Top advice for women traveling alone: ​​”If you’re scared, do it anyway” | Travel

“Do it, and if you’re scared, do it anyway.” When I first heard that phrase, it struck a chord because that’s exactly how I felt when I embarked on my first journey alone: ​​scared, uncertain and doubting my ability to solve the kind of problems that might arise away from home. Along with my own insecurities, I had to deal with warnings from friends and acquaintances, such as: “Don’t travel alone, it’s risky!” I don’t blame them; stereotypes, the gender gap and the challenges that women in particular face in some countries reinforce this misconception, to the point that we may be tempted to limit what we do and where we go.

Mariel Galan sailing on the sea of ​​Guadeloupe after realizing her dream of visiting the island of Marie-Galante.

But women have traveled alone since time immemorial and adversity has always been a constant. Despite the challenges faced by women traveling alone, there is no shortage of us. According to Statista, an international statistics platform, 70% of travelers in the world are women and, according to a study conducted by Booking.com, 62% of Latin American women have taken at least one international trip alone.

My first adventure was in Mexico. Years later, I’ve traveled the rest of the Americas as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, which has allowed me to compile helpful advice for other women looking to get into similar solo adventures.

Choose your destination

How do you imagine your first trip alone? Will it be walking in a forest, visiting an ancient city or discovering a new culture? Think about it and assess the feasibility of undertaking it, depending on your budget, the time you have available and your experience. If you are a beginner, start by traveling locally or visiting countries where you feel comfortable with the language and culture.

Ampersand Travel, an agency specializing in luxury expeditions to Asia and Africa, has launched the 2020 World Wander Women Index guide, which lists the best destinations for solo female travelers based on things like facilities, safety and amenities. womens rights. According to this index, the six safest countries, in order of mention, are: New Zealand, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada.

Information is power

I believe knowledge helps protect me. I spend a lot of time planning and figuring out the best places to stay, what the culture is like and how complex the transportation system is.

Accommodation is key

When it comes to accommodation, I look for options that are centrally located and close to metro stations. My maxim is to read the comments of other travelers. There are many search engines, but some of the ones I use the most include Booking.com, Hoteles.com, Expedia, and Airbnb – in case the host lives in the same space, I’d prefer her to be female and check his grade.

A selfie in front of the Colosseum in Rome.  MG
A selfie in front of the Colosseum in Rome. MG
MG

Protect yourself

One of my golden rules is to be as safe as I am in my own town. Here are some of my basic considerations: I never walk alone at night, I don’t fall asleep in any means of transport, whenever I meet someone during my trip, I stay in public places and I don’t don’t usually tell him where I am I’m staying. I also keep my money in more than one place and keep my family informed of my activities while sharing my location in real time with one of my contacts. Just in case, I hang a whistle on the zipper of my backpack and keep it handy to blow in case of emergency. If I want to go out for the night, I plan how to get back to my accommodation, I try not to carry a bag and watch my drinks. Finally, I trust my intuition if it tells me that it is better to back off, to act or to leave.

Use technology

Having internet when traveling alone is a must. What works best for me is buying a SIM card from a local company in the country or continent I’m visiting. Even though my original number is Mexican, I still keep my WhatsApp contacts. Another option is to buy international cards or find a WiFi hotspot. Apps are also useful. I use Google Translator, Google Find My Device, and Surfshark VPN (a Virtual Private Network through which I can securely connect to public WiFi, preventing my data from being stolen).

Rest assured

Purchasing travel insurance is a responsible and preventive measure. There are companies that offer travel assistance, a more comprehensive service than international medical insurance.

Sign up for experiences

I found that signing up for travel experiences was the best way to make friends. I have met people in many countries, but I fondly remember Maria, a Spaniard who became a great ally after we met on a canyoning trip in Ecuador, and the group of friends I am made in colombia after taking a vallenato folk music course.

Travel light

Traveling light has many benefits: it gives you greater mobility, prevents you from getting tired and distracted, and saves you time. If you’re trying to decide between a backpack or a suitcase, I have to say that I feel more comfortable with a backpack because it’s more convenient for walking and taking public transport, although it’s is a matter of taste. Mine is 50 litres, has lots of compartments and padded shoulder straps.

Posing with Embera women from the Tusipono indigenous community in Panama.  MG
Posing with Embera women from the Tusipono indigenous community in Panama. MG
MG

Immerse yourself in local life

Living with a local provides a sense of protection while making me feel closer to the country’s culture. Locals often give me the best tips for visiting less touristy places and experiencing more authentic trips. It was thanks to Hector, a fisherman I spoke to in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, that I discovered the best seafood restaurant in Mexico.

The fear of traveling alone was alleviated by actually traveling. With or without fear, there are a growing number of female explorers finding each other, creating community and strengthening each other. To use what I say in my videos: “Travel, you are not alone.