TIPS FOR GIRLS TRAVELLING SOLO ON A BUDGET
I love the dirtbag, nomad lifestyle. I took my first solo trip around New Zealand when I first turned 18, sleeping in a car all summer and living like a pauper. I used to imagine that when I got older I would replace the tents and car boots for fluffed pillows in a four-star hotel. But now, at my age, it still hasn’t come and once a year I still load up the car and head off on a road trip with minimal funds and belongings to experience the adventure only camping and fishing can bring.
SAVE ON THINGS THAT AREN’T IMPORTANT AND SPEND ON THINGS THAT ARE
Throughout my twenties, my friends were hitting clubs and bars, spending a fortune on vodka mixers and makeup. I, on the other hand, spent hardly any money on clothes and beauty products, they just weren’t important to me. Instead, I saved my money for the things I wanted to spend on. I bought a nice tent, a quality sleeping bag (which is still with me today). I spent on fishing rods, tackle, climbing gear, a kayak and my dog. It may not be conventional but I liked it. If I could give my 18-year-old self any piece of advice, it would be to spend on things I like and forget about what people think.
DON’T WORRY, WE ALL FAKE IT SOMETIMES
When I first set out on that trip around New Zealand, I was nervous, terrified, excited and overwhelmed. When I met other travellers, they seemed so confident, collected, and “with-it”, or so they seemed. The truth is, they were probably faking it like we all do. You will develop your own confidence over time but until then, don’t worry, you can fake it with the best of them.
GOOGLE FOR SAFE PLACES TO SLEEP AND USE A TRACKER
Google is so useful for finding free and safe places to sleep. Google “free places to camp in Melbourne” and you will find a slew of places to sleep where you shouldn’t be disturbed.
Also, Find my Friend is a godsend for solo female travellers on a budget. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. I have allowed my mum to see my location whenever I am away, it feels like I have a guardian angel watching over me.
MOVE DURING THE DAY
Particularly if you are using public transport, I usually try to move cities and travel during the day or at least arrive during daylight hours where possible. Most unpleasant incidents happen at night so arriving at an unfamiliar destination in the daytime is far better than arriving at night.
MAKE RESERVATIONS ONLINE
Whether you are renting a van or car, booking accommodation in a hostel, buying a lift pass, or paying for a museum ticket, get it all online. I can guarantee, you will find a better deal online.
DRINK TO ADD TO THE EXPERIENCE, NOT TO GET DRUNK
Drinking is great in company and can be an excellent social lubricant. But getting absolutely hammered as a solo female on the road is not a great idea. The last thing you want when travelling alone is to be vulnerable.
SMELL BAD, LOOK CLEAN
Meeting new people is part and parcel of exploring more places. You want to make yourself accessible and open to meeting new people, so you want to look clean and approachable. By all means smell bad, go unwashed for days and enjoy the outback and alpine living but try to keep the appearance of someone who is with it so as not to put people off.
Visit the inaccessible places, put yourself out there and explore with ferocious enthusiasm. Remember, nothing teaches you a life lesson like making a mistake for yourself and each mistake is a learning opportunity. Make mistakes, smell bad, be messy and live the dirtbag, nomad lifestyle whenever you can.
Can you give any tips to fellow solo female travellers? Leave them in the comments section below.