The cleverest travel hacks for female wanderers.

Last night I visited my grandmother and her sister. They’d just been to an event with friends and they felt defeated.

All the women at this even had travelled. Had lived five years in Venice or three years in London or spent six months in South Africa. My grandmother and her sister have achieved a lot of things – they both had a career in a time where it was unusual for wives to do so, they raised children, had successful marriages – but they didn’t live overseas. They didn’t travel often. They didn’t travel far.

These two women in their 70s and 80s have achieved so much that makes me proud to call them family. But they still felt defeated.

They regret not travelling.

It made me realise that all the finances and problems and finances and uncertainties (did someone say finances?) associated with travelling don’t really matter in the long run. Travelling is precious. How it changes you is invaluable.

Here are some tips to help you get it done. Some come from serious sources like the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website, others from travel-lusters who are anything but serious but know how to have a lot of fun.

Spending money wisely

  • Travel out of peak season
  • Try for only cabin luggage. Checked baggage is expensive
  • Stay away from hotels. Look to hostels and backpacker inns
  • Don’t eat at the tourist spots. Choose to dine where the locals are. It’s more affordable and usually nicer
  • Choose to see things that are free. Sight-seeing on your own. Hiking. Avoid pre-paid tours. You can likely do it on your own, for cheaper
  • Don’t get carried away with souvenirs. That mini Eiffel Tower is not going to make any difference. It’s the memories and the photographs and the internal changes that will truly stay with you

Your first purchase is the mot important one. Journalist and consultant to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Evelyn Hannon, is the editor of Journey Woman and she says the first thing she does when she travels to a new city is to buy something from a local store.

“I make a small purchase just so that I get a shopping bag with the store’s logo on it,” Hannon said. “To avoid looking like a tourist and to fit in, I leave my backpack at the hotel and carry my camera and maps in this grocery bag. One added benefit — thieves are far less prone to steal my shopping bag than to grab my backpack.”


Getting around

  • Stay safe on public transport by sitting near guards or other women
  • Use only registered taxis. Hop in the back seat, not next to the driver
  • Keep your pockets shielded on busy public transport. It’s prime time for pick pockets thieves
  • Don’t hitchhike… Just, don’t

Travel writer and author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day Matthew Kepnes says his best advice for getting around, particularly when on a budget, is to remain flexible.

“My biggest tip is to be flexible, either with time or where you want to go. If you have to be in a certain destination on a certain day, you’re stuck paying whatever prices are available. You have no wiggle room,” he told Intrepid Travel. “However, if you can be flexible with either time or your destination (being flexible with both is even better), you’ll be able to save money because you can take advantage of any deals you find. The difference of a day can be the difference of hundreds of dollars.”

Staying safe

I was groped in the dark while walking along a dirt road in an area that was known as “safe” in Nepal just after sunset,” travel writer and author Kristin Addis wrote in a guest post on Nomadic Matt. “Even if I had been holding pepper spray it wouldn’t have mattered, since he was so swift I never even saw his face or had a moment to react. When I told a police officer, his first question was to ask me what I was doing alone.”

But travelling, and travelling solo, doesn’t have to be scary, Addis continues. “By taking the right precautions, doing some research into customs and safety before visiting foreign countries, and going with your gut instincts, solo travelling can be safe, enjoyable, and incredibly rewarding,” she wrote. “Solo travelling doesn’t have to be dangerous or scary, it just requires the right amount of preparation and alertness.”

Some more tips, from the Smart Traveller website include:

  • Don’t share your travel plans and details publicly
  • Be careful with social media. Update your privacy settings. Be careful ‘checking in’ at different locations. You don’t want to attract unwanted attention
  • Book and check into accommodation using only your first name. Don’t give Miss / Mrs / Ms
  • Always inspect the room before taking it. Make sure there is a dead bolt and peep hole on the door. Check that the telephone is in working order
  • Consider using the hotel safe to store valuables, passports and money. If you don’t think the safe is secure. Use a money belt and divide you money between the belt, your wallet and luggage
  • Ask staff to write down the name and address of your accommodation in the local language
  • Never leave your drink unattended. Don’t drink or take drugs to excess
  • When walking with a handbag, hold it on the side of your body that is opposite to the street. Bag snatchers commonly come alongside you on motorbikes and scooters, which afford a quick getaway
  • As in Australia, don’t walk by yourself at night in isolated areas
  • Be aware of the customs of the country you’re visiting. For example, in some countries women aren’t allowed to shake a man’s hand. In others, it’s illegal for a woman and man to share a hotel room if they are not married
  • If you are travelling with friends, make sure you have independent control of your travel plans and situation

Need some travel inspiration? Coming right up…