Are you female and want to try solo travel? Then, kudos to you! That is an excellent aspiration and you are sure to have plenty of amazing and memorable experiences!
If, however, the fear of the unknown or perceived risks are stopping you from doing it, I’m here to give a few pieces of advice. I love, love solo traveling. In fact, I make it a point to go somewhere alone each year. If I can’t do it, then I won’t feel right.
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Why I Encourage Solo Female Travel
My first solo female travel experience was nerve-wracking. I went on a trip to Siargao on my own and probably made some stupid decisions haha. I have learned though and when I traveled to Tokyo and the US alone, I was able to apply the lessons I encountered.
I tell you, traveling solo (whether you are a lady or a guy) is very rewarding. It enables you to get in touch with yourself and know yourself better. You will learn a lot of things, including paradigm shifts and eye-openers that will make you a better person. Best of all, your confidence and analytical thinking will definitely level up!
But, yes, there are risks when adventuring on your own especially if you are a woman. So, here are my top 10 advice on how to stay safe on the road in order to maximize your solo travel experience.
Before we begin, please allow me to give a shoutout to my highly creative and artistic friends, Aldrin of AldricoreMoshpit and ChibianManor for providing the illustrations for this post! You guys rock!
1) Inform Your Family and Friends Where You Are Headed
Just in case anything happens, your family or friends will know how to find you or where to send help. This is not to scare you. Still, this is a practical thing to do. Yes, your family or friends might deter you from actually traveling solo, but just help them understand that this will make you grow as a person.
Inform your family and friends where you are staying as well. Whether your accommodation is a hotel in Tokyo, an AirBnB in London, a friend’s condo, or a campground somewhere – let the people close to you know.
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2) Have a Copy of Your Destination’s Emergency Hotlines Ready
If you need immediate help, it is best if you have the numbers of the local police or hospital ready. You can keep a copy of emergency hotline details online or on your phone. But note that there is no internet in some places and your phone’s battery could run out. What I often do is write important numbers onto a small notebook that I carry with me when I travel.
3) Dress Like a Local
You don’t have to overthink this. Just do your best to blend in. You can still stay fashionable and comfortable while doing so. The main reason for this is that if you stand out too much, it will be obvious that you’re not from around town. That might make you an easy target for pickpockets and other individuals with ill intentions.
Aside from that, there are certain places like temples and shrines where you need to observe local customs, which include observing proper attire. In Indonesia, for example, you are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops when entering sacred temples. You have to wear a sarong too.
4) Pack Light
Not generalizing, but most of us women are not built to carry heavy things. We often don’t have the muscles and stamina for them. So, as a solo female traveler, save yourself the grief of lugging around a heavy suitcase or backpack. You might find yourself in unexpected situations and will just end up super tired and frazzled.
I had to lug around an 18kg suitcase in Fukuoka and had to go up some stairs and ride trains. Needless to say, I regretted the decision to bring that big-assed luggage.
5) Find Other Female Solo Travelers Near You
Yes, solo travel can get boring sometimes. But this is the perfect opportunity to make new friends. So, if ever you feel the need to socialize, find other solo female travelers. You can meet them at your hostel/hotel or you can join FB groups for women adventuring on their own.
Of course, you can socialize with guys too. Just be vigilant and listen to your gut. And observe the usual advice of not accepting drinks from strangers and not getting into a stranger’s car. Stick to public hangout places as much as possible.
6) Get a Safe and Reliable Purse
This is worth investing in. Buy a purse or bag with anti-theft features. A money belt is also worth looking into. Also, don’t put all your money in one place so that in case you are pickpocketed, you don’t lose everything.
What I do is bring my ATM and credit cards with me when I travel, but I hide them somewhere else in my luggage. That way, I have a backup in case something bad happens to my wallet.
7) Learn to Say No
If someone is being really pushy and you feel threatened or harassed, firmly refuse whatever they want you to do. Don’t be afraid of causing a scene if you have to.
Although I was not alone while traveling in Siem Reap, my friends and I still got harassed by aggressive touts. They didn’t go away until we forcefully said no to what they were selling.
8) Make Travel Easy with Apps
Our technology has advanced quite a bit and so it makes sense to make full use of smartphone apps to enhance your trips. For example, I have zero sense of direction. But with the help of map apps like Google Maps, I am able to prevent myself from getting lost…most of the time. 😀
Apps that allow you to book hotels, plane tickets and rides have been invaluable as well. I’ve also used language apps to help break down the communication barrier. In the US, I downloaded an app that helped me calculate tips. In short, your phone is smart so let it help you.
9) Learn a Bit of the Local Language
Just as we appreciate foreigners saying “salamat”, “mabuhay”, and “magandang umaga” to us, residents of other countries also appreciate us trying to communicate with them using their language. So make an effort.
In fact, you might just experience something amazing. When my friend and I were walking around Kyoto, we said “konbanwa” or “good evening” to this old guy that we passed by. He was amazed and with body language he made us understand that he’d like to tour us around the nearby temple.
We were going there anyway so we followed him and we had a fantastic time. The old guy talked to us in nothing but Japanese and bursts of the word, “good!” Somehow, we understood a bit of what he was saying. He showed us around the temple and even volunteered to take photos of us. Until now, I still cannot forget that wonderful experience.
10) Have an Open Mind and an Adventurous Soul
There are many risks to traveling, even more so if you are female. Bad people often target lone women. Stories of sexual abuse, robbery, getting drugged, and things like that do exist. Yes, these can be scary but know that there are also a lot of beauty and good people out there.
By having an open mind and an adventurous soul, you won’t be so afraid to travel alone. And as long as you keep the above safety tips in mind, observe common sense, and plan your trips – then you can definitely have a memorable travel experience.
Traveling Solo Is Beautiful
There are so many things to gain from traveling on your own. You’ll never be the same again; you will definitely grow to be a better person.
Take the plunge and try it as soon as you can!
If you have more questions for me about being a solo female traveler, shoot me a comment below. If you are a solo female traveler, I’d love to hear about your memorable stories, too!