Grace Lower | Mar 7, 2019
Solo travel among women isn’t confined to stories like Eat, Pray, Love or Wild — it’s a trend that’s taking place around the globe and across racial, socioeconomic, and generational demographics. These days, more woman than ever are fostering their sense of adventure by traveling on their own.
Solo travel is one of the most empowering ways for women to see the world. If you’re a woman with plans to travel on your own, here’s what to know before you go:
Although a solo trip might seem intimidating, there’s a growing community of women who relish the independence of traveling alone. According to Trekk Soft’s 2018 Travel Trends report, the monthly search volume for “solo female travel” increased 52% between 2016 and 2017. This trend isn’t just relegated to Google searches: women are explicitly voicing their interest in solo travel, as well. In particular, TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travel Survey highlighted the popularity of solo female travel worldwide, with 74% of female respondents indicating that they either had traveled or were planning to travel alone that year.
In light of this growing trend, a wealth of resources has become available to help female travelers plan their next adventure. Social media groups like Facebook’s “The Solo Female Traveler Network” or forums like Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree offer vibrant communities where women can ask questions and exchange travel tips. There are also endless travel blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts targeted toward solo female travelers. It may be intimidating to contact these bloggers and influencers directly, but they’re often willing to share their insights with those who ask.
Occasionally, travel media can create a false dichotomy between prioritizing safety and having an “authentic adventure.” But for female travelers in particular, it’s important to understand possible risks associated with a trip.
You’ll want to dedicate a portion of your planning time to reading up on your destination and identifying anything that might affect your safety. Here are a few key questions to ask along the way:
To help you get started, the US State Department has a series of tips for women travelers and detailed country information. This site also contains up-to-date safety alerts, which highlight terrorism threat-levels, instances of political unrest, natural disasters, and other factors that may impact visitor safety.
It’s also wise to consider a travel insurance plan. Products like trip protection insurance or travel medical insurance can provide added flexibility and support if there’s an emergency while you’re abroad — and pricing can be much more affordable than you think.
No matter how carefully you plan, chances are, something will go wrong during your trip. That’s why it helps to have the right gear. After a long flight, the last thing you’ll want to do is haul multiple bulky suitcases, without assistance, along miles of cobblestone streets. Save yourself the struggle and opt for a cute and culturally-appropriate capsule travel wardrobe, like this one featured on Packsmith. Don’t forget to pack useful extras like a basic first-aid kit, travel sewing kit, flashlight, hand sanitizer, and emergency snacks.
As a woman, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re not an easy target for theft. Consider a cross-body bag or a discreet money belt to keep your valuables close. What’s more, bring a mix of cash and cards, and keep extra currency in a few different pockets or bags. Finally, make copies of every key important document — from your credit card to your passport, to your insurance cards. Just as you wouldn’t want to take chances with your physical safety, your financial security is important to protect!
A good rule of thumb, whether you’re at work or at play, is to go into every situation with an air of confidence. Even if you’re brand-new to a destination, there are tricks that you can use to blend in. Take some time to map out walking directions and public transportation routes using a tool like Google Street View. If you’re bad with directions (like me!), this process will help you navigate more successfully when you’re there in person.
If you’re visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, try to become confident with the basics before you go. Mastering simple phrases like “excuse me”, “thank you”, “where is the”, “could I have” and “do you speak English?” will help break the ice with locals, especially if you find yourself in a pinch.
Above all, remember to carry yourself with an air of confidence. If you’re stressed out or confused, step outside of the flow of traffic or into a nearby store to get your bearings. And whether you’re looking for directions, or are just hoping to make new friends, don’t hesitate to speak up. If you’re polite and direct, chances are, people will be happy to oblige.
One thing that isn’t often broadcasted about solo travel? It can be incredibly lonely! That’s why it’s helpful to set your intentions for your trip before you depart. Identify certain goals that you’d like to accomplish during your stay. Would you like to be more present? Are you interested in learning a new language? Do you want do strengthen your sense of self-reliance?
No matter how big or small your goals may be, take some time to jot them down, and track your progress throughout your trip. Celebrate small victories, and be gracious with yourself if you make any mistakes along the way. And, if you can bear it, try keeping your phone-use to a minimum. Your friends, family, and social media feeds will be there when you get back.
Solo travel grants women a rare chance to get to know a new environment while simultaneously getting to know themselves. And as it so often goes with travel, it’s those new discoveries that make the experience worth the effort.
Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.