Travel has been a lifelong passion for Andrea Powis, managing director and brainchild of Travelling Divas, a travel agency designed for women, by women.
In 2008, after suddenly finding herself flying solo, Andrea set about creating a company for like-minded women who wanted to share travel and adventure experiences.
Today, Travelling Divas is the most sought-after travel company for women seeking high-value, exclusive, small group experiential travel experiences that take them on and off the beaten track, in an authentic and stylish way.
Andrea shares her tips on how to travel safely solo, and easy things you can do to ensure your trip remains carefree.
1. Protecting your important documents and credit cards etc.
Recently one of my tour guests had her passport stolen out of her backpack whilst we were on a walking tour – it was so fast and she didn’t notice a thing until one of the girls saw her backpack was open and even then, it wasn’t immediately obvious.
It is very important to always keep a copy of your passport, required visas, credit cards, travel insurance and anything else you think is important. Then email a copy to yourself, have copies with you and leave copies with someone at home.
Each day, only take the credit cards and cash you need – Its not necessary to have them all if you’re not going to use them. Most importantly, leave your passport in the safe – unless you are travelling or need it for ID purposes its not necessary to remove it from the hotel, and these days for claiming tax back, a photo on your phone usually works.
2. Leave the good jewellery behind
There are many opportunistic thieves and pickpockets around so unless there is a really good reason to bring expensive jewellery, leave the really good stuff at home and bring particular pieces that you are going to wear constantly (fake is even better). If you do have to bring it, make sure you have travel insurance to cover for any precious pieces just in case something happens.
3. What to look for in a hotel (particularly if you are travelling solo)
When choosing a hotel, make sure you look out for things like location – don’t stay somewhere down an alley way with poor lighting. Make sure it has 24-hour reception so there is always someone around and try to find hotels that have lift security. When you are in your room, use the security bolt on the door, and I always leave a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my door when I am out.
4. Travelling with a group can be a good solution
If you are unsure about travelling 100 per cent solo, then look for women-only small group tours. These are not your big bus tours, but smaller more flexible group tours that foster friendship and independence.
5. Stranger Danger
I know it sounds really odd as we are all adults, but it is really important to remember that when you meet someone ‘nice and friendly’ when you are travelling that not everyone is who they seem to be.
I just finished a tour in Russia and just before we started I had a meeting with the company I was working with whilst there. The owner, who is a lovely woman, reminded me that Australians and New Zealanders are open and friendly by nature and culture, but that not everyone is the same and we needed to be aware of that. She wasn’t criticising us – it was more a timely reminder that people often have their own agendas and that other cultures operate differently, and we need to be aware of this.
6. Let your bank know you are taking off
Always let your bank know where you are going overseas so they know where you are and where you are using your cards. When using ATMs, make sure you put your hand over the pin pad so that no hidden cameras can see what you are doing with your pin number. Also finding those facilities that you need your card to access for further security is a good idea.
7. Leave your itinerary and full contact details with someone at home and regularly check in
It is really important that someone knows where you are when you are travelling, particularly if you are on your own. Check in with home via email or text, Whatsapp or similar just to say hi and let them know you’re ok. It only takes a second and confirms to everyone that all is well in the travel world!
This also applies if you do decide to travel with a group. At Travelling Divas, we love it if you want to head out and make some of your own memories, or take off during your leisure time, but always let your tour leader know so that if things don’t go according to your plan they have an idea of where you are.
8. Social Media
This is a really tricky one as you want to share with the world what a fab time you are having (quite rightly) but again just think before you perhaps check-in which hotel you are staying at or the bar you might be enjoying cocktails in.
Think a little before you blog too much detail of your itinerary, travelling solo and so on. It is great to share your world, but just be aware who it is being shared with!’
9. Trust your instincts
Last but not least always trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, doesn’t sit well with you or looks too good to be true, just walk away and find an alternative option. Your gut is rarely wrong.