Travelling alone can be liberating, TVNZ Breakfast host Hayley Holt tells Stephanie Holmes.
As someone who talks for a living, Hayley Holt really appreciates the chance for some alone time. The TVNZ Breakfast host says she loves the opportunity her job affords for meeting new people and hearing what they have to say about the world, but sometimes, she just needs to get away.
"I've travelled solo quite a bit recently, and I have done that because I've needed a break," she told me and Trip Notes co-host Tim Roxborogh in the new episode of the podcast, available today. "Often that's why I go away by myself — because I don't want to talk to anyone."
Solo travel can be liberating — you get the chance to be totally selfish and do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it. But it can be intimidating to travel alone as a woman, with safety concerns always top of mind.
But Hayley says nothing should stop you seeing the world, whether or not you have a plus one.
"It's how you hold yourself. If you're confident and not worried, then people don't hassle you. That's my experience anyway."
To hear more about our experiences and tips for solo travel, listen to Trip Notes — the new episode is available now at iHeart Radio, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher ... wherever you usually get your podcasts.
And in the meantime, here are some handy hints for how to navigate a trip alone.
Doing some research before you travel — and even before you book — will be of great benefit. Use online reviews, forums and travel stories to find out some of the most popular destinations around the world for female solo travellers. Look for tips on what to do — and what not to do — there.
Ideally, no destination should be off-limits to female travellers but it's all about working out where your comfort zone lies and finding something to suit.
Keep people informed
Leave details of your trip with a trusted friend or family member. Check in with them regularly and let them know how your trip is going — even if it's just a quick message on Facebook, or post on Instagram.
You should also register your travel plans on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (MFAT) website, safetravel.govt.nz. In the unlikely event of an emergency or natural disaster, these details will help MFAT check on your wellbeing and send you important information and updates.
Use common sense
Don't do anything you wouldn't do at home, including walking alone in unfamiliar locations late at night. Be careful how much you drink and don't accept drinks from anyone else unless you see them being poured by bartenders in front of you. Don't carry huge wads of cash, and keep your valuables well hidden. In fact, leave your valuables at home, unless they're essential for your trip. Trust your gut instinct — usually if something feels wrong, it's because it is.
Make the most of technology
Download offline maps and information to your smartphone so you always know where you are. Keep a fully-charged powerbank and cable with you so you'll never be caught out with a drained battery.
Uber and ride-sharing apps are a gift for solo travellers — not only do you have a record of your driver, their vehicle and your route, you can also share these details with a friend, in real-time, while you ride.
And other apps can be useful too — Hayley says she used Bumble while travelling solo in Hawaii to make some new friends who helped show her around. And these days you don't necessarily need to use the app for dates — Bumble BFF matches females looking for platonic friendships, perfect for people new in town and looking for company.
When in doubt, call in the experts
If all this sounds too daunting, how about trying a guided tour? You'll meet like-minded people, many of whom will also be travelling solo, but someone else does all the hard work of arranging transport and accommodation. There are many female-only tours these days, but even joining a mixed gender tour means you can feel safe in the knowledge that you have a guide looking after your safety and wellbeing. That way, all you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday.
To hear more about Hayley Holt's favourite travel memories, listen to Trip Notes.
Subscribe, and each new episode will automatically download every fortnight — ready for you to listen on your way to work, while you dream about your next holiday. You can also go to nzherald.co.nz/tripnotes to watch video from the podcast.
For more travel inspiration, go to intrepidtravel.com