It’s not difficult to travel alone as a woman but there are some things you need to think about that won’t necessarily apply to male travellers or affect them in the same way.
If you do your research and plan ahead then it doesn’t have to be daunting – even if it’s your first time travelling solo.
This post is dedicated to women who are planning to travel alone and prefer to organise their trip by themselves rather than through a tour operator.
- Don’t let other’s decide for you
“Are you going to travel on your own?” “Aren’t you afraid? – These two questions are the most common ones that come up when you tell others you are going to travel alone as a woman.
If you weren’t afraid before then questions like these can make you nervous and start imagining all sorts of horrible things. Suddenly you begin to doubt yourself.
The truth is that travelling solo is not as dangerous as it might seem and it does not always mean that you will be on your own.
Nowadays, more and more women are choosing to travel alone. Some travel because of an interest in a certain place, others because they simply don’t have any other choice. It could be argued that solo travel is actually easier than going with other people.
When you travel alone, you get to decide where to go and what to do; your choices are only limited by your imagination. So be prepared and take precautions but don’t let other talk you out of it. If you have your heart on travelling on your own then do it!
- Where should you begin?
Beginnings are always the hardest. Many women are afraid of exploring new ground so often put off doing something they love. The anxiety about places you have never been to before might leave you feeling fearful, overwhelmed or confused.
After all, there are so many places to see, where do you begin?
Start by reframing any fear you may have with curiosity. This way, you will be motivated to break your trip down into steps and won’t get overwhelmed.
Then consider your interests – do you like cities, culture, architecture and socialising or are you more of a quiet type who prefers your own company or a nature lover? Are you looking for stimulation and excitement or peace and quiet? Perhaps you want a mix of all these things?
Once you have an idea of the kind of vacation that would suit you, think about the places that would match your needs.
The most important part of your solo trip is first connecting to the type of activities you enjoy doing and finding a place that can match your interests.
- Can a woman cope alone?
Despite the stereotype of women being the weaker sense, many women are naturally resourceful and adaptable. Travelling alone isn’t harder for women than for men but you do have to be mindful of the fact that no matter how women are perceived in your country, this is not the same everywhere in the world.
Many cultures have a very traditional view of women and may not understand why you are on your own without a male escort. This can lead to some awkward questions and puzzled looks when you tell people you are travelling alone as a woman.
Be armed with a good answer so you don’t feel uncomfortable. I’ve known women to invent a husband and wear a wedding ring (even if they’re not married) to ward off unwanted attention in travel destinations like India, Asia or the Middle East.
On the other hand, you may find local people more willing to look out for you and offer help if you’re a woman on your own. You may get welcomed into their homes and invited to dine with them, have tea or meet their families, especially wives, daughters, sisters and grandparents.
- What if you feel companionless?
Travelling on your own as a woman does not always mean that you are alone. And alone does not equal lonely!
Interesting people are all around us, and for a solo traveller it is easier to meet new people and make friends than someone who is travelling in a group of people. The best way to start a conversation is to ask for directions, recommendations for a place to eat or a place to stay overnight.
You may find yourselves getting into conversation with other single travellers at breakfast in your hotel, in an Internet café or a restaurant. They may be feeling the same as you and welcome some company. These are the easiest connections to make because you don’t have to continue them if you don’t want to. If you aren’t interested in staying in touch then you can leave after your conversation or meal together and wish them all the best as you continue your journey.
- The hard side of travelling solo
Solo travel is often exciting and different but not always easy. Therefore, you need to be strong and confident to face up to any problems that may occur while you’re away, especially if you are abroad, don’t speak the language and are on your own.
You will need to rely on yourself because when you travel alone as a woman, you may not have anyone else around. It’s quite likely that a local may offer their help but don’t rely on it and there may be a language barrier.
However, most places in the world do have modern technology especially a phone and the Internet. Even if you’re stuck in a remote Asian village where people do not have sewers, running water or electricity, you’ll probably find someone walking around with a mobile phone!
This should be your priority if you find yourself in trouble e.g. you run out of money, get your passport stolen, or are caught up in a serious situation because you will need to contact your family, a friend or even your consulate.
- You should always consider your safety
If you are travelling alone as a woman then it’s likely that your biggest concern is safety during your trip. Like any other solo traveller you need to be well prepared for your vacation and know the specifics of the country you’re visiting.
There are many websites that can help you find out what you need to know, including information and facts about the culture and history of the place, what the local traditions are, things not to do while you’re there, appropriate dress code, drinking in public, smoking and so on.
Make it a point to read up on these do’s and don’ts well before you go, and always have the phone number of a person to contact should you find yourself in an emergency while you’re away.
- Some tips for the female solo traveller
- Pack light – most of the time you will be carrying your own luggage. Bear in mind that all airlines have strict baggage restrictions and a weight limit of less than 23kg per passenger.
- Always carry your mobile phone with you in case of emergency. Make sure that you inform the front desk of your hotel where you are going.
- Carry a gel sanitizer with you – this will ensure your hands are clean and germ-free on the go and reduce the chances of you picking up anything from dirty doors, cups, cutlery etc.
- Get vaccinated –check if you need any vaccines or tablets for the country you’re travelling to and if you do, get them done in time.
- Dress appropriately – Check in advance what constitutes “appropriate dress” for the country you travel to. Pack a pair of comfortable shoes and don’t carry anything valuable that is not essential.
Listen to the views of others but remember it is you who decides about your life! You don’t need to be afraid of travelling by yourself because many women travel alone these days and have an amazing trip. It pays to be prepared though so plan ahead and do your research.
Get to know the places you will be travelling to and be careful. Always think about what you are doing and whether it is an appropriate or safe thing to do for that place.
If you do all of that then I’m sure you will have a great holiday! You can find some more helpful advice in my new ebook, The Solo Travel Guide.