When I started to travel as a solo woman several years ago, people were shocked and then worried for my safety. Today, however, men and women taking solo vacations and exploring new places alone have become the norm. Even if you don’t speak the local language, people in most countries speak English and are very hospitable. You discover so much about other cultures as a solo traveller and get to have experiences that you can never dream of.

But what are some things you need to keep in mind when you decide to take off as a solo traveller to an unknown destination? Before you head out to a country that you have chosen, read up about it – as much as you can. Not just about the place but check out people’s reviews of where you are going to stay (like a homestay). This helps you figure out places that are safe and can be trusted – especially for women.

Secondly, look for the experiences that are off the beaten track and not run-of-the-mill and touristy. For instance, when you travel across France or Scotland, you can stay in a small quaint village in a B and B instead of the city. Of if you head to Italy, then stay in the wine region in a beautiful vineyard. It gives you the feel of local traditions and people far better than a commercial urban space.

The local food in any country is a must-try so don’t be averse to indulging in the local delicacies. Rather than sit in a high-end restaurant, go to the local markets and buy from street stalls. In December, for example, the Christmas markets across Europe are the perfect spot for local delicacies along with hot wine to warm you up. And even if you are vegetarian, you’ll find various options so don’t fret about it. Vegan food is also part of the mainstream diet in Western countries and you’ll always find choices of vegan food. And when you pack, make sure you pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Don’t opt for the tours from travel operators but explore the city by yourself. Walk as much as you can to explore a new place. Get into the small lanes and nooks and corners once you finish the must-see tourist stops. And if you enjoy biking, rent a bicycle and ride around. You could also rent a car and drive through the country. Through this way, discover things that travel books and websites don’t tell you about and that’s what you’ll cherish when you come back from your holiday.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to make new friends. People generally tend to be friendly. Having said that, if you are a solo woman traveller, do exercise caution and use your instincts. Of course, be careful with your wallet and carry a foreign exchange debit card with limited cash. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your solo vacation. Bon voyage!

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