Until a few years ago, I used to let a lack of travel companions keep me from traveling. My friends all either didn’t have time, money or interest in going to all the places I wanted to go. So, I didn’t end up going. The thought of going by myself never really entered my mind. That is, until 2017 when I decided I was not going let anything hold me back from my dreams anymore. I went from going a couple of short trips within Europe to backpacking around Southeast Asia alone for 2 months. Because as soon as I tried it, I knew. Solo travel is the best!
The freedom, the empowerment, the fun: there is nothing like it. Traveling alone is the best decision I ever made, and it’s basically what birthed this blog. So there really is no better subject for my 100th blog post than sharing my knowledge and experience about solo female travel.
If you are considering giving in to your wanderlust and exploring this beautiful planet alone, allow me to tell you what you need to know about traveling alone as a woman. And because I am a strong advocate for women supporting women, I enlisted the help of a few other female travel bloggers for this post. After all, you can never have too much good advice. These are our tips for solo female travelers and things you should know about solo travel for women.*
*Most of these tips apply to travelers of any gender.
Why you should travel solo
More and more women are traveling alone. Yeah! #girlpower. It’s a development I wholeheartedly applaud. I think we should do more things that scare us, take more leaps of faith, push ourselves out of comfort zone. Show the world (and ourselves) that girls can do anything.
Follow your passion. Your desire to see or do whatever it is your are passionate about will carry you over worry and doubt.Margarita Steinhart
If there is one thing that solo travel taught me, it’s that I am much stronger and much more capable than I ever imagined. And so are you! Being dependent on yourself can seem scary, but like most things in life, it’s much easier than it seems.
Traveling alone will teach you how to take care of yourself, trust your instincts, deal with uncertainty and set-backs. It has made me stronger and more confident. Because I know that if something goes wrong, I can deal with it. Whatever happens, it will work itself out:
- Flight/bus/train cancelled: move some things around and book a new one.
- Left my passport in a hostel in a different city: call them to send it over.
- Arrived in a new country without anything planned: make it up as I go.
Whatever it is, you’ve got this! You’re a bad ass warrior queen, waiting to be unleashed. If you let fear keep you from doing the things you want to do, you’ll regret it forever. The only thing I regret is not starting to travel alone sooner.
One thing people often worry about when it comes to solo travel is loneliness. And I can tell you, there is nothing to worry about. I have never made so many friends and met so many amazing people as when I started traveling alone. The backpackers community is extremely fun and welcoming, so even if you are shy and introverted, you’ll be able to make friends.
Planning your first solo trip
Planning a solo trip can be pretty overwhelming. You don’t have anyone to compromise with, but also no one to help you make decisions. Doing some research is important, so you don’t go in completely blind, but don’t burden yourself with trying to settle every little thing before you go.
I can’t stress enough how planning beforehand is key to having a successful trip. By reading up on how to use the local transportation, to understanding what local customs are, to knowing when a place you want to visit is going to be open or not, you’ll be more prepared during your trip. This can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with seeing the world on your own. Having a plan doesn’t mean you have to follow it exactly, but you’ll have a better experience in the long run!Olivia Colleen
As an experienced backpacker, I have adopted a very laissez faire attitude when it comes to travel planning. I basically plan as little as possible, so that I leave as much room as possible for spontaneity. After all, real adventure can’t be planned.
Do your research and make a point to look like you know where you’re going/what you’re doing! You’ll feel and look more confident. And don’t forget to look around. One of the best parts of solo traveling is fewer distractions, so take it all in!Dorothy Shive
If you are just starting out, not planning anything might give you more stress so feel free to book as much as in advance as you feel comfortable with. But keep in mind that you never know how things are going to be until you get there and you really don’t want to be stuck somewhere you hate because you booked everything in advance.
You can’t plan who you’ll meet and what will happen, so allow yourself a lot of flexibility to embrace opportunities when they present themselves. All my best travel experiences were unplanned.
Join free walking tours. Whether you want to meet other travelers or just spend some time with other people, free walking tours are a great way to do so. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly way to explore a new destination with a local guide.Or Amir
Packing for a solo trip
I believe that less is more. Especially when it comes to packing. I can tell you from experience that you need a lot less stuff than you think. On my first solo backpacking trip I brought a 60L backpack and didn’t end up using half the things I brought. So now I travel with a 40L backpack. That’s it.
Because whether you are going away for three weeks or three months, you basically need the same amount of stuff. And who wants to lug around heavy suitcases everywhere they go? Not me!
Always pack light! Comfortable walking shoes and the camera/phone are the only mandatory items so choose wise what to put in your suitcase. When you travel alone it is important to manage your luggage in any conditions. A backpack with wheels was my main discovery!Corina Preda
I love my Osprey Farpoint 40L. It fits the carry-on restrictions of most airlines, so I save money on check-in fees. And it still holds everything I need, even when I go on a 4-month backpacking trip. They key to packing light is the golden rule of backpacking:
Pack everything you think you’ll need and then take out half.
