My Guide to Traveling Solo As A Female
I get a lot of questions/comments both here in the U.S., and abroad when I tell others that I travel solo. As a female, this might be considered brave, courageous, smart but in other cases--stupid, irresponsible, or insane. I've gotten every reaction you could possibly think of. At this point it doesn't affect me as much anymore. At the end of the day, you shouldn't let others get to you and your dreams. But it used to. It made me nervous, it put ideas in my head about why I was doing this. When in reality - I was doing it because I wanted to, I wanted to take a leap of faith and live the life I wanted to live. I'm a firm believer that this is possible for anyone, from any background, from any place. I've met all sorts of people traveling solo, each with the mindset that they are willing to do what it takes to travel and see the world.
Unfortunately, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for us women (as well as men, of course, but for the sake of this post, I'm going to try to prepare the women out there for what I've learned and picked up along the way).
5 Tips I Recommend Doing
1. Would You Normally Do This?
Think to yourself in every situation whether you would do this in your own area back home. And if you normally push limits and put yourself in dangerous situations...think what you normally wouldn't do. It's okay to push outside of your comfort zone, that's where you learn the most about yourself (and get the best stories). But its important to balance this out with rationale. I once met a girl in a hostel who did things like walk home alone from a bar late at night and I just cringed thinking what could've happened to her. If you want to go out at night, always make friends first, and make sure they are trustworthy. Which brings me to the next tip...
2. Make Friends - Hostels Are The Best
Making friends are crucial to traveling solo because if you're in a bind or don't feel safe its good to have someone in the country who knows you and can help you out if need be. I love making new friends at hostels in particular, everyone usually is incredibly open in this environment. Invite others to do a game night and I swear, it almost always will bond a group of people. If you are trying to Airbnb or hotel it, I would just make sure to strike up conversations in busy areas, restaurants, beaches, bookstores, etc.
I've provided my own list below of countries that are "safer" I hate to say this because I never want to limit us, but unfortunately we just have to be rational about some areas where we would be looked at differently as women and therefore singled out in an uncomfortable way. The important thing is just to focus on safety first, make friends along the way then maybe you can go to some of those other areas with friends. So try not to get caught up in the limits. Research can help a ton however, I am in several "Girls Who Travel" communities and they always help me out when I have questions or concerns. Pinterest is a great go-to and Lonely Planet is one of my favorite more official references! Also just be aware of some of the scams that happen in the country, before you go. I always look into what not to do, transportation I can trust and just inform myself of the negatives before even boarding that plane.
Fun fact: I've been planning my trip to South America for some time and I found out about a scam that is very common. People will dress as officers and try to get money out of the situation. The goal is to just surround yourself with people you trust in places like this.
4. Let Others Know Where You Are
I used to be so bad at this, until I started to look back on some of the situations I've been in, and welp--let's just say it wasn't too smart of me to not put others in the loop of where I was, or what was happening. Always always notify 1) someone in your home area (parents or friends) and then 2) someone in the country you are in. This is just because if something were to happen you want immediate support.
5. Keep Your Valuables Safe
Ah for the longest time I was so naive and kept everything on me, I'm glad I never got robbed or anything because they would've gotten everything.*Knocks on wood. Now I am a bit smarter about where I put everything. When traveling solo especially, only take the essentials when you're going around for the day. I like to just bring cash with me, and a copy of my passport. My actual passport and credit cards, etc. I keep in the lock box at my hostel. You could also choose to invest in a lock for your bag, stick it in there and stow it in your closet. When I carry my money or wallet with me, I almost always use my money belt(s). Here are two I definitely recommend:
You can put this one under your shirt or around your waistline and it's basically like a belt buckle with an added stretchy pouch. This version is one of my favorites, it hides well and doesn't really annoy you as you walk. In fact, I often got used to this one and forgot I was even wearing it. I tend to like the ones with stretchy fabric (for active people) but there are ones a bit more wallet-like, just depends on your preference. The one I am suggesting is in the middle, it's good to lay everything out like a wallet and still have that breathable fabric on. Click here for one option you might like.
Downside: It can get a little hot wearing this one, depending on where you travel to. Make sure to get one with breathable fabric for this reason.
The Neck Pouch
This option is great because everything is easily accessible and can fit your passport perfectly. I started out traveling solo with this one because it felt safer for me, keeping it by my chest under my shirt. I found it an easier adjustment as well, and a lot cooler in temperature when traveling through humid areas. Tip: just make sure the fabric is breathable and light, you don't want something heavy around your neck all day. Click here for an option you might like.
