How Worldpackers made me feel safer as a solo female traveler
Worldpackers provides endless opportunities for females to take solo trips and make a positive impact on the places they visit. Learn how using Worldpackers made me feel safe and empowered as a solo female traveler.
Feb 25, 2020
I am a 24 year old from the USA, currently living and working in Australia. I love writing about my travel experiences in Europe, South America, an...
There is no reason why traveling alone as a man should feel different than traveling alone as a woman. But, it does.
Traveling alone as a woman can feel intimidating at first. It can't even really be explained, it's just something that all women face. We feel vulnerable, a bit on edge, and a bit more alert when roaming the streets on our own.
Traveling alone can be scary for anyone, but I think that women have to deal with more insecurity and more prejudice than men do. That being said, once you overcome that initial fear of your first solo trip, you will realize just how much you are capable of.
You'll realize that you are physically and mentally strong. That you have problem-solving skills, street smarts, and intellect. That you have incredible communication skills that help you navigate your way around foreign countries. And you'll realize that you have the ability to form meaningful connections with the people you met around the world, because gender aside, we're all just human beings.
Worldpackers provides endless opportunities for females to take solo trips and make a positive impact on the places they visit. It is such an empowering feeling to volunteer abroad and actually contribute to the country you are visiting.
Whether you are a first-time traveler or a seasoned nomad, Worldpackers gives women the tools they need to embark on an exciting new cultural adventure.
So for any females out there wondering about solo female travel, how it works, how it feels, and how Worldpackers encourages it, I'm here to provide a few words of advice.
I've traveled to over 30 countries, and I traveled solo to at least half of them. I'm only 24, but I've seen a lot of the world and never once felt like my life was in danger. I took some leaps of faith on my own, and Worldpackers helped me take my traveling to a deeper, more meaningful level.
Worldpackers helped me feel safe and secure as a solo female traveler. It helped me immerse myself in a new culture and learn lots of new skills. Thanks to Worldpackers, I've been able to include and leverage many of my travel experiences on my resume.
I know that other females can definitely benefit from Worldpackers as well, so I encourage everyone to give it a go.
My experience as a solo female traveler
My first experience of traveling alone was in 2015 when I was 20 years old living in London. I knew I wanted to take that leap of faith and do a solo trip, so I decided to book a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Copenhagen is a very easy city to travel to. It is small and easy to get around, pretty much everyone speaks English, and it has a reputation for being very safe and accepting of everyone.
So my first trip as a solo female traveler went super smoothly because I picked a low-key, safe destination. I actually loved being alone; I could make my own schedule and pick exactly where I wanted to go. I didn't have to adhere to anyone else's preferences, and I loved the sense of freedom.
Once I realized how easy it was to travel alone, I started taking more solo trips around Europe. I traveled to Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, and Bulgaria. I never felt unsafe, and I fell in love with solo travel.
The first time I ever felt nervous about being a solo female traveler was when I went to South America in 2016 when I was 21. This was my first time traveling anywhere outside Europe, and I was quite terrified. Since I had become sort of addicted to budget travel in Europe, I knew I had to venture out and see more of the world. I wanted to practice my Spanish, so South America it was.
This was also my first experience with Worldpackers. I had heard about this program through a friend, and decided to give it a try. I had organized three work exchanges with hosts in Ecuador and Peru, and I was embarking on a two-month trip all by myself.
People started asking me why I was going to South America alone. Isn't it dangerous there? You're really going alone? Are you even fluent in Spanish? I heard people get kidnapped there... blah blah blah.
I always shut them down, saying that you can't judge a place until you've actually been there. But as I sat at the airport in Florida waiting for my flight to Quito, Ecuador, I was nothing short of terrified.
South America just seemed so different than Europe, and I was going alone. I had knots in my stomach because I had no idea what to expect. My plan was to fly into Quito, arrive at 10 pm, and take a taxi to the home of my Worldpackers host in the city suburbs.
I was nervous about traveling alone at night, about communicating with local taxi drivers, about meeting my new hosts, I was nervous about everything! Honestly, I started to second-guess my entire trip.
Fast-forward two months from that moment and all those negative emotions were replaced with positive ones. My trip went so smoothly. I had so many amazing experiences and met so many interesting people, including many other inspirational female travelers who shifted my perspective on being a woman alone. I could finally prove to everyone back home that traveling to South America as a solo female was no different than traveling anywhere else.
I have now traveled to lots of other countries alone, and I am an avid fan of solo travel.
Female or not, traveling alone gives you a sense of confidence, and it makes you feel like you are fulfilling your potential on this Earth.
Worldpackers definitely helped me gain some of this courage to continue traveling alone. After my experiences with local hosts, I felt more outgoing and more comfortable getting to know new people. I grew more open-minded and more eager to learn about different cultures.
I became a sponge, absorbing everything the locals taught me. Had I just traveled as a tourist, rather than as a Worldpackers volunteer, I wouldn't have had such in-depth cultural experiences, and I wouldn't have felt as empowered about my ability to work abroad.
