Sometimes I wonder why I’m still alive. This thought popped up several times already throughout my lifetime. I tried to answer it a few times. Now, when I reflect on my past travels instead of traveling, I think about it more often. I doubt I have special skills. Instead, I believe I was lucky, and my lack of knowledge was a blessing!
In 2018 Cape Town was ranked the most dangerous city in Africa and the 11th worldwide. But I didn’t know about it before and during my first solo trip ever. I didn’t even realize it after! Ignorance, my friends, is protection.
Just kidding. It’s not. I knew so little back then! I was careless, naive, and very, very lucky.
As a hiking enthusiast willing to actively spend the time, I quite accurately chose Cape Town as my destination. I was also fairly new to traveling solo, so I picked something I could fly directly from Dubai.
Cape Town and I
I fell in love with Kaapstad! I love it ever since. It has almost everything to be my perfect place to live, having almost everything: marvelous, majestic Table Mountain, stunning the Atlantic Ocean, sun, great food, and wine – a paradise.
It lacks safety, though. Violence, pain, oppression that went down in history are used now to incite more cruelty and hatred. Besides that, many people are poor.
During my trip, I let myself get lost in the Table Mountain National Park day after day, wowed by rocks, stones, and plants from an olive tree to the tiniest plant I saw. I explored the Newlands Forest, hiked Devil’s Peak, climbed to the summit of iconic Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, and then walked to Signal Hill, rarely meeting anyone during my little escapades.
My stay in Cape Town took 5 days. I came back home safe and sound. There were moments when my radar detected a danger, which made me go back, be more careful, and alert. One should always listen to one’s guts.
I even strolled all the way from my hostel on Long Street to a Clifton beach, coming back to the City Center after dusk. No one bothered me nor tried to hurt.
So I took safety for granted.
Since then, I have traveled to Cape Town several times. All my visits were short as they took place as part of work. Every time I confidently wandered around.
In March, before the world went into lockdown, I went for a stroll. Walking aimlessly in flip-flops and a summer dress, I ended up in the lower parts of Table Mountain National Park, somewhere between Signal Hill and Lion’s Head peak. This is how I love mountains! 😄
Omitting the lack of proper outfit, I was enjoying myself. Bliss didn’t last long because I was picked up by rangers patrolling the field. The men showed me hiding in the bush potential attackers, explained how the local mugger gang works, and escorted me back to the city center.
Once again: my luck. But one cannot depend only on luck. That’s why I prepared a few tips you might find useful while traveling solo.
10 tips on traveling alone
- Don’t look like a tourist: look around, be aware of your surroundings, but don’t turn your head around like an ostrich sensing a predator; leave your shiny, expensive-looking accessories at home.
- Do your research: prepare yourself, know where you are going, or act as you know; download an offline map with pins on it; learn a little bit about local culture, acceptable behavior, some words in the local language.
- Have a friend/a family member “waiting for you” in the hotel room or rather claim that you have. In different words: don’t boast that you travel alone.
- Don’t accept a ride from a stranger, even if it’s a woman with a child.
- Be smart about money: take local currency in small bills; have a credit card that will work in most countries; know your budget.
- Have your documents online: take a picture of your passport and other important documents, keep in a cloud drive, you can also send them in an email, so, in case you lose your documents and cellphone, you can access them easily.
- Pack light, be minimalistic: most of the time, we need fewer things than we think. 😉
- Use a VPN while using public wifi, especially when logging in to online banking or giving your credit card details.
- Take local transport: if you want to take public transport, what I encourage you to do, plan it, download an application of a company operating in the county/region/city, like Careem in the UAE, Cabify in Spain, Ola in India, and so on; consider taking a cab, car at night.
- Have fun! Talk to people, make new friends, unless it’s not your thing. You can meet people while staying in a hostel, or attending a day tour, etc.
While we are all waiting for the world to open, share your experience, observations, and tips in the comments.
Happy remembering past travels and planning the new ones! 🤟🏼