Solo female travel is a skill! The thought of taking on the world alone is terrifying to some and exhilarating and empowering to others. If you or a loved one are considering traveling solo as a woman, there are some things you need to consider, like safety, how to deal with loneliness, and then there’s the financial aspect. A solo trip isn’t always easy, but it is possible to have an amazing adventure and deal with all these facets like a pro. We just have to make some modifications and learn to travel smart!
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Solo Female Travel Hints and Tips
Traveling Solo Means Paying Solo
One of the struggles of solo adventures is that you foot the bill for everything! So, you miss out on group deals, pay more per person for taxi rides, and there’s no one to split that parking fee with. Solo nomads have to be master budgeters! Here are a few travel tips you can use to ensure financial stability when you travel.
1. Charles Schwab Debit Card
Exchanging money in a foreign country can be costly. There are often high fees at exchange companies, and ATMs charge huge foreign transaction fees. The best way around this, for Americans, is the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account. This account not only offers the highest interest for a checking account out there, but it also has a connected investment account (if you want to play in the stock market on that long flight). However, that’s not even the best part. The real perk is that it refunds all ATM fees, allowing you to use your debit card on any ATM worldwide, get the best exchange rate, and never pay a fee.
2. Stay In A Hostel
Hostels don’t have the best reputation in the non-travel community, but frequent travelers know that the world is full of beautiful, safe, and economical hostels. Hostels are full of perks for women traveling alone, in all three of our categories:
- Keeps you in the company of other travelers, usually solo travelers. This obviously helps with safety but also loneliness.
- You pay for a bed instead of a room, so it is often cheaper for those traveling alone.
- You will make friends with like-minded souls who will probably want to join you on a group tour or a joint rental car, which significantly drops prices for all of you.
- There is a kitchen, so you can save money on food by cooking a few meals.
- Hostels often have great discount tips and coupons for their guests.
Pro Tip: Just remember, not all humans are noble, and if you are going to share rentals or buy tickets for the group, ensure that you get the money beforehand or make them go with you to the booking. For added safety, choose a dorm that is female only, so you will only be sleeping with other women.
3. First Stop: Local Phone Company
When you arrive in a new country and get settled, head for the nearest local phone store. Grab a SIM card with a large data plan. These plans often offer free social media, up to 20GB of data, and a good number of international texts and calls for as little as $10/month, depending on your destination. Phone companies in the US do not offer good international plans, and they are extremely expensive compared to the world’s phone plans. You will need to carry an unlocked phone with SIM card capability!
4. Go Local
Look for small local markets, family-owned restaurants, and choices off the main tourist roads. Buying your food without the tourist surcharge will save you tons of money. This is just a generally wise travel tip, but certainly applies when you are a female solo traveler. We also feel safer when we frequent restaurants where other women and children are present, instead of heavily-touristed bars and restaurants.
5. Choose Location Wisely
This may be one of the hardest female travel tips. We all have a bucket list of places we want to explore, but is that area of Europe doable on a single budget? Is it safe to travel there as a woman? Is it friendly to travel there as an American woman? These are things you really have to consider carefully. For instance, Iceland is mega safe, but it also is the most expensive country to travel. Tickets to New Zealand and Australia usually cost big bucks. Lots of travel bloggers recommend Morocco or New York City, and while trips like this certainly can be done, we feel like you need to get your feet wet first.
If this is your first solo trip, you don’t have your “spidey senses” and budget down pat, yet. We would choose a place that doesn’t stretch you too far outside your comfort zone, financially or safety-wise. Choose a place that is heavily traveled, where you can speak the language or they speak English widely, and that has a low cost of living. When taking budget into consideration, Spain (most expensive but cheaper than other European spots), Thailand, Bali, and Poland are some of the best destinations for your first trip.
6. Weigh Your Options
The only way to find the absolute best deals is to search the best travel apps and websites! While hostels are often great choices, that doesn’t mean you won’t find something better on Airbnb. We love Airbnb for the fact that it lets you stay with a local family who can give you top tips on travel experiences and local cheap food and activities. When traveling Southeast Asia, we always check Agoda first. When traveling in Europe or South Africa, we often find the best deals on Booking.
Pro Tip: When possible, use the same app consistently to get rewards and better deals on multiple bookings.
The same thing goes for flights and tours. Scouring multiple airline sites and signing up for flight deals will help you get the best flight every time. We never book a flight without checking Momondo, Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Scott’s Cheap Flights first.
Solo Women Must Consider Travel Safety
Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place, especially for women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel safely. Travel is life-changing and good for our overall wellness. So, how do you keep those travel plans while maintaining your personal safety? We promise your family is going to want to know!
The fact that you are here now means you are on the right track! Female travel blogs are a gold mine of personal advice and experiences that can help guide your decisions. Travel as a woman requires us to work together and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. Talk to other female travelers. Read as much information as your can. Take notes and spend some time dwelling on how to incorporate their knowledge into your trip!
8. Be Very Careful About Drinking
We all love a good drink every now and then, but the facts are that predators look for women in bars, waiting for you to stumble into an alley alone. Every nation has predators, and you must take measures to protect yourself. You might really have to stand your ground on this one and trust your gut! New travel friends will want you to join in the revelry, and we aren’t saying you can’t at times, but do it wisely.
Do not walk home after drinking. Call an Uber and share your driver’s information with someone you trust. Try to sober up a bit before you leave, with a coffee and some water at a nearby safe spot. Consider a night of beers in your hostel with friends. It will not only save you tons of money but allow you to get tipsy without fear. Only drink with people you have gotten to know and trust. Consider sending your whereabouts to a friend and letting them know when you intend to be home. They can keep tabs on you when your inhibitions are a little lower.
9. Guard Your Money
Pickpockets are common worldwide. Part of safe travel is learning to guard your money. We suggest a fanny pack or money belt that can be easily concealed under a baggy sweater or cute top. Another option is an elastic upper armband with a pocket. Also, consider an RFID-blocking wallet or passport holder.
We suggest that you separate your cash on your body: some in your bra, some in your sock, etc. We also suggest not keeping all your funds on you. For instance, carry half of your cash and one credit card on you. Lock your backups in the hotel safe! Make sure to only use well-lit ATMs or even better, ones that are inside with security cameras and guards. This will rely on you doing some research and planning your stops ahead of time.
10. Plan Ahead
It is better to stop and get money in the morning, even if you don’t need it, than to spend unexpectedly during the day and need money on a dark street at midnight. It is better to do a quick Google News search on your destination than take a long road trip into an area with a flood or political unrest that popped up today. It is better to take five minutes to plan and download your route, in your hotel, where you have WiFi, than to get lost in the streets with no signal. Looking lost in the street is a primo way to get yourself scammed or pickpocketed. Know where you are going and go there with confidence.
Pro Tip: No matter how well you plan, you will eventually get lost. When it happens, walk with authority to the next safe, well-lit place, and get directions or an Uber.
11. Be Careful With Daring Activities
If you are exploring the world as a solo female traveler, odds are you are a bit of a daredevil (though this is not always the case). When it comes to some of the most popular tourist activities, you may find that you feel uncomfortable going it alone. For instance, that Lycian Way hike through Turkey looks pretty amazing, but do you really feel comfortable on those three mountain passes alone? You might. You might not. It depends on your survival skills, hiking ability, and possibly self-defense knowledge.
The best advice we can give for things like this is to trust your judgment of your own abilities. If that mountain road seems too dangerous, don’t drive it. If everyone else is diving that cenote, but it doesn’t sit right with you today, don’t do it! Travel is very personal, and what is safe for someone else may not be for you. We urge you to push yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally, to experience new thrills, but know your limits.
12. Keep Love Ones In The Know
It is a good idea to have a check-in system with someone back home. Whether this is a daily text to mom in the morning, detailing your stops for the day, or dropping a pin on your Google map several times a day and sharing your account information with a trusted friend or family member. However you do it, make sure someone knows where you are at all times.
13. Know Where Help Is
This is a smart travel tip, for all travelers, but certainly, if you are traveling alone. Mark on your map and save the contact information for the closest US embassy, the nearest hospital, and the local police station. Know your destination country’s emergency number and have it saved on your phone. Sign up for the US STEP PROGRAM. This will let the US embassy know where you are and will send you safety alerts for your area.
