Traveling alone is an amazing experience, especially as a solo female. So pack your bags ladies – your dreams await.
While traveling alone may make you nervous, it’s totally worth it! The first step may be the hardest, but it is also the one that will spur you to make deep connections, experience the true ‘you’, and (I believe) become a better woman.
Why You Should Try Traveling Alone
Want to raise some eyebrows? Tell someone you want to travel alone as a female. Expect to immediately hear concerns about your safety.
Society doesn’t like a deviation from the status quo.
You know what I’m talking about: the traditional path of a college degree, marriage certificate, and birth certificates. For some of us, for you, for me; we want a little more. It’s not that those things don’t have merit or that they don’t provide happiness. For those of us whom the allure of travel is undeniable, the idea of settling down runs counter to our dreams.
Kayaking in Pai, Thailand
Are you still not sure if this sounds like you? Let me tell you the three biggest reasons that traveling alone appealed specifically to me: freedom, self-exploration, and energy. When you travel alone, you don’t have to answer to anyone or explain your actions.
This results in control over doing the things that you truly enjoy (like spa days). This self-reliance, coincidentally, forces you to test the waters – sometimes literally. Once you start to focus on yourself, you find a certain energy. If you are naturally empathetic like me, stress or worry about others’ lives slowly drips away. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
One question you should expect to get more than any other as a solo female traveler: “Don’t you get lonely?” And, my answer is a resounding “Absolutely not!” Traveling solo is one of the best ways to meet people. Reflecting back on my experiences, I find I was more open and more approachable because I didn’t have my social safety net to find comfort in.
I was constantly meeting interesting people either from my hostel, tours or locally. I can truthfully say I never felt alone. If my newfound travel friends were getting a bit needy, and I needed some ‘me’ time, there was nothing obligating me to hang around anyone I didn’t momentarily want to.
If you’ve got to this point, I think this female solo travel thing is for you. Here are my top ten tips for how to solo female travel successfully as a young woman…
Do Your Research
Knowing what to expect when you step off the plane and feeling prepared will put you at ease before a solo trip.
From the weather, the local currency to safety tips, there’s an abundance of information out there make your trip better. For international travel, start by entering your destination in the U.S international Travel page to find passport/visa requirements, safety information, local laws/regulations, and required vaccines.
It’s also a good idea to sift through blogs, forums, and social media because you can find a ton of great information from travelers who’ve been there. They can provide you with the positives and negatives and overall advice on almost anything you need about the destination. One resource that is extremely helpful is TripAdvisor forums. Travelers are constantly reviewing and answering forum questions to give the most up to date information.
When you have a specific activity in mind, be it sightseeing, scuba diving, or just bumming it on the beach, it’s a good idea to research your options beforehand that way you’re not spending precious vacation time trying to figure things out!
Additional information that is valuable to know prior is reliable and safe transportation modes, areas in the city to avoid and most importantly, the cultural etiquette of the respective country.
Image: Unsplash Annie Spratt
As a solo female traveler, it’s necessary that you avoid attracting too much attention to yourself.
It is crucial to know the social etiquette especially when it comes to what to wear. If the country you are visiting has women that dress conservatively, do the same, as this will help you to avoid being singled out as a potentially vulnerable target. The last thing you want to do is draw any unwanted attention to yourself or come off as offensive to the local culture. This also includes avoiding outfits that scream “TOURIST!” Warding off the pickpocketers and scammers is the goal.
You can keep your fanny packs at home!
No matter where you are or how confused you might be it’s important to always walk with confidence.
Even when you’re completely lost try not to appear as confused as you are. As a woman traveling alone appearing confused can attract the wrong kind of attention and put a target on your back. Nobody starts out as a wonderfully confident solo traveler. As you become more comfortable finding your way by yourself and making your own choices, your confidence will grow. Don’t confuse cockiness with confidence; if you are in danger ask for help.
Cruising down the coast of Vietnam
Being aware of your actions and surroundings at all times can save you from some major mishaps.
Be mindful of what information you give to strangers. Avoid saying you’re alone or exactly where you’re staying. You don’t have to be paranoid that everyone’s out to get you just use your best judgment and exercise common sense.
When traveling internationally, read up on topics of conversation to stay clear of in particular countries. You don’t want to offend anyone or put yourself in a dangerous situation because of something that you said.
Scuba diving in Thailand!
Keep Your Valuables Hidden
Pickpocketing is a huge problem in a lot of countries.
To not fall victim to this crime avoid flashing your valuables in public. Be mindful of the attention you are attaching to yourself when pulling out your phone on the streets or carrying your camera around your neck. It is also smart to keep these possessions in your reach at all times, along with key documents such as your passport, visa, and wallet.
