It's a big world out there, and people are often held back from seeing it because they're waiting for the perfect moment. With friends, in a couple, as an insanely rich person. While safety is a concern for everyone, the fear of danger holds even more women back from striking off on a great adventure. But not all of them.
Ciara Johnson is a blogger and world traveler who writes mostly about what it's like to be a woman traversing the world solo. It can be both exhilarating and scary, but Johnson writes it's changed her life and her character:
The thought of traveling to foreign countries alone, especially as a woman, sounds crazy. I love it though and it’s made me a stronger, more confident person. It’s changed my life, to say the least.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Johnson wanted to share some of her wisdom with the ladies out there who are thinking about going on their first world tour, so she gave us all an epic Twitter thread. Some of it is common sense, but if you're nervous, it's good to hear that common sense has been actually working.
First of all, pay attention to your surroundings, the same way you do at home, because being a woman alone at night is scary!
It’s made me hyper aware of my surroundings. There’s no other option. Pay attention to the people in your surroundings, both near & far. Scan your surroundings. Is someone walking close to you? Does someone appear to be watching you? Did that car just pull beside you & slow down?— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
When I’m walking, I’m fully aware of what’s happening around me. I keep an eye on cars driving past me or anyone that slows/quicken their speed near me. I listen to footsteps & watch shadows. Mind you, this all applies to a woman who lives on her own too.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Don't be afraid to be rude (also good general life advice for women, imo):
If I’m walking in a quiet street and I see that a man is about to walk closely past me I’ll even cross to the other side of the street if no one else is around. It’s better to look a little paranoid than be harassed, robbed, or worse.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Know about the place you're going before you arrive—research is your friend.
I do lots of research before I go - cultural norms, customs, how to dress, scams, natural disasters, political climate, etc. Instead of listening to people who’ve never visited these places before, I look for first hand knowledge from other solo female travelers.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
So are apps, but use them with awareness:
Thanks to 2018 tech, I use google maps, translation apps, and drop my pin to friends/family often. I’m not above using my phone to stay safe, but I avoid pulling it out on the street or walking around with my head down bc I gotta be aware.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Apparently, T Mobile is great? Wondering if this is secret product placement, but please check your carrier and make sure you have a phone that will work overseas so you can check in with people regularly.
Thanks to Tmobile, I have free texting & data around the world. Family & friends are literally a text or phone call away. Make sure someone, anyone...knows where you are & where you're staying.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Don't post where you are right when you're there for the general public.
When it comes to posting on social media, I never post in real time. I never tag locations while I'm actually there. I usually only post photos or share where I was, once I've left. You really never know who's lurking.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Other women in foreign places know what's up:
Women around the world really look out for each other though & It's heartwarming. I sit next to women on buses. If I need directions, I usually ask a woman. This is not to say all women can be trusted, but I feel more comfortable trusting a woman on first instinct.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Read reviews for hotels, airbnb, hostels, etc. Once again, all reviews aren't real but it's better to have some frame of reference. I specifically look for reviews written by women and I'd never book a place that has no reviews.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Take care of your body and don't do anything it can't do:
I know my limits. Like, I can swim, but I'm not above using a life vest if I'll be in the sea for extended periods of time. I'm not too embarrassed to be the last one on a hike if I feel like I'm getting altitude sickness. I'll take an emergen-C if I feel myself getting sick.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Use a driver app if you're not sure what the taxi situation is:
I Uber. No, Uber is not perfect, but I think it's a bit safer than hopping into a random taxi abroad. At least my location & the driver's info is stored in the app. In foreign countries, it can be hard to know if a taxi is even official.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Think about how you carry your valuables:
I only carry the cash & valuables that I need. I leave all valuables behind at nighttime. I split up cash & cards throughout different bags in case one is stolen. I hold my bags directly in front of me with my hand over the opening if I am in a crowded area to avoid pickpockets.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Again, BE RUDE:
I'll lie or be rude if I need to. I'll lie if someone asks if I'm alone. I've gotten over being "nice" where nice is not warranted, especially when it comes to strange men.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
If you're uncomfortable, leave the situation:
Trust your gut. Traveling alone actually causes you to depend on strangers for so many things, and majority of the time things work out great. I listen to any odd feelings I get and I've learned to discern people & situations.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Move with confidence:
Fake it till you make it. I swear I walk around like I know exactly what I'm doing, where I'm going...even when I don't. Head held high like I was born & raised in whatever country I'm visiting. Predators look for those who appear lost, scared, confused, insecure, etc.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
Know it won't always be great, but it will be life-changing:
There is a lot of romanticization of solo travel. Yes, it can be amazing, but it's not a walk in the park. It's not 'easy'. It's nothing like a vacation with family & friends. But it's so empowering and there's a lot to be gained from the experience.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
I'm fully aware that the world can be a very dangerous place. Instead of living in fear, I do my best to play it safe - both at home & abroad. Sharing these tips for those that live alone or those who may want to travel alone.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
And this all sounds scary, but traveling alone has actually revealed to me the beauty of humankind. I'm able to witness tiny miracles every day. Strangers have treated me like family. Still, it's necessary to be cautious.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
And if you're wondering how Johnson got all those great travel photos? She makes friends.
Oh & for those asking, yes strangers take my photos. No, nobody has ever run off with my camera or phone. I'm pretty strategic about who I ask haha. I'll share a thread on that soon.— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) March 1, 2018
You can follow Johnson for more on her incredible trips, and also read more of her amazing tips.
Personally, I'm feeling the urge to pack a bag.