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How to Travel Solo as a Woman

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How to travel solo as a woman - Feeling on top of the world.
Feeling on top of the world. Photo credit: Jill Kane

As someone who has been solo traveling since the age of 22, I know firsthand the concerns and worries that women have about taking their first solo trip. However, I also know how incredibly empowering it is to travel solo and hopefully, I can inspire you with my top tips!

My first trip was after I graduated from college and grew tired of waiting around for friends to coordinate time off work or agree to go to the same locations I wanted to visit. Our interests differed, and I didn’t want to miss out on exploring the world just because others couldn’t or wouldn’t join me.

So, I took the plunge and booked my solo adventure, starting with a weekend trip to Amsterdam in October of 2018. I’ve learned so much since then and I hope this travel guide will inspire you to travel solo for the first time!

1. Step One: Go for it!

Traveling solo allows you to fully immerse yourself in the experience, meet up with new people, and gain confidence in your independence.

2. Welcome the discomfort

Embrace uncertainty and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. This is the fastest way to personal growth. I cried sitting on my first solo flight, But I trusted I could do it and I genuinely had a great time!

3. Ponder on your interests and comfort level

If a solo trip is a massive leap, start with a destination where the locals speak your first language, the culture or religion are similar, and there are lots of things you’d like to see and do. From there you can seek out new cultures and experiences as you broaden your horizons.

4. Consider your strengths and weaknesses

There is no recommended age for solo travel, but it’s important to consider your comfort level and experience when planning your trip. I have met solo women of all ages on my journey, 50-year-olds who have left their lives behind and are hugely insecure on their journey, and 17-year-olds who are living with little to no fear. Age really is just a number in this case!

5. Decide between a short- or long-term trip

Solo travel doesn’t have to be a permanent lifestyle, and it’s important to prioritize your own happiness and goals. If you have a significant other, they should support your goals and dreams, regardless of whether they involve solo travel. I solo traveled without my boyfriend for 4 months, and although it was difficult at times, it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself!

6. Be prepared for cultural customs

Unfortunately, gender inequality can exist in certain parts of the world. It’s important to research the culture and customs of the country you plan to visit and take precautions to ensure your safety. In some parts of the world, this could mean covering your shoulders, knees, or hair. But more often than not, It’s only required at religious sites.

How to travel solo as a woman - Exploring local customs.
Exploring local customs. Photo credit: Jill Kane

7. Choose your location

You can start by doing research (TikTok is amazing for travel recommendations!), I like to create a Google map of pinned travel destinations for my bucket list. Any time I get a recommendation on social media or in person I save it on my map. Here is my map for Vietnam, It was insanely beneficial when I arrived there on a tight schedule.

How to travel solo as a woman - Build your bucket list on Google Maps.
Build your bucket list on Google Maps. Photo credit: Jill Kane

8. Plan your itinerary

Honestly, this is optional. I’m not a planner beyond creating a wishlist. It depends on where you’re traveling to and if you’re operating on a tight schedule. I like to wing it but admittedly, costs are lower when you book in advance.

9. Book into hostels

If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, don’t worry at all! You’ll find the majority of people there are also solo travelers and are in the same boat as you in terms of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Some of the best times I’ve had traveling have been either at hostel social activities or on day trips with people from the hostel I was staying at!

10. Have some form of budget

Budgeting and saving, finding affordable accommodation and transportation, and prioritizing experiences over material possessions can help make solo travel more affordable.

11. Scout prices

Apps like Skyscanner, Hostel World, and booking.com can be useful tools to compare prices and find the best deals. Solo travel can be more affordable than traveling with others, as you have more control over your itinerary and can find cheaper accommodation and transportation options.

How to travel solo as a woman - Everything is cheaper if you make friends with the locals.
Everything is cheaper if you make friends with the locals. Photo credit: Jill Kane

12. Be smart with where you spend your money

Although it is tempting to stay in a luxurious private room with a stunning pool, What I’ve found time and time again is that the benefits of hostels far outweigh hotels and Airbnb — from the obvious reduced cost to the social areas and activities that make it the perfect space to meet travel companions, Choosing a good hostel not only changes the outcome of your trip dramatically, but it can extend the length of your time away by cutting accommodation costs.

13. Stay organised

I like to have printed copies of my passport and travel insurance documents in my rucksack. You should also set up an email folder to keep all travel bookings and visa documents safe.