You only need a week worth of clothing (you can do laundry), so take pieces that are versatile and match. Don’t bring every travel gadget on the market.
And be realistic about what you will actually use/wear/need that you can’t buy where you are going. Unless you are planning a solo trip to Mars, you’ll probably be able to buy almost anything you didn’t decide to bring. Don’t worry if you over pack on your first trip, or your second, or your third. We all learn as we go and you’ll get better at it with every try.
Staying safe while you travel alone
Safety is a major concern for women about traveling solo. And I agree that it is important to be careful and stay safe. But that shouldn’t keep you from traveling.
When traveling alone, safety is your top priority, and your responsibility alone. Make sure you always research a destination beforehand to know which neighborhoods are the safest, and don’t fret over a few extra dollars for a nicer place to rest your head. If you plan far enough in advance, many places are willing to offer discounts for direct bookings, which can make up for it in the end. It’s always worth the ask.Max Gandy
One of the most annoying questions to me is: “is this place safe for a woman alone?”. Because the truth is, statistically, you are much more likely to be harmed at home by someone you know than by a stranger on the road. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. We were taught to fear strangers, but thatr’s not always where the real danger lies.
And unfortunately, bad things can happen anywhere. Sure, some places are more dangerous than others, but don’t let a fear of the unknown hold you back from following your dreams. Do your research but don’t give into fear mongering.
I almost didn’t go to Morocco because of stories I read online. But I am so glad that I did, because it turned out to be one of my favorite countries I have ever visited. The stories of others colored my initial impression of Morocco and made me suspicious and mistrusting. It really ruined the first day and I regret listening to others rather than my own instincts. I did encounter some harassment, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Not to devalue their experience, but I believe you have to make up your own mind about a place and everyone’s experience will be different.
Trust your instinct and don’t take unnecessary risk. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, walk away, speak up, and break away from the need to be “nice”. Solo travel will teach you to take care of yourself, which in turn will make you feel safer in any situation.
Trust your gut, and don’t feel the need to make anyone feel comfortable. Tell the server, bartender, whoever is walking near you, “This person is bothering me.” Be loud, “Please, Leave Me Alone,” or “I’m really not interested in talking.” Yell if you have to. Don’t sacrifice your own comfort to make someone else feel better. And don’t feel guilty for putting your safety first.Crystal Bui
Of course, especially as a woman, you always have to careful in unfamiliar places. The confidence that I have now when I travel alone is something that has grown over time. In the end, it is all about having your own back.
Practicing self care on a solo trip
Taking care of yourself doesn’t just mean keeping yourself safe. It also means being nice to yourself and practicing self care. One of the traps a lot of us fall into is to try to do, see and experience everything. You can’t and you will burn yourself out trying. It’s what I call “travelers fatigue”: a feeling of exhaustion, numbness and depression.
Solo travel is empowering—and sometimes, exhausting. All that navigating, decision-making, and hostel socializing is fun, but don’t feel guilty about taking a rest day every once in a while! Treat yourself to a private room with excellent WiFi and take a break from your bustling itinerary to chill and recharge.Kaisa Wayrynen
It’s a hard lesson to learn, and a skill I have not completely mastered myself yet. Especially as a solo traveler it is easy to get caught up in all the fun, the parties, the social interaction, the adventure.
It has become easier for me now that I work while I travel. I simply cannot go out drinking every night or go sightseeing every day (as much as I would love to), because I have work to do and money to earn. But even if you are not working remotely, never feel guilty for taking some time for yourself. No one else is going to tell you to slow down, as a solo female traveler, you have to do that for yourself.
Bonus: taking pictures as a solo female traveler
There are downsides to everything, even something as awesome as traveling alone. It is, for example, incredibly hard to put sunscreen on your own back. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed many times.
Another issue is taking pictures of yourself, so here are your options:
- Get good at taking selfies. A selfie stick feels awkward but can really help.
- Ask other people to take pictures of you (older men take terrible pictures, young girls take great pictures). Pick someone who looks like they’re on Instagram a lot and won’t run off with your camera.
- Use a self-timer. My knock off go-pro has one which I occasionally use to take “candid” shots of myself.
For your entertainment, here is a gallery of my terrible selfie skills and “signature pose”:
I really hope these tips will give you the confidence you need to just go ahead and book that trip alone. Never, ever, let anyone keep you from following your dreams. Least of all yourself. There is no reason you couldn’t or shouldn’t travel alone as a woman. The world is your oyster, so go out there and live your best life as a solo female traveler
Shout out to all the awesome ladies from the Female Travel Bloggers Facebook group who shared their knowledge. Be sure to check out their blogs as well!
Are you planning a solo trip and need some help with something? Still unsure or unconvinced? Ask me anything you want in the comments. Or are you already a solo female traveler with additional advice? Share it with us below!
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