In the past 2.5 years I have been to 47 cities across 3 continents. Some of these tricks apply specifically to women, but a lot are just helpful for anyone who likes to travel. Here's a massive brain-dump, so let's do this!
1. FIND YOUR PEOPLE
Problem: I was scared to travel alone as a lady, especially late at night. I heard horror stories of women getting abducted or assaulted while traveling.
Solution: Join communities online and in person and use the buddy system. Cough up the extra bucks to take taxis home late at night. I always do research right before I land to check which taxi cabs are the least sketchy (this is particularly necessary in SE Asia). I also save the emergency numbers for police and ambulance in my contacts.
Join Online Communities
- #Nomads- a massive community of over 3,000 nomads from around the world. One of my favorite groups is the #ladies channel, where women are actively discussing the highs and lows of wanderlust.
- Solo Women Travelers- these chatty cathy's are incredible supportive. If you are having cold feet about a trip, post there and you will have 40 women encouraging you to do it!
- Digital Nomad Community- not quite as active, but still about 1,000 nomads posting about their travels.
- Under 30 Nomads- this is for the people under 30 years old, often post about flight deals, and tips.
- Ladies Storm Hackathons- Join this group. They have meetups at hackathons primarily in the U.S.
- Hackathon Hackers- If you are a developer, this a great place to post questions or join an extremely active community.
- Hacker Paradise- I may be biased since I worked for them, but they have curated an incredible community of developers and creatives from around the world to travel together. Hacker Paradise group trip. Photo Credit: Matthew Bergman
- Remote Year- A traveling community that goes to 12 cities in 12 months.
- Meetup- great way to find hiking, hacking, or fun groups of like minded people.
- Eventbrite- I love to go to these events alone. I always feel safe because they are in public spaces and the people usually are quite friendly.
- The fetch-curated weekly events for cities around the world
- DNX (Digital Nomad Conference)- I went to the most recent conf in Berlin and it was fantastic. The next one is in Bangkok
- Sosh- hipstery events in Chicago, NY, SF, Seattle and DC
- YPlan- tons of events & concerts in Europe, but expanding to the States
- Hackathons- MLH & AngelHack, Startup Weekend: a fun and free way to meet other technical people around the world
- Coboat- An all inclusive co-working retreat that takes place on a 20 person catamaran sailing around the world.
Learn a little bit of language: I feel more comfortable instantly when I can say hello and thank you. I google these my first day and memorize them.
- Do research on local nonprofits and cold email them
- Airbnb- Having a private room with a family is like having a host family, it is a nice way to feel settled quickly.
- Wimdu- european version of Airbnb
- Trusted Housesitters
- Mind my House
- Workaway.info- only go to ones that have at least a few positive reviews and stories. I personally do not like to stay with a single man, but rather a couple or female host.
- Couchsurfing- as a lady, I would recommend only staying with women. I have had some friends have negative experiences with men hosts trying to sleep with them.
- Craigslist or localized versions
- Hotel Tonight- last minute deals on hotel rooms
- Wwoof- free accommidation for local farming exchange
2. PRIORITIZE YOUR HEALTH
Problem: Sometimes I like to cry. But when I travel, I don't have my best friend or family next door.
Solution: Joining communities like I spoke about above or Skyping my family/friends. There are also options such as talking to active listeners or even therapists that will Skype you.
- Nomad Ergonomics
- Roost: still on pre-order through kickstarter.
- Old-school high school locker shelf: a makeshift portable laptop stand- save40 bucks and available at Staples
- Logitech mouse: It may look old fashioned, but it's pretty light and makes a big difference.
- Bluetooth keyboard: I use a Zagg bluetooth keyboard that has a phone stand built in
- Get massages or manicures every once in a while. Particularly if you are going to Asia since they will be less than5.
4. TRAVEL SMART
Problem: Planning takes a lot of logistics and time. It also stresses me out when I don't have my flights or next locations booked (aka right now). I also don't know which countries are safe for women.
