Traveling solo as a woman can be one of the best things to do - you get to go do whatever you want, even if you don’t happen to have someone in your life who wants to do it with you. There’s a huge amount of freedom that comes with traveling alone, and knowing that there is no need to compromise with anyone… on anything! It’s also a great way to gain confidence in yourself, and see the world at the same time.
However, when it comes to travel, going solo can be intimidating as well. There are plenty of people ready to tell you that it’s too dangerous to go out into the world alone, and plenty of horror stories to back them up, too. So how can you find a balance between exploring the way you want to, and knowing that you are doing it in a way that is safe as well as fun? There are plenty of things you can do to make sure that you have the best solo travel experience possible, and they’re not all about staying safe (although plenty are). Before you book your first big solo trip, make sure to follow our 25 tips.
25 25. Do Your Research
The internet is a wonderful place, and it is filled with the blogs of solo female travelers, as well as hundreds of forum posts and articles about the best (and worst) places to go, how to navigate them, reviews of places to stay if you are on your own, etc etc.
Most trips take at least a little research, but up the amount you do when you are on your own, because you may want to look for more specific information than simply the 'best' places to stay.
24 24. Dress Like A Local
One of the best ways to stay safe while you travel is to try and blend in as best you can. Solo female travelers can often be a bit of a target for pickpockets (and worse), and looking like an obvious tourist is definitely a way to get their attention. One of the easiest ways to blend in is to dress like a local - see what everyone else is wearing, and try to emulate them as best as you can. Sarongs are your friends in hot countries, and wearing something wildly attention-grabbing might not be the best plan if everyone around you is in flip-flops.
23 23. Be Aware Of Local Clothing Customs (And Laws)
As well as dressing like the locals, make sure you know what clothing is going to help you blend in… and which is an absolute requirement. In many countries, you’ll find that dressing conservatively is important - and it’s even against the law to show too much flesh. Short shorts aren’t necessarily any cooler or more comfortable than long, loose pants, and bikinis are probably best left on the actual beach (or by the pool). Look up any local laws, and consider toning it down while you get to know a place.
22 22. Post On Social Media A Lot…
Most solo travelers love to do this anyway - it’s a great way to stay in touch with people and to make sure that you are chronicling your adventures (and lets be honest, showing off at least a little bit!).
It’s also a nice way to leave a little breadcrumb trail, so that if anyone is worried about you, they know what you have been doing and where (approximately) you are. Plus, it means that even if you end up (worst case scenario) getting a camera stolen, you don’t lose all your best photos.
21 21. ...But Consider Leaving a Day’s Delay (Or Two)
Posting to social media is a great way to stay in touch and make sure that there is a public record of what you have been doing, but it’s a good idea to leave a little bit of a delay - and not to lay out your plans for the day in public.
You want the people you love to know where you are, but you don’t want to create a scenario where someone you don’t know is looking out for your plans each day and can find you too easily. Especially if you are using hashtags like #solofemaletraveler, posting in real time isn’t always the smartest idea.
20 20. Meet Up With Other Solo Female Explorers
Just because you set out on your own, it doesn’t mean that you actually have to do absolutely everything alone while on the road. Especially if staying in shared accommodation (like hostels and Airbnbs), make friends with other solo female travelers and you can head out to do some exploring together.
The solo part just means that you set out on your own - making friends and new travel buddies along the way is part of the fun.
19 19. Let Your Friends And Family Know Your Plans
Posting on social media is a great way to let people know where you’ve been, but it’s best to also let your closest friends/family know where you are planning to be ahead of time - especially if you are doing a lot of traveling between cities (or even countries). Let them know your flights and transfers, as well as roughly what you are planning to do.
It will help them feel less worried, as well as being a great way to guard against those worst case scenarios.
18 18. Take it easy on the drinks
Going out for drinks is definitely a fun part of a vacation - but if you are a woman traveling alone, be careful that you are purely drinking to enjoy it. Pace yourself on a night out, and don’t take unnecessary risks.
Be especially careful of local concoctions that are often much stronger than the stuff you’d drink at home, or drinks that may be poured with a much heavier hand than the carefully measured ones you’ve had before.
17 17. Don’t Flash Your Cash (Or Stuff)
This is a good tip no matter how many people you are traveling with, but is especially important while traveling alone. It’s common to travel with some cash, a phone, a laptop, and maybe a camera - try not to stroll around with all that poking out of your bag, or waving around all the cash you brought in a single wad. Take out the amount you’ll need for the day, and leave the laptop where you are staying (in the safe, if you are worried about leaving it in your room).
