Tips for the Solo Female Traveler:
Traveling as a solo female traveler can be daunting if it is your first time, but don’t let that stop you. Embrace the experience and it can be very rewarding. Solo traveling lets you discover yourself, boosts your confidence, allows you to do exactly what you want, gives you freedom, and lets you experience new things. And along the way you get to meet and make more friends than otherwise. Here are some of my tips for the solo female traveler to ensure a successful adventure.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends. Let them know what hotels/hostels you are staying at, what your flights are, and how to reach you. And, don’t forget to check in with them regularly.
- Get an international phone plan. You no longer have the excuse that this is hard or expensive. T-mobile provides free international data and texting with their plans. Talk is just 20 cents/minute from Europe to US and free if you’re in Canada or Mexico. It allows you to check in with friends and family and is a valuable resource in an emergency situation.
- Stay at a hostel. Hostels can provide a great social atmosphere so you aren’t lonely on your trip. They can also be safer than a hotel. Think about it. Would a creepy guy be more likely to follow you back to your hotel room where you are alone or into a dorm filled with 6 women? For help on the right hostel to choose, read my article on Booking a Hostel.
- Sign up for group activities. Free walking tours, cooking classes, and other group activities are great ways to meet new people and learn more about the area’s culture. Just because you are traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone.
- Lie a little. If some creepy guy is asking you out for drinks, it is perfectly acceptable to tell him your friends are waiting for you. Sketchy people at the hotel? Tell them your boyfriend is staying with you.
- Wear a fake wedding ring. This won’t keep all the overly friendly men away (trust me, I know from experience), but it will keep away some of the unwanted attention. If nothing else, it can reinforce your lie that you are meeting up with your husband.
- Go to a cafe when you need to look at a map. Nothing screams “I’m a lost tourist” quite like standing on a street corner staring at a map. Instead, grab a seat and a latte while you figure out where your are. As an added bonus, your server will probably be able to direct you to where ever you are trying to go.
- Drink in moderation. It can be fun to go out for drinks with all the new friends you just made, but don’t overdo it. You just met these people after all. Can you guarantee they won’t ditch you if you get sick and need to head back to the hostel early? It’s best to keep a clear head when you are solo.
- Arrive at the new destination in the daylight. Sure the train that arrives at 1 am is cheaper, but trying to find your accommodations alone and in the dark can draw unwanted attention. It is almost always safer to get to your destination while the sun is still out.
- Pack light. When you are concentrating on lugging your three overstuffed bags down the street, you aren’t even going to notice that pickpocket reaching inside your purse. Traveling light means you can be more aware of your surroundings instead of focusing your attention on lugging your luggage. Plus, it means that you have the added bonus of being more mobile and a little carefree.
- Dine alone. Just because you don’t have anyone to eat dinner with doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself to a nice sit-down dinner. And, you’ll probably be surprised on how enjoyable and not awkward it is. On my trip to Lyon, France back in October, I treated myself to an amazing 3-course meal. Yes, I went alone and yes I loved every single moment of it. Bonus tip: get a seat close to the window and you are set for some prime people watching!
- Trust your instinct. Your instinct is probably right, so listen to it. If you think an area is dangerous, avoid it. If your gut tells you your new hostel friends are good people, they probably are, so go out to dinner with them.
- Be selfish. And by this I mean do exactly what you want. I’m sure your friends and family gave you a lot of advice before the trip such as which museums to see and which attractions to skip. Listen to their advice, but they aren’t on the trip. Do what pleases you because you are the one taking the trip.
- Take selfies. Did you really go on that trip or was it just a dream? Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself or you might be disappointed when you get home and realize that you aren’t in a single picture. If selfies aren’t for you, don’t be shy to ask a fellow traveler to take your picture.
- Use an ATM inside a bank. These are always safer to use than the ones on a busy or dark street. Plus, if the machine eats your card, someone will be there to help!
Do you have any tips for a solo female traveler? Comment below!