We’ve all been there before: that magical moment when the stars align and you suddenly find yourself with the time and money to take that backpacking trip you’ve always dreamt of. Unfortunately, none of your friends can join you, and the thought of going it alone seems too scary to even consider. But fear not! Solo female travel is not only possible, it’s fun, rewarding, and life-changing.
The biggest misconception about travelling alone as a female is that it’s not safe to do so. As with anything you might do alone, you just have to remember to be alert. Bad things can happen to us anywhere, anytime, but we still leave our house in the morning. Why, then, should we hesitate to book a flight to Thailand?
Solo female travel: top tips you need to know
Share your itinerary with friends & family back home
Even if you don’t have it all figured out by your departure date, bring a way to update your inner circle while you’re on the go. Whether that’s an international data plan for your phone, a portable wifi device, or plans to provide regular updates on social media, having people know where you are and where you’re going will help keep you safe.
Accommodation for solo female travel
Check multiple websites as well to ensure you’re booking the safest, most trusted option. Think critically about reviews: is that one-star review an outlier, or has that person had an experience you may also have? Are those five-star reviews legit, or do they seem to be coming from property management? Also, keep an eye on how the accommodation responds to negative reviews: are they hostile? You want to find an establishment with a positive and professional attitude.
See Also: The Hardest Countries to Travel Solo
Consider choosing a hostel that hosts social activities
You don’t want to be afraid to go out at night just because you’re on your own. Many hostels offer activities, from walking tours to pub crawls. If you head out for a night on the town with your hostel-mates, you’ll never have to walk back alone at night in a new city! Picking a hotel or hostel that coordinates social gatherings is an ideal choice when you’re a girl alone on the go.
Research the neighbourhoods surrounding your accommodation in advance
A great hotel in a sketchy neighbourhood will only stress you out once you arrive. It’s important to feel safe while exploring a new place, even if that comes at the extra expense of staying in a nicer part of town! It’s more than worth it if it means you’ll get your dream vacation with less of a risk.
Tell your government you’ll be travelling abroad
Many governments offer a free service that allows you to register your trip, and be notified in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. The service also enables you to receive important information before or during a natural disaster or civil unrest. Find out what your government offers and consider opting in!
Make virtual copies of your passport and other travel documents
Scan your documents and email them to yourself or upload them to a cloud database like Dropbox. If the worst happens and your purse or bag is lost or stolen, you’ll need some kind of ID to be able to rent a hostel, book tickets home, or seek help at an embassy or another official site.
Pack lightly and consider investing in a quality travel backpack
Travel backpacks tend to be easier to manoeuvre, nearly impossible to tear off you and allow for quicker movements when needing to get in or out of somewhere fast. Being able to carry all of your possessions on your back also means you’ll be able to be more spontaneous while you travel, and makes it less likely that something will be stolen out of a hostel locker or hotel room.
Check your phone for directions out of plain sight
Better yet, write down your directions on a piece of paper you can check discreetly. Some people are more than happy to help a lost traveller, but for others, appearing obviously lost or out of place paints a target on your back. If you don’t have the option to check your phone, try to ask other tourists who seem like they know where they’re going.
Dress less like a tourist and more like a local
Try your best not to stand out in a crowd by wearing a big camera around your neck or maps stuffed in your back pocket. Blending in more with the locals allows you to immerse yourself more fully in the culture of the area, and differentiates you from the hapless tourists who are a favourite target for pickpockets. And, as always, do your research before setting out and make sure that you respect the local dress code.
Invest in a selfie stick
You’re not going to win any awards for being cool but hey, the selfie stick is the ideal way to take a picture without the risk of handing your smartphone over to a total stranger. Just keep in mind that certain areas, such as temples and other historical or crowded sites, prohibit selfie sticks. Make sure you have somewhere to store yours if you find yourself in one of these spots!
Avoid mentioning you’re travelling alone
This one may seem a little over the top, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know who might be listening, and anyway, nobody needs to know your business!
Spend time in and around crowds and public spaces
Just like at home, don’t take the shortcut through the isolated alleyway. Another benefit of sticking to the main drag is you always have the option to blend into the crowd if you feel nervous or threatened; people are less inclined to make a scene with dozens of other people watching!
Nothing is free
If it sounds too good to be true, it is! If a stranger suddenly wants to personally accompany you to their recommended sites, they’ll expect payment, even if they don’t say so. Don’t accept any offers for free rides, meals, or tours, no matter how sincere or trustworthy the person offering may seem. When you’re alone, getting away from a smooth talker might be harder, so don’t hesitate to be firm.
Trust your gut!
Our guts have a way of trying to keep us out of danger. They tend to know something’s fishy even before our brains do, so trust that feeling. Don’t do or agree to anything that feels even remotely “off.”
See Also: Is Travelling Solo Fun?
Solo female travel destinations
With a world so big, it can be hard to know which places will suit your needs and limit your apprehensions as a single female traveller. We’ve done some scouring and feel confident that these destinations are perfect for you:
- Dubrovnik, Croatia: The country of Croatia has a low crime rating and activities that are great for solo travellers – everything from boating to kayaking to snorkelling, and, of course, lounging on beaches. The medieval vibes of the walled city of Dubrovnik coupled with the ocean views and cobblestone streets make this a great place for solo travellers looking for a safe location to relax and party.
- Taipei, Taiwan: The capital city of Taiwan is the perfect combination of modern and historic, with high-tech malls, ancient temples, and bustling night markets. Crime rates are low, and you don’t have to be a native speaker to get around with ease — street signs are written in English as well. The subway system also has “Safe Waiting Zones” for women that are monitored by CCTV cameras.
- Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm is a very stylish city that’s growing ever more popular with single female travellers. The cobblestoned streets are littered with coffee shops, stores and restaurants as well as subway stations that double as art exhibits. Many female travellers have said that the people of Sweden are especially keen to help out solo women looking for recommendations or assistance.
- Oslo, Norway: Norway is highly regarded as being one of the best places to be a woman. Not only is the entire country beautiful, but the capital city of Oslo is also full of art, bars, and restaurants that can keep an independent adventurer occupied for days.
- Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland is perfect for the adventurous and active single female traveller. The city of Reykjavik is a great place to start, as it’s small in size and therefore not at all intimidating. Also regarded for its stylish bars, shops, and restaurants the nightlife in Reykjavik can’t be beat. Of course, you can always venture off the beaten track to cycle along the coast to take in breathtaking mountain views and geysers — you’ll encounter a lot of other women doing the same thing!
Group tours for solo travel?
It may seem counter-intuitive, but group tours are sometimes the best option for solo travel, especially when you’re a woman. With a group tour, you’ll have a built-in support system of people to safely explore, stay, eat, and adventure with, without compromising the fun and spontaneity you were looking for in the first place. There are even tours that cater to women only! From London to Machu Picchu and beyond, there are group tours available in every corner of the world.
Ladies, share your best solo tips below to help each other out!