Every time people hear that I’m a girl traveling by myself they ask aren’t you afraid? And usually I give the sarcastic comment of no I’m a badass. But in all seriousness, if I can walk down east Hastings in Vancouver with all the crack heads and prostitutes by myself with no problems, I can walk down a street in Budapest or Berlin.
Obviously there’s the obvious dos and don’t’s but I like to call them common sense.
A. Never walk down a dark alley by yourself. Pretty common knowledge, no one should do that anywhere.
B. If they’re making you uncomfortable don’t tell them you’re alone. I’ve gone as far as pretending I knew a table a few people away just so I have an excuse to leave. Make sure they speak english, but just say hey I’m just avoiding a guy do you mind if I stand here a minute? And most girls have been there so they let you join in.
But to really make it, I have a different set of rules. Because if people can instantly tag you as a tourist alone, you’re a target for the annoying hawkers and the pick pockets. I personally haven’t gone to a bar by myself so I can only guess. One time a friend went to the bathroom and the second she left, guys were at the table: you alone? You want some company?
My rules are: 1. Never look lost. I have the Trip Advisor: City Guides that works offline. So I can access a map on my phone, google maps also can track you offline if you load it while having Internet. Side note: If I need directions, I’ll always look for someone in their early 20s. Most countries have made it mandatory to learn english to graduate within the last 10+ years.
2. Act like you know. You obviously need a certain level of confidence to travel alone. I find I always say I know where I’m going until we get there. And then hopefully were actually there. I read the instructions before hand and generally change the name if it’s incomprehensible. I needed to go to the Szichenyi baths in Budapest on the metro but didn’t even know which direction to head. So I looked at the board, saw we needed to transfer at the next stop and head towards Mexikói on yellow line. So when we got on I repeated we take this one stop and switch to the yellow line in the direction of Mexico and get off at the stop named after the baths. It makes it a lot easier then trying to province it and remember them. Just pick something similar to the name so if you see a sign your recognize that’s what you’re going for.
3. Meeting people so you don’t always have to go out alone? I always stay in hostels and pick a dorm room with 6-10 people in it. Generally they’re all also backpacking because family’s go for the smaller rooms. The kitchen and common room are you best friend. And save you money, no need to go to a restaurant by yourself when you can cook. Pick dinner time and everyone else is doing the same thing. this rule only works if you’re outgoing enough to start the conversation. Some people may talk to you first, but if they’re two people, they already have someone to talk to.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask to join them. I usually never make big plans when I’m heading to a new city. I’ll have a list of what I want to see but it’s usually what everyone wants to see. If you ask what they’re doing tonight or the next day and you like their plans just ask to tag along. I haven’t had anyone say no to me coming out drinking or going sightseeing with them.
I have a different set of rules for how to meet people in bars, one liner conversation starters but I don’t want to drag this on. I’ll make another post later about that.
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