Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Read the full disclosure policy here.
Solo travel as a woman. There are lots of us out there. All ages. All stages. For a wide range of reasons.
Who would have thought that solo travel as a woman would be a movement in the travel industry? It currently is.
Solo women? Out in the world? Unthinkable? Think again.
For those of you considering solo travel as a woman, even for a weekend, I invite you to ponder these questions:
- Are you good with your own company?
- How open are you to serendipity?
- Can you roll with the unexpected?
- How good are you at talking to strangers?
- Are you open to learning about yourself?
- How are your problem-solving skills?
- Do you think solo travel will change your perspective on the world?
- How connected do you feel to your global family?
- Why are you going?
The Answers To The 7 Questions I Am Asked All The Time:
1. Why Are You Going Alone?
“When you’re (travelling) with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” Shauna Niequist
Why travel solo as a woman? Suddenly you find yourself single, with a spouse/ partner who isn’t interested in travel or with some free time and no one you know is available to join you. The idea of travelling keeps popping into your head. You keep studying world maps, googling blogs, finding yourself standing in the travel section of your library, and suddenly unbelievably the country you are musing about keeps popping into your daily life.
Should you go?
I think you know the answer.
Solo Travel As A Woman: Be Prepared
Many people will question your decision to travel alone. Those are the naysayers. Their fears about venturing outside their own comfort zone will be tossed your way disguised as careful guidance. Carefully weigh the advice, but don’t let it cloud your intuition and decision-making skills.
Before I left on my last solo trip to South America, it crossed my mind to cancel. The naysayers had gotten to me and I questioned my decision with all kinds of negative thoughts, “It was the rainy season, I should go in the spring.” “There wouldn’t be many other travellers.” “It’s too dangerous to go solo…”
As soon as I arrived in Lima, I told myself, “I’ve got this. This is where I am meant to be.”
A German man I met on a walking tour in Valparaiso was shocked I was travelling solo. He wasn’t sure what to make of me. Why is there such a sexist attitude towards female solo travel?
2. Solo Travel As A Woman: What are the Benefits?
Solo travel as a woman has many benefits. It’s an invitation to be YOU and just YOU. You make the plans and follow through. It feels fantastic! You can go at your own pace. Being solo you are more open to meeting other travellers and locals. Read about all the benefits in this post on Say “Yes” to Pushing Your Boundaries.
Solo Travel As A Woman: Be Prepared
You will get asked a lot by locals if you are travelling solo. Usually, with a grin, I answer in the affirmative. Sometimes my intuition kicks in and I say that I am meeting a friend. Sri Lanka wins with the most DIRECT question on a very crowded early morning train. Chatting nose to nose with a businessman, he looked inquisitively at me and queried, “And your husband is….?”
3. Solo Travel As A Woman: What About Safety?
Anybody, of any age, that travels solo requires courage, awareness and a healthy dose of intuition. Solo travel as a woman, unfortunately, requires those qualities in bounteous amounts. I draw on those resources all the time.
The female travel tribe is strong and well connected and when things go sideways, we take acute notice.
Certain precautions taken can increase safety while travelling. Here are a few:
- Arrange travels and pay extra for a flight, train or bus that arrives in daylight.
- Make sure activities are 100% safe to do solo. I felt perfectly safe in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile but couldn’t decide if I should rent a bike and cycle into the Atacama Desert by myself. On my guided tour, seeing the cyclists pumping up the hills in the sweltering heat, I decided it was overrated anyway!
- Pay for a tour.
- Evenings – many young girls I’ve met told me that they, like me, do not go out much at night. Not unless there is a group of them.
- Take an Uber or a cab in the evening. I was ushered into an Uber and told not to walk to my hotel at 9 pm in Medellin, Colombia. Note taken.
- Tips from other travellers can be invaluable – While in India, this savvy traveller called ahead to her hostel saying she was on her way back in an Uber. She followed this up with, “Please can you tell the driver in Hindi exactly where the hostel is and tell him that you are expecting me in ten minutes,” as she put the phone on speaker. Make sure you have a SIM card so that you can make that call.
No matter how much you prepare, the unexpected happens to all travellers and also when you travel solo as a woman. Recently upon arrival in Medellin, despite my research I got off at the wrong bus stop and found myself in a chaotic Sunday morning market, the majority of the people apparently homeless and high. When a man, with the longest arms ever, reached in through the cab window screaming at me and trying to grab my phone, I was left completely rattled. So…situations happen. Tons of people have been pickpocketed all over the world. Read here about very common scams you will find in Europe.
For me, this incident definitely put Medellin in a position to redeem itself. We are still working on our relationship.
The flip side of safety is to be frozen by fear and not go anywhere.
Solo Travel As A Woman: Preparation
Pre-trip preparation is critical. Read here about how to plan your travels.
