The Jakarta Post
It takes a lot of courage for women to travel solo, but despite some concerns, traversing on your own can also be a life-changing experience. (Shutterstock/-)
Traveling solo is a big step as it puts you outside of your comfort zone. Understandably, many women do not have the courage to travel alone; they tend to go in groups or at least with a close friend.
If you have never done it but are eager to challenge yourself, there are some things you can do to prepare, especially for overseas travel. The most important concern is, of course, safety, but there are also other things that you should add to your list of considerations.
The most important element of preparation is mentality. You must have confidence and belief in yourself, and assure yourself that it is safe to visit your destination alone.
Start by reading articles or books about traveling solo and about the destination you want to visit. Try to get used to going out by yourself; see if you can visit restaurants or join a crowd without any company and see how you feel.
Make sure you prepare all the travel essentials to help yourself feel safe on the journey, which will help you enjoy your solo trip later. And, by the way, although you will travel by yourself, most of the time you will likely not be alone and will end up joining others you meet on the way.
Listen to your instincts
The hardest part of mental preparation is making your own decisions. You have to trust yourself and listen to your instincts because that is your best defense system.
Don’t worry about other people’s opinions or be afraid that you’ll offend someone. You only have yourself to rely on throughout the trip, so you must know yourself very well.
One step at a time
Start your solo trip by visiting a close destination, and take it further one step at a time.
It’s not wise to embark on a solo trip to a dangerous or complex country. Our suggestion is to go to a place where you have a colleague or friend. Then, once you have more confidence, you can go a level up for your next destination.
Prepare required documents
Print out copies of your identification, insurance, plane tickets, hotel bookings and emergency contacts and put them in separate places: in your suitcase and other bags. Also store the files on an online drive.
You should carry a copy of your identification with you at all times as well as a hotel address and emergency contact. Keep your passport in your hotel’s safe or, if you’re in a hostel, store it in a cabinet with your own lock.
Always have an emergency contact and update him or her whenever you move and tell them what is happening. You may not be aware that danger is near, but a friend listening to your story might be able to sense it.
Take note of the license plates of vehicles that you travel in and share them with your contact.
Wherever you go, always do extensive research beforehand. Learn not only about the location of your accommodation, but also the current situation of surrounding areas as well as your desired tourist sites.
Learn also about local scams and precautions.
It is very important to plan an emergency exit strategy. You must take note of your country’s embassy or consulate address as well as their telephone number.
(Read also: 10 lessons you learn from living solo)
Learn which best hospital is best in your destination and whether it will accept your health insurance or not. Also, find out about the scenario for a medical evacuation, just in case.
You must have a plan for extra cash, just in case you get robbed or lose your suitcase. You can ask a friend to send emergency money if needed via Western Union or MoneyGram and agree on a secret passcode.
Try to divide your cash and keep it in separate places: in your luggage, secret pockets, shoes, etc.
Plan your safety mechanisms and always bring along one thing that can be used as a weapon, for example a wooden stick. Always carry with a padlock, extra batteries for your gadgets, conventional clothes to blend in with locals and clothes with hidden pockets to hide your hotel keys and important notes.
It’s advisable to wear a ring that looks like a wedding band and say you’re married and your husband is waiting for you at your hotel if a stranger asks. It is also important to bring simple first aid supplies and medicine with you at all time.
It may be old fashioned, but your GPS will be useless if the battery is flat. That's when you realize that printed maps are important.
You may want to look chic, but there’s no point packing your wedges or other unnecessary stuff. Just bring basics like T-shirts, one dress, flip flops and simple make-up.
It might be hard to find someone to help you to carry your luggage, but you can always buy cheap clothes when you arrive instead of carrying heavy bags. (kes)
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