch that flight again to reach Naples.
TIPS FOR FINDING LODGING
1) BOOKING.COM: It is the most used for short trips (less than 1 month), because it has many options and allows me to compare prices, booking without paying anything and can cancel for free, which will enable me to book several places at moment when I start planning a trip ahead of time and then decide calmly analysing pros and cons of each site.
Booking also has a great variety of lodgings: hotels, hostels, apartments, pensions, etc.
Also, Booking has a referral policy that implies that if you buy with a referral link, you can receive back some of the money for future trips.
2) Airbnb: I only use it for extended trips or when the place is very touristy, and the prices at Booking are higher. However, I always check the Booking first. Now, if you are going to use Airbnb you can also take advantage of the referral system that gives you a 25USD bonus for your first reservation with them.
3) Couchsurfing: This website is a community of travellers who support each other in different ways, one of which is providing travellers on their “couch” for short periods.
I have only used it a few times as lodging, and it was always in Europe, but my experience was positive. Also, I have made many good friends from the Couchsurfing community thanks to their events and meetings of travellers, to whom I go a lot and even organise in some places.
If you are going to use this option, please be sure to thoroughly review the references of the people who offer you accommodation, and leave your reference so that the people next to you can know. Also, I recommend that you send the information about the lodging and the people who host you to friends, so they know where you are.
ALTERNATIVES TO TRAVEL ALONE FOR LONG PERIODS, BUT NOT BEING ALONE
If you want to travel and visit other countries for long periods, but going alone scares you, an alternative is to combine the trip with an educational activity, volunteer work, or professional internship, which includes connecting with people who share your same interests.
For example, if you travel to a place and at the same time you sign up for a course on something that you are interested in learning, you are guaranteed to know people (in addition to learning more) with a common interest.
For volunteering or professional internships, if you are under 30, student or recent graduates, I recommend you do it with the non-profit organisation AIESEC that offers this type of experience in more than 110 countries around the world.
In addition to having volunteered in India with them for a couple of months, I worked as a volunteer for several years in their offices in Argentina and Venezuela, allowing other people to have that experience. What I can tell you, is that as it is run entirely by young volunteers, sometimes some of its headquarters may seem disorganised, but I assure you that it’s worth it.
For courses, there are MANY options, and it depends a lot on what you want to learn, but I advise you to compare options before deciding and ask in groups of travellers on Facebook for their recommendations. You may discover exciting options, or at meagre cost, which are not the typical ones that large companies sell.
BONUS: GENERATE MONEY WHILE TRAVELING
Working from remote locations is one of the things that I ENJOY most, I have been doing it for more than seven years, of which the last four have been spent travelling the world with my computer as a digital nomad.
Following are some of the tips to travel while earning.
Work as a web developer
Becoming a web developer is one of the best ways to earn money while travelling since you can do it online. Today, many companies, large and small, need websites and development services.
Most companies prefer to hire freelancers online since it is cheaper for them to do so. Moreover, a web developer can earn good money or exchange their services for hotel stays and free trips.
Write for travel sites and pages
Writing for travel sites is one of the fastest ways to earn money while travelling.
Doing this will improve your writing skills and help you have a better perception of the country in which you travel. Websites such as Boots n All and Matador Network are willing to pay between $25 to $50 for an article depending on the quality and number of words. That’s not much, but still, it’s something.
Work as a graphic designer
Companies and brands around the world always need logos, web design or other design elements for their companies.
Becoming a graphic designer, or continuing to use your graphic design skills, along the way is a great profession and can be done anywhere in the world.
If you master English, then you have an excellent opportunity to earn money while travelling. Many countries do not speak English, especially in Asia, that is willing to pay a lot for teachers.
Use your skills
Many people usually overlook this. Many travellers feel the pinch of getting parted with the money they spent years saving without taking into account that they may already have the skills to earn money while travelling.
Some of the skills you can offer when travelling include:
- barber shop
- client services
- physical trainer
With these tips, I hope you have great solo backpacking experience.