Travel photographer reveals how women can travel solo safely

Travel photographer reveals how women can travel solo safely

Don’t dress like a tourist, watch your drinks and ALWAYS know the dress codes: Photographer who travels the world for work reveals the lengths she goes to to stay safe

  • Although things are changing it isn’t always safe for solo female travellers 
  • Australian travel photographer has revealed how to make it as easy as possible 
  • Michele Frolla, 33, from Sydney, makes a living out of jet setting
  • She has revealed her favourite places and how to travel safely as a woman 

Billie Schwab Dunn For Daily Mail Australia

Michele Frolla, 33, from Sydney, makes a living out of jet setting and knows the ins and outs of what makes a perfect trip.

And while she has spent plenty of time on the road in amazing places, she has also picked up a few tips and tricks about staying safe.

Unfortunately it’s not always easy for women to travel solo, but the Australian travel photographer behind Intrepid Guide has shared her tips to make such a task a breeze. 

‘As a female solo traveller, doing your research before you travel is essential. While it’s fun to flick through Pinterest pinning gorgeous photos of beaches, there are other things you should know too. Your safety is key,’ she told FEMAIL.

Michele Frolla, 33, from Sydney, makes a living out of jet setting and knows the ins and outs of what makes a perfect trip

Michele Frolla, 33, from Sydney, makes a living out of jet setting and knows the ins and outs of what makes a perfect trip

Michele Frolla, 33, from Sydney, makes a living out of jet setting and knows the ins and outs of what makes a perfect trip

‘Think about your safety in the context of the destination itself, your accommodation, getting around, and your health,’ Ms Frolla continued.

One of the most important parts of any trip is choosing the right accommodation and she recommends that women research where they want to stay by reading reviews from multiple websites. 

People want to pay attention to how previous guests rated their experience, what they said about safety and location and whether there are things they should be cautious of, she said.

Solo travellers should also take into account what public transport is like in that area, whether it is unsafe at certain hours and how they will get home if they’re stuck.

'As a female solo traveller, doing your research before you travel is essential. While it’s fun to flick through Pinterest pinning gorgeous photos of beaches, there are other things you should know too. Your safety is key,' she told FEMAIL

'As a female solo traveller, doing your research before you travel is essential. While it’s fun to flick through Pinterest pinning gorgeous photos of beaches, there are other things you should know too. Your safety is key,' she told FEMAIL

‘As a female solo traveller, doing your research before you travel is essential. While it’s fun to flick through Pinterest pinning gorgeous photos of beaches, there are other things you should know too. Your safety is key,’ she told FEMAIL

'Think about your safety in the context of the destination itself, your accommodation, getting around, and your health,' she added

'Think about your safety in the context of the destination itself, your accommodation, getting around, and your health,' she added

‘Think about your safety in the context of the destination itself, your accommodation, getting around, and your health,’ she added

How to look after your health 

– Look into what vaccines are needed

– Understand whether it’s safe to drink the tap water

– Pay attention to food that needs to be avoided

– Note where the nearest clinic or hospital is

– Make sure travel insurance covers sickness or injury

– Prepare for the possible local health issues, bugs or viruses

‘Your research should also extend to learning the basics of the local language,’ she said.

‘Not being able to communicate will give you a distinct disadvantage in many situations.’

Ms Frolla said people should particularly focus on basic words and phrases to carry out important things, like ask for directions.

It can also act as an ice-breaker for getting to know the locals and can help people avoid being ripped off when shopping. 

‘People will show you more respect when they see you’ve made an effort to learn some of their native language,’ she added.

