A woman with hiking gear is sitting on a cliff looking out at the distance
Traveling alone as a woman might seem scary, but it is possible if you know how to go about it. You'll want to focus on staying safe, being realistic and confident, doing your research, and more.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com / lzf

Women Travel Alone: Open up Your Horizons with Female Solo Travel

Take on the World

Ready to take on the world but scared of traveling alone? You don’t have to miss out on traveling just because you don’t have anyone to travel with you.

Likewise, you don’t have to miss out on solo travel just because you are married and have a family. There are plenty of reasons why moms travel without their kids and even significant others — if there’s a trip you want to take on your own, you should make it happen.

Traveling alone as a woman might seem scary, but it is possible if you know how to go about it.

Here are some helpful tips for traveling alone as a woman.

Stay Safe

Safety is a major concern for women traveling alone. A place doesn’t have to be a dangerous destination to be intimidating; navigating a foreign country alone can put you in some sticky situations, especially as a woman.

There are some things that are just a part of solo travel for women: men leering, unwanted attention, creepy taxi drivers’ sideways glances.

For the most part, however, these things are more annoying than dangerous. There is no reason that female solo travel should be any more risky than men traveling alone.

By following some basic safety guidelines, you can travel anywhere comfortably and securely.

  • As a general rule, don’t walk around alone after dark. It’s usually fine to stroll around well-lit, busy areas, such as historic city centers or areas packed with restaurants, but it’s not a good idea to explore dark streets alone. When arriving somewhere new, try to plan your transport so that you arrive with at least a few hours of daylight left. Bus stations and train stations typically aren’t places you want to be caught after dark, as they tend to be in unsavory locations.
  • Don’t get wasted when you’re alone. Partying can be fun, but it’s risky to drink too much when you’re traveling alone. Having more than just a couple of drinks can leave you vulnerable.
  • Sometimes it’s worth paying more for accommodation. Staying in a nicer area, or with more accommodating hosts, can save you a lot of pain. One of the best ways for solo female travelers to stick to a budget is to sleep in shared dorms in hostels. This means a lack of privacy, however, and occasionally the sacrifice of your comfort and personal space. While some dorms have women-only dorms, the majority of the time you will be in a room shared with men. It doesn’t happen often, but you may have to put up with stares while getting dressed, or fellow travelers hitting on you.
  • Keep in touch with people at home Communicate, communicate, communicate. Letting people know your travel plans means they will know roughly where you are even when you’re gallivanting on the other side of the globe. If you go incommunicado, they will know to worry about you. On the other hand, if they never hear from you, it could be weeks or even months before someone raises the alarm if things go wrong. Communication doesn’t have to be along phone call or email — a quick Facebook message or post on Instagram work just as well to let your friends and family know you’re alive and well.

Don’t Believe the Myths About Female Solo Travel

Your family and friends may try to convince you that the world is a dangerous place for women to travel alone. They will bring up stories of violence, political upheaval and economic instability.

Although they usually mean well, take the advice people give you with a grain of salt. The best advice will come from people who have actually been to the places you plan on going.

If someone hasn’t been there, their advice is probably taken from media and second hand stories, so it is not as reliable.

Remember that women travel alone all the time. If others can do it, you can too. You’ll be amazed by all the things you’ll learn while traveling solo.

Challenging Yourself Is Good, but So Is Being Realistic

If you have never set off alone before, start small. You could leap into a six month solo trip around India, but you might learn a few lessons the hard way.

Traveling is like everything else — it gets easier with experience. Start off with some shorter solo trips to places that are ideal for solo travelers.

Once you get the hang of traveling alone as a woman, you can step it up by going to some more unconventional destinations.

Do Your Research and Respect Local Laws and Customs

It’s important to respect local culture wherever you are, so you don’t offend anyone but also to make your own life easier. For example, when it comes to solo female travel in Morocco, it can be helpful to wear long sleeved clothing and to cover your hair with a scarf.

This keeps with local dress code but it can also save you from unwanted attention.

Blending in is safer and shows open-mindedness towards different ways of doing things. Investigating simple things like local dress codes and customs can help make your journey go smoother.

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Find a Balance Between Being Cautious and Being Open

While you should always be wary of strangers (and never tell people where you’re staying) you need to find a balance with being open to meeting locals and new people. Traveling alone as a woman can get lonely from time to time, so learning how to meet people while traveling can be great.

One of the best things about traveling the world is seeing humanity from all its best angles. You will come across people who will help you selflessly, you will get invited into strangers’ homes for meals, and you will meet people who teach you to see life in a completely new way.

Constantly keeping your distance and being wary of everyone means you can miss these connections.

At the same time, you should be aware of people who are too friendly towards you. Always tread carefully when a stranger strikes up a conversation.

Men often target women traveling alone for scams, or because Western women are perceived as ‘easy’ in many cultures. Don’t drop your guard until you’re certain your new friend is genuine.

Be Confident

Confidence is key to female solo travel. It’s a good safety technique; people are less likely to question you if you are assertive and bold, and you look a lot less vulnerable if you act like you know exactly what you’re doing (even when you don’t).

Most importantly, though, it can help you through tough times. It can be easy to doubt yourself when you hit bumps in the road, but even when things get difficult keep your head up and trust yourself.

When traveling alone as a woman, you will quickly develop the skills you need to survive. Have confidence in yourself.

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