Downside: It can get a little annoying walking around with it on your neck. I remember at times it would get bulky and looked weird with the clothes I wanted to wear. So a very minor issue but just something to note.
10 "Safe" Destinations for Women to Try Solo
I have been to some places that I most likely wouldn't want to go alone to, so I wanted to give a little guidance for some of you who want to do a solo trip! Here are some of my recommendations and just remember that even though they are recommended, things can still happen so just be smart, stay safe and have fun with it.
One of the most picture-esque places you could possibly travel to. Iceland, the land of fire and ice is absolutely incredible. If you are heading here solo, you are guaranteed to make some friends. Everyone is so kind and open here, there isn't much in the towns but the hospitality is amazing. If you are heading here, it's going to be primarily for the nature. From the glaciers and mountains to the hot springs and valleys, you'll have plenty to do here and safety was never my concern while traveling through the ring (going around the entire "island")
**Only con with this location, it can be a bit pricey, I recommend grocery shopping to save money! Restaurants are $$$ PRICEY.
A gorgeous location with cobblestone streets, delicious pretzels dipped in cheese or mustard and nature constantly surrounding you. This location is similar to Iceland in that the people are very kind, and the nature is worth the trip. I also stayed in hostels here and met such great outdoorsy people! Plus they never seemed like hostels, more like airbnbs or bed and breakfasts, within walking distance of everything you could need.
**Also note this is another pricey destination, try to save by grocery shopping if possible.
3. Bali, Indonesia
I obviously I had to include this as one of my favorites. I traveled solo here not too long ago for the first time and had one of the best times in my life. Plus, it is cheap here! You will most likely want to end up moving here long term because I have nothing negative to say about this place. The people are incredible and kind, it is an open culture so it's easy to make friends (there are also a lot of Aussies so the culture is a little different in some areas). It is very safe as long as you are being smart, the only issue to really worry about is being in touristy areas, just make sure you don't have everything on you.
A location that brings you westernized culture with that adventure that you are looking for. The Outback is something to see for yourself, and there are so many different cities to check out here you might end up staying longer than intended. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth...Many of my friends end up nannying here or working for healthy juice places because the pay is great and you get to live somewhere new for a bit!
5. The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
The history, the liberal culture, the chill people. There's so much to experience in Amsterdam, and it can be a fun one to start out with. The hostels are also beautiful here, leaving you a bit in awe at just how aesthetically pleasing it all is. My recommendation - make some friends before going out at night though, just be smart about that and if you're staying in a hostel usually there are lounges and bars you can chat with others at.
One of the safest places, and incredible nature sites to see for sure. However, I want to just reiterate that things can happen even in the "safest" areas. Canada is an incredible country however, and my recommendations are to stay away from the normal touristy areas such as Vancouver. It's good and fun for a bit, but I've also seen this area get a little unsafe. I loved areas like Banff or Victoria. Can also be a bit pricey, stick to a budget, grocery shop whenever possible.
Absolutely safe, the people here are so kind and the culture is incredible to experience. The only con I would say is the language barrier which is made easier with translations on your phone or from a book. It is definitely do-able solo and I would highly recommend this one. Head to Tokyo for some fun and cool pod hostel experiences, it'll be easy to make some friends at this location for sure. Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka and many others will leave you in awe of just how beautiful and untouched Japan really is.
Aka my motherland. I love it here guys. A very safe destination, this was one of my first solo countries actually and everyone made me feel more than comfortable. They are kind and straightforward as a culture. The smaller German towns are going to be a bit more friendly in atmosphere compared to your larger cities. I had a sketchy situation happen once to me but again its just about being smart, knowing where to go and at night make sure it's not alone especially in those larger cities. If you're in those smaller towns, judge the situation before going out alone at night.
An area I have not been to yet, but have been recommended by several of my trustworthy travel friends is Peru. The outdoorsy adventure lovers will love this destination and I've heard it's also extremely safe and easy to make friends whilst in this country. Only thing to note is with scams and transportation from the airport make sure you are being safe and doing that research of course.
Thailand gets a rep for being dangerous for women to travel solo but I'm here to set this record straight. While some might have stories of being robbed or pickpocketed, this can happen anywhere. When I speak to the overall safety level I felt throughout the country I would say it is fine. Going out at night definitely be sure to only go with friends and be aware of your surroundings. Also note: I was run over my a motorcycle here so just 1) don't hesitate when crossing streets and sidewalks, 2) be aware of what's around you 3) walk when a local walks and 4) look 5 times before crossing....