Traveling solo as a woman may seem absolutely crazy to many people. But for the girls who are adventurers at heart — those who refuse to allow fear of the unknown or the absence of a travel partner to stop them, solo female travel is a liberating experience.
Many people I know and many of my family members do not understand the concept of traveling alone as a woman. They think solo female travel is absolutely nuts.
Why in the world would a single woman want to go to a foreign place where you don’t know the culture, you don’t know the language, and you don’t know anyone… all by yourself? My inquisitive question back to them is, well, why not?
While I know these are very valid concerns that come from a place of genuine care, the truth is, if you approach solo female travel with a good head on your shoulders, it can certainly be a very safe, empowering, and fulfilling experience.
Traveling alone as a woman is an adventure I encourage every woman (young and mature) to embark upon at least once in her life. It will make you more confident, more worldly, more independent, and overall more badass. As a young woman, a black woman, a single woman (at this particular point and time).. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling alone over the years. Here are some travel tips for solo female travelers I’ve picked up along my own journies.
Check and double-check covid requirements.
After a rough 2020, I certainly am very happy that the world is finally starting to open back up. But because things may be stable or seemingly under control in the country or city where you live, they may not be so in the rest of the world. From traveling solo during covid times, I can tell you that it’s definitely much easier to travel with proof of vaccine. If you are unvaccinated you may find it a bit more inconvenient having to show a negative covid test with 48 hours (depending on destination) to board an airplane or even to enter restaurants in some places.
Before you start booking flights, be sure to check and recheck the covid requirements in your destination country. Also, consider, what will you do if you are to get sick in that country? Do they have a solid health care system in the event you need to be admitted into the hospital or quarantine in isolation for a certain number of days?
Choose destinations that are safe for traveling alone as a woman.
So you want to travel solo? Well, where in the world will you go? As a solo female traveler, you definitely want to choose destinations that are safe for a woman traveling alone.
Which countries are generally most safe for women traveling alone? What are the crime stats like? What have been the experience of other solo female travelers to this particular destination? What about the specific city you will travel to? Is this country tourist-friendly?
Once you’ve chosen a destination that’s safe for solo female travelers you’ll want to understand the country you are going to. The culture, the history, the people.
If you’re not an experienced traveler (solo or otherwise), I would recommend traveling to countries and cities that get lots of tourists. You also want to choose countries (initially at least) that have a good reputation. These beginner-friendly countries will help you build up your travel smarts and street smarts to travel confidently as a solo female traveler too.
From my own experience, to feel safe I like to know that the country has a good general infrastructure of law and order. In other words, there isn’t any political unrest or anything crazy like this. Also, just as important as it is for the country to be safe, the city should also be safe as well. The USA, for example, generally has a good reputation as far as being safe to travel for solo women. But this will also vary depending on the state, city, and part of town you’re in.
Keep your loved ones updated every step of the way.
Be it via social media, or checking in every so often via phone or WhatsApp. As a solo female traveler, I personally don’t think it’s a great idea to be totally off-grid.
Friends and family back home should know at least in what city you’re in and even where you are staying. It’s also a good idea to give them an idea of your solo travel itinerary.
Pack lightly. A carry on and personal item max.
Unless you are planning on moving to a foreign country for good, there is no way as a solo female traveler you should need to travel with more than a single carry-on and personal item.
The truth is when traveling alone as a woman you really don’t need as many clothes, shoes, and general crap as when you travel with a partner or a group for example. It’s also so much less of a hassle when you travel lightly which allows you the ability to move around quickly and easily in a hurry.
On my last solo trip to Italy, I was able to get from the airport to my Airbnb via two trains and a good amount of walking. I preferred this route to taking a taxi as I got to experience the city in a more authentic way. I was only able to move this stealthily because I didn’t have a bunch of crap to haul around.
Always plan ample time for getting to the airport.
I’ve been in this situation enough times to have learned my lesson — always plan for ample time so that you can get to the airport leisurely and relax at the gate with plenty of time before departure.
Traveling is a lot less stressful, it can even be quite nice when you’re not stressing out about wheater or not you will make your flight on time. You don’t want to be that solo female traveler begging people at the security checkpoint if you can please skip ahead of them because your flight departs in two minutes. 🤦🏾♀️
Decide on a primary means of transportation.
How do you plan on getting around town from day-to-day. Depending on where in the world you are and other factors such as whether and budget, decide based on some research which means of transportation makes the most sense for you.
When I traveled solo in Rome, I was very easily able to walk most places. When I lived alone in a city like New York City the subway train was the best. In my hometown of Miami, Florida renting a car may be the most comfortable means of getting around town.
This of course can change day-to-day depending on how you’re feeling and where you’re going. But it’s a good idea to have a default plan. Additionally, once you arrive at your destination abroad, how will you get from the airport to your home away from home?
In many countries, there are usually some regulations on how much taxi drivers can charge travelers to get from the airport to the city center. This is great for solo female travelers so that you don’t (usually) have to worry too much about getting overcharged. If you’re traveling to a metropolitan city, public transit such as a metro or train systems may also be a good (and considerably cheaper) option.
Exchange contacts numbers with a local or fellow traveler.
It may a good idea to exchange contact details (WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.) with a trusted local, for example, your Air B&B host. When I stayed at a guesthouse in Rome, I also exchanged details with a fellow traveler staying in the room next door. This is a good idea because should you find yourself in a pickle, at least you can contact someone within the country who may be able to help you.