16 16. Get Comfy With A Capsule Wardrobe…
When you are traveling solo, that means that there is not going to be anyone around to carry your bags when you get tired - so make friends with the art of packing light. Capsule wardrobes are a godsend, as is learning how to judge what you will actually wear (versus all the stuff that you think you might like to wear at some point).
Keep your weight in mind when buying stuff while on the road, as well - don’t load up on heavy souvenirs and then find that you can’t lift your backpack off the hotel bed.
15 15. ...And Take It Easy With Hair And Makeup
A great way to cut down on the weight of your luggage is to ditch the heavy makeup and carefully styled hair. Get comfortable with a lighter, beachier look (and maybe learn some tricks for styling hair without heat), and stock up on mini products as well. The less time you spend on hair and makeup also means the more time you get to spend out there exploring - and that’s what you are there for, after all!
It’s also a great way to really embrace the confidence of traveling solo, with as natural a look as you can be comfortable with.
14 14. Travel During The Day…
The safest time to travel is during the day, so try not to plan to be traveling late at night or early in the mornings. Aim for times when airports and train or bus stations are busiest and well lit (and usually better staffed) to stay safe, and stay feeling safe as well.
It may be tempting to try and travel late so that you don’t lose out on any time to explore, but it’s better to plan an extra day or two - which also means that you aren’t left feeling rushed when you get to your destination.
13 13. ...And Try Not To Arrive Too Late
Especially when you first arrive in a new place, try not to arrive too late at night. Not only does this mean that you will be arriving when there are plenty of people around (and everything is well lit and well staffed), but it means that if you are dealing with delays in travel, you don’t have to worry about navigating hotel check-ins or airport transfers much later than you originally expected.
It’s also a good idea to plan your arrival day as thoroughly as possible, so you can get settled in quickly and know exactly where you are going.
12 12. Consider A Fake Wedding Ring
No one should have to pretend to be married when they are traveling alone, but unfortunately, it remains a good way to avoid unwanted attention. You don’t have to wear one all the time, but carrying a spare ring that looks like a wedding ring can give you a little peace and quiet at times. It can also be a way to convey to people that there is someone coming to meet you at some point in your travels - or at least, checking in with you on a regular basis.
11 11. Start Small
If you are particularly nervous about heading out on your first solo trip, don’t be afraid to start small. Go away for a weekend, or go somewhere that is a little closer to home (or at the very least, where you speak the local language fluently).
Save the really dramatically different trips for after you have built up a little solo confidence in places that don’t feel quite so foreign, and then you’ll be much more comfortable when it comes to going to the really far-flung corners of the globe.
10 10. Don’t Forget The Safety Tips From Home
It’s easy to forget all about the ways that we live at home as soon as we are somewhere new - but especially when you are traveling alone, don’t forget about all the ways you usually stay safe at home. Avoiding walking down poorly lit streets alone at night and the dodgy parts of town, keeping your phone charged and let people know where you are.
All the little ways that women stay safe at home will usually translate into staying safe somewhere else, as well. Forget about bills and work and all that boring stuff, but keep the safety tips that you usually use.
9 9. Don’t Worry About Getting Lonely
One of the most daunting aspects to being a solo traveler can be worrying about feeling lonely, but most people who travel alone can tell you that that is the last thing that will actually happen. Stay in shared accommodation (like hostels or airbnbs) and you’ll quickly meet new friends, or take classes, or just chat with locals.
Soon you’ll find that you probably meet more people traveling alone than you do traveling with a friend, and you may even start longing for a little alone time - not worrying about feeling lonely at all!
8 8. You Don’t Have To Eat Alone
While you may be comfortable doing a lot of things on your own, like visiting museums and art galleries (which, let's face it, is actually often better on your own). However, when it comes to mealtimes, dinner is often the biggest hurdle for solo explorers. You don’t have to eat alone, though - there are lots of options to find other people to eat with.
From restaurants with communal tables, to cooking classes that end in a meal together, you can always find company when you need it.
7 7. Don’t Be Afraid To Chat To Locals
It can be intimidating to talk to the locals sometimes, but don’t worry about striking up a conversation with people who seem friendly. It’s often a great way to get to know the area and get some great recommendations and even make some friends. Make sure that you are finding someone who looks like they are approachable, and be smart about staying in public areas, then brush up that smile and go and introduce yourself (or start with a question about the best places to go).
6 6. Learn To Take Solo Photos
There’s always the selfie stick, but if you don’t want to be that person, there are a lot of other tips and tricks that you can use to get a great shot, even when you don’t have anyone else to hold the camera. Try practising at home to figure out the best ways that work for you, whether that’s a certain angle, or just buying a tripod and using a timer.
You can even ask other people to take photos for you, although it’s obviously important to be careful about who you ask - so that no one runs off with the camera!