Traveling alone as a woman used to be a very controversial idea for me. When I first began planning my solo travels, many of my friends and family shared a number of reasons why I shouldn’t do this, and after hearing so much, I began to question whether it was a good idea. But I'm so glad I did it anyway. After all, traveling alone has the power to change us forever.
I’m sure that many women planning to travel alone get similar responses from their friends and family. Still, research shows that solo female travel is more popular than ever.
Over 70% of American women say they have traveled alone, and Google searches for “solo female travel” increased 230% in 2019, before COVID became a concern.
Travel companies report that up to 80% of their solo travelers are women, and the number of Pinterest boards related to traveling alone as a woman have more than tripled in recent years.
Why traveling alone as a woman is beneficial?
So what is it about traveling alone that appeals to so many women? I’m sure if you’re reading this article then you have some answers of your own, but according to a 2021 traveler survey, there were three main reasons people gave for wanting to travel alone. I found that I could really relate to these reasons.
1. They don’t want to wait for others to travel with them
I can’t tell you how many trips I’ve planned with friends or family, only to have them fall through because the other person bailed. Anyone who has had this experience will understand how frustrating it is.
After experiencing it a few times, I realized that if I had to wait on other people to join me, I’d never have time to visit all the places in the world that I wanted to experience.
2. They like being able to do what they want, when they want to do it
But I also like to go to smaller cultural events and eat where the locals eat. I like to stay in one place for a while, long enough to get a good sense of the local culture. I don’t like to plan every minute of every day.
Traveling alonemeans I can do all the things I want, without ever having to compromise. My adventures are entirely what I want them to be.
3. Traveling alone gives them a feeling of freedom and independence
Before I quit my day job and began traveling solo full-time, I was really unhappy. I felt stuck in my job and bored with my day-to-day life. Since I began traveling alone, I feel more capable, stronger and freer than I ever have.
As a result, my self-confidence has improved tremendously. Traveling alone really has been an incredibly empowering experience for me.
Since those days when my friends and family were all telling me that it was a bad idea for me to travel alone as a woman, I’ve taken many trips and learned quite a few lessons along the way.
I believe every woman should experience traveling alone at least once in their lifetime, and I have some tips that I think will help you on your first solo trip.
Tips for traveling alone as a woman
1. Stay in hostels or volunteering projects
The atmosphere in hostels is usually very social, making them the perfect place to meet other women who are traveling alone, find out about local events, and help relieve any loneliness you may be experiencing.
And did you know you can stay in a hostel for free by doing volunteer work abroad? Worldpackers is the safest community for traveling and volunteering. Through their platform you can connect with thousands of welcoming hosts around the world.
Aside from the fact that you’ll have to carry all of your stuff by yourself, you’re less likely to lose something if there are fewer things for you to keep up with.
Also, you might want to use a backpack instead of suitcases to be able to come and go easily.
3. Be prepared
This tip is two-fold. Yes, you should be prepared for your trip by organizing your belongings, having all of the necessary documents, etc. But you should also be mentally prepared in case something goes wrong. Have a plan for deal with the most likely bad situations like being stolen or get lost.
4. Give yourself time to adjust when you arrive somewhere new
Especially if you’re traveling across multiple time zones, it’s important to give your body time to recover when you reach your destination.
One of my friends recently went on her first solo trip. She flew overnight from the US to Dublin and then had to take a 2 hour bus ride to her destination. Because she was so tired, she fell asleep on the bus and missed her stop. When she woke up and had no idea where she was, she panicked.
Travel is exhausting, and it’s harder to stay calm and deal with minor inconveniences when you haven’t had enough rest so don’t schedule too much on your first day in a new place.
5. Leave room for spontaneity
Speaking of taking it easy, don’t schedule every minute of every day. Schedule a few key things that you want to do most, but leave room in your schedule for spontaneity.
Sometimes you’ll find out about events at the last minute or meet new friends who invite you to do something with them. If you are flexible in your schedule, you won’t have to say no to these unexpected adventures.
6. Connect with other women traveling alone
There are lots of great social media groups for women who enjoy traveling alone. They’re a great place to connect with like-minded people, whether you’re looking for advice, opinions, or even someone to meet up with while traveling.
It’s important to know the basics of a place’s culture and history before you visit. We should all respect the local cultures of the places we go, and in order to do that, you first need to understand the local culture, at least to some degree.
Should you tip? If so, how much? Is it expected or considered rude to haggle with shopkeepers? Are you expected, especially as a woman, to dress a certain way in certain areas? These are all questions you should know the answers to before you arrive.
8. Bring a journal
Keeping a travel journal is a wonderful way to preserve your memories. It’ll give you something to do during long bus, plane, and train rides, and it’s a great place to write down important addresses, phone numbers, and other reminders during your trip.
I prefer journals with pockets for keeping ticket stubs, postcards, and other small mementos that I pick up while traveling.
9. Talk to locals
Locals are a wealth of knowledge. They can tell you which areas are safe to travel alone and which restaurants are worth visiting.
Talk to the people working at your hostel, your hosts (in case you are doing work exchange), to the shopkeepers, and the people you sit next to on the bus. You never know what they will share with you!
10. Don’t overshare
Yes, talk to the locals and make new friends while you’re traveling. However, when traveling alone as a woman, you do need to be safe.
Don’t tell strangers where you’re staying. And always listen to your instincts when deciding how much to share with the people you meet.
If someone’s asking a lot of questions and making you uncomfortable, remember that you do not owe them information about yourself.
You also shouldn’t post your every move on social media. There will be time to share all those Insta-worthy pictures when you get home or have moved on from a place.
11. Wear a wedding ring
I learned this tip from other women who like to travel alone. Buy a cheap ring that can pass as a wedding band before you leave home. This helps ward off unwanted attention from men.
It’s gross that we, as women, have to think of things like this, but it does help. Don’t buy anything too flashy, though, or you’ll attract the attention of thieves.
12. Be aware of your surroundings
Always stay aware of your surroundings. Notice the people walking behind you. If you can, learn some of the local language before you go so you can understand what’s being said nearby. Keep up with local events and weather forecasts that could affect your safety.
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13. Put down your phone
Put your devices down and soak up all of the unique sights, sounds, and scents that this new place is sharing with you. Watch how the people interact with each other. Be present. You’ll be glad you did once you’re back home.
14. Don't eat every meal alone
I’ve heard many women say that the loneliest part about traveling alone is eating alone. But there’s no reason you have to eat every meal alone while traveling solo.
If your hostel hosts group breakfasts or dinners, go to them!
If not, invite other people from your hostel to go to a restaurant with you. Get creative and attend a cooking class or join a food tour. I’ve found that across cultures, food always has a way of bringing people together.
Travel is exciting and fun, but it can also be stressful. No matter how much experience you have traveling alone as a woman, something can always go wrong. You need to be able to go with the flow, deal with the issues as they arise, and then let go of the stress and get back to enjoying your trip.
Keep an open mind, and don’t let one unpleasant interaction with a local or even a stolen bag ruin your trip for you.
I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to all of the people who told me it was a bad idea for me to travel alone as a woman. I wouldn’t trade my solo travel experiences for anything because they’ve helped me grow into a happier, more confident, less anxious woman.
I’d love to hear other women’s stories and tips for traveling alone in the comments below!
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