About a week before I was scheduled to fly to Jaipur, my dad called me down to the family room. “I just want to show you a little video,” he promised. Theoretically, it would take about ten minutes. Two hours later, the end credits of Taken were rolling, and my dad was telling me to get ready for the quiz.
For women, traveling can sometimes feel like the risk outweighs the reward. We hear horror stories every day about the dangers that can befall young women on their own, making it feel safer to stay home. These tips aren’t from your father, nor are they from Taken, though that movie is a cinematic masterpiece. These are just tips from a fellow lady traveller, and I hope they can help you feel just a little bit more confident to step out into the world on your own.
1. Pack light
Okay, so this tip has been worn to death, but it really does need repeating. When you travel light, you have greater mobility, greater flexibility, and less to worry about. If you’re constantly trying to keep track of multiple bags while boarding trains, buses, and planes, you’re increasing the chances of accidentally leaving something behind. Even if that doesn’t happen, you’re dealing with the resulting anxiety from the possibility, and you don’t need that stress.
2. Backpacks, not duffel bags
Duffel bags can be so cute. They’re great for sleepovers and locker rooms, but not so great on the go. You’re much better off packing a backpack, which has two straps and sits closer to your body. It doesn’t need to be a backpacking backpack either. Just your average school backpack has enough space for long weekend. If you’re traveling for longer than that, leave the majority of your stuff at the motel, hotel, or hostel if you can. The backpack is your best friend for day travel.
We live in a digital world! Before you set out on your adventure, preload and set up accounts with Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, Google Maps, and Air BnB. You don’t need to use them, and you may not use them, but if something goes wrong and your plans go astray, having food, shelter, and transportation at your fingertips is just another added security you could use. What’s great about these apps is that they don’t require you to know the city you’re in. If you want to explore the old fashioned way, by all means explore, but you might not be in the mood to search in person for a pizza place after a long day of bus transfers.
We all know the “Pocket Situation” in women’s clothing – mainly, that there aren’t enough of them. It’s worth dipping into the menswear section to find a pair of jeans or shorts with deep pockets (although I have had some success with Women’s Target for this). You want deep pockets to carry your essentials: phone, keys, and card. By keeping your most important belongings somewhere you can easily feel them, you reduce the amount of stress you’d have from constantly wondering if you remembered to put them back after you used them.
5. Don’t tell strangers your major
Apparently, being a woman on a bus is permission enough for no less than three older adult men to give you their passionate opinion about the state of the education system. Learn from my recent mistake, wonderful readers. Don’t tell anyone your major. (In case you were wondering, according to those guys in question, the biggest problem with “kids these days” is that we can’t write in cursive).
Having fears about traveling is understandable. Sticky and scary situations can happen, and might still happen, no matter how much preparation or how many precautions you take. However, having faith in your own ability to handle and react to these situations is one of the most freeing and empowering things you can do for yourself. You have just as much right to see this world as anyone else, by yourself, and you are mighty enough to deal with any people or institutions who believe otherwise.
Photo: 1,2,3 – Emma Kerr, 4