As a female, there are a myriad of concerns about traveling solo that the opposite sex simply do not (in most cases) have to worry about. From date rape drugs to kidnappings, what we see in the media can deter us from taking that leap to travel unless we have a partner.
I took that leap and it was scary, but it was less scary having placed myself with groups of people wherever I went.
For my first solo trip, I flew across the world to Thailand to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I had just graduated from university and knew that I wanted to travel but could not find someone free to go with. I also knew that volunteering was something that I had to do.
As soon as I landed in Chiang Mai, I was taxied off to meet my team. HFH organized my hotel stay with another female roommate, briefed the team on the local culture, and made sure that we were always safe on the worksite. They even took us on after-work and weekend adventures. I made amazing friends, but more importantly, I was always with the same people. Never once did I feel lost or that my safety was compromised.
Staying in a Home-stay
I had such a great experience in Thailand that I decided to volunteer again. While working at a daycare center in Cusco, Peru, I stayed in a home with other volunteers. We had breakfast together each morning before taking off to our individual assignments, and our host mother made us lunch and dinner every day. She made me dinner even when I came home at 10pm one night.
Staying in a home-stay means that you have the same place to go back to each night and a “family” that will notice if you happen to not come home one night. You will also most likely meet roommates who will want to explore the city with you.
Going on a Guided Tour
When I had a weekend free in Cusco but my roommates’ schedules did not align with mine, I signed up for a tour of the Sacred Valley. When I decided I needed to hike up to the ancient city of Machu Picchu instead of taking the train, I hired a respectable trekking company. Aside from the tour guide being careful to not leave a client behind, other travellers on the same tour will keep an extra eye out for you if they know you are travelling alone as a female.
Walking Through Town Alone
I did, of course, walk through town alone on my travels. Whether that was exploring the night markets of Thailand or museum hopping in Cusco, it was freeing and exhilarating being on my own exploring a new city. I never did, however, do anything I wouldn’t do at home. Common sense can really keep you out of trouble.
Eva Zhu has made it a goal to go to one place far every year. From Vancouver, Canada, she has a degree in Communications, works as a digital marketing specialist in the travel industry, and is an outdoor enthusiast.