One of the most important parts of any trip is choosing the right accommodation and she recommends that women research where they want to say by reading reviews from multiple websites

One of the most important parts of any trip is choosing the right accommodation and she recommends that women research where they want to say by reading reviews from multiple websites

One of the most important parts of any trip is choosing the right accommodation and she recommends that women research where they want to say by reading reviews from multiple websites

Solo travellers should also take into account what public transport is like in that area, whether it is unsafe at a certain hour and how they will get home if they're stuck

Solo travellers should also take into account what public transport is like in that area, whether it is unsafe at a certain hour and how they will get home if they're stuck

Ms Frolla said people should particularly focus on basic words and phrases to do important things like ask for directions

Ms Frolla said people should particularly focus on basic words and phrases to do important things like ask for directions

Solo travellers should also take into account what public transport is like in that area, whether it is unsafe at a certain hour and how they will get home if they’re stuck

Ms Frolla explained that every destination has its own unsafe areas, shady characters and pickpockets but if people plan well they can travel almost anywhere safely. 

‘I put off visiting Egypt for years until I finally bit the bullet and decided to go on an organised tour. I thought, if they are still running tours, it must be fine,’ she said.

‘Organised tours always work with locals who know the destination well and the fact they can speak the language means you’re always in safe hands.

‘From the moment I landed, I was met at the airport, received helped getting my visa, and was escorted through security. I couldn’t imagine doing all that by myself. Cairo airport is definitely an airport anomaly as far as airport standards go.’

Ms Frolla explained that every destination has its own unsafe areas, shady characters and pickpockets but if people plan well they can travel almost anywhere safely

Ms Frolla explained that every destination has its own unsafe areas, shady characters and pickpockets but if people plan well they can travel almost anywhere safely

Ms Frolla explained that every destination has its own unsafe areas, shady characters and pickpockets but if people plan well they can travel almost anywhere safely

The experienced traveller said it is important for jet setters to check their government travel website but to not to rely too heavily on it. 

‘These sites tend to paint the picture of doom and gloom. If we all followed their suggestions there would be fewer travellers,’ she said.

‘I recommend asking around, joining forums and travel groups on Facebook and asking people about their experiences. This will help you make better and more informed decisions.’

The experienced traveller said it is important for jet setters to check their government travel website but to not to rely heavily on it

The experienced traveller said it is important for jet setters to check their government travel website but to not to rely heavily on it

The experienced traveller said it is important for jet setters to check their government travel website but to not to rely heavily on it

Although there are a variety of countries to which solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites, starting with Norway and Iceland. 

Ms Frolla’s top countries to visit 

– Norway

– Iceland

– Great Britain

– Ireland

– The Netherlands

– Italy

– Paris

– Zurich

– Prague 

‘Their natural beauty is incredible and I’ve found Scandinavians to be especially friendly and welcoming,’ she said.

‘A near native level of English is spoken throughout the country and crime is pretty much non-existent.’

Second to these two countries on Ms Frolla’s list are Great Britain and Ireland.

She said that these are two great options for solo travellers to get their feet wet if they’re travelling for the first time as for many it may feel like a home away from home.

‘The Netherlands is a country I keep going back too, not only is it irresistibly charming with its flower-lined canals, but the Dutch are just so damn lovely,’ the photographer explained.

‘Start with Amsterdam and branch out to the adorable smaller cities like Leiden, The Hague, and Rotterdam.’

'I recommend asking around, join forums and travel groups on Facebook and ask people about their experiences. This will help you make better and more informed decisions,' she said

'I recommend asking around, join forums and travel groups on Facebook and ask people about their experiences. This will help you make better and more informed decisions,' she said

‘I recommend asking around, join forums and travel groups on Facebook and ask people about their experiences. This will help you make better and more informed decisions,’ she said

Although there are a variety of countries solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites

Although there are a variety of countries solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites

Although there are a variety of countries solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites

Although there are a variety of countries solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites

Although there are a variety of countries solo female travellers could fly to, Ms Frolla has particular favourites

Italy is another great option on her list as she said it is like no place on earth, but people should be cautious in some cities like Naples and Catania which have an underlying mafia presence.

Ms Frolla lived there herself for three years and travelled the country extensively.

‘I never felt unsafe, even in Naples! But that’s because I knew which neighbourhoods to avoid. Just be sure to brush up on your Italian. Rome and Florence are a must,’ she said.

‘Other great cities for solo females are Paris, Zurich, and Prague.’