When you find local spots that you like, stick with them.
Of course, you’ll want to discover new places and try new things in the place that you’re traveling to. I’ve however found that locals are very thrilled and excited when they see you return to dine or do business with them again. In this event, you become somewhat of a priority customer and they really take care of you every time you return. These locals will also more eagerly go above and beyond to help you if need be.
Make a plan before arrival of all the places you want to see.
Make a plan of all the places you want to go, foods you want to try, and experiences you want to have while you’re traveling alone as a woman. Have at least a soft and flexible travel itinerary planned out so that you don’t miss out on the things you most want to do and see.
It’s also a good idea to leave a portion of your trip open to serendipity and exploration.
Air BnB is great but small hotels have great deals as well.
If you’re traveling alone as a woman and don’t want to spend too much money on accommodation, Airbnb might be your go-to option. While Airbnb will have great options for solo female travelers, don’t neglect to check out the small boutique hotels as well. In order to compete with Airbnb, you will often find that many small boutique hotels have very competitive rates. Also sometimes amenities such as AC and room service are nice to have when staying at a hotel as opposed to an Airbnb.
Carry a converter for foreign outlets.
This one is easy to overlook when traveling overseas from the USA, but make sure not to. It’s important when traveling solo as a woman that you have the right equipment to power your devices with the different outlets — and it’s not a good idea to count on buying one once you reach your destination.
Countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America will often have the same kinds of power outlets that we’re accustomed to in the USA (make sure to double-check). Countries in the EU however will have one type of outlet, which is totally different than the ones in the UK, which is totally different than the ones in Asia. Make sure you know which kind of outlets the country you’re going to has and you come prepared.
Carry your phone charger and adaptor everywhere.
While you’re roaming around snapping pictures and using your maps to get around, you’ll likely be draining your battery more than usual. Always always always have your charger (and adapter) on hand so that you’re never stuck without having a way to access maps in order to find your way home.
It may also be a good idea to bring an external battery pack to juice up in case you need it.
Be aware of your surroundings (and pickpockets).
Pickpockets exist everywhere. These clever thieves are notoriously very good in foreign countries, however. When you’re out and about I recommend carrying a crossbody bag and keep it in front of you at all times. A cute fanny pack (not a dorky-looking one) may also be a good idea as opposed to a little book bag. This way you can always have your items where you can see them and keep them secure.
As a woman traveling alone, you will most certainly pique the curiosity of people. Feel people out and be nice if you like. But certainly don’t feel obligated or even be too eagerly talk to strangers. Use discerning judgment in these situations.
When in Rome…
When traveling solo as a woman a good tip is to do as the locals. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans. Try your best to blend in as best you can and not stick out too much.
You perhaps will look like foreigners no matter what, but try not to bring so much attention to it. Consider how do the people dress, how loud do the people speak, how do the people move? Observe and behave accordingly. Additionally, do the people tip in the restaurants, are they chit-chatty to strangers, how do the women behave to men and vice versa?
Hand wash your clothes.
Especially when you pack light for a longer trip, you’ll likely be repeating outfits. If you’ll be staying put in one place for some time, it’s a good idea to hand wash things in the evening after a couple of wears. Underwear I hand wash in the shower every evening, this way I never run out and I always have clean underwear.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to take pictures for you.
Taking pictures of yourself can seem a bit tricky when you’re traveling solo as a woman. But don’t be afraid to muster up the courage to ask people to take pictures for you, people are usually glad to help out.
I usually like to look for a young woman who looks pretty Instagram savvy. I choose a young Instagram savvy person because chances are that they won’t completely cut your head off. Men tend to take one, maybe two shots and hand the phone back to you. Women on the other hand will take different angles and multiple shots before being finished, lol.
Always carry some cash.
In the USA for example we are used to everywhere taking credit or debit cards as a means of payment. You can pay with a card for services, in restaurants, even in taxis. In many countries around the world, however, this is not the case. Even in other “first world” countries.
For this reason, an important solo female travel tip is to always carry some cash — at least around the equivalent of $50 USD is a good amount. This is able to cover your food should a restaurant not accept cards or taxis within a reasonable distance. In second or third-world countries, a little cash might even be able to get you out of a sticky situation. When traveling, cash is king!
Download google maps offline.
This solo female travel tip has been so clutch for me. Google Maps downloaded offline has come in so handy with helping me get around nearly every city, whether I had wifi, data or not. It takes about 15 mins or so to download a particular city and then you can map around without internet access.
Learn how to say basic phrases in the countries language.
Out of respect to the people of the country you are traveling to, it’s important to learn at least the very basics of the national language. Even if many of the locals speak English, they will greatly appreciate your effort.
Basic terms you should definitely learn are as follows… hello, thank you, goodbye, do you speak English, where is the bathroom. These kinds of phrases that you will use often will come in very helpful.
Trust your intuition.
The most important solo female travel tip I can lend you is simply. to trust your intuition. As women, that I believe is a gift we have innately, we just have to tune in. We usually know, or rather, we usually feel when something or someone is off. When something is just not quite right.
Sometimes we may ignore this feeling, giving the situation the benefit of the doubt. But as a solo female traveler, the benefit of the doubt can be dangerous. Tune into your intuition at all times ladies, and trust it. Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust your instincts.