14. Speak to the locals

Learning some basic phrases in the local language can go a long way in breaking the ice and making connections with locals. You would be surprised how much they appreciate it, especially across Asia where the locals make a massive effort to learn and utilize their English. Often they will be noticeably impressed with the most basic words and being comfortable with them will greatly increase your comfort in this new city.

How to travel solo as a woman - The locals give the best recommendations for food, bars, and things to do.
The locals give the best recommendations for food, bars, and things to do. Photo credit: Jill Kane

15. Learn to enjoy your own company

Solo travel offers a sense of freedom and independence that can’t be replicated when traveling with others. This can be difficult for many people and is certainly still a process for me.

16. Seek out other women

There are several online communities and apps that connect solo female travelers, such as Women on the Road, Bumble BFF, and location-based Facebook groups. This can be useful to ask questions and make plans. You can meet other female solo travelers in many different ways: Join guided tours, stay in hostels, and attend local events to meet other women traveling.

17. Book a group tour

Don’t worry, you’ll still be a solo traveler! Travel group tours can be a great option to meet others and have a structured itinerary. I did a tour with G Adventures from Laos to Thailand and also another 2 weeks in Bali. This can be a great way to take a break when the research and bookings become too much for one person!

How to travel solo as a woman - Bali group tour with G Adventures.
Bali group tour with G Adventures. Photo credit: Jill Kane

18. Only plan as far ahead as you need to!

Plan enough to ensure your safety and comfort, but leave room for flexibility and spontaneity. You never know who you’re going to meet or what kind of recommendations you’ll get along the way.

19. Be open to dating and holiday romances

You don’t have to stay somewhere long-term to be open to making romantic connections. Traveling can open the doors to making intense connections very quickly and this can be a lot of fun if you’re open to it. I would be wary of online dating apps unless you take precautions to ensure the person you’re meeting is who they say they are.

20. Don’t be scared of feeling bored

Sometimes downtime and relaxation are what we need, and that can be the perfect solo trip too. But there is an endless list of things to see and do in the world. An endless realm of new things to learn, So if you have a curious mind, you can turn your small motivation into an endless craving to keep discovering new things about yourself and the world.

21. Practice eating out alone

Bring a book or journal to keep yourself occupied, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the staff or other diners. I find this more difficult to do at home, it’s much easier when you realize nobody is looking at you and you’re never going to see any of the people there again anyway.

22. Take awesome photos and videos of yourself

Invest in a tripod or ask a friendly passerby to take your photo. My tip is to set your phone up to take a short video, and clip your favorite stills from the footage! This can be daunting at first and took me a long time to get used to. Another female traveler I met told me that people often copied the shots she was taking and she would rather feel a small amount of embarrassment in the moment and have the pictures for life than not have any at all! Just think about that every time you have this fear.

23. Pack light

The common rule is: Make a packing list, Half it, and then half it again! I promise you don’t need as many clothes as you think you do (or toiletries!). If you can’t walk for more than 10 minutes with your luggage, then you’re going to struggle getting around. My rucksack for the last year has been between 15-20kg and I can just about manage to get around in a hot climate. Luckily taxis are also cheap, but going from being a hoarder to a minimalist has been quite the learning curve! This rucksack from Decathlon is a 70 Litre + 10 Litres on top that can be removed and used as a small backpack. I highly recommend this type of bag rather than carrying a backpack too.

How to travel solo as a woman - My entire life on my back.
My entire life on my back. Photo credit: Jill Kane

24. Become familiar with your whereabouts

Research and ask about the area that you are staying at and if there are any streets to avoid. I like to always book central hostels, No matter the cost as it gives me peace of mind with going out and getting home on my own. Personally, this was more of a concern for me in parts of Europe than in Asia.

25. Don’t walk in the dark on your own

This is the same advice I’d get in my hometown, and have always adhered to it. Even though I felt much safer in the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali walking on my own, I still as a rule would aim to be at my hostel before dark, unless I was taking public transportation or an Uber.

26. Don’t get too intoxicated

We all want to have a good time, and bars and clubs are a great way to socialize and meet people. Just always be careful who you are drinking with and don’t put yourself in a situation where you could get lost or lose your valuables (I’ve heard this happen on too many occasions!). Leave your passport at home and don’t accept drinks from strangers, have your wits about you.