Italy is another great option on her list as she said it is like no place on earth but people should be cautious in some cities like Naples and Catania which have an underlying mafia presence

Italy is another great option on her list as she said it is like no place on earth but people should be cautious in some cities like Naples and Catania which have an underlying mafia presence

Italy is another great option on her list as she said it is like no place on earth but people should be cautious in some cities like Naples and Catania which have an underlying mafia presence

Ms Frolla’s travel tips 

– Before I travel, I like to visit Google Maps and download the regions I’m traveling to so I have access to them offline

– I also do this with Google Translate and download the entire language library to my phone

– When it comes to packing, I can’t go without my Space Bags. I use them to help to organise my luggage, optimise the space I get and even to protect my clothes from any leakages

– Bring a power board as a lot of places only have a certain amount of power sockets

– To save money by getting better exchanges rates always withdraw cash from local ATMs once you arrive

Ms Frolla said she understands that it can be easy for people to drop their guard and ignore warning signs when they’re travelling but people should ask themselves whether they would do the same thing at home.

‘One of the most important lessons I learned whilst travelling is that I can’t trust everyone,’ she said.

‘As beautiful as the world is, there are some characters out there who know how to take advantage of inexperienced travellers.’

It is important that people be cautious with who they share information about themselves, especially where they’re staying, and who they leave their valuables with. 

‘If you meet someone you fancy during your travels, make sure you err on the side of caution and avoid speeding up the dating process,’ she warned.

Ms Frolla said she understands that it can be easy for people to drop their guard and ignore warning signs when they're travelling but people should ask themselves whether they would do the same thing at home

Ms Frolla said she understands that it can be easy for people to drop their guard and ignore warning signs when they're travelling but people should ask themselves whether they would do the same thing at home

Ms Frolla said she understands that it can be easy for people to drop their guard and ignore warning signs when they’re travelling but people should ask themselves whether they would do the same thing at home

'One of the most important lessons I learned whilst travelling is that I can’t trust everyone,' she said

'One of the most important lessons I learned whilst travelling is that I can’t trust everyone,' she said

‘One of the most important lessons I learned whilst travelling is that I can’t trust everyone,’ she said

‘Take your time to get to know them before you trust them. Don’t ask them to mind your stuff when you go to the bathroom or buy to you a drink when you’re not there,’ the photographer continued. 

‘Drink spiking is prevalent in bars and clubs, which if you’re not alert or sober enough to notice, can make you vulnerable to serious harm.’

Ms Frolla said it’s also important for people to not draw attention to themselves by dressing like a tourist.

She recommended that people read up on local dress codes and avoid unwanted attention.

This is especially important when visiting Muslim countries where you should cover your arms, legs and cleavage.

Ms Frolla said it's also important for people to not draw attention to themselves by dressing like a tourist

Ms Frolla said it's also important for people to not draw attention to themselves by dressing like a tourist

Ms Frolla said it’s also important for people to not draw attention to themselves by dressing like a tourist

‘If something does go wrong, have a backup plan. God forbid your wallet is stolen, you get hurt and need medical assistance, or you lose your passport,’ Ms Frolla said.

‘Use your email account to save a list of contact details such as your bank, an emergency contact, travel documents and of course, a copy of your passport and any visas you need for travel.’

The 33-year-old also recommended keeping a hard copy of these in a separate bag along with some emergency cash.

Simply putting aside $50 to $100 can ask as a financial buffer until people get themselves sorted. 

Ms Frolla also explained that making friends wile on the road is much easier than people may think.

The 33-year-old also recommended keeping a hard copy of these in a separate bag along with some emergency cash

The 33-year-old also recommended keeping a hard copy of these in a separate bag along with some emergency cash

The 33-year-old also recommended keeping a hard copy of these in a separate bag along with some emergency cash

Simply putting aside $50 to $100 can ask as a financial buffer until people get themselves sorted

Simply putting aside $50 to $100 can ask as a financial buffer until people get themselves sorted

Simply putting aside $50 to $100 can ask as a financial buffer until people get themselves sorted

She said one of the easiest ways to meet like-minded people is staying in hostel dormitories as people often naturally start conversations.