When you are traveling solo, you lack an extra pair of eyes on your belongings. Crossbody bags that zip or latch-up are recommended. And always keep it in front of you!
Ask For Help
There’s no way to be fully prepared, especially if you’re in a new country. Anytime you’re traveling, especially solo-traveling, you can expect something to go awry.
That’s why it’s important to have a plan B. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work out either. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether it be other travelers (which have surely gone through their own struggles) or the locals, someone will be bound to help you.
Book in Advance
You finally arrive at your destination… and now what? Even if you don’t have a strict travel itinerary and time frame, it’s always best to book your first couple nights beforehand.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t find a place to sleep before you get the lay of the land. Go into your trip confident and stress-free knowing that you have somewhere safe to stay upon arrival. In addition to peace of mind, booking your accommodations, flights, and tours beforehand is typically cheaper and again, won’t waste precious travel time on research and planning while you are there.
To avoid any mishaps, keep a copy of your booking confirmation numbers just in case something goes wrong. Consider consolidating all your information into the TripIt app. TripIt syncs with your emails and instantly creates a master itinerary for your trip that includes your flight info, confirmation information, emails, locations, and contact information. Among other awesome features, you will automatically get mobile notifications if a flight is delayed or canceled.
No matter how much you research and plan, eventually you are bound to experience a few unforeseen complications. When you’re traveling alone you don’t have the luxury of having someone to fall back on when disaster strikes. It’s important to have a backup plan for your backup plan. No trip is perfect (unless of course, you’re Beyoncé) so come ready.
As a female solo traveler, travel insurance is one of the most important things that you can purchase for an international trip. Travel insurance can cover everything from doctor visits, lost/stolen baggage, to cancellations or trip delays. World Nomads Insurance is one of the most reliable travel insurance companies and covers all of your basic needs.
Along with having a copy of all your information somewhere online, also carry around a hard copy of your passport and travel insurance information in case of emergencies.
- Natural infinity pools in Oaxaca, Mexico
- Download Essential Apps that can help your trip go a little smoother. Maps.me is one of the most useful map apps because you can use it without having Wi-Fi. Whatever map app you use, be sure to download offline versions before departure. It’s also always good to have an app like Airbnb or Booking.com to book accommodation on the fly if need be.
- Learn a few phrases in the local language for basic needs, like directions and how to ask for help. Not only will it help you during everyday activities, but it can also help you to avoid being ripped off. Many locals show more respect to visitors who make the effort to learn some of their native languages. For on the fly translations download the Google Translate app. It has a database of over 103 languages, can translate images, and work offline.
- When it comes to your money, prepare a plan A, B, and C. What if you get pickpocketed or the ATM eats your debit card? The last situation you want is to be alone with no money or access to it. Unless you can breakdance or play the accordion on the side of the street, keep some emergency cash and an extra debit/credit card hidden. Also, don’t forget to make your bank aware of the countries you are traveling to beforehand to prevent them from freezing your accounts!
Let People Know Where You Are
While you’re off adventuring don’t forget to check in with your loved ones back home. Post pictures and send updates leaving a trail of where you are.
If constantly checking in isn’t your thing use the Find My Friends app so your friends can…..well…find you.
If you prefer to be in constant communication with home, purchase a SIM card so that you have internet access. This allows you to call and text your loved ones with either iMessage, WhatsApp or Viber! Be sure to unlock your phone before you leave, as this can take a few days to process and is more difficult once out of the country.
It’s also always a good idea to let the staff at your hotel/hostel know that you are traveling alone. Give them a quick update on when you intend to come back from a day of exploring.
In the case of an emergency, it’s always a good idea to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment program. It’s a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The embassy will contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Post on social media so people know where you are – Instagram your way to safety!
Be Mindful Of Where You are At Night
This is common sense, but as a rule of thumb, wherever you are you should be cautious about walking around alone at night.
Research what the safest and most reliable form of transportation is and spend the extra couple bucks on it to get yourself back home safely. Especially if you’ve been drinking!!
Don’t be Scared
It’s important not to let fear get the better of you and prevent you from exploring everything this world has to offer. This time in your life is about you – and you will be a much stronger, more independent person because of it.
The ways in which travel betters you as a person greatly outweigh any of the difficulties you might face.
Travel is a life-changing experience and one that anyone who wants to experience absolutely SHOULD. I hope these tips make learning how to solo female travel easier. And helped you make your decision a little bit more certain if you are still in that stage, or if you’ve already decided and are soon to be on your way, a little bit safer and a little bit easier.
- Hanging on a ledge at the Horseshoe bend in Arizona.