How Worldpackers supports the safety of its female travelers
One of the biggest concerns of solo female travelers is safety.
Traveling alone as a female comes with a sense of uneasiness, simply because of the way society works. For centuries, all over the world, women have been considered the lesser gender. Nowadays, modern society has progressed to promote a sense of equality among all genders, but this isn't always the case in some countries.
Even in modern, progressive countries, there is something small engrained in our brains that tells us men are stronger and faster than us. This is a little unsettling, especially when traveling the world alone.
But the only way to overcome this fear is to just get out there and assert yourself in the world. Always carry common sense and confidence. Be smart, and be strong, and you won't have any issues traveling the world alone.
Worldpackers makes it even easier to feel safe while traveling.
Local hosts become your family, your guides, and in a sense, your protectors. It is easy to feel vulnerable while traveling alone, but staying with Worldpackers hosts covers that feeling up with a sense of security. You now have a home, and coworkers, friends, and peers that are looking out for you.
The longer you stay in one place with a Worldpackers host, the safer you feel.
The area starts to feel like home, and you start to learn the lay of the land. Especially if you speak the local language, you start to feel like you belong there, and you understand the customs and traditions of the area. When you feel like less of an outsider, you feel more secure in your surroundings.
Worldpackers offers travelers the chance to have immersive, cultural experiences, where you can live and work abroad. This means that you can slowly become a part of the culture, and no longer feel vulnerable or strange in this new environment.
While traveling in South America, there were a couple of times that I felt uneasy. I visited some smaller towns in Ecuador where I stuck out so much because of my blonde hair and tourist appearance. I would get nervous any time a man looked at me, and I had to learn to ignore the catcalls from local guys.
Though I felt a bit annoyed at the attention from locals, I never actually felt unsafe. In these small Ecuadorian towns, everyone knew each other and looked out for each other. When I first arrived, I looked like a tourist, but I knew that my local hosts were there for me if I needed them. My hosts were so hospitable, and my Spanish was improving immensely so I felt confident in navigating around the town alone.
So despite a bit of uneasiness at times, I always felt safe and nothing bad ever happened to me. The worst that happened to me was a few catcalls, but that can happen anywhere.
Volunteering with Worldpackers allowed me to visit these smaller local towns and still feel safe.
If I were traveling alone without volunteering, I probably would have just stuck to the tourist route. The security of living and working with locals allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and see unique parts of South America that most normal tourists don't get to see!
How Worldpackers empowers solo female travelers
Worldpackers was a huge part of my experience traveling solo in South America.
By using this platform, I was able to connect with local families and businesspeople and work with them. My gender, age, nationality or anything else didn't matter. These local hosts took me in as one of their own and made me a part of their community.
Any solo female traveler has the potential for an incredible cultural experience. No matter who you are or where you come from, Worldpackers gives women traveling alone the opportunity to become a part of something greater than themselves.
1. Worldpackers creates a sense of community
First of all, Worldpackers invites you to be a part of a new community. By living with local hosts and sharing their home, you become part of the family and live that lifestyle.
It no longer matters that you are traveling alone because all of a sudden you are surrounded by new, friendly people who are eager to teach you their way of life. Especially if you are volunteering in a hostel, you'll be constantly meeting new and interesting people so you actually are never alone.
Being a solo female traveler sometimes makes you feel a bit lonely, but volunteering with Worldpackers provides you with new friends and new cultures to adapt to.
It is empowering to feel like you can make new friends anywhere you go. Even if you travel alone, you can use your own charisma to seek out like-minded people who you can share new experiences with!
2. Worldpackers promotes responsibility
Another way that Worldpackers empowers solo female travelers is by giving them responsibility.
When you volunteer with Worldpackers, you are given certain tasks to perform so you can earn your free accommodation. There is such a wide variety of jobs, but every single one requires a sense of commitment, dedication, and responsibility.
When you dedicate yourself to learning new skills, performing tasks well and contributing to your host's project or business, you start to feel significant and proud of yourself. When you work hard at a job, the progress you make and the way you help and assist your hosts is very rewarding.
Knowing that you are working hard to earn your own bed and food is a very empowering feeling. It shows that you are self-sufficient, you are hard-working, and you are proactive.
Working for your Worldpackers host helps you give back to the community as well. Knowing that you traveled somewhere and actually helped improve the place is a special and rare moment. You can always look back on that place and that experience and feel proud and accomplished.
Worldpackers gives solo female travelers a sense of purpose.
Why solo female travel is the best!
Once you take that first trip alone, you'll feel like a whole new person. Especially if you volunteer with Worldpackers, you'll walk away from your travels feeling like you made a difference in the world, and you did it all on your own.
Some people cling to stereotypes and assume that women are weak, over-emotional, boring, and dependent on men. This is so far from the truth, and the best way to prove those people wrong is to go travel the world on your own.
You don't need anyone to show you the way.
As long as you have a bit of determination, courage, and open-mindedness, you have the power to go anywhere in the world.