Although it may start with small talk, the shared passion of travel often unites people and will lead to people hanging out together. 

‘Hostel bar are also great hotspots for meeting fellow travellers. You don’t have to have a crazy night out to meet people,’ she said.

‘Head to the bar whenever you feel like socialising and you’ll meet people either chatting, playing cards to or having a few drinks. Join them. If you’re a bit shy, ask the hostel staff about social events they run and join those.’

'Hostel bar are also great hotspots for meeting fellow travellers. You don’t have to have a crazy night out to meet people,' she said

'Hostel bar are also great hotspots for meeting fellow travellers. You don’t have to have a crazy night out to meet people,' she said

‘Hostel bar are also great hotspots for meeting fellow travellers. You don’t have to have a crazy night out to meet people,’ she said

Ms Frolla’s favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki.

She found that when you spend a week with the same people, friendships grow very quickly. 

‘I’ve been on three group tours and I swear by them. I’ve met up with friends again years after our tour together and still message other who are thousands of miles away,’ she said.

If people don’t want to commit to such a long tour they can instead sign up for a walking tour and meet people that way instead.    

Ms Frolla's favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki

Ms Frolla's favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki

Ms Frolla's favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki

Ms Frolla's favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki

Ms Frolla’s favourite way to make friends was by going on an organised group tour like Topdeck or Contiki

‘Traveling solo is one of the most liberating and eye-opening experiencing you’ll ever have. You become more independent, street-smart, and confident,’ she said.

‘When you travel solo, you get to call all the shots, create and alter your schedule should an exciting invitation arises or something else comes up. If you’re tired, you can curl up in your bed whenever you want or go out when you’re feeling more sociable.

‘The best part of travelling solo is meeting people along the way. When you travel alone you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with someone than if you were already travelling with someone.’ 

Ms Frolla’s tips on what people should pack when they travel 

Documents

‘Gather all your travel paperwork and keep an electronic copy of it somewhere like in your email or on Dropbox,’ she said.

‘Keep a hard copy in your suitcase which has all your hotel confirmations, flight information, transfer details, a copy of your passport and any visas, a copy of your travel insurance details.

‘For added safety, always keep your passport separate from your wallet but never in your check-in luggage.’

Money

Ms Frolla recommended people get a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card or debit card as it will likely save people two to four per cent on purchases.

She also said for people to carry some cash but always withdraw money in the local currency upon arrival.

Technology

‘When you’re out and about, keep your USB devices charged with a portable USB battery pack,’ she said.

‘These things are absolute life-savers and are getting cheaper and cheaper.’

Clothing

Ms Frolla said it’s best to avoid packing bulky clothing, unless people are going to a freezing cold climate.

Instead dress in layers by packing lots of light and soft clothes like tops, cardigans, wraps, and tights.

‘This will allow you to easily adapt if the temperature spikes or drops unexpectedly,’ she said.

‘Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. Lost luggage happens to the best of us, all you can do it be prepared for it.

‘When planes get cold or you feel like a nap on a long bus journey, keep a blanket size scarf on hand to double as a either a jumper or pillow.’

Carry-On

It is important that people keep their most valuable items on them at all times, especially in transit. 

Things like phones, Kindles, iPads, passports, jewellery and cameras should never be left in your check-in luggage on flights or put in the hold of a bus.

‘Even if they aren’t stolen, they could get seriously damaged,’ she said.

Safety

Ms Frolla said that the next most important things to pack are locks and items that can keep you and your valuables safe.

‘In my eight years of travel, I’ve never had anything stolen. I credit this to watching my belongings like a hawk, always carrying the important stuff with me, and more recently, using thief-safe travel products,’ she said.

‘For added room safety at night, you can get travel door alarms which you can attach to the door and door frame. If an intruder opens the door, a loud alarm will sound.’

Advertisement
Read more: