Travelling solo as a female is not for every woman. You are a lot more vulnerable to dangerous situations than that of a solo travelling male, especially in culturally varied countries. Personally I enjoy the freedom that is offered with travelling on my own, having to think on my feet and knowing that I only have myself to rely on to get from location to location, safely and on time.
It’s vital to keep your wits about you and your head screwed on your shoulders, always aware of the environment around you and more importantly the strangers around you and their interactions with you. I believe the positive aspects of travelling alone far outweigh the risks.
You certainly want to be prepared and plan ahead for any trips abroad that involve remote locations, rugged and wild environments such as jungle and jagged reef and travel by alternative transport such as dugout canoes and local boats with no safety precautions in place.
Many surf adventures I have been on, I don’t know how I would have got through the trip without my basic survival kit. One time I came off my motorbike and landed in cactus-like thorns in a remote island in Indonesia, spending eight hours digging thorns out of my feet. I hate to think what the outcome would have been without my first aid kit. With no external assistance outside of the small base of surfers, there was an incredible resemblance to Peter Pan & The Lost Boys, having to deal with every medical situation independent of hospitals and authorities.
Swiss Army Knife
No this is not for stabbing pirates on your solo Indonedian boat crossings. Even when I’m not on the road I always have my keyring size Swiss Army Knife on me. The handy scissors are great for girly things like broken nails, threads that have come undone on clothing and cutting split ends to kill time. They are also handy for the bigger-fish-to-fry jobs like opening tough plastic packaging and cutting through anything that you generally couldn’t get through, by chewing with your own teeth.
Keep the knife sharp and use it to cut and peel fruit from trees, slice banana leaves to make strong threads of string and to drill drinking holes in coconuts. The Swiss Knife doubles up as a manicure kit and I believe it’s built equally for adventurous chicks who rock up on a surf trip prepared, as it is for macho guys. By the way that’s me peeling an orange after a jungle trek in Northern Thailand. This can be you too.
How many times have you heard the ridiculous saying “have you got any scissors on you?” in the most inappropriate places. Be prepared to save the day. Don’t forget to keep it in your checked luggage when flying, you don’t want to cause a scene at customs, having a “weapon” in your hand luggage. Built to last a lifetime, the Swiss Army Knife is a must-have for any chicks chasing wild adventures.
Top Quality First Aid Kit
This one goes without saying. If you’re a surfer you absolutely don’t want to be travelling without a good first aid kit. I was lucky to have a friend gift me an extensive first aid kit for one of my birthdays. The essential components are still going strong ten years later.
Usually I will add quite a bit of stock to the kit, in terms of alternative medicine treatments that are tried and true. As I use mostly organic, chemical-free products, I usually turn to Chinese Medicine, especially for reef cuts. You simply don’t want to leave even the smallest cuts untreated, as in the tropics things can go bad pretty quick.
I also always add tea tree oil for minor cuts, acne and inflamed skin and activated charcoal capsules (again Chinese Medicine), which are great for stomach upsets and flushing the system of other nasties.
I found a great ointment by “Die Da Yao Jing” which is what Indonesian fisherman have used for centuries to treat cuts, as well as the old school surfers, that first explored the remote islands. The mixture contains around 12 potent natural herbs and has an unmistakeable red pigment that make your cuts look even hardcore. But trust me it works wonders. When I found myself atop of the reef, I would applying three times a day, or after each and every session in the ocean. Create the habit because it’s worth your effort. My reef cuts heal quick, without risk of infection in a remote region.
I also add hydration packs in powder form such as Powerade, which are great for long overnight hauls on boats. Especially those boats more suited for livestock than humans, where the toilet is a mouldy hole in the deck. With the powder you then only have to pour it into a cup of water, which will hydrate you equally as well as a small bottle of water. The electrolytes are great for the essential minerals lost through sweat, especially in hot and humid countries. Only having to drink a small cup of fluid, saves you visiting the bathroom every few hours through sculling too much water. You also don’t have the weight of heavy water bottles.
No not those needles you junkie. I mean the type to get spliters out. There was this one trip where I spent eight hours digging thorns out of my feet (yes I was a bit young and reckless riding barefoot down sand tracks). The nature of the thorns were similar to rose thorns, except the tip was black, which was exactly what snapped off deep inside my hooves. A sensation similar to broken shards of glass in the foot. Never again.
I must have missed a couple of thorns as by the time I left the island two days later, they were well on their way to infection. Lucky for a layover in Bali and a visit to the “pedicure parlour” fixed that. The local Indo woman said they were very bad thorns and I needed to go to hospital. After I refused and pleaded some more, she bravely transformed from pedicure artist to nurse and removed them for me over a few hours of pain. If I wasn’t able to dig the scores of thorns out earlier, from a borrowed needle (yes sterile) I would have been in a lot of trouble. Future lesson.
Wherever it is you decide to embark on a surf trip, adventure is guaranteed. Usually with adventure comes injury, because you’re so caught up in the adrenaline of the moment and creating amazing memories. Never, ever rely on anyone else for backup in terms of a quality, well kitted first aid bag, because they’re probably equally relying on you!