Along with the rise of the women’s empowerment movement, solo female travel is also on the rise. We’re all about living authentic experiences these days, and rightfully so. Solo travel is one of the best ways to achieve these experiences. Thinking about living your best life and embarking on a solo female travel adventure of your own? I 100% support you, but there are a few things you should know before taking off. In this post, I’ll share my top tips on how to make the most out of your trip while staying as safe as possible.
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My Top 15 Tips For Solo Female Travel
1. Choose a solo traveler-friendly destination and do your research
Let’s not sugarcoat it, some world destinations are safer than others. Choose a destination you’re comfortable with. There are lots of resources out there to help you determine which cities are the safest and friendliest.
The US Government Travel site provides useful info on every country around the world, including information on visas, safety and security conditions, areas to avoid, crime, health, and medical considerations.
2. Allow room for spontaneity
While it’s a good idea to do research and create a plan, you’ll also want to carve out some time to explore and go where the wind takes you. There’s no need to be rigid with your itinerary. If you stumble upon a place you love, stay there for a few extra hours or even a few extra days. If you decide you’re not interested in something that you’ve preplanned, allow yourself to skip it. Just be sure to notify your friends/family back home of the changes.
During my summer in Europe, I purposefully missed my flights to Paris and Milan, simply because I had found something better to do after I had booked the nonrefundable flights. I lost out on some money there, but the richness of my experiences based on the decision to be spontaneous was 100% worth it.
3. Be vigilant and trust your instinct
When you’re in tight spaces such as on a train or in a line to a major attraction, or even walking past crowds of people in the streets, make it a habit of tightening your grip slightly on your belongings. Conceal your valuables. Put your phone in your pocket where no one can snatch it out of your hand and run, and take it out only when you need to. Don’t be preoccupied with social media so much so that you’re not noticing who or what is around you. If you feel something isn’t right, then make the appropriate moves to get yourself out of that situation. There’s no shame in walking away or saying no.
4. Get advice from locals
Waiters, hotel employees, tour guide leaders, and coffee shop baristas are all great resources when you want a little more insight on customs, things to do, and safety. Find out not only what you should see during your visit, but also which areas to avoid. Who better to ask than people who actually live there? If you have time to do research, take advantage of the online communities out there such as TripAdvisor, Couchsurfing, or Facebook. The travel forums are good for getting your questions answered and will provide you with people’s real accounts and personal experiences so you don’t arrive utterly lost, confused, and susceptible to be taken advantage of.
Looking for more inspiration or solo travel guides? Here’s a great read: The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet
5. Dress like a local, be less of a target
It’s important to do some research before traveling and check out what the local customs are. If it’s customary for women to cover their hair or not reveal skin past the knees, then you should also do it. Avoid drawing attention to yourself if you want to be left alone.
In general, I wouldn’t recommend wearing revealing clothes or flashy jewelry. If you want to stand out and don’t mind the attention from both men and women, then ignore this one. Personally, I don’t like feeling out of place. As a solo female traveler myself, I try to blend in to avoid the chances of being heckled or catcalled at in the streets. By doing this, you’re also less likely to look like a tourist, and therefore less likely to be taken advantage of (being charged higher prices, being lied to, bum rushed by people offering tours, etc.). Plus, wearing flashy jewelry could make you a prime target for pickpocketers and chain-snatchers.
6. Be confident
You can only rely on yourself when traveling solo, so you should be mentally strong. Don’t spend too much time second-guessing yourself, ostracizing yourself, or depreciating yourself. Instead, embrace your adventure headfirst and be proud of your decisions wherever you go! Try new things, get out of your comfort zone. This is your time to shine.
7. Interact with other travelers
Solo travel doesn’t mean you have to be alone the whole time. Meeting new people is one of the best things about traveling alone! (This is very easy to achieve when you stay in hostels!) Open up to those around you. If there are a bunch of you sitting in the common room of the hostel in silence, why not be the first to break the ice? Give them the time of day. Not only will this improve your self-esteem and interaction with others, but it will also ultimately make your trip that much better.
