Every year, thousands of women embark on solo trips. Although it might seem awkward and scary, traveling solo is a great way to challenge yourself, gain confidence, and reflect. When I first started traveling solo loneliness was my biggest fear. But, to this day, safety concerns are regularly thrown around whenever I announce the next solo trip.
For all those women who are thinking about traveling on their own, here are some things I have learned.
While this is a guide written for all women, Black, Indigenous, women of color, women with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community face additional challenges when traveling solo. In addition to this guide, check out these resources for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and travelers with physical disabilities.
Before you decide on a travel destination, make sure you understand the intent behind going to that particular city or country. This will allow you to have more enriching travel experience and easily reflect upon it once you come back.
Once you choose your destination, take some time to look up basic information - neighborhoods to avoid, local customs, type of taxi you should take, can you travel safely at night, etc. This will set you up for success as you look for accommodation and plan your activities.
Staying at a hostel or a guest house can be a great way to meet new people. Travelers who stay in hostels are super friendly and a great source of information. You can find out what was their most enjoyable experience, which was worth the money, and what are some spots you cannot miss. They can also provide you with insight into their home country and a different perspective on the country/city you are visiting.
Who knows, maybe your next destination will be their home country and you will get free accommodation and a guided tour of their hometown.
Weather changes, places might be closed, or you might get lost. When that happens you don't want to waste time looking for Starbucks or a coffee shop with Wi-Fi. If you travel often or if you bought the phone through your carrier, getting an international data plan is a way to go. But, if you have an old unlocked phone lying around, consider buying a local SIM card at the airport or a kiosk near your accommodation. Often, it's a lot cheaper than getting an international data plan.
Before you start packing, research local customs, traditions, and religious beliefs. To avoid being pickpocketed or harassed, try to resemble a local or pass for a longtime resident. When packing that favorite dress or a pair of shorts, check if it satisfies two important criteria - comfortable and modest. If yes, put it in your luggage. If not, it's best to leave it at home.
Solo traveling, although rewarding, comes with risk, especially for female travelers. Hiccups happen on every trip, and you need just one mugger or canceled flight to ruin that dream vacation. When deciding what coverage to get, make sure you the provider has a travel assistance hotline. If you lose your passport/luggage or need reliable medical assistance, the hotline can help you focus on what's important - enjoying your trip.
Most importantly, read the fine print and know what is and isn't covered. There is nothing worse than paying for insurance, and later realizing the situation you are in is not covered.
Traveling solo is empowering. When alone, you notice the little details about your environment, the sites you visit, and the local culture. You might learn something useful for future trips, discover something that will change how you see the world, or just have a funny story to share at the dinner table. No matter how your first solo trip goes, know that the experience you get is valuable.
Are you planning your first solo trip? What are some things you are worried about? Let us know firstname.lastname@example.org
Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Selma is currently studying Business Administration and Global Studies at Hood College. While she was always passionate about traveling, she caught the travel bug through Semester at Sea, a study abroad program. So far, she has visited four continents and 30 countries, mostly in Europe and Asia.