I flew on an airplane by myself for the first time when I was 9. No joke. Granted, my grandparents were waiting for me at the airport I was flying to, and my parents had dropped me off at the airport, making sure I was guided on to the plane - but not many 9 years go on airplanes by themselves, you know? My soul already was quite clear - I was destined to roam the globe, and apparently I had a penchant for doing it solo.
My first full trip alone, was when I was 13. I went to Montreal by myself to babysit for a family I’d never met, for 5 weeks, simultaneously living in their house, and improving my french.
Since then, I’ve traveled to many places solo, including South Africa, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Bali, Peru, Israel, Egypt, France, Spain, Greece, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, California, and most recently, the Dominican Republic (where Im writing this from).
So I would like to think I have picked up a few good tips for traveling solo as a lil’ hippie female!
Here are my travel hacks that might work for you as well:
-Battery powered faerie lights
-Paper Moon flags
-My faves: Colloidal silver, activated charcoal, anti-parasitic tincture, grapefruit seed extract, nice herbal teas, Himalayan / sea salt
In many countries I’ve been to, it’s pretty standard you’ll come across many a bathroom with no soap. Or sometimes even no sink. I’m not a fan of hand sanitizer. It’s just chemicals and smells bad. Also, it has no other use. Essential oils are full of anti-bacterial properties, some, more than others. My usual go to is to bring tea tree oil, and carry it with me everywhere. I use it as hand sanitizer, and it can be used in many other ways as well. For example, you can dilute it in high quality oil, and use it to soothe and disinfect a wound. If you don’t have stains on your clothes, but they just smell, you can wash them with water and tea tree oil. Search for more uses online, you’ll find tons!
It’s not that fun to land in a country and realize you needed to get a visa online, in order to enter into the country. It’s never happened to me, but I know people who were sent back because they didn’t get the country’s visa beforehand. Not all countries require you to have a visa. And visa requirements are different, based on what country you hold a passport from. Do your research before hand.
While you’re at it, make sure that at the time you plan on ending your trip, you still have 6 months before your passport expires. Usually you just need to make sure you have 6 months until your passport expires, when you get to a new country (or when you start your trip) - but if you decide you’d like to country hop on your travels - but you can’t because your passport will expire too soon - well, that sucks.
A shampoo bar is basically a soap bar but it’s for your hair. Test it out before you leave to make sure you like it - I’ve used some terrible ones, and some amazing ones. There are 3 obvious pros - no possibility of your shampoo leaking in your bag, less packaging so you can be as eco-friendly as possible, and you can bring it on the airplane if you want to, as you’re restricted the amount of liquids you can take on a flight. (Why would you want to? I always like to make sure I have a little kit, in case my luggage doesn’t arrive with my flight. A change of clothes, and such. You might like to include your shampoo in that kit.)
Basically everywhere I stay supplies me with a towel for the shower. So lugging around a beach towel just for the beach, doesn’t seem like a smart usage of luggage space (Unless you’re planning on staying in dorm rooms, then you might have to pay to rent a towel). I use a scarf for lying on the beach, and as a towel. Actually… I rarely even use it as a towel, I just let the sun dry me off while I read a book, or relax. :) The scarf can also be used on other times in your trip - for warmth, for cozying up your room, as a head wrap, and more.
Music is a must in my life, as I imagine it probably is, in yours. Cheap headphones never cut it for me. I travel with high quality headphones, as well as a BOSE speaker, which is waterproof, and quite small yet gives AMAZING sound. This means I can listen to amazing music on the airplane, on a bus, at a cafe, with headphones, AND have epic dance parties in my room, or supply music on an adventure with friends. It’s SososooOOSOOSo worth it to invest in these, in my opinion. Im listening to music with my BOSE right now, as I type this from the Dominican Republic.
Some countries, more than others, the men will catcall the shit out of you. In Dominican Republic, where I am now, I get cat called at least 20 times a day. It’s pretty bad here. In Peru, I got catcalled once in 3 months. It really depends on where you are. In Egypt, all the men wanted you to be their girlfriend. When I was a bit new to these situations, I wanted to be kind. I would smile at men, and engage with them. After all, I was in their country. Wasn’t it my duty to be nice to the locals? Well… if the locals, and let’s be blunt here, if the local men, are creepy, harassing, and treat you like an object, then… fuck no, it’s not your duty to be ‘nice’, I quickly figured out. In this case, the old adage of give them an inch, and they take a mile, rings true. I remember, in Egypt, I came into a guy’s store to be polite as he showed me his wares, next thing I know, he was kissing my hand, and trying to lead me in the back for mint tea.
Overwhelmed with all the unwanted attention, I talked to some girlfriends I had there. They told me they had a very good ‘fuck you’ face, practiced, and walked around with it. Any guys they didn’t scare off, they would simply ignore.
So I practiced my own ‘fuck you’ face, and started ignoring them. It’s not the most fun, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. - This only holds in countries where the disrespect of women is more extreme.
I don’t need to have a ‘fuck you’ face in most of the places I go to. Even in the Dominican, where the catcalling is pretty bad, I still smile at some of the men I pass who aren’t catcalling me, or who just simply call me beautiful. But there are some that are just so slimey. I’ll either ignore them fully, or speak up for myself depending on my mood. Last night, I was at a club on a beach, and several guys just touched me, grabbed my waist, or my hair. To every one of them, I turned around, got in their face, and said ‘NO!’ super firmly and confidently, and walked away. Fuck that shit. Now, I don’t recommend this technique unless your intuition is like ‘YEA GIRL, SPEAK UP!’ - because you could end up in a fight with this dude as his pride got hurt, and he wants to take it out on you. Trust your gut. I have a lot of fire in me, so I don’t really care. I want to teach them that’s not OK - but feel it out. Feel out whether ignoring them, or defining your boundaries really clearly, is best. Either way, don’t be afraid to be a bitch.
