|Bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco|
I'm not saying that guys don't have to be careful, but as a girl, you are unarguably perceived as more vulnerable especially when you're on your own.
You can manage risks 3 ways: eliminate, mitigate or isolate. But let's not make an engineering report (haha) and instead I'll tell you how I planned, what I did and how I would do things differently next time.
|Exploring Santa Monica and Venice Beach on a cruiser|
- First things first, it might be tempting to announce your itinerary on Facebook, but the less people who know you'll be by yourself, the safer. You don't know who's viewing your posts, who's looking at your friends' News Feed or who's overhearing your conversations. It's best to only let your closest friends and family know.
- I gave my flight details and the addresses of my AirBnB to my parents, including the hosts' contact details. So they can check things up if I haven't contacted them upon my arrival.
- It's important to let someone know where you'll be each day (advice from my concerned friend, Jonathan). I did not know anyone at my destination, nor was I meeting anyone, but I stayed in an AirBnB, so I left a note on my bed with my contact number, the place I'm visiting that day and my expected time of return. Not that the hosts are likely to go into my room, but if I went off the radar, the note should be of help.
|I loved LA's Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax|
- One of my fears was losing my passport! I had a JP sign a photocopy of my passport and kept that in my suitcase, and I also noted the address and contact number of the NZ embassy in LA. If you're staying in a hotel, use the safety deposit box to securely store your passport. But because I stayed in an AirBnB where there were other guests coming and going and no lock on my door (or no door, for that matter), I took my passport with me. Good news, I didn't lose my passport! I kept it in my bag, separate from my purse, and my bag came with me everywhere I went.
- This is your social media guide: as I've mentioned, keep details of your lone trip on the downlow and only tell people with the intention of them to keep tabs on you. Unlike my other social media platforms, I know everyone on my Snapchat friends list so I used it to let people know where I am as I go along. I was fortunate enough to get a USA phone plan with heaps of data, so I could use the live updates to my advantage. Everything else (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook) was quiet for a while. You just don't know how people could track you down. I have been able to figure out where some YouTube vloggers lived just by watching their vlogs.
|Andy Warhol at San Francisco MoMA|
- This is me being overly cautious, but I didn't want people there to know that I was on my own and had no contacts in the city. Of course, I met people and to make friendly conversations they asked where I'm from (despite me putting on an American accent, sometimes the Kiwi accent would slip in). It's okay to make up a story! I'm meeting my brother later/ I'm staying with my uncle/ I'm waiting for my dad to pick me up...
Just be wise and wary of who could be listening in.
|The irony that I did not have friends with me|
- One of the things I didn't plan very well was night time travel. I loved how the shops stayed open til 10pm but I did not plan how I would get back after that. I took public transport most of the time but I did not feel comfortable taking the train or waiting in a quiet bus stop/ subway at night so I took Uber/ Lyft instead. Although that blew the budget, sometimes the price is worth the peace of mind. Also, did you know there are gangs in East LA?!
- Which brings me to my next point- know the unsafe places. I asked my friends who had been to the city before to point out the places that I shouldn't go to after dark on my own. And make sure you know where the places are on the map! Tenderloin does not have signs that say "Naive girls, keep out".
- The only time I needed someone there was when I was trying to figure out how to pay at a restaurant! I did not know how to tip or how to pay the bill, thank goodness my friends on Facebook were quick to help!
|Disadvantages of travelling alone: some selfies are difficult to take|
You can be overly-cautious, but don't let this dampen your trip, don't view everyone as a potential threat. Enjoy the moment and the things you discover.
Plan for the worst, expect the best, don't get Taken.
Have an enjoyable time! You'll love travelling by yourself.