Whenever you hear the word travel, you mostly think about travelling with friends or family, right? To all the gals out there — has going on a solo trip ever crossed your mind? As exciting an experience as it was for me, there were a few apprehensions I had to contend with during my solo trip — so here’s a heads up…
My solo trip to Sydney was quite the eye-opener. I landed in Sydney, Lonely Planet guide in hand, knowing full well what I wanted to do and the places I wanted to explore. But what caught me by surprise was the anxiety-attack I experienced before I ventured out into the city. I realised that it was my time of the month and thoughts about personal issues and personal safety suddenly took precedence — I simply wasn’t prepared.
After a pit-stop at a department store, I tried to dismiss unwarranted doubts and anxieties. It got me thinking about how men have it so much simpler when they travel alone. The butterflies in my stomach settled a little only after I boarded one of the popular lunch cruises on Sydney Harbour — my first tryst with the city. I thought I’d pen this article to help women better prepare for solo-travel.
The Cycle That Bothers Women
The menstrual cycle is something that all women contend with and that’s the last thing we want to go through when we’re travelling. But like it or not, we must be prepared for this almost always untimely visitor.
Speaking from my personal experience, as much as I wanted to go aboard the cruise I was a bit hesitant at first with the situation at hand. But my decision to ignore it and move on with the day was definitely a wise one. The cruise was a breath of fresh air that sent positive Sydney vibes coursing through my veins. Taking in the sights and sounds of Sydney, capturing some treasured moments on camera and chatting with fellow cruisers was just the cure I needed to take the edge off my uncomfortable situation.
Tips to be prepared:
Keep sanitary napkins, painkillers and a travel heating pad handy
Consider the use of menstrual cups for a more hygienic experience
Try not to snack on junk food; light meals keeps cramps at bay
Drink water at regular intervals to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels
Concerns about Personal Safety
Women also have to worry about personal safety in a new city. Many go through bitter encounters of harassment and assault during solo travels. In spite of being a solo wanderer, I felt safe in Sydney, although I can’t vouch for it being a crime-free city.
Having experienced Sydney Harbour by day and the fact that the lunch cruise put me at ease in a new city - I decided to make the most of the Sydney night experience as well. After a jaunt about the city to the best places suggested by Lonely Planet, I found myself inevitably drawn to the harbour. Sydney Harbour dinner cruises were definitely much talked about, and I didn’t want to miss out on that experience.
The ambience of the cruise was so heartwarming – with mood lighting, gentle breeze blowing once in a while and mesmerising night views of the sparkly city skyline. My fears of being all alone at night seemed to vanish into thin air. I was amidst a host of cruising companions who seemed quite unbothered about the fact that I was alone.
Having said that, here are a few ways to be vigilant:
Be aware of the unsafe areas in the city where the crime rate is high. By crime rate I mean, theft, scams and assaults. At the same time, there will be safe tourist areas. For instance Bondi Beach and Manly Beach in Sydney.
If you do feel uncomfortable, try joining a local tour group. A tour group will have a tour guide and the more the people, the safer you will feel.
When travelling at night, keep enough money for cab fare and save emergency numbers on your phone. Most importantly, make sure you have good internet connectivity on your phone.
Walk at night where there are street lights and people around. Stay away from beaches after dark.
Avoid wearing valuables at that time as well. Never leave your bag unattended.
Though solo travel is a bit of a hassle for women travellers, just a little vigilance and personal care will go a long way in making you feel safe and secure. Thankfully I didn’t regret my decision as this solo trip instilled a sense of self-love in me. On a final note, no matter what, nothing can or should discourage a woman from doing what she loves!