7 tips for solo female travelers

woman in the desert looking at a map

If you are a free-spirited individual and you want to travel to a (not so) distant country on your own, you will surely hear a lot of cautionary tales about how precarious it is to do so, how you can get lost, bored, hungry, mugged, attacked, etc. Although there is an element of danger involved in traveling alone, especially during these turbulent pandemic times, we believe that the benefits significantly outweigh the risks. For this reason, we have noted down seven tips for solo female travelers which will equip you with the necessary knowledge about what it actually looks like to travel alone as a woman and, even more importantly, about what you really have to take into consideration in terms of accommodation, transportation, money, safety, local culture and the like.

Safety first!

Your personal safety should be at the top of your priority list every time you hit the road. Some women associate safety exclusively with potential attacks and muggings, so they make sure they take self-defense lessons before they go on a big journey to unknown regions. 

However, it is not only strangers that are potential sources of havoc. Depending on where you are traveling, you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Avid female travelers note that it is helpful to research the topographic characteristics of the terrain to decide on the amount and type of clothing and shoes that you may need. You should also know what you absolutely have to have in your backpack – water, knife, lighter, first-aid kit, maps, insect repellent, medication, etc.

Listen to your gut

As any woman who likes to travel alone will tell you, eventually you will develop a keen ‘sixth sense’ for detecting potentially dangerous places and people. We all have it in us; you just need to get on the road to finetune your decision-making. Being too fearful can make the journey tedious and less than enjoyable, whereas having no inhibitions can naturally put you in tricky situations. Since we do not live in an ideal world, solo female traveling comes with its set of difficulties, but in most cases, these bumps in the road will make your journey thrilling and unforgettable.

Be informed

Basically, it is essential to know where you are traveling to – weather changes, availability of potable water, food, healthcare, and medication in the given country or region are all important factors to consider. Another factor you have to take into consideration is the cellular coverage in the region. Although your phone and internet may work in the hostel you are staying at, that might not be the case once you leave urban areas.

woman pointing to a place on a map
Carefully planning your journey is more important than seems at first glance.

No woman is an island

Yes, traveling to a completely novel environment alone is a deeply gratifying experience, but it is a mistake to think that you have to be alone all the time. Be on the lookout for travel tours that offer assistance in the form of local guides. These types of offers provide you with the chance to seek help when you need it, but without forcing you into traveling in somebody else’s shoes, so to speak. For example, suppose you want to go on a photo safari. In that case, you have workshops led by wildlife photography experts who can brief you about the best timing and position from which you can take pictures of the savanna nature and wildlife. 

If you are looking to spend a longer period of time somewhere, it might be useful to join a traveling group. In this way, you can plan group journeys when you feel like it; you can meet like-minded travelers upon which you will be able to rely during your stay and still retain the sense of choosing your own itinerary for the day.

people jumping in the sunset
Solo female travelers are usually surprised to find that they have met so many amazing people on their journey. 

Meeting new people is part and parcel of traveling solo

From expats to locals, from flight attendants to hitch-hikers, be sure to delve deep into the melting pot of different faces and experiences that come your way. The journey to yourself is, for most people, actually the journey towards new friendships.

Talking to people has a practical side for solo women travelers as well. Especially if you do not speak the local language, you might miss out on important information of all sorts. People you meet will surely share their experiences with you, and you will most easily travel the country by knowing where to go and where you can go.

Meeting yourself is also part and parcel of traveling solo

If you are a sociable person, you might easily succumb to the urge to be surrounded by other people. It is understandable, and it may be tempting to form a group to travel together in unfamiliar surroundings. Although this is not necessarily wrong, at times, this approach to traveling might obscure the bigger picture – that you are traveling solo for a reason.

There are many things to learn about yourself that, perhaps, you cannot find out in your hometown. Learning to enjoy nature, silence, and your thought processes will be a life-long lesson that traveling solo will bestow upon you.

a woman standing between a gate made of rock
You might be more capable and adventurous than what you give yourself credit for

For instance, it may happen that you do not have any money left. You may find out that you can sell your photographs or artwork or earn money by doing land work. These kinds of revelations will reveal to you something you may not have known about yourself – that you are resilient, resourceful, and streetwise.

Book a bed in a hostel or private accommodation 

Immersing yourself in local culture by staying in a shabby hostel or renting a room from a local will widen your horizons and give you a more accurate picture of the local environment. There is a chance that you will meet someone who speaks the same language as you do – both literally and figuratively.

Furthermore, you will always have someone to ask for help or advice, even if you are not that into the idea of making friends. It is usually challenging to get through to hotel staff in such a way. Also, hostels are generally well prepared for solo female travelers, and they probably already have the answer to any of your questions.

4 Tips For Skiing Over 50

This Post Was Originally Published on the Liftopia Blog on March 14, 2016 by Mark Crone; updated March 5, 2020

I started skiing at the age of 6 and I’m now well above 50. My first boots had laces; my skis had screw-in edges and ski straps; my poles had leather strap baskets. A lot has changed since then – and thankfully.

If you are well under 50, you may be thinking, “this has nothing to do with me,” but it will at some point. You will hit the magical age of 50.

If you are indeed over 50, the fork in the road may be “you do ski” or “you would like to ski”. Either way, read on. Here are my 4 tips for skiing over 50:

skiing over 50
Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

1. Get Modern

Above, I described my first set of ski gear. When I’m at the hill, I still see people in purple ski suits (from the 70s), rear-entry boots and 200 cm. skis. Now “Throwback Thursdays” are one thing, but… modern ski clothing provides warmth, durability and weather resistance.