14. Be Aware Of What You Share
Highly guard your personal information in all conversations and transactions. Never tell anyone where you are staying. Don’t let them in on your next travel plans. Don’t give people your full name or too much information on where you are from. Be aware of onlookers during financial transactions and ATM trips.
15. Know The Local Scams
Every destination has its unsavory characters. However, you can avoid trouble by knowing the most common scams in the area. For instance, a common scam in Costa Rica and other Central American regions is to slash a tourist’s tires while they are at a sight or gas station. The thief will then follow you until your tire goes flat and offer to help, then take your wallet.
It is common in parts of India and Asia for a mother with a baby to approach you to buy milk from a nearby store. You will pay ten times the price, and they will split the profits. These babies are often borrowed or rented and sedated. Other common scams include broken taxi meters, taking the long route, and taking you to a non-existent coffee shop.
A common one (almost everywhere) is bumping into you or creating a commotion to catch your attention, while a partner steals your stuff. Some of these scams are dangerous, others just cost you a little money. Either way, knowing the lay of the land and what is commonplace can keep you from falling for the tricks.
Traveling Solo Can Be Lonely
While heading out on your own for the first time is certainly empowering, eventually, it gets lonely out there by yourself. We recommend you have a plan to deal with the loneliness.
16. Keep A Travel Journal
Journaling has been scientifically proven to help us deal with anxiety, depression, and emotional distress. Keeping a journal of your activities is not only a great way to document the details of your trip, but it also helps you deal with the new emotions you will inevitably feel.
For American women, traveling in certain parts of the world will expose you to inequality that you have never had to deal with before. Friends and family will disappoint you with their comments or lack of interest. Someone will scam you. These all create emotional responses. Have a plan for dealing with them.
17. Talk To Everyone
To travel successfully alone, you must learn to be a bit of an extrovert. Strike up a conversation with everyone you can safely talk to. Not only does this keep you from being lonely, but it also lets you in on parts of the culture that you won’t see on your own.
Spend some time talking to the mom who runs your Airbnb. She will be grateful for some adult conversation. Chat up your taxi drivers. They know where all the good spots are. Make friends with other singles at your hostel. They are likely kindred spirits and may become long-time travel partners. Sit down and play a game with the elderly people in the park. They will love it, and so will you!
18. Schedule Time With Your People
Full-time travel is a life that most people don’t understand. You will likely meet resistance from your family. You will endure comments that sting and have to answer the same questions over and over again. However, one of the ways to eventually get past this is to keep in good communication with your family and friends back home. When you are out of sight, especially to your friends, you are usually out of mind.
Don’t be surprised if many of your friends and family (especially the ones closest to you) don’t seem to care about your travels or want to know much information. We aren’t sure why this phenomenon occurs, but it almost always does.
You will have to put in extra effort to keep the relationships that are important to you alive. Be prepared to be the one who always initiates contact, as they will never know what time it is where you are, or if you are busy. Be prepared to talk about all the normal stuff that is going on in their lives. If you want them to be interested in yours, you should also be interested in theirs. Remember, life pretty much goes on as normal for them without you.
We think this is the hardest part of traveling. You are having life-changing experiences that no one else you know can identify with, and they may not want to. Part of being a successful nomad is understanding that not everyone gets it, and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or have forgotten about you. Realize that you are the one living a “weird” life and reach out to your loved ones regularly.
Traveling as a solo female is a rewarding experience. The world is full of beautiful destinations, cultural experiences, and kind people. Go explore. Let the world be your teacher. You will for sure learn empathy, grace for others, and broaden your mind, but you may just learn a lot about yourself too!
Did anything on this female travel guide surprise you? Let us know in the comments which tip was the most helpful!
Taking your first couple’s trip soon, or do you know someone who is? Check out our list of the best places for couples to travel.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Traveling alone as a female is possible almost anywhere, with proper planning, but popular places include Northern and Western Europe, Thailand, and Bali.
Women traveling alone may experience more harassment, but with proper training and some helpful travel tips for females traveling solo, women can successfully explore the world on their own!