Travelling around the world alone is an amazing experience but bad news does not help, they dominate headlines. It can be scary, even more, when we plan to travel alone. You might feel fearful about traveling alone in the future.
I met Florence in Paris, a 33-year old youth worker who traveled around the world in 2017. She lives in Paris for 10 years. After a couple of years of the routine 9 to 5 job, Florence took a gap year to focus on herself and discovering new things. In 2017, she was 30 years old. For many people, the age of 30 can be a turning point in their life, when life takes on a new meaning. There are two choices: to take the plunge and make plans that have not yet been started, or to continue with one’s daily routine.
How to prepare for long term travel
Florence planned her trip in advance by buying an around-the-world-ticket in a travel agency and visited 14 countries in 10 months: Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chili. Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. The ticket can be offered by airline alliances like SkyTeam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance or travel agencies.
The around-the-world-ticket was the cheapest option for her, as in Central and South America where she planned to visit many countries, a few low-cost airlines are established.
For a first trip around the world, travel agencies can be a more convenient option, but each option has its own pros and cons. So how to prepare yourself for long term travel?
Organize your finances
- You have to calculate the total budget for the round-the-world trip. Plan a budget without and with the unexpected expenses.
Where you will go and how
- Type of accommodation (hotels, youth hostels, Couchsurfing)
- The countries you plan to visit (number of countries, the situation of the country, the best season to go there, safety)
- The means of transport used
- Take care of your passport and your driving international license
- Get vaccinated at least 6 weeks before your travel
- Get an international driving permit
- Do not forget to bring medications and a first aid kit
- Choosing the right backpack is important
- The clothes
- Technological accessories (mobile phone, camera…)
Once you have planned this journey, you can finally set off on this incredible adventure. Travelling alone as a woman can be scary but can bring so much.
Why travelling solo is the best?
Florence was eager to discover new places and planned to make this journey with a travel buddy. After an argument, Florence preferred to explore alone and did not regret it. As she went on the round trip world alone, she realized that her adventure had taken another turn. ‘You’re much more open to each other when you’re alone,’ she says. It’s much easier to meet people. Her journey around three continents was punctuated by these encounters, whether they took place in the street or via Couchsurfing, where she was able to stay with locals.
This feeling of freedom is intensified when travelling alone, away from social pressure, social conformism and connecting more with oneself. At the age of 30, according to society and being a woman, one must be stable, in a couple, have one or more children or plan to have children. This feeling of freedom is restricted in daily life by societal constraints.
Travelling alone, one discovers the country in a different and deeper way.
Laos and Myanmar are the countries that impressed her the most. Smiling, curious people, a life of sharing and benevolence, with a different meaning of work. ‘People don’t work to earn more and more money. If they earned enough money earned in the morning, the afternoon will be given over to family time ’.
Is it dangerous to travel alone as a woman ?
Florence has never felt unsafe. During these ten months, she had only one bad experience, being robbed in Santiago. Luckily, the thief only stole a dollar from her. The same thing for Couchsurfing, Florence never came across anyone making sexual advances or harassing her sexually. She feels she was lucky and would like to offer some advice.
She advises first to drink and smoke safely and responsibly. Safety is the first priority and to stay lucid might help. What she did right away was to observe the behaviour of the locals, their habits and imitate them in order to blend in with the crowd. For example, in Colombia, Florence noticed that at nightfall, most people travel by car. It is important to know the patterns of normalcy in your destinations. Finally, trusting one’s sixth sense is essential. Florence used it constantly during her long term travel, nurtured her instincts and listened to herself. It helps us more than we think.
Other tips can be helpful, such as smiling. By having a positive attitude, you will attract more sympathy from the locals. Not showing valuables can also help to ensure your safety. And finally, Florence advises not to hesitate to ask for help if needed.
Beyond this advice, women of color are going to be exposed to other risks of racism, to the preconceived ideas of the community to which they are supposed to belong, as was the case for me in Naples, by being taken for a prostitute.
Sometimes you can understand all the necessary safety precautions in the world, but sometimes the worst can happen. We cannot control and know what will happen in the future, which is understandable. Travelling alone should not be a burden, but it can be. Each experience reflects what it means to be a woman in this world.
After the round world trip
After long term travel, it is difficult to readapt to the daily routine and Florence has not escaped this. Travelling alone made her realize that she needed to explore her creativity more. She is currently working on her ethical ready-to-wear brand. Even if it is difficult at times to be on all fronts, knowing that she is alone and that she takes care of everything, Florence does not regret this choice. During this long term travel, she has retained the most important thing: to live the life one wishes for and not to live a life one undergoes.