Your first time in a new country as a solo woman traveller can be a little daunting even in countries where you do speak the language. For your first time in a country its best to plan your stay (or at least the first few days of it) before you go.
Living in Australia, my trips abroad begin with one or two huge long haul flights (usually 11 hours or more), resulting in a tired and a little bit smelly woman landing in a foreign place. No matter how much sleep you manage on the plane the journey is tiring and you need to stay awake to adjust to the time zone you have landed in. Knowing that there’s a comfortable bed and a hot shower awaiting you is just the most wonderful thing. Booking your accommodation for the first few nights is a no brainer!
Putting together a perfect itinerary can be hit and miss. There are a number of websites and Apps that can help you with this, however, even the best of these tools wont work unless you’ve done some research on your destination.
Build your itinerary.
Start with creating a list of everything you want to do or see at your destination. Be realistic – don’t even think about looking at or booking anything apart from grabbing some food and most likely, copious amounts of coffee, on the day you land.
Next thing is to put this list in priority order and check out forums, travel books or reviews to help you estimate how long your activity will take and how to get there. You may not get the perfect itinerary but you will be on track to make the most of your stay. Remember its nice to have some spare time in your itinerary to ‘just get lost’ – one of the most wonderful ways to really experience different cultures. You will find that all the adventures are definitely ‘off the well worn tourist track’. Don’t worry Google maps (and paper maps) make sure you aren’t really lost forever. Although while I was in Paris recently, one American tourist stopped me to ask me where we were on the map, he was ‘lost’ too – I had to laugh, he had his map upside down and I had to tell him he was on the right bank of the Seine not the left bank. This is why I use Google maps.
Build in time to ‘get lost’
I have always been one to ‘get lost’. As a young child, I would often have to be picked up from a police station somewhere in the city I lived in. I must have given my mother a heart attack each time this happened – poor mum! I just remember that the police would feed me sweets and ice cream. On a recent trip to Rome, I did my usual ‘get lost’ thing. It was a really hot day and my feet had swollen from walking – one of those things that happens to the not so young woman. I found a place to sit in a quiet backstreet. The street was so quant and lined with lovely little shops. Apart from the shopkeepers, there was hardly anyone around. Behind me was an amazing ancient building. I sat there for a while (my feet still not recovered) and wondered why there was no sign of any tourists here. When I finally recovered, I began to meander around to the front of the building wondering what was in store for me. There I was confronted by a huge crowd of tourists along with the usual following of tourist scammers. I had been sitting behind the Pantheon. I just couldn’t help but to giggle thinking to myself, you people have just missed out on seeing the best part of this building.
Time to get started on your own itinerary remembering time to ‘just get lost’!