Traveling solo is not for everyone. However, I’m a firm believer that you need to try it once or twice to know for sure it’s not for YOU. Personally, I’m a big fan of traveling alone and I’m an even bigger fan of traveling with a friend. Sometimes the latter isn’t an option.
When you desperately want to go to a country that your friends aren’t as interested in, or don’t have the time to join you, don’t let it stop you. Pack your bags, get on the plane, and go! Before you do that, check out travel advisory websites such as this one here.
Here are my 5 tips for a female traveling solo in Sri Lanka.
1. Buy a SIM card for your phone
After you pass through customs and collect your bags, there will be 3-5 counters claiming to be “The Best Country Wide Coverage Plan.” My recommendation is to go to the counter with the most people. Although there will be a line, there’s a line for a reason. Be patient and wait. It will come in handy throughout the trip when booking excursions or calling hotels.
2. Have an imaginary friend/significant other
My boyfriend became my imaginary travel partner (he had so much fun on this trip!). If someone asked if I had a boyfriend and where he was, I told them I did and he was at the closest location I could pinpoint. For example: If I was on the beach by my hotel, my boyfriend was using the bathroom inside. If I was on the train, he was at my next destination. Most of the time I wasn’t uncomfortable by the question. I found most people asking were reciting what they learned in their English class growing up and were excited to practice their English skills. I never needed to use my locations as escape plans but they were there to help in case of an emergency.
3. Follow a map on your phone
When I met Lucky at the airport upon my arrival, I tracked the car on Google Maps. I used “Current Location” as my starting point and my hotel address as the destination. It helped me follow the route to know if we were on track. I never had an issue with taxi drivers but it eases your mind feeling knowledgable about the geographic location.
4. Know cultural modesty
I should’ve done more research on this prior to my trip. In Thailand, I wear tank tops often and it’s not an issue so I assumed it would be okay in Sri Lanka (you know what they say about assuming). In Sri Lanka, shoulders should be covered. As a foreigner, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do this but you WILL be looked at, you scandalous individual you! You can buy scarves everywhere to wrap around you if you feel the stares become too much to handle. I found the beach communities and the major tourist cities were very relaxed about covered shoulders and I didn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place.
5. Use common sense
This is far too obvious, but still needs to be said. If someone asks what hotel you’re staying at, think about who they are. If they’re your tuktuk driver, you’re more than likely okay. If they ask what room you’re staying in – say you don’t know the room number and change the subject. If they keep pressing, get out and find another tuktuk.
Being a female traveling solo through Sri Lanka was such an incredible experience. I was nervous with everything I heard about how women are treated in India but I didn’t want to judge this entire country based on their close neighbor. Sri Lankan men and women were extremely respectful and helpful. I was never catcalled, I was never followed, and I never felt uncomfortable about being alone. As I’ve previously written, the weirdest thing was my thigh kiss, but even then I wasn’t scared… it was/is just SOOOOO weird! WHO DOES THAT?!?!
Be confident in yourself and it will show in your demeanor.