Ski technology makes skiing easier (if you are old enough, think “before parabolic skis”). Get into your local ski equipment shop and talk to an experienced professional. They’ll fit you for boots (literally) and set you up with the best pair of skis for you based on your ability, normal terrain and your budget.

2. Get Fit

Skiing is tough work and you need to be in some kind of “ski fit” condition to really enjoy yourself. I’ve talked about it in another post for Liftopia – “How To Get Ready For The First Day Of The Ski Season”.

As a Ski Patroller, and someone who is over 50, I ski all day. It’s a given that I’ll be tired the next day (as I am today) but you need to have enough stamina during the ski day to enjoy your time on the slopes (be it a half day, full day or ski vacation).

Skiing is great exercise and requires at least some strength and flexibility. As you get older, it gets much tougher to get up if you fall. But it’s tougher still to get up if you aren’t in shape.

3. Get Lessons

It’s never too late to learn to ski. Lessons are an absolute necessity if you are learning to ski at any age. A professional ski instructor will make learning to ski fun and help you to master the basics and stay safe. You’ll enjoy yourself and look forward to a good time on the slopes.

Even if you have skied for a while, or are coming back to skiing, a “tune up” lesson, clinic or program is a great way to re-start and improve your skills.

4. Get Out There

The “over 50” market is a big one and a growing one for the ski industry. Websites, equipment, clothing, lessons and more are all geared to “north of 50”. There are “over 50” ski clubs and groups (regular clubs, clubs for singles, seniors clubs) to ski in a group and socialize afterwards. There are “over 50” ski holidays offered by some ski clubs and ski tour operators. Liftopia has you covered for great deals on lift tickets when you buy in advance and if you are over 65, they have senior prices too. There are no excuses!

Above all…

Ski at your own pace and on the terrain that you feel most comfortable on. If you skied when you were young, the exhilarating mogul runs and double black diamonds may now be a thing of the past. But you can still have a great day of fresh winter air, physical exercise and great skiing. When you get tired, simply call it a day. Go back to the ski lodge, get a hot drink and sit by the fireplace to warm up. There’s always tomorrow…

How to Avoid Common Mistakes On The Mountain

A great day of skiing
Photo by Melvin Wahlin on Pexels.com

As a ski patroller and veteran skier, I’ve seen more than my share of mistakes on the mountain. And there is a theme with common mistakes – not being prepared and/or not skiing smart. Here are some ways to avoid those common mistakes on the mountain:

1. Be prepared for a Workout

Skiing and snowboarding are great workouts. A day on the slopes requires stamina, a strong core and leg muscles. If you plan on hitting a big mountain with long runs, skiing will be harder still. If you have a decent fitness level, you’ll have a good base for your day on the slopes and adjust easier to the demands of skiing and boarding. A regular fitness routine will help you to ski or snowboard better and longer.

2. Avoid heading straight to the Black Diamonds

Start out easy at the beginning of the day. Experienced skiers always take it easy for, at least, the first few runs before heading off to the diamond runs. Warm up and get your focus on movement, turns and technique before you crank it up on more challenging stuff. Gain confidence with easier runs before moving to diamond runs. Work your way up to the more serious, advanced, narrow, thrill rides.

skiing a black diamond run
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

3. Use common sense

There is something called the Alpine Responsibility Code which many skiers know, and many don’t. It’s typically posted on a yellow sign at the bottom of most lifts. It’s a combination of safety rules and common sense for skiers and snowboarders. For example, always stay in control; do not stop where you obstruct a trail, before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others, etc. Follow these rules (ski smart) and you’ll stay safe and avoid the common mistakes of others.

4. Pay attention to lifts

Getting on and off lifts is prime for accidents. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll quickly find that the chairlift is unforgiving. High speed chairs pick you up slowly, but then move fast. Be ready, line up with skis pointed forward and poles in hand. Getting off a chairlift can be a challenge for novice skiers and boarders. At the offloading area, simply stand up and let the chair push you. T-bars or other vintage lifts are completely unknown to new or young skiers, so ask for help from the lift operator or ski patrol if you need it.

a great day of snowboarding
Photo by Visit Almaty on Pexels.com

5. Don’t think you can ski all day (with no break)

If you only ski while on a ski vacation, you’ll need to pace yourself for a full day on the slopes. As a Canadian Ski Patroller, I’m on shift all day and break the day into parts: a few hours of skiing and then take a break. Back out again for a few more hours then take a lunch break. After lunch, I’m back out again with a break in the afternoon. Don’t over do it and your last run will be as good as your first run.

taking a break from skiing
Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

6. Avoid borrowing your Dad’s old equipment

Chances are your Dad’s equipment is old, worn out and/or doesn’t fit. Take a pass. If you don’t have your own equipment, rent from a ski shop where they will provide decent equipment based on your skill level. Boots need to be comfortable. Bindings should be set so that they will release your skis when needed. Tuned up skis make it easier to hold an edge and get down the hill. Helmets are very much in style and should be mandatory for their obvious protection. A helmet can’t prevent a concussion, but it could reduce the severity of one. Use quality equipment that fits you and your level of ability.

7. Not Layering Up

I’ve become a bit of an expert at dressing for winter. Wearing the wrong type of clothes can result in a not-so-happy ski day. For example, don’t wear cotton socks and a cotton shirt as your base layer. You will not be warm. The best way to layer up for skiing is to have three high-quality layers: a thin base layer (long johns); an insulating mid-layer (fleece or ski sweater) and then ski pants/ski jacket. Keep active, take rest breaks and keep nourished (your body stays warmer with fuel intake). If your clothes get wet, change them.

Get ready for a great day on the slopes! If you are going on a ski vacation, check out my TuGo post – What to Pack for a Ski or Snowboard Trip. And don’t forget your travel insurance if you travel outside your home province or Canada. Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors!