I’ve found that there is generally a stigma in the US about traveling abroad as a female alone. Before my trip, people would always respond with a confused/frightened/concerned “BY YOURSELF?!?!??!?!” when I told them I was traveling solo. I’ve had a passport since birth and started traveling at 6 months, so it wasn’t odd at all for me. Sure, I made arrangements to ensure I was as safe as possible, but I never understood that fear. Being a smart traveler has been instilled in me since I was young, so I felt confident I’d be fine.
Newsflash everyone: the world isn’t full of situations straight out of Taken and not all real-life hostels are like the Hostel movies. This is 2016. We have endless amounts of information at our fingertips. Do your research and you’ll be fine! If you’re including this in your research, here are some of my tips for solo female travelers.
- PLAN PLAN PLAN. I can be super OCD when it comes to planning, so I make sure I have a hostel/AirBnb/Hotel for each night of my trip. All my flights/trains are arranged beforehand as well. This is my way of ensuring where I’m going is safe and making sure I can leave travel plans with someone at home (my parents) before my trip. Granted, I have ended up stranded a few times where a flight delay made me miss a connection, so last-minute hotel bookings happened, but even then I made sure to look at ratings and location before booking. Plus just about every airport has free wifi for at least 30 minutes, so you can always call / text whomever you need to. Now, on my next trip I plan to leave things more open ended, in case I discover a city or place and want to change my plans, but even then, I will make sure and use reliable resources such as Hostelworld and TripAdvisor for reviews.
- Try to blend in. Tourists are always targets for scams, pickpockets, etc., because they tend to be easy to spot. When packing for your trip, try to pack with this in mind. My biggest tip for women: bring a big purse rather than a backpack. You could be in normal street clothes but the backpack gives it away.
- Try to plan daily. Roaming around getting lost is an amazing way to explore, until you’ve ended up somewhere you don’t want to be (it’s happened and I was super uncomfortable). Try and map out your day that morning or the night before, so you don’t have to pull out your map or walk around with it all day and you know which areas to steer clear of.
- Try free walking tours. Several cities have them and it’s a great way to do something as part of a group. The tour guides are typically locals who love the city and are extremely knowledgeable. It’s really neat to see their point of view. You may even end up making friends!
- I didn’t think about it before, but you need to be ok with eating AT A RESTAURANT alone. I’m a talker, so I ended up talking to myself about how amazing food was. It’s also super ok to chat up the people at the tables around you. Be friendly, people don’t generally bite 🙂
- I think the hardest part for me was not having someone to talk to about things and to discuss our opinions and experiences. Luckily, since I did travel to touristy destinations, many restaurants had free wifi, so I could call my family and chat with them while I ate. If not, I had a few iBooks at the ready.