Solution: Have travel goals for the next month, create a budget, and travel hack. Most of the resources below are non-gender specific so I also do research on safety indexes and the perception of women in local cultures before booking flights. Another way I feel safe is by being super aware. My personal rule is I don't drink when I am alone.
- Secret Flying- absurdly cheap flight deals from around the world
- The Flight Deal- subscribe to this. You will not regret it
- Oyster Chat- slack community to talk about flight hacks
- How to fly for free every 3 months
- Nomadic Matt
- Paradise Pack
- Nomadlist- scope out potential living locations and see cost of living
- Teleport- compare cost and quality of living
- Rome2Rio- This site is a life saver. It can pull information from flights, buses, trains, ridesharing and more to compare the best route.
- Seat61-train travel advice
- Sign in to Google Maps and star your favorite places before you leave wifi. I usually look up local restaurants, attractions and bars right when I arrive. This is by far my best travel hack, especially if you don't have a phone with a global data plan.
5. STAY INSPIRED
Problem: Travel can be exhausting. No one really talks about the downsides, but they do exist, I swear.
Solution: I keep my wanderlust alive by following beautiful Instagram accounts and blogs to inspire my next travels.
6. PACKING 101
Problem: I can't lift my suitcase...
Solution: Pack half of what you think you need. You're going to want to buy stuff when you're there. I carry a backpack and a carry-on suitcase now. I always test if I can carry my suitcase up the stairs in my house before I leave for the airport.
- Tortuga Backpacks
- Elephant Wallet- for the minimalists
- SmartPurse- I design these myself so I make them to my own needs. The most recent one I made fits my passport, cash, and has coin pockets.
- Thule Backpack- I have beat up this backpack for 2 years and you cannot even tell. It can be small or it can fit an absurd amount of things. I love it dearly.
- Halta backpack or any foldable backpack- I bought this one in Helsinki and I think they only ship to Finland...but if you can find any backpack that squishes into a tiny little bag- buy it. It is perfect for traveling since you can stuff it in a suitcase and when you need to go on a day trip just unfold it.
7. DON'T GIVE UP ON DATING
Problem: I still want to date, but I don't trust strangers.
Solution: Do things you like. Those are where the people you may like are hiding. Go to events, play sports, go dancing, just do your thang.
8. UPDATE YOUR TOOLKIT
Problem: I want to stay productive while traveling. Distractions are very easy.
Solution: Track your time, get in consistent routines, and iterate.
- Harvest- time tracking software that also allows you to send invoices
- Evernote- I organize my itineraries here
- Week cal- I've been using this app for years to have a more visual display of my calendar
- Flux- your computer adjusts the brightness by the time of day. Great for your biological clock and eyes
- Rescuetime-a weekly productivity report The stats from this morning while I researched this article
- Spotify premium- offline mode is super great for long flights
- Viber, Whatsapp and Facebook- for making calls and texts
- Moo.do- like Trello but syncs with Google Drive
- Foursquare & Yelp
- Audible- First month is free. This is my favorite way to wander around a city, accompanied by a fantastic book. It also comes with a NTY audio digest that I listen to daily to keep informed while I travel.
- IFTTT- you can do nIFTTTy things like get a text with the weather each morning. It's totally customizable and free.
- Feedly- personalize a news source
- Hola- a free VPN (virtual private network) that is a Google Chrome plugin. Go ahead, binge on Netflix. Be careful though, there are some questionable reports on their privacy policies. I've still used it without a problem, but you may want to consider a paid VPN
- Tripadvisor app- normally I just use the mobile browser version, but the app has a "near me now" setting which is wonderful. Tripadvisor is consistent around the world, where some countries may not use Foursquare or Yelp.
- Wifi Map- lists of local wifi cafes and their password info
- Elly- Records 1 second videos and automatically compiles it to a shareable video. I recorded 1-2 seconds everyday for the past 3 months and now can look back on my trip through Europe in 2 minutes.
I hope this hasn't been too overwhelming, but rather a hefty toolkit to prep you for a safe and exciting adventure. Feel free to say hi to me here if you have any questions or are looking to plan a group travel adventure!
This post originally appeared on Medium.