Solo travel as a woman can be incredibly empowering. It can make you rethink the way you have been told about the world, and it enhances all of your natural abilities to navigate new experiences. Travel in general can be totally illuminating, but solo travel… solo travel is even more than that. Solo travel is a whole different experience that will fundamentally change the way you see yourself in the world (in a good way, promise). Here are 5 things you need to know about travelling solo as a woman to help get you ready for your first solo travel experience.
You Never Actually Have to Be Alone
The best part about travelling solo is the fact that you’re never actually alone if you do not want to be alone. If you choose to stay at a hostel, it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be other solo travellers there that you can connect with. Solo travellers tend to be open to meeting new people, so it is the perfect situation to explore the city with people from around the world.
If you’re not staying at a hostel, then you can join walking tours, cooking classes, pub crawls, day trips, etc, and meet new people that way. When you travel with a friend or partner, it can be easy to stay in your own bubble and not reach out to others but travelling by yourself provides a unique motivation to start chatting with people around you. Travelling solo never really means being solo the whole time.
You Should Always Write Down Directions
As a solo traveller, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to take off for the day by yourself. As a solo female traveller, you need to take a few extra precautions – one of those being that you should know where you are headed and how to get back so you’re not wandering around in the dark in an unfamiliar area with no directions. It is a simple step that you add to each day, but it will help calm your nerves about exploring new territory (and also help you easily return to your accommodation).
It can be fun to think about spontaneously venturing off somewhere for the day, but you should have some idea about whether it is a safe area (ask the hotel or hostel receptionist), how to get there (so you don’t end up in a totally different area), and how to get back. Most accommodations have business cards in the lobby that have their name and address written in the local language. Grab two of these! Put one in your purse/day bag and one in your pants/jacket pocket. If you need to ask a local person for help or hop in a cab, having the address written down in the local language will feel like a gold mine.
You Can Always Lie
Depending on where you are travelling, you might receive a lot of questions from locals about why you are by yourself. You can absolutely tell everyone that you’re a strong independent woman travelling the world by yourself – but you can also just lie to them. You can pretend that you’re meeting up with a friend, or say your boyfriend is waiting for you – anything that makes you feel comfortable. If someone is asking too many questions for your liking… then just lie.
Lying to strangers can be harder than it sounds because many women have been conditioned to be polite above anything else. You don’t need to be polite if you’re not feeling great about a situation.
You’re Going to Learn More Than You Imagined
Travelling solo breaks down so many of your own barriers or ideas that you had about yourself. It also breaks down a lot of preconceived notions you had about a certain city or culture, and makes you realize there is so much more than what the media teaches us.
Travelling by yourself means dining alone, figuring out train schedules in a different language, deciding what sites are important for you to explore, starting a conversation with a total stranger, connecting with people you otherwise would never have met, and laughing at yourself for making rookie travel mistakes.
You might get scammed out of a few dollars, or have to change directions on the subway, or point to some photos on a menu and hope for the best, but you’re going to learn about your strengths, you’re going to work on your weaknesses, and you’re going to appreciate different cultures in a totally new way.
You Can Totally Do It
Travelling solo as a woman is a feat from the start. Your parents will probably discourage it, the media tends to focus on the negative experiences or “Top 10 Most Dangerous Places,” and your friends might try to warn you from going (or worse… try to come with you and change all your solo plans).
It takes a lot to book that flight and get on that plane alone for the first time. It takes a lot of willpower to disregard the societal voice that tells you not to fly across the world by yourself. It takes a lot, but it is always worth it.
You can totally do it. You can travel solo and have an amazing time (so amazing that you’ll probably want to experience solo travel again and again). And once you’ve done it, you’ll be able to do anything else you put your mind to.
Solo travelling is an amazing experience that everyone should try at least once – whether it is a weekend away or an entire year. Any time you head somewhere alone is a wonderful opportunity!
Have you ever travelled solo? Let us know in the comments below and let us know if you’d add any other tips to this list of things people should know before they solo travel as a woman!
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Rebecca is an almost-30 traveller that spends her time between Montreal and anywhere else. She runs the travel blog Maybe This Way where she writes stories about her adventures, travel guides, and tips to monetize blogging. She loves sushi, bright colours, and reading books written by people she’s met IRL.