1. Get a backpack fit for a female
When it comes to lugging the world on your back, one size doesn’t fit all. Generally speaking, us ladies are shorter, curvier and more narrow in the shoulder than our male counterparts. We also need to give our hips and shoulders a bit of special attention when it comes to the perfect fit of the backpack as this is where most of the ‘load’ will be concentrated.
There are lots of backpacks out there designed specifically for women, but I have found that many standard designs can be adapted for a personal fit and the key is shopping around and trying a few on for size. Don’t just buy one because someone else has the same and it’s right for them!
2. Contraception and, erm, other girly medical stuff…
This nails down to two things: Get yourself checked out and be prepared.
Make an appointment well in advance of leaving with the nurse for all those slightly uncomfortable but girly must-dos: a smear, STD testing… everything else in between if you need. It’s better to be on the road knowing you have both peace of mind and no issues to contend with when in a country whose medical services are less advanced, inaccessible or difficult to discuss.
3. Be informed about cultural dress codes
I’ve lost count of the number of times where a person’s vanity has overshadowed cultural and religious dress codes, not to mention personal dignity. Research the dress codes in each country before you leave as this will also help you decide what you need to pack. It could be something as simple as packing a cardi, a long-sleeved shirt or longer shorts/trousers, but it saves being turned away from a sight you really want to see or have to pay to hire decent attire.
4. Learn to embrace your natural self
Travelling is not the time to be precious about how you look – there’s far more exciting things going on! But you know what? Some days you will probably look like an absolute, utter mess: lack of shower facilities, long train and bus journeys, humidity, rain, physical activity…the list goes on. But do you need the hairdryer and the straighteners and a ridiculous amount of makeup and accessories? No. Will you learn eventually not to care? Probably.
5. Realise that solo female travel is safe and enjoyable!
Of course you need to be sensible, prepared and to always keep your wits about you, but don’t believe the hype that being a solo, female traveller is going to be dangerous and scary. It’s actually very liberating! All you need to pack is some common sense.
Approaching others will become second nature. It is a matter of confidence and that will grow in time, the more you try it. But the true reality? You are hardly alone, especially in hostels, and when you are you will no doubt embrace that time to yourself! Some hostels provide excursions and activities, evening dinners and events and if you want to see more of a destination in depth. And if you don’t feel comfortable going completely solo in certain places, book yourself on a tour where you will get to travel alongside others in the same boat as you.