Behold the rare and elusive solo female traveller. Note the well-worn backpack, the sensible walking shoes and that glisten in her eye. The solo female traveller's natural enemy is the barrage of criticisms she might attract before her adventure, but nothing fazes this sun warrior: she knows who run the world (girls).
If you're an independent woman thinking about stepping out on your own, the first tip (not included in the following 10) as Miss Swift recently re-revolutionised, is to shake it off. After all, you wouldn't be embarking on this life-changing journey without weighing up your ability and the risks involved.
You're hungry for the challenge and you're ready to feel empowered by your own independence. The following 10 tips are designed to be used as draw-cards in your solo adventure game plan should you need them.
1. Walk with confidence
You are more prepared than you give yourself credit for. You have done your research and you know what's up, but actually stepping onto foreign land and applying that research is a whole new ball game.
Deep breath, shoulders back and relax. Go somewhere familiar like a cafe on a street corner and observe the world over a coffee while you adjust to your surroundings. Then walk out oozing confidence. This not only makes you harder to identify as a tourist target, it will also help you to realise you're actually okay.
2. Blend in with the locals
Knowing the local style and dressing accordingly (or weather-appropriately, at the very least) will help you feel comfortable in your own skin. You don't have to look like a local; you want to appear like an expat who knows what they're doing.
It also never hurts to learn a few phrases of the local language, which will also help you avoid sending 'vulnerable tourist' signals. The aim of the game is not to attract undue attention to yourself.
3. Don't stay out too late
When you're travelling alone, remember you're the only person who is responsible for you. If you drink too much, get lost or lose your belongings, there is no one to come to your rescue (except friendly locals and foreign embassies in some cases).
No matter what country you're in, even in Australia, it's never a good idea to lose your sense of good judgment when flying solo. The real advice is to know when to call it a night. Be safe out there.
4. When things don't go right, go left
In a perfect world, your trip will go perfectly to plan. However, things like transport delays, poor administration and natural occurrences can and will scramble your plans. But it's all part of the adventure! Often when these things happen, you can find yourself having some of the most fun and spontaneous excitement of your entire trip.
It's all about your attitude and how you decide to handle the situation. If it's just not going to work, dont force it. It's time to sit down for an hour or so and figure out how you're going to rearrange the next few days.
5. Have a backup plan
Preparation is key! Before you leave, ensure you scan all of your important documents and keep an electronic copy for yourself and forward another copy to a family member or a trusted friend.
Never leave without travel insurance and ensure you have a basic process mapped out if things turn pear-shaped (e.g. stashing emergency money, having an ability to make phone calls, and learning a few key phrases such as 'I need to see a doctor').
6. Remember you will get lonely, but that's okay
Sometimes you will just want someone to talk to, about anything and everything. You're experiencing the most exciting, thrilling and unique experience of your life and you just want someone to laugh or cry with.
This is all part of the experience of solo travel. You will learn so much about yourself on this journey, but do be prepared to get a little homesick and try to have a number of distractions ready when you feel it set-in of an evening.
Travelling solo can also make you more willing to get out there and make new friends. Don't forget there are heaps of people in the same boat as you, so get out there and find them!
7. Be aware of your surrounds at all times
You might be used to the security of home, but theft is a very real risk when travelling abroad. You're as much a target in crowded big-city spaces as you are in a small village with a cabbie trying to rip you off.
You should always be aware of what's going on around you. Always have your bag zipped up, avoid paying with big notes and avoid flashing expensive items such as iPads and jewellery, and ensure your camera is secure at all times (you can even buy a camera strap with wire embedded to prevent the old snip-and-grab). Another reason why travel insurance is so important.
8. Social media is more important than ever
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest... all these wonderful things us Gen Y kids are into these days! Never has social media been such an important tool for your safety.
Posting frequently not only allows your friends and family to share your adventures, it also tells them you're okay and keeps tabs on where you are. It's also reassuring to know if you were to suddenly drop off the social media planet there would be a community of people trying to find you.
Travelling with an unlocked mobile phone (anything after an iPhone 5 is unlocked) and buying cheap local SIM cards is the best option for keeping in touch on the go.
9. Listen to your gut
If something just isn't feeling right, don't be afraid to decline an offer from someone, whether they're trying to sell you something or inviting you somewhere. Always be polite and respectful, but if you are approached in a way that just doesn't seem right, it's okay to keep walking.
XP points for looking out for yourself! If you don't feel confident declining conversations with locals, wearing headphone – even if there is no music playing – and sunglasses goes a long way. These simple accessories build an invisible barrier around yourself and mean you are less likely to be approached.
10. Don't forget where you are
This is such a defining moment in your life! You're experiencing new sights and emotions while relying 100 per cent on yourself. Embrace this time and don't get too caught up with the logistics.
Stop to congratulate yourself every now and again, soak up the scenery and maybe even pinch yourself to remind yourself just how real it all is.