27. Avoid unwanted attention

If unwarranted attention or comments come your way, I personally ignore them and keep walking, as if I have earphones in. Many women I have met will never tell strange men they are traveling alone and will lie and say they are with their boyfriend. If you receive uncomfortable advances or comments, Don’t feel the need to engage or excuse yourself, It’s always safest to remove yourself from the situation. Trust your instincts.

28. Always carry a phone charger or power bank

When solo traveling, it can be extremely daunting to be without your phone for communication or Google Maps, so always make sure to charge your phone at night for the next morning and have a charger with you just in case!

29. Send your address to family or friends

At least one person from home will know my address at any given time. I’ll usually text my Mam but it could be your boyfriend or best friend. If you’re taking a taxi or out at night on your own, for your own peace of mind it doesn’t hurt to share your live location on WhatsApp or another tracking app.

30. Take note of emergency contacts

It can be helpful to take precautions and note the emergency number in a new country including the local embassy details, but 211 is an international emergency line no matter where you travel. If you didn’t know already, now you do and you’re even safer than you were before!

How to travel solo as a woman - I climbed a mountain with two amazing solo travelers.
I climbed a mountain with two amazing solo travelers. Photo credit: Jill Kane

31. Prepare your new SIM card

It’s best to do this before you leave home so your phone is contactable as soon as you arrive so that you don’t have to seek out wi-fi. I personally use Airalo for international sims but the only downside is that it offers data-only coverage. You may want to opt for a local SIM card if you need call or text coverage.

32. Don’t be afraid to change your plans last minute

It’s important to prioritize your safety and trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a particular location, consider canceling or altering your plans. This can also apply to meeting other travelers and making plans together. Your politeness is not more important than your comfort and safety.

33. Embrace the loneliness

Loneliness can be a part of solo travel, but it can also be an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. It can be helpful to experience loneliness as a way to push us to approach strangers and make new friends.

34. Stay connected with those close to you.

If loneliness gets the better of you, connect with loved ones back home, join guided tours, and attend local events to meet other travelers and locals. This can be a useful reminder that even when you are feeling lonely, there are people near and far who love you and enjoy your company, even if it’s just by call or text.

35. Extend your travel for as long as it makes you happy

Choose affordable destinations, travel in the off-season, cook your meals, and consider staying in hostels or Couchsurfing if you’re not ready to go home just yet. I spent 3 months as a social volunteer at a hostel in Bali and received free accommodation and food in return for help. I also worked on various farms in New Zealand to trade work for accommodation and the experience was more enjoyable than staying at costly hostels in the city.

36. Make it part of your career

Solo travel can benefit your career by building confidence, independence, and adaptability. It’s important to prioritize your goals and balance travel and work. You could also consider remote or freelance work if you want to travel long-term.

37. Listen to your intuition

This is the best way to know where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to talk to when you’re there! This will also ensure your safety, which we’ll discuss more below. If you’re new to this like I was, Just listen and trust yourself and your gut. It’s a real and truly amazing part of learning about yourself and how to solo travel.

How to travel solo as a woman - Trading other tourists, a photo for me, a photo for you!
Trading other tourists, a photo for me, a photo for you!. Photo credit: Jill Kane

38. Be brave

Building confidence and bravery comes with experience. Start small and gradually challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.

39. Don’t be worried about not enjoying it

Solo travel isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Consider starting with a short trip or finding a travel buddy to join you. My friends and family always encouraged me when I was worried (even though they would never do it themselves!). It helped to be reminded that they were just a flight away and not to be ashamed if I didn’t love the trip. You’re sure to learn something either way.

40. Forget about FOMO at home

Solo travel can be a great opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Stay in touch with loved ones and make time for self-care. I left my boyfriend, my family, and my dog behind to solo travel on so many occasions. The FOMO is real, but realistically they will fear missing out on your adventure far more than you’ll miss anything that’s going on back home. They will miss you and be there waiting to hear about your journey when you arrive home.

While solo travel as a woman may seem daunting at first, the benefits can far outweigh any concerns or worries. By taking precautions and following these solo travel tips, you can have an amazing and safe solo travel experience that will leave you feeling empowered and fulfilled. If you have any other questions I can help with feel free to reach out on Instagram @Jkjillkane


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