Before you leave is scarier than actually being there. Knowing you are prepared adds a sense of confidence.
4. How Do You Travel Solo?
There are 2 ways to travel solo as a woman – independently and with an organized tour company.
Independent Travel: This entails making your own plans, booking your own airfare and accommodation and the freedom to change course throughout the journey.
Independent travel can be whatever you want it to be. You can join walking tours, day tours and overnight tours to add to your experience as I did in Peru when climbing Rainbow Mountain and in Bolivia taking the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats tour.
Be Prepared: If you are planning independent travel, check here for my planning steps to organize your trip.
Book a Tour: There are many tours now geared toward single women of all ages. When everything is organized you can sit back and embrace the journey with peace of mind. Depending on your preference, find a tour that leaves you lots of free time or alternately is fully scheduled.
Note the single supplement and search the internet for tour companies that have specials. This site shares companies with reduced single supplement rates.
Be Prepared: Read the itinerary carefully to be sure it suits you. Are there other solo travellers? What is the single supplement?
5. How Do You Keep Your Valuables Safe?
Number One Rule: Don’t flash around your valuables and leave the bling at home. Although it seems that every human has a cell phone, they are easy targets to be stolen. No matter where you are travelling, you really do not want to stand out. No matter how much you think you blend in, such as looking fashionable in Paris, as foreigners we are dead giveaways.
When I travelled to Austin, Texas in 2018, my hotel room was robbed. That experience made me carefully examine my travelling habits with my most valuable items. Are your most valuable items insured? Make sure you have a travel insurance policy that covers personal items as well.
Put your passport in a safe spot. Don’t keep all your money in one place. Divide it up. Lots of travellers use a money belt such as this one. I prefer something smaller like a bra stash, (my favourite) or a neck pouch/wallet to tuck away valuables. I do not access my stashed away funds during the day. I keep a small amount of cash handy in my backpack. Some women prefer to carry a purse. This one has lots of hidden pockets.
Don’t use your pockets for money nor your cell phone. Never leave valuables in the outside pockets of your day bag. In crowded situations, I wear my day pack on the front.
Solo Travel As A Woman: Be Prepared
It is much wiser to have thought this out thoroughly before embarking on your trip.
6. Solo Travel As A Woman: Are You Lonely?
I think the questions are, “How comfortable are you in your own skin?” If you don’t meet people how will you handle that? How many days can you go without a buddy?
Over and over again you will hear “Travel solo but never alone.” I think this is very true for younger people staying at hostels. If you are older and choose not to stay in hostels, you have to be a bit more resourceful when it comes to meeting people. It really pays off to be proactive.
Walk: Walk. It’s a great way to get to know a new place and you never know who you might encounter. Exploring with my camera in Peru one evening, I ended up meeting Norma and Adriana two lovely gals from Mexico. We ended up spending time together over the next few days.
Tours: Take an organized day or overnight tour. It is amazing who you will meet. Don’t worry that only solo travellers will talk to you. On a recent tour to Lake Titicaca, I chatted to a group of Peruvian ladies, made friends with a couple of other Mexican ladies, befriended a young German traveller and chatted to a Dutch couple.
Language School: If you have an interest in learning another language, attending school is a great way to build your community. If you choose to live with a family, you get an automatic “home away from home.”
A Class: Sign up for a cooking class or a wine tasting experience
Meet Ups: Air BnB offers groups outings. I signed up for a jazz evening in Paris but unfortunately, it was cancelled. Google Meetup and see what groups are in your area. I ventured to a Travel Bloggers meetup in Medellin.
Facebook Groups: Go to Facebook and in the search bar write “Groups in (your location)” You might be surprised what you find.
Be Open to Serendipity: I took a public bus in Peru one day and ended up meeting Sebastian from Switzerland. We shared a cab to get to the ruins in Pisac and ended up hiking together. An unlikely meeting and a wonderful day!
Chatting to the Family and Friends: Make sure you have your phone working so that you can contact family and friends. For a shorter trip figure out the travel and roaming plans with your provider. Long term travellers, get a SIM card for the countries you are travelling in. That way you can be in touch as much or as little as you choose with loved ones.
Have a Project/ Hobby: Think ahead about how you like to spend your free time. Do you like writing in a journal, editing photos, watching Netflix or reading on your Kindle? It’s good to have these handy, even if you rarely use them.
7. What Are The Best Destinations For Solo Female Travel?
Well, what captures your fancy?
I think the best place is the place that you have been dreaming of. You. Your ideas. Your passion. Maybe that’s a trip to Cambridge, England, hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru or seeing orangutans in Borneo.
If your heart and soul are ready to explore this place you have in mind then just do it. Do the research. Use your common sense and intuition. Plan it out or book a tour.
Are you ready to embrace solo travel?
“I heard a whisper, the soft calling of the road, I rose to answer.”
Tyler Knott Gregson