Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Single Female Traveller: Some Tips

So vacation is in the air. I am an infamous solo traveller. Not because I am anti-social or anything but clearly I have different interests to my closest friends, not to mention a whole different lifestyle. So while I can, on a vaps, book a plane ticket and jet off to Miami for the weekend, cause I have no chick, no child to worry about. some of my other friends would need to do some planning in order to do so. And apparently this makes me an Alpha-Female. Who comes up with these terms? A man, nah?

In any event, I am not alone. Women the world over travel alone, and if their mothers are anything like mine, they are nagged from the moment the idea of another solo vacation is broached until the plane touches down on their home soil once more.

How could you travel alone? Is that safe? You don't even know the place.

Yes. It never ends. But as a solo pro, these are the tips that work for me

1. Let the family know WHERE you going and HOW to find you. Leave all the details with them - flight information, hotel information, hotel number, when you check in, send the hotel room number etc. Make sure people back home always know where you're going and how you're getting there.

2. Don't trust the warm smiles of hotel staff. I am sorry. Hotel staff are great and friendly and all, but they aren't really to be trusted. I don't know you so you bet my luggage remains locked and I always try to book a room where I know there is a room safe, or at least access to a safe somewhere. This leads me to my next point ...

3. Don't put your cheapness over your safety and peace of mind. This is the problem I am having trying to go where I really wanna go, but I am going over my budget and if I am going over my very tight budget, I just won't compromise. I have seen a whole heap of cheapo hotels that would do nicely on paper when it comes to the dollars and cents, but not when it comes to solo female traveller SENSE. Don't do cheap if the place is not secure, if the location is seedy, if the reviews point to shady staff or shady neighbourhood characters. If you are going to save money on one thing when planning a vacation, it's NOT THIS. Find a proper hotel, in a good busy area - in my case, I tend to stick with chain hotels, so I am a well known Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott patron. Small Seas Inn and that type of local, unchartered waters stuff is not my bag. Ladies, there are predators out there, so don't take chances.

4. Know you area. In fact, RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. I was anal when planning my trip to Paris. I wanted to know where the bus stops were, where to get a train, what restaurants were nearby. Don't take this type of stuff for granted. Know where the nearest police station, hospital and your local embassy or high commission are. Don't just arrive and be like a headless chicken in a strange city. Please. Be responsible now.

5. Travel safely. I don't take night flights if I am travelling to a country where I know noone or noone I know is there to pick me up. Don't stay out late if you're alone - travel by taxi, bus, train etc late at night, in a place you don't know - not too smart. On my recent trip to NY, did I dare try the subway? No. I am not THAT adventurous. Also, take registered taxis. While they may not be called "PH" in other parts of the world, there will always be someone looking to hustle a trip without proper cause.

6. Flattery will get you nowhere, buddy. And yes, vacations are supposed to be fun and you let go of your inhibitions and you live by "What happens in Vegas (or wherever), stays in Vegas (or wherever)". But not because the cute native on the sidewalk, looks nice, smells nice, talks nice mean he's nice. Just smile, nod and keep moving. There are a lot of wolves out there and you're the prey!

7. Bridge the language barrier. If you don't know the language where you are, besides learning some key phrases, try to take group tours where you are not as exposed to the local criminal elements. But we spoke about trying to learn the language already, right?

8. Check in with the home peeps regularly. Roaming is expensive and so are calls from hotel rooms but send a text or an email and do the occasional phone call to the people back home to let them know you are okay. It will not kill you to make that 30 second phone call, because if that doesn't kill you, then the worried mother sitting back home, wringing her hands over the whereabouts of her girl chile, will.

9. Try to card it, and not cash it. This is a given for anyone travelling. Take small amounts of cash for emergencies, but generally I use my credit card when on the lam. And let your bank know you will be travelling as well, because you don't want when you try paying for the nice dress your card is cancelled because your bank noticed "irregular activity". They do this. I always call my bank before and let them know my dates so I can shop in peace. Also, keep your bank's emergency card numbers in case your card is lost or stolen so they can then cancel said card...this is the time to have it cancelled. Not when you trying to pay for stuff.

10. Low Fat Dressing for the salad. And while we want to look nice and seck-see, you have to have some sense about your dress code. Don't take the bling with you, ladies. Oh gosh. Try not to draw too much attention to yourselves. Yes, we want to look hot, but we don't want to be the hot target either.

11. Guard your valuables and be mindful of your surroundings. I always think the man walking behind me is a thief, even at home. So much so that one time as I grabbed my purse tighter, the man said to me in passing "Darling, I doh want your purse you know." I did not know that for sure. Don't be laissez-faire with the valuables - the purse, the netbooks, the cameras. And look around you and check out your fellow pedestrians and travellers. You might be the hot tourist attraction of the moment. You and your bag of goodies.

These are just a few tips and as I nixed my Spanish speaking vacation for an English speaking one, shared with family this time around (aka free, thus freeing up funds for my Italian speaking vacation next year...woot!), I thought I would still share my solo pro knowledge with the world.


Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments and questions!

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More