Embarking as a solo female traveler can seem terribly intimidating. People will immediately question whether it’s safe, smart, or straight up a good idea to embark on a trip alone. Hell, we didn’t even travel alone, we had each other for 15 months and constantly had friends with us, and people still questioned whether or not we should go.
Returning home from a long backpacking trip, people ask, “was there ever a moment where you felt unsafe?” The answer is a resounding, “No.”
The truth is that the world is not as scary a place as many would have you believe. If you plan appropriately and take the standard precautions you’d take in any situation at home, things will likely shake out just fine.
Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid:
You will rarely be completely alone. The backpacking community revolves around hostels, cheap bars, and budget travel options. When it comes to bunk rooms, crowded bar crawls, and cheap bus tickets, you’re never going to be far from your fellow, friendly backpackers. There are many resources set up globally to help you out, never be afraid to take advantage of them! Ask your bunk mate for advice, ask your hostel about what places to visit and which to avoid, read blog posts and educate yourself about your surroundings - your options are unlimited.
You already have the skills you need. Planning, budgeting, and most importantly, problem-solving are the foundational skills for traveling. Although it may not seem like it, your day-to-day life can easily translate to helpful skills on-the-road. Taking the subway in Spain is hardly different than taking it in any other city.
If you’re nervous, start slow! Take a weekend trip somewhere nearby to get used to the solo travel rhythm. Staying in female-only dorm rooms is a great way to meet other solo female travelers. Maybe you’ll meet your new travel buddy!
Once you fall into a routine, travel will become second nature. After a few days, things will start to feel normal. You’ll get the hang of shared bathrooms, communal kitchens, and early check-outs.
Your pace is completely up to you. If you’re loving a city, stay longer! If you aren’t feeling it, leave early. If you have a bad day, splurge on a hotel room and watch movies all night. Make yourself comfortable when you need it, and if you aren’t - just leave! Traveling doesn’t always mean hitchhiking across Siberia for 6 weeks.
You’re never more than a plane ticket away from home. As long as you keep enough money in your savings account for a plane ticket, you can go home any time you want. The only person keeping you on the road is you. If you’re not sure whether you’re truly ready to leave, home is just a phone call away.
How to Navigate Alone:
Let’s keep this simple.
Do your homework. Make sure you either have an international plan or pick up a local SIM card when you get to a new place to make sure you’re connected. You don’t need to plan everything out - god knows we didn’t - but you should know what to expect from a place before you get there. Do you need conservative clothing? Is it safe to walk around alone at night? Do you have travel insurance in case something goes wrong? Cover your bases, you’ll be fine.
Use maps.me or download offline google maps of an area before you get there.
Ask for help if you need it. Hostel workers, transportation info points, tourist centers - these all exist to help you navigate a foreign place. You don’t need to work it all out alone.
Bookmark our resources page. Download the apps. Create a survival guide for yourself!
Pinterest and Instagram are great places to scope out hot spots and get the lay of the land from solo female travelers who’ve done it all and written about it.
A lot of cities and hostels have free or donation based tours and tour packages - they’re a great place to meet new people and explore the area!
Anticipate inconveniences. Bring extra tampons, toilet paper, condoms, and a scarf. If you’re on a prescription medication, talk to your doctor before you leave to make sure you have enough. Get your vaccines. Bring one conservative outfit (just in case). Bring a small bottle of pepper spray.
Incorporate your trip into someone else’s if you can. Do you have a friend traveling somewhere nearby around the time you want to leave? Plan to meet up! Not only does it give you a piece of home to look forward to, but it means someone is waiting to see you and will notice if something goes wrong.
Share your trip (or your location on Find My Friends!) with people back home. Make sure someone always knows where you are. Fun fact, if your mom always has your location, she’ll never have to text to ask where you are.
Use google translate.
Know how to contact emergency services wherever you go.
Read reviews! Obvious, but important.
Our Favorite Solo Female Travel Destinations
East Coast, Australia
All of Vietnam
San Sebastian, Spain