The Greek islands are ideal for solo female travelers during high season between the end of May and the end of August. Australia’s winter falls during Greece’s summer so most Aussies venture over to surf, party and island hop. You’ll be in good company. Because most other people are also travelers looking to make friends, it’s easy to collect a group as you move around the islands.
Building confidence as a solo traveler requires flexibility and openness to making mistakes. So far, I’ve dealt with my mistakes through a combination of luck and sense of humor. Here are three things about Greek travel, from my experiences, you should know before you go:
1. The Greek police aren’t always your friends. I naively expected foreign police to have similar attitudes as American law enforcement. Wrong. From my hellish experience in a Greek jail, I found that foreign law enforcement doesn’t always respect travelers. I learned the hard way that my rights stay in the U.S. upon departure. It sounds jaded, but don’t trust any one, including foreign police. The more experience you have traveling the better your instincts become. The Greek islands are a great place to hone these instincts without feeling too outside your element.
2. Don’t spend too long in Athens. The city steeping in layers of historic ruins is a traveler’s must-see. It is also dirty, crowded, sweltering in the summer and famous for pickpocketing. Even in the well-lit metro I felt like a walking bull’s-eye target for thieves and sketchy people. I’d recommend not spending more than one or two days here if you’re traveling alone. Because it is so big, it’s tougher to meet people. Every time I’m in Athens my instincts are inexplicably on edge. Plus, in conversations with other travelers, I’ve found most wish they would’ve spent less time in Athens and more time in Northern Greece, or on the islands.
3. Tuck in with a good group similar to you. People are curious about me as a solo female traveler. And I relate really well to guys. For a portion of every trip I take, a group of other male travelers scoops me up and it works out. I still feel independent because I can leave them at any time, but having other people around makes feel less like a solo female target. You also have to account for group chemistry and the character of the people themselves, most of which is luck. Figure out your social strengths and play off them when you travel. Look for travelers similar to you and be friendly. A group of Miami boys changed their plans to meet up with me a few days after we met, and as travel-luck would have it, we found each other on Santorini at the end of the week—just in time to catch the gorgeous sunset before driving back under the Greek streetlights on our rented 4-wheelers. A huge part of travel is stretching your comfort zones, but never put yourself in a situation where you’re so uncomfortable that your safety is on the line.
To read more about Patty’s travels, visit: http://www.pattyhodapp.com/