The world can be a dangerous place but that doesn’t mean it should stop us from doing the things we love. Traveling to over 20 countries has certainly taught me that being a strong, free-thinking independent (SFI) woman isn’t always as easy as it looks. Whether it be riding a train to Hiroshima… exploring the temples of Bali… or climbing the pyramids in Egypt, not everyone is open to the idea of a woman leaving home to travel the world solo. People don’t always understand why we feel a need to explore unheard of places and learn as much as we can first hand. We want to experience those lessons and then take them forward into our everyday lives. We want to have deep meaningful conversations with locals and learn about their history and hardships by word of mouth.
If you’re a SFI woman whose just booked tickets to an unknown destination and you’re feeling a little uneasy, they you’ve come to the right place. Here are 15 inspirational tips on how to travel the world as a SFIWoman.
Being strong and independent doesn’t come easy and while you make look fearlessly at the world, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have valid and real fears about the unknown world. The worst thing you can do is let someone talk you out of travelling to a place or doing something you’ve always wanted to do because they themselves are afraid and choose to project their fears on to you. Listen to their warnings, keep them in mind but don’t let them scare you off. Besides, being brave and still climbing that mountain or diving to that reef is the best way to conquer your fears and feel alive.
Traveling to new places means you’re going to be exposed to different religions, cultures and ways of life. SFIWoman know that entering a new country means you’ve got to keep an open mind and embrace the change that comes with stepping on foreign soil. Everything is different but if you don’t embrace it, you can’t learn and truly experience and understand it.
Trust you gut
One thing I’ve learnt on my travels is that if it feels wrong or dangerous, it usually is. Even if someone is telling you otherwise, always trust yourself and if it doesn’t feel right to you, politely decline and walk away.
Have a plan
Bing a SFIWoman means you always have a plan of action – you know where you’re going and you’ve planned out your daily itineraries in detail before you arrive. Not only will this save you time on your trip but it will also allow you to do more and see more.
Be prepared for unexpected situations
In today’s day and age, being resourceful is a certainly a strength. Plans change all the time for whatever reason so try your best to always be prepared for those unexpected situations that may arise when travelling. Be prepared for the small things like keeping a secret stash of money in a different place or keeping a paper map in case your phone battery dies and the big things like taking out the right travel insurance and informing family of friends of the details surrounding your travel plans.
Don’t be afraid to be alone
That can sometimes be pretty hard when traveling – we’re women so of course we want to grab cocktails with girlfriends and share those amazing sights with someone special. There is another side to traveling as a SFIWoman solo – the peace and solitude that comes with realizing you’re okay with your own company and that everything you’ve doing is for you and you alone. Don’t be afraid to take that tour or ask for a table for one. Take a book with you, work on your blog or send out emails if you have too. Either way, realizing you’re okay with being alone in a foreign country is a pretty liberating experience.
Stay open minded
Being exposed to new cultures and ideals can be a pretty scary experience if it’s the first time you’re hearing about and seeing something. I remember the first time I learnt about Chinese dining etiquette. There were so many things that were different from the western way of having a meal together but keeping an open mind showed me just how important simple things like the directions of my chopsticks or ensuring I always dish for my loved ones first was. Things will always be different in a new country but ask questions, be understanding and try to experience what’s in front of you.
The best thing you can do when traveling is to try your best to remain confident at all times. Sure there will be times when you feel afraid or frustrated but remaining confident in what you say, feel or do will not only help you to work through it but it will also show others that you know what you’re doing and you aren’t afraid, even if you may not always feel it.
Just say no
There was a time in my life when saying no wasn’t a word in my vocabulary but travel has taught me otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with saying no and politely declining an offer or turning down something that makes you feel uncomfortable. As women, we often get the notion that responding with a straight out NO is harsh but you’d rather be safe than sorry right? This is true, especially when you’re in a new place. I usually say no with a smile on my face, a cutesy high pitched voice (so I don’t feel like I’m sounding too mean) and offer a compromise that I’m more comfortable with.
Use your skills and gain new ones
As a SFIWoman, there’s nothing better than learning a new skill to add to life’s toolbox and what better way to learn new skills than while you’re travelling. Try a cooking class, get your beginners diving license, join a language group or just improve your general knowledge with a simple tour. Learn something new, gain a new skill and then use them!
Do your research
The worst thing you can do is venture into an unknown country blindly. Not only is that risky behavior but it reduces your chances of leaving with great memories and having a wondrous adventure. Before you leave for your trip, read up on the destination you’ll be visiting. Sharpen your knowledge on the current political status, attitude towards women, general safety and have a stash of local emergency numbers.
Know your limits
While adventuring abroad means you’ll be having great experiences, always know your limits and stick to them. Don’t drink more alcohol than you can handle just because everyone around you is doing it. Don’t venture into an unknown section of town that’s too far if you feel uneasy and don’t hike for that extra hour if you’re feeling tired. Know your limits, when to push yourself and when to call it a day.
Have an opinion
As a SFIWoman (strong, free thinking, independent woman!) having an opinion should always be one of your personal positive traits. Know what feel, express what you like and don’t like, explain how you thoughts on certain topics and don’t be afraid to share your ideas on how you can make a situation better. The best way to formulate and opinion is to remember points 10, 6 and 2: do your research, stay open minded and embrace change.
Don’t travel alone at night
Being a woman traveler means you’re an easy tourist target at all times. It’s the sad and unfortunate truth but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from seeing the world. You just have to do it wisely. Aim to spend most of your time traveling when the sun is out. It’s safer, yes but it also means you can figure out where you’re going with one less thing to worry about and get a better understanding of the area you’re in.
Always carry a pen
One of the things I learnt while on vacation in the USVI is to always carry a pen with me. In fact, a dear friend of mine gave me this idea and it’s a pretty brilliant one if you ask me! A sharp tipped pen is the smallest and easiest thing you can use to protect yourself if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Hook one onto the side of your jeans for easy access.