I finally posted my 5 things about me Insta-Story and got a lot of questions about 1 post in particular – my week alone in South Africa. I got so many questions about that story, how I ended up traveling there alone, and what it was like as a woman being along in a foreign country, I decided to do this quick post about my experiences as a solo traveler.
South Africa wasn’t the only time I traveled on my own. In that case, I ended up catching a fare sale for a round trip ticket for only $500 so I had to jump on it. But all of my friends missed the boat or didn’t have the money to spend in the moment, so I decided to not miss out on an opportunity to have a bucket list trip for an amazing price. Before that adventure, I had already travelled solo through several cities in Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the South of France, so my fear factor was pretty much nonexistent. Yes, South Africa is farther away and some areas have a reputation of being dangerous, but I had an amazing time and no regrets about making it a solo journey. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get about solo travel, in general and in regards to my Insta-story!
What do you do all by yourself?
Whatever you want! That’s the beauty of it. You can wake up as early as you want without worrying about your travel buddies, or sleep until noon if your heart desires. You can do every tour on your list if you want, or just wander aimlessly and sit in a café and people watch. Traveling alone gives you an indescribable sense of freedom to experience a new place on your own terms. I usually set up a loose itinerary to make sure I don’t forget anything, and check days/opening hours for things I know I want to see so I don’t miss out. But other than that, I give myself plenty of time to wing it.
How do you stay safe?
I think the biggest fear women have about traveling alone is security, and you definitely need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You probably already know to not dress conspicuously or wear anything flashy or expensive, but here are a few other tips. When I’m alone I typically opt for an international chain hotel instead of a small boutique inn or AirBnB, just because they usually have better security. I also never tell anyone I’m alone – if someone asks just say your friends are doing a different tour and you are meeting up after. In most cities you can find a free or super cheap guided walking tour. I like to do those on one of the first days of the trip to help familiarize myself with the city. I also recommend the hop-on-hop off bus if you are somewhere that isn’t pedestrian friendly or you are too nervous to walk around alone. I did in Johannesburg and got to see everything on my list in a safe, efficient way.
When I am walking around I try my best to avoid pulling out a map or navigating on my phone. Before I leave the hotel to walk anywhere I go over the route and memorize what I’m looking for so I don’t have to stop and double check too often. And if you are somewhere that doesn’t have Lyft or Uber available, make sure you know how to recognize an official taxi, and don’t be afraid to take a picture of the license plate before you get in! I have done that several times and sent the pics to my group chat so friends at home would know the deal.
Who is taking your pictures
Pics or it didn’t happen! When you are traveling alone, the best way to get photos is to ask other tourists. I usually look for a couple or small group of girls and offer to take a shot of them, then they’ll take one of me. If the pic they take is awful (and it usually is) politely thank them, wait for them to leave, then ask someone else. Or if you join a group tour you can always ask the guide, and they tend to be pretty good since they are used to it. Depending on the location, you can also travel with a portable tripod. I’m a huge fan of them for shooting outfit posts. Just be careful to place it somewhere that someone couldn’t easily grab it and run, and avoid using it on windy days. The lightweight ones can easily be knocked over and you don’t want your phone to go flying.
That’s it for now, but let me know in the comments if you have more questions about solo travel that you want answered!