Ultimate Guide to Being a Lady Nomad

In the past 2.5 years I have been to 47 cities across 3 continents. Some of these tricks apply specifically to women, but a lot are just helpful for anyone who likes to travel. Here’s a massive brain-dump, so let’s do this!


1. FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Problem: I was scared to travel alone as a lady, especially late at night. I heard horror stories of women getting abducted or assaulted while traveling.

Solution: Join communities online and in person and use the buddy system. Cough up the extra bucks to take taxis home late at night. I always do research right before I land to check which taxi cabs are the least sketchy (this is particularly necessary in SE Asia). I also save the emergency numbers for police and ambulance in my contacts.

Join Online Communities

  • #Nomads- a massive community of over 3,000 nomads from around the world. One of my favorite groups is the #ladies channel, where women are actively discussing the highs and lows of wanderlust.
  • Solo Women Travelers- these chatty cathy’s are incredible supportive. If you are having cold feet about a trip, post there and you will have 40 women encouraging you to do it!
  • Digital Nomad Community- not quite as active, but still about 1,000 nomads posting about their travels.
  • Under 30 Nomads- this is for the people under 30 years old, often post about flight deals, and tips.
  • Ladies Storm Hackathons- Join this group. They have meetups at hackathons primarily in the U.S.
  • Hackathon Hackers- If you are a developer, this a great place to post questions or join an extremely active community.

Join Communities (in real life)

  • Hacker Paradise- I may be biased since I worked for them, but we have curated a community of developers and creatives from around the world to travel together.
Hacker Paradise group trip. Photo Credit: Matthew Bergman
  • Remote Year- Applications are closed right now, but they are a traveling community that goes around the world for 1 year commitments.
  • Meetup- great way to find hiking, hacking, or fun groups of like minded people.
  • Eventbrite- I love to go to these events alone. I always feel safe because they are in public spaces and the people usually are quite friendly.
  • DNX (Digital Nomad Conference)- I went to the most recent conf in Berlin and it was fantastic. The next one is in Bangkok
  • Sosh- hipstery events in Chicago, NY, SF, Seattle and DC
  • YPlan- tons of events & concerts in Europe, but expanding to the States
  • Hackathons- MLH & AngelHack, Startup Weekend: a fun and free way to meet other technical people around the world

Learn the language: I feel more comfortable instantly when I can say hello and thank you. I google these my first day and memorize them.

  • Duolingo- great app for gamifying new languages
  • Memrise- I personally prefer Memrise to Duolingo, they have mneuomics for every vocab word
  • Quizlet
  • StudyBlue
  • Take a course locally
  • Rosetta Stone- a classic, but much pricier than the free apps available

Volunteer- this is a personal favorite. I love to give back to the city I am staying in, because it gives me so much. I have met many friends through volunteering as I travel.

  • Do research on local nonprofits and cold email them

Try coworking- I always feel safe at coworking spaces. Usually you can make friends there and this is great way to have a local buddy.

  • Copass- a membership service that gives you access to coworking spaces around the world.
  • Sharedesk
  • Coworking Wiki- a list of coworking spaces around the world

Find Trustworthy Accommodation- For accommodation, check the reviews diligently. I would recommend staying with families, couples, or female hosts.

  • Airbnb- Having a private room with a family is like having a host family, it is a nice way to feel settled quickly.
  • Wimdu- european version of Airbnb
  • Trusted Housesitters
  • Mind my House
  • Workaway.info- only go to ones that have at least a few positive reviews and stories. I personally do not like to stay with a single man, but rather a couple or female host.
  • Couchsurfing- as a lady, I would recommend only staying with women. I have had some friends have negative experiences with men hosts trying to sleep with them.
  • Craigslist or localized versions
  • Hotel Tonight- last minute deals on hotel rooms
  • Wwoof- free accommidation for local farming exchange

2. PRIORITIZE YOUR HEALTH

Problem: Sometimes I like to cry. But when I travel, I don’t have my best friend or family next door.

Solution: Joining communities like I spoke about above or Skyping my family/friends. There are also options such as talking to active listeners or even therapists that will Skype you.

Mental health or therapy: Traveling alone is not easy. It may look glamorous on Instagram, but sometimes you just want a big hug from your best friend or mom. Some people think traveling is therapy, but sometimes that is not the case.

  • Lemonaid- a project I am working on to create a Slack group for women talking openly about the sweet & sour parts of life.
  • 7 Cups of Tea- get connected with an active listener for free
  • Talkspace- remote therapy

Keep in touch with friends from home

Mindfulness/Meditation: I get anxious, medidation and yoga and my ways of calming my crazy inner voice that may tell me to stop

Routines

Value Ergonomics

Insurance

  • Worldnomads — Travel insurance made for nomads
  • Geoblue- good for shorter term travel if you are American

Treat yo’self

  • Get massages or manicures every once in a while. Particularly if you are going to Asia since they will be less than $5.

