Pack half of what you think you’ll need, make an effort to learn the language (before and during your journey), travel partly without plans, go with the flow, dare to go off the beaten path, have faith in yourself, remember to stop and smell the roses, trust locals and fellow travelers but listen to your gut instinct if something feels wrong, bring a notebook and a pen wherever you go (you’ll thank yourself for it afterwards), take photos of people and not merely places, move out of your comfort zone every day, treasure the little things as much as the incredible experiences (the ‘wow’ moments of your trip), keep a positive attitude no matter what happens, view mistakes as valuable lessons, and learn to appreciate all types of weather (because you’ll never know what the next day may bring).
Those were the tips I sent in to HostelBookers short survey of women travel last month. They asked readers to share their travel stories, plans, top places to visit and best tips for female solo travelers.
I especially liked one of Sara Bell’s travel tips:
Have no expectations of places you visit, be content in being surprised.
And Carolyn Gindein’s top ten tips were all terrific. Three of my favorites:
1. Become an actress – sign language & acting skills are a must for communicating in a foreign language you don’t speak. A little language (phrase book) so you can work out signage and ask for the basics helps but don’t be afraid to add your acting skills when in doubt.
4. Be flexible – don’t worry if plans change, flights are delayed or other seeming obstacles occur. You’ll get to your destination eventually and getting upset changes nothing but your stress level so carry a book and an Ipod and enjoy the downtime.
7. Be sensible not scared – in places reputed to be risky visit during the daylight hours rather than after dark and look as if you know what you’re doing/where you’re going, even if you’re sightseeing (you know this is working when people start asking you for directions).
I particularly agree with Carolyn’s advice about acting as if you know where you’re going – regardless of time and place. When I first arrived in Paris, around 11 pm a Saturday night, I had memorized the way to my hotel – only two blocks from Place de la République – before the train reached Gar de´l Est. As I walked past restaurants, bars and late-night shops, I pretended to be a local who’d returned home from a vacation abroad. Whenever I visited a new city by myself I did the same thing; acted as if I had lived there for years and knew my way around the neighborhood (often far from the case). One time in London, near the upper sections of Regent’s Park, a woman asked if I wanted help and I realized I needed more practise. When people started asking me for directions, I knew I did well.
To read all featured travel tips in HostelBookers’ survey, visit Reader’s Tips for Women Travel.