Friday, 3 October 2008

Going solo: propping up female confidence

When I was travelling around South and Central America for the Guardian earlier this year, I received lots of emails from female travellers looking for advice.

"All my friends travel with their boyfriends. I'm not sure if I can do it alone" was a line that sticks in my mind.

Of course, I encouraged her and everyone else debating taking the leap. Solo travel is great for boosting confidence and, in my experience, you are never on your own for long.

Journalist Fiona Cullinan contacted me last week when she was researching this What's stopping you? piece for

Of course, I'd recommend travel networking for meeting new people, but I appreciate that for inexperienced travellers the concept of meeting strangers online can be even more scary than the idea of being all alone. So I'd suggest, as a starting point, organising a group tour or staying in a hostel. It won't immerse you in local life, but it will ease you in gently and help you get used to the travellers' mentality.

Fiona has lots of other tips in her piece. One that caught my eye was the idea of travelling with a prop as a talking point. I emailed Fiona to find out more and she told me she travelled with a small guitar with stickers from each country she visited. "After three years, it was covered and people would come up and ask to photograph it, " she says.

Now this, I can understand. A beloved object with a purpose, one she could use to keep herself, and others, entertained. Good on you, Fiona. But the Glaswegian travelling with a monster-tyre? Did he also introduce himself by saying "all my mates think I'm well mad"? Sorry, I'm not convinced.