3. MANAGE YOUR MONEY

Problem: Traveling costs money.

Solution: Find a remote job, creating a travel blog or service, and tracking my expenses diligently.

How to find a remote job

Tracking your expenses

  • Mint-my personal favorite. Great for setting budgets and alerts.

4. TRAVEL SMART

Problem: Planning takes a lot of logistics and time. It also stresses me out when I don’t have my flights or next locations booked (aka right now). I also don’t know which countries are safe for women.

Solution: Have travel goals for the next month, create a budget, and travel hack. Most of the resources below are non-gender specific so I also do research on safety indexes and the perception of women in local cultures before booking flights. Another way I feel safe is by being super aware. My personal rule is I don’t drink when I am alone.

Learn How to Travel Hack

Booking flights

  • Google flights- my personal favorite, you can see when the cheapest days are in a graph form for every search.
  • Hipmunk: They have a great visualizer for flight options

Eurail Pass/Train/bus

  • Rome2Rio- This site is a life saver. It can pull information from flights, buses, trains, ridesharing and more to compare the best route.
  • Seat61-train travel advice
  • Sign in to Google Maps and star your favorite places before you leave wifi. I usually look up local restaurants, attractions and bars right when I arrive. This is by far my best travel hack, especially if you don’t have a phone with a global data plan.
First search, then click save. They will be available offline, and so will your magic blue dot.

5. STAY INSPIRED

Problem: Travel can be exhausting. No one really talks about the downsides, but they do exist, I swear.

Solution: I keep my wanderlust alive by following beautiful Instagram accounts and blogs to inspire my next travels.

Blogs

Instagrams to follow

@MuradOssmann

6. PACKING 101

Problem: I can’t lift my suitcase…

Solution: Pack half of what you think you need. You’re going to want to buy stuff when you’re there. I carry a backpack and a carry-on suitcase now. I always test if I can carry my suitcase up the stairs in my house before I leave for the airport.

Gear: cute gear is often hard to find. I am still on the hunt for the perfect backpack, but I like the Thule one I have for now.

Tortuga Backpacks
  • Elephant Wallet- for the minimalists
  • SmartPurse- I design these myself so I make them to my own needs. The most recent one I made fits my passport, cash, and has coin pockets.
  • Thule Backpack- I have beat up this backpack for 2 years and you cannot even tell. It can be small or it can fit an absurd amount of things. I love it dearly.

7. DON’T GIVE UP ON DATING

Problem: I still want to date, but I don’t trust strangers.

Solution: Do things you like. Those are where the people you may like are hiding. Go to events, play sports, go dancing, just do your thang.

Dating

  • Single Digital Nomads
  • Tinder- a great way to see a new town is ask locals on Tinder for tips, even if you don’t meet them
  • OkCupid
  • Date A Nomad
  • Networking events/parties at coworking spaces

8. UPDATE YOUR TOOLKIT

Problem: I want to stay productive while traveling. Distractions are very easy.

Solution: Track your time, get in consistent routines, and iterate.

Tools

  • Toggl- time tracking software
  • Evernote- I organize my itineraries here
  • Week cal- I’ve been using this app for years to have a more visual display of my calendar
  • Flux- your computer adjusts the brightness by the time of day. great for your biological clock and eyes
  • Rescuetime-get a weekly productivity report
The stats from this morning while I researched this article
  • Spotify premium- offline mode is super great for long flights
  • Elly- record a 1 second video everyday
  • Viber, Whatsapp and Facebook- for making calls and texts
  • Moo.do- like Trello but syncs with Google Drive
  • Foursquare & Yelp
  • Audible- First month is free. This is my favorite way to wander around a city, accompanied by a fantastic book. It also comes with a NTY audio digest that I listen to daily to keep informed while I travel.
  • IFTTT- you can do nIFTTTy things like get a text with the weather each morning. It’s totally customizable and free.
  • Feedly- personalize a news source
  • Hola- a VPN that is a Google Chrome plugin. Go ahead, binge on Netflix.
  • Tripadvisor app- normally I just use the mobile browser version, but the app has a “near me now” setting which is wonderful. Tripadvisor is consistent around the world, where some countries may not use Foursquare or Yelp.
  • Wifi Map- lists of local wifi cafes and their password info

I hope this hasn’t been too overwhelming, but rather a hefty toolkit to prep you for a safe and exciting adventure. Feel free to say hi to me here if you have any questions!