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  1. 5 things a solo female traveller needs to do before leaving for round-the-world travel

    posted by Guest blogger - Becki Enright | 18 Comments

    5 things a solo female traveller needs to do before leaving for round-the-world travel

    Oct242014

    Our latest guest blogger is Becki Enright, founder of Borders of Adventure - a solo female travel blog, driving travellers to new destinations and to visit the well-known, but with a focus on alternative sights and off the beaten track adventures. Follow her on twitter @bordersofadventure or join her nomadic followers on Facebook.

    1. Get a backpack fit for a female

    When it comes to lugging the world on your back, one size doesn’t fit all. Generally speaking, us ladies are shorter, curvier and more narrow in the shoulder than our male counterparts. We also need to give our hips and shoulders a bit of special attention when it comes to the perfect fit of the backpack as this is where most of the ‘load’ will be concentrated.

    There are lots of backpacks out there designed specifically for women, but I have found that many standard designs can be adapted for a personal fit and the key is shopping around and trying a few on for size. Don't just buy one because someone else has the same and it's right for them!

    Backpack fit 

    After trying on a variety of sizes and picking my backpack, the shop assistant still had to change both the straps and the positioning of them so that the waste belt rested perfectly on my hips. Make the most of their expertise. Also consider the weight of the backpack. For example, at 5”4, a 65 or 70 litre would simply tip me over once full, whereas a 50 - 55 litre was in proportion to my height and body size.

    Failing that, you may prefer a suitcase. It's all about personal preference and what you can easily carry after all.

    2. Contraception and, erm, other girly medical stuff...

    This nails down to two things: Get yourself checked out and be prepared.

    Make an appointment well in advance of leaving with the nurse for all those slightly uncomfortable but girly must-dos: a smear, STD testing… everything else in between if you need. It’s better to be on the road knowing you have both peace of mind and no issues to contend with when in a country whose medical services are less advanced, inaccessible or difficult to discuss.

    Girl

    When it comes to contraception, this is a no-brainer and you would be silly not to have this in place. Whether you are with a partner or flying the single flag, hooks-ups are inevitable. Go and discuss your options as there are contraceptive choices that last months and years if you don’t want to have to deal will daily pill taking. And it’s not just about condoms, pack a supply of the morning after pill too. Accidents happen - so be prepared.

    3. Be informed about cultural dress codes

    I’ve lost count of the number of times where a person's vanity has overshadowed cultural and religious dress codes, not to mention personal dignity. Research the dress codes in each country before you leave as this will also help you decide what you need to pack. It could be something as simple as packing a cardi, a long-sleeved shirt or longer shorts/trousers, but it saves being turned away from a sight you really want to see or have to pay to hire decent attire.

    Cultural dress codes 

    More importantly, it means you don't offend local custom. If this isn't a priority to you, you shouldn't be travelling. It might be scorching hot and uncomfortable, you may want to soak up the rays or you simply like to (how to put this?) dress light, but one thing's for sure, it's noticed. If you can't adhere to covering up, don't go there at all.

    4. Learn to embrace your natural self

    Travelling is not the time to be precious about how you look - there's far more exciting things going on! But you know what? Some days you will probably look like an absolute, utter mess: lack of shower facilities, long train and bus journeys, humidity, rain, physical activity...the list goes on. But do you need the hairdryer and the straighteners and a ridiculous amount of makeup and accessories? No. Will you learn eventually not to care? Probably.

    Natural 

    Pack light, embrace the real you and ditch the precision and perfection applied to getting ready at home. It wasn't until I started travelling that I learnt to love my curly hair and not have to carry lots of makeup. My staple must haves include hair curling cream/serum, tinted moisturiser, mascara, concealer and lip balm/gloss. Job done.

    5. Realise that solo female travel is safe and enjoyable!

    Of course you need to be sensible, prepared and to always keep your wits about you, but don't believe the hype that being a solo, female traveller is going to be dangerous and scary. It's actually very liberating! All you need to pack is some common sense.

    On the beach

    Approaching others will become second nature. It is a matter of confidence and that will grow in time, the more you try it. But the true reality? You are hardly alone, especially in hostels, and when you are you will no doubt embrace that time to yourself! Some hostels provide excursions and activities, evening dinners and events and if you want to see more of a destination in depth. And if you don't feel comfortable going completely solo in certain places, book yourself on a tour where you will get to travel alongside others in the same boat as you.

    Networking online 

    Networking online is invaluable. From travel forums and blogs to the traditions of Facebook and Twitter, there are travellers everywhere who you will not only learn from but who will potentially become your friends. I've already planned to meet people from all corners of the globe and, in some cases, in areas I never even planned to visit initially.

    If you're thinking about travelling alone, we're there for you - check our our hostels' user ratings and reviews from real travellers to suss out the best accommodation for your trip. Our guests score every hostel for security, atmosphere and location, and let you know what they really thought in the reviews section. There are also many female-only hostels, if you're looking for even more peace of mind.

    Do you have a tip for solo female travel? Tell us in the comments...

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  2. 18 Comments so far.

    Ashley said on 30/10/2014 at 3:23am

    I agree that solo female travel is fine as long as we are watchful and aware. It's no problem! I also appreciate the line that says if you don't want to be careful not to offend local culture then you have no business traveling. True!

    Manuela said on 26/10/2014 at 1:48pm

    TRAVEL BY YOURSELF ! Its the best experience that you'd ever have, trust me. If you think you'd be alone thats not true! book up a hostel and you'll meet a lot of great people who are on the same situation as you. the world needs more awesome solo travellers! join us!

    Xena said on 26/10/2014 at 7:03am

    Also not all "hook-ups' require contraception as not all solo female travellers are heterosexual.... Just saying ;) But generally pretty good advice although after years of travelling solo I must admit I'm not really a fan of backpacks- why carry things when you don't need to? My latest purchase is an amazing bag with great wheels that also has a proper fitted harness which zips away. Everyday of my 3 month South American trip I was reminded how much I loved my bag - although I actually don't recall ever needing to use the harness it was there just in case. Good advice on being ok with not always looking your best- firstly sometimes it's actually a good thing (lots of times where it is easier to not be found attractive by the local men!) and also travelling with a hair straightener is just silly.

    Ana said on 26/10/2014 at 12:33am

    Seriously? I fail to see how this relates to female travelers, except maybe the last "the world is wonderful" bit. I'I'm not trying to be mean here but I really sales to see how advice such as learn about local customs and go to the doctor before the tripis it anyway gender-based.

    Mary said on 25/10/2014 at 10:48pm

    Approximately how much money was sufficient for a round the world trip?

    Si B said on 25/10/2014 at 9:16pm

    'Hook ups are inevitable. Im not saying they definitely happen'. WHAT.

    juls said on 18/06/2012 at 2:42pm

    My first backpacking trip overseas as a solo traveler was when I was 18 YEARS OLD!! It was the best trip of my life. After that I backpacked with my friends and relatives but it wasn't that fun as we had different plans and wanted to do different things! So my advice is, go and travel by yourself. There were some dangerous situations that i look back and say, wow, how could i do that (like hitchhiking or taking a taxi at night who then asked for a lot of money) but everything ended up fantastic and I have hundreds of great memories and met hundreds of great people. Just don't risk it like me maybe. Or do. My best stories are from taking a risk. Like meeting a barman in a local bar who then drove me around the island with his motorbike and I've seen the best beaches that I couldn't have seen on my own and many others stories.

    Paulette @ Marginal Boundaries said on 16/06/2012 at 6:23pm

    These are great! It is awesome you brought up the girly medical stuff...we do need to protect ourselves. And as for the dress codes, I can attest to that. I visited Dubai during Ramadan, and although the tourist resorts are a bit more lenient, I did have a dress code run in at one of the malls there, where a security guard was passing out leaflets about appropriate dress and behavior. Needless to say I purchased something there last minute in order to comply and not look like a stupid, inconsiderate tourist. Happens to the best of us. And in regards to embracing my "natural self," I have to say I am normally one to constantly try to look my best while traveling, but the truth is that a different country means a different climate and different weather, which all make for less than desirable hair and skin issues. I am sure I will be happier traveling next time if I rough it a bit more...Thanks Becki!

    Sian said on 16/06/2012 at 6:46am

    I'm 66 and travel a lot in hot countries, so (usually) prefer not to take a backpack. But wheelie cases are not the answer either - if something goes wrong with the wheels, you're stuffed! What I've done is to buy a strong but light bag of the right size (about 60 litres) and add two attachments. (1) a strong, reovable shoulder strap for lugging it up flights of stairs, and (2) a pared-down, separate luggage trolley (I took the top, folding part off to save weight and space). These have stronger wheels and can also be placed inside the bag when going by plane, bus or shared taxi. I also made a bag for this out of shower-curtaining, which is useful for putting the trolley in first if it's wet outside. Never take an expensive-looking bag. This just invites theft. The more battered and low-key the better. Also, for safety's sake keep passport, credit cards and all except daily money in a neck wallet - and never take it off, except in the showers.

    Billie Ribot said on 15/06/2012 at 12:56pm

    Loved, loved, loved the article! As a solo traveller myself, I found extra helpful tips and also felt understood and cared for. Thanks Becky! Greetings to you all from Argentina!

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