Looking for the perfect hostel? Check out Booking.com— they’ve got a great rating system so you know which hostels to skip.
8. Become friends with locals too
Locals are so, so cool to get to know. They know all of the lesser-known spots where you won’t get screwed by overpriced food and drinks and they’re generally so down to earth and willing to help.
As travelers, we’re used to only seeing the good and the beautiful of a new city. Talking to locals allows you to hear about what real life in a city is like– the good, bad, and ugly–which can be really valuable information. Couchsurfing and Meetup are two really great resources to find locals who want to show you around (or even let you crash on their couch!). I’d recommend reaching out before you arrive to maximize the time you have to coordinate with them.
9. Make your belongings hard to steal
I always carry a running belt with me when I travel if I know I’m going to be reaching for my phone, cash, or passport frequently. This belt hugs your waist tightly and flips inside out, therefore making it nearly impossible for anyone to steal from you without you noticing. Plus it allows for super easy access to your things.
Other items you can trust are anti-theft luggage and bags. Here’s a very stylish mini travel backpack by PacSafe that can do the trick. Simply put, don’t leave valuables in any outermost pockets, even if they’re enclosed by a zipper, clasp, or zippers. You have to assume that pickpocketers know all the tricks on how to take your stuff without you realizing. It is their job, after all.
Looking for more inspiration or solo travel guides? Here’s a great read: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt)
10. Don’t walk alone at night
This is obvious and true where ever you go. In some countries, it’s perfectly safe to walk alone at night. In others, it could be quite dangerous. Going out at night in groups, asking to be accompanied by someone in your guesthouse, or calling an Uber from where you’re leaving from is always a good idea.
However, sometimes, it’s inevitable. Be extra careful. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I have to walk alone, I walk at a very brisk pace with keys in between my knuckles, and I remain very, very aware of my surroundings.
11. Don’t get too drunk
Also related to the previous tip, don’t get too drunk when traveling alone. Especially if you’re with people who are not staying at the same accommodation as you. Drinking can often lead to impaired judgment. Sober you will probably tell drunk you that you’re not okay to walk through dark alleyways to get back to your hotel because it’s “only a few blocks away”. Maintain your common sense!
Even if you think you’ve made a good group of friends on your travels, stay vigilant. Don’t get blackout drunk and put your life in their hands just yet.
12. If you feel lonely, do something about it
If you begin to feel lonely, book a tour, take a free walking tour, or hang out in the common area at the hostel or guesthouse you’re staying at. Instant friends, if you give it a little nudge. Like-minded travelers are very friendly and open.
13. Let your friends and family know where you are at all times
Make sure someone (a friend, family member, or fellow traveler) knows your itinerary and where you are at any given time. Try not to go off the grid completely or for long periods of time, especially if you have worried parents back home. If you do have to, give them a heads up and check in with them when you can. Remember to check in frequently! You may be busy having fun, but they are probably sitting at home twiddling their thumbs idly just worrying about you. Don’t make them hate you for giving them all that worry, reassure them.
14. Make copies of your important documents
You are your only resource for this kind of stuff. Make sure you print out your itinerary, tickets, and travel documents because if you forget it, you won’t have a friend with an extra copy to bail you out. Make copies of your essential documents, including your passport, identity card, and insurance cards. If that information is stored on your phone, bring an external battery to make sure you’ll be able to access that information at all times. Take photos of all of your important documents and store them on your phone, laptop, as well as a secure cloud server.
15. Be mindful and present
You’ve come this far, so get the most out of your experience by really being present in the moment. When you’re bored on a train, take in the people living their everyday lives instead of burying your head in your phone. Dine-in at a restaurant instead of taking it to go and holing up at your hostel. Embrace the differences in culture/lifestyle, and really live and breathe where you are. Keep an open mind and don’t let these small moments pass you by.
Looking for more inspiration or solo travel guides? Check out these great and informative reads:
- A full guide on how to travel solo: The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet
- Another full guide on how to travel solo: The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Leith Waugh
- An in-depth guide on how to travel cheap and smart: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt)
- Don’t forget to stay mindful and bring a travel journal: You Are Here: A Mindful Travel Journal