Our top 10 tips for (female) solo travellers

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Our top 10 tips for (female) solo travellers

I first came to Koh Tao when I was 23 as a solo female traveller, looking to enrol on a professional diving internship course. On one hand, my family was super supportive, but on the other hand, especially my mum was also worried about the risks of me travelling halfway around the world on my own. Although travelling solo can seem like a scary thought at first it can also be a really rewarding and quite a liberating opportunity.

Fast forward to 2019: I have lived on Koh Tao for about 4 years now and have never once felt unsafe, but I know it can be intimidating for a lot of (female) solo travellers going to a new place for the first time. That’s why I wanted to pass on my top tips about how you can ensure your personal safety (and also make sure that your parents stay worry-free).

Usually, a lot of safety tips are specifically aimed at women and how we can keep ourselves safe, but at the same time, I wanted to keep my list as gender neutral as possible!


1. Stay in touch

Make sure you keep in touch with your family back at home and let them know where you are staying and if your travel plans change. But also remember to let them know if you are going to be without WiFi or phone signal for long periods of time so they don’t sit around with their phones waiting for you to reply. Whilst I normally just send a text message to my family every few days (which is usually enough to keep my mum happy) it’s a good idea to also get a local SIM card with credit on it, so you can easily call home if you need to.

 

2. Travel and arrive during the day

As much as possible, it’s a good idea to travel during daytime. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable to travel overnight, so make sure you look into your transport options and find the one that makes you feel most comfortable – even if it means spending a little bit more money. Arriving during the day is going to give you a much better idea of your surroundings and can make you feel more confident in a strange, new place.

Master-Divers-shopfront

 

Try to look up where you will be dropped off and where you need to go from there ahead of time to save fumbling around with your phone/maps and luggage. Having a room ready for your first few nights is usually a great way to ensure you’re not going to be walking around looking for places stay if you are going to arrive while it’s dark.

 

3. Make copies of your documents

Having copies of your most important documents can come in handy in an emergency. At the very least, you should have copies of your passport, travel documents and your travel insurance. Once you have everything scanned, it’s a great idea to store them in an online cloud or even your email inbox so you can access them from any computer. I always email a copy to my family as well, just in case.

 

4. Save emergency contact details

Make sure you know the emergency contact numbers of the country you are in so that you are able to call if there is an emergency. For Thailand, I recommend saving at least the number of the Tourist Police (1155) in your phone. It’s a good idea to also keep emergency numbers for your bank, insurance company and family etc.

traveller-carrying-a-suitcase

 

5. Carry only what you need

When out and about exploring, try to limit yourself to carrying only what you think you will need. Store important documents, expensive gadgets, credit cards and large amounts of cash away securely. Make sure your bag is always in sight. Consider investing in a money belt as well so you can keep anything valuable close to your person.

 

6. Drink sensibly

Sometimes it’s nice to go out and enjoy a drink with your new travel buddies and there should be no reason not to. Enjoy yourself! But make sure you will still be able to get home safely and book a taxi ahead of time if needed. Know your own limits and when to stop drinking. And never leave your drink unattended!

koh-tao-sunset

 

7. Follow customs and traditions

Although in hot places it can be tempting to throw over some shorts and a light vest, but be aware of local customs and dress respectfully. Sitting down in a café or simply going shopping in a supermarket with only your swimwear on, is usually a no-go for many places, not only in Southeast Asia.

Some places require that you cover your shoulders or you may be asked to cover up completely if you visit a temple for example. By dressing more like a local you’re less likely to advertise yourself as a tourist to others around you as well.

 

8. Don’t be afraid to be private

Even when I still lived in Europe, getting a taxi home after a night out I would never admit if my house was empty – it is hardly ever a detail that needs sharing!

If you feel uncomfortable travelling on your own, tell your fellow travellers that you are part of a group or meeting up with friends at the next stop. Remember to avoid giving out personal details about where you are staying; keep these things private so you always have a safe haven to return to.

Girl-with-braids-looking-out-to-the-sea

 

You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to new people, but keeping certain details private can make you more comfortable.

 

9. Meet fellow travellers

Don’t be afraid to go out and meet new people! Solo travelling is becoming very popular and you’ll probably end up meeting lots of like minded people. You might meet new friends with similar interests – and you’ll never know, maybe you’ll bump into them again at a later stage in your travels…

Many hostels and guesthouses have their own bars or lounge areas which can be a great place to hang out and meet new people, but still stay in an environment you feel safe and comfortable in.

 

10. Travel insurance

Of course, we don’t ever expect anything bad to happen, but you should still be prepared for that eventuality. Invest in good travel insurance and make sure it will cover you for any activities you might be interested in doing while you are away! Many backpacker insurance groups will offer coverage for lots of different adventure sports, including scuba diving. It’s always reassuring to know that you are covered for whatever you may end up doing.

 


This is the third guest post by our Instructor Kiri. She will be blogging here on a new series called ‘Women in Diving’ which will cover various topics from how to make a career as a female diving instructor to everyday tips and tricks like how to take care of your hair.  

 

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