9) Trust your intuition
It’s totally natural to get to a destination you were feeling super excited about, and then suddenly, just feel so overwhelmed, and ask yourself - “What have I done?”. Being in a foreign country by yourself for the first few nights can be a lot, especially if things are different than you imagined them to be. When this happens - breathe. Embrace the overwhelm. This is a part of traveling. People make out traveling to be this always shiny, always crazy exciting amazing experience. It’s not. It’s everything. It’s your highest highs, and lowest lows, and everything in between. But it makes you stronger - more confident. Trust that the process of settling into a new country takes time - and make sure to start making friends (see tip #) to help you adjust. You can also meditate to ground yourself (try my free meditations here), or watch one of your favourite shows online to bring a bit of comfort and familiarity to you.
The loneliest times I can remember in my life, have been while traveling. Some of the times I’ve felt most surrounded by soul family, and so connected - have also been, while traveling. But let’s get back to the lonely part. It’s my belief, that traveling alone, can bring up a lot of shit that has already been inside of you. (But you couldn’t see in your day to day, familiar life.)
The parts of you who are scared to be fully and completely alone with… you, can be revealed in solo travel. In these times, I make a point to breathe into the loneliness, and embrace it. It can be tempting to try to go make friends and never be alone when you feel this - but if you do that, you’re missing on an opportunity to grow. Feel your feelings. Let traveling solo teach you to fall in love with yourself, and be your own best friend.
I use to have these crazy bouts of loneliness while traveling. They would engulf me. It was really intense. But I sat with them, and every trip, the feelings of loneliness got less and less intense. It’s been almost 4 months of traveling this trip, and I haven’t felt that way once. This shows me the inner growth I’ve done. And that’s exciting.
12) Learn as much of the local language as you can
13) Have a strategy of how you’ll make new friends, mine are…
14) Don’t be scared to change your plans
15) Reflect on how you’ll give back
I was flying into Cairo, on my way to another city in Egypt. I needed to buy a visa, in order to go through to my next plane. They only took cash. I went to the ATMs, and none of them worked for me. I had no cash on me. Oh geez. I started to panic a little bit. My next flight was in less than an hour. I explained my situation to the person selling visas, and he graciously pointed me to a security guard, who escorted me out out of the secure part of the airport, to another ATM. Thank baby Jesus, this ATM worked, and he escorted my back into the gates, with no problem. I told my Dad this and he was sort of amazed, that no one had asked me for money for doing this favour - as his experience in the Middle East, was that people usually wanted to be paid off for things like this… (We lived in the Middle East for many years when I was younger). Please read my next tip for my thoughts on this…
Anyway, my point is, if I had cash on me, I would have simply been able to exchange for the local currency, no problem, and pay for my visa.
The other thing I’ve experienced, is getting to my final destination, and having none of the airport’s ATMs work for me. If you have no cash, you might not be able to get a cab to your accommodation. I like to have about $150 on me - to cover any unforeseen issues. Again, you just exchange the cash to the local currency when you get to your destination. You’ll lose some money in the exchanging, but it beats freaking out because you have no money available.
Ps. If the ATMs do work for you, you can just keep your cash, and save it for your trip back, so you don’t have to pay exchange fees.
People ask me all the time, how I feel so comfortable traveling the world alone. Or they just freak out and assure me I am very foolish indeed, and should stop now, or get a friend to go with me. They also like to send me government warnings about traveling to the places Im going, that say - I shouldn’t.
And guess what - these warnings come from people who have seen very little of the world, and watch the news way too much. The world is not what the media paints it out to be.
In my heart, I believe people are fundamentally good. Does that mean there aren’t bad people out there who would want to hurt me? No. But it does mean that you have a big support system around you, even if the people you see are ‘strangers’.
I can’t count the amount of times a stranger has come over to me and offered me help, directions, to carry my bags, or lots of other favours. Without asking for anything in return.
I believe because I EXPECT people to be helpful, those are the type of people I attract.
If you believe people are scary and bad, and most men want to rape you - you won’t have a very nice time traveling by yourself. (Also, in my experience, many of the men DO want to have sex with you, or just straight up marry you for your passport, and the opportunities it could give them - but so far, every single guy has backed off when I said no, firmly. *See Tip, Don’t be afraid to be a bitch)
It might sound naive to give people the benefit of the doubt - but it’s not. You can re-read those countries I’ve traveled to by myself again - I’ve covered enough ground in areas deemed ‘dangerous’ to know, there are very nice people everywhere.
And honestly, if something happens, and you need to scream, I guarantee that people will come running to help you. (That’s never happened to me though, btw…) That being said - you need to make sure people are around, and not be walking dark alleys alone in the middle of the night - have an open heart, but also, don’t be stupid. There’s a balance.
At the end of the day… Humans are your family. Learn to open to them, and expect the best. You’ll be delighted by the amazing hearts you get to know, because you decided to give people a chance.
18) Have a travel belt with pockets that zip up on the inside
19) If good wifi is important to you - have an unlocked phone, and get a local sim card with data
20) Travel with a yoga mat + an online yoga studio membership