Traveling alone as a woman can be a daunting, anxiety-provoking thought.
There are the typical perils and risks of travel to worry about, like missing your plane, losing your passport, pickpocketing, mugging, and more. And traveling solo can make you a bigger target.
Then solo female travel? That can increase your risk even more, especially for things like catcalling and harassment. And if you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you can be even more vulnerable.
These are my tips for solo female travelers, learned though my own experiences, to help you feel more confident and less stressed while traveling alone as a woman. The point of travel is to enjoy it!
A lot of these are safety-based, but safety is a major concern for any solo female traveler. And if you want more safety tips, click here.
Before my first trip as a solo female traveler, I did not want to go by myself. But I had time off while living in Asia that my friends didn’t. So I went anyway. Since then, I have worked my way up to traveling across Europe by myself for ~10 weeks this summer.
I’m not here to tell you that traveling alone as a woman is completely safe, 100% of the time in 100% of the world. It simply isn’t. There are risks anywhere, whether by yourself or in a group.
On top of that, how much of a target you are absolutely varies based on your demographics and characteristics, as well as the destinations you visit. Obviously, when I’m in Japan, I am very clearly not Japanese and thus extremely likely to be a tourist. When I’m in England? I blend in much more (until they hear my American accent).
What I am here to tell you is that you shouldn’t be deathly afraid of traveling by yourself as a woman. Just travel somewhere you feel comfortable in ways you comfortable, while also taking sensible precautions, and you, too, can be a solo female traveler.
You should carefully consider your destination, especially if a trip is your first foray into solo female travel or you’re very anxious about traveling by yourself.
You simply won’t feel comfortable traveling in every destination by yourself. And you might feel ill at ease in a destination for any number of reasons. Maybe you don’t speak the local language. Maybe your appearance is very different than that of the locals and would draw more attention. Maybe there are higher rates of sexual harassment and assault of women.
The goal of choosing your destination carefully is picking a location that you will mostly/completely feel comfortable and safe going around.
Maybe that cuts out some of your bucket list destinations for your first few solo trips. But it’s more important to be able to go on your first few solo vacations and gain confidence and skills as a solo female traveler.
For any trip, it’s a very good idea to send your transportation and accommodation details to at least one other person. It’s doubly a good idea for any solo traveler.
For transportation, I mean major transportation between places, like plane rides, train rides between cities, and so on.
Why? Not to be bleak, but if they haven’t heard from you in a few days and can’t get ahold of you, they have some places they can contact to try to find you.
If you want to send more detailed itineraries of what you’ll be doing what days (if you know that), you can always send that information as well.
And it’s not doesn’t have to be complicated. I always just forward my mom emails about where I’ll be staying and how I’m getting there.
In a similar vein, I would also suggest checking in with someone once or twice a day. Literally even just a quick message saying, “I’m back at my hotel” or “I arrived in Dubrovnik.”
This should probably be the same person that you send your itinerary to, so they know you’re safe and that they don’t need to freak out.
I would also recommend you keep someone updated while you’re taking a taxi or ride share, and also when going somewhere at night.
If there is one tip you follow from this post, I would highly suggest it be this one. And this tip is to make sure you have data wherever you are.
If you’re traveling domestically, that’s easy – you don’t have to do anything. But if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll have to either make sure your domestic cell phone plan gives you data in the country you’ll be in, or pick up a local SIM card.
Maybe you see it as an unnecessary expense, or just unnecessary in general if you’ll be around a lot of Wi-Fi.
I know that you can download maps for offline use on apps, and so on. But what if you need a different map? Or you suddenly have to take an Uber when you weren’t planning on it? What is that ingredient’s name in your native language, is it the one you’re allergic to?
Having guaranteed data enables you to do a lot more, particularly in unanticipated situations.
You can’t use your phone for anything, whether you have data or not, if your phone battery is dead.
If you use your phone here and there throughout the day, chances are your battery will be pretty low at some point while you’re out and about.
To prevent this from happening, carry a charged-up power bank with you. They’re small, pretty cheap, and ensure you can always use your phone. It’s one less thing to worry about.
Hostels are totally fine and safe, but maybe you’re not comfortable staying in a room with others. But what do you do if you also want some common spaces where you can meet other travelers? Or even just want amenities like a kitchen or laundry room?
Many hostels offer private rooms, not just dorm rooms. You can still use their facilities, do their tours, meet people there, but you have your own space.
Of course, they’re more expensive than the dorms and could be similar in price to a hotel. They’re definitely an option to look into though, especially if you’re looking to make friends or for specific amenities that are more common in a hostel.
But if you can’t afford a private room? Book a bed in a women-only dorm room in a hostel. Sometimes these are a bit more expensive than mixed dorm rooms, but they’re almost always cheaper than private rooms.
Many destinations do have areas that are relatively safer (or not) for tourists. So it’s a good idea to stay in a safer area when traveling alone as a woman, even if staying in a less safe area might save you some money.
But when researching areas to stay, take everyone’s words with a grain of salt. Everyone has a different idea of “safe” or “dangerous.”
If numerous sites mention avoiding a particular neighborhood, you might want to consider staying elsewhere. However, do look at why they say it’s dangerous, because that could make a difference on whether you personally consider it “dangerous.”
Potential places you can do this kind of research are TripAdvisor, Facebook groups, hotel reviews, and even Google reviews for nearby attractions.
When booking your accommodation, try to book something that is more centrally located and very close to public transportation (if that’s what you’ll be taking to get around).
Why? It will be easier for you to get around your destination. You also don’t want to have to walk far to get back to your accommodation, especially at night.
Do note that in many cities, the main train stations are centrally located, but are not always in the safest parts of town. So do some research on that if you’re arriving to/leaving a city by train or are thinking of staying near one.
Sure, the flight that arrives at 11 PM is a great deal. But how can you get to your accommodation from the airport? Is public transportation open and also safe at that hour? Can you take a taxi?
Sure, that train leaving at 5 AM is cheap. But it probably won’t be light outside. Will there be other people around? Is there somewhere safe to wait?
Often, transportation that leaves super early or arrives super late is not worth the money you’ll save.
But if you’re really considering booking such transportation (or if it’s your only option), make sure you think through all these questions, do research, and plan a bit.
Make sure you’re able to get directly and safely to your final destination (such as via taxi, ride share, or private car).
Also, if you’re looking at taking the between cities, check out the bus stop location before you book it. Sometimes bus stops aren’t even at a bus station, they can be at in kind of random spots. You probably don’t want to be waiting outside by yourself on a random road when it’s dark for a prolonged period.
If someone is bothering you, trying to hit on you, et cetera, you don’t have to be nice. Especially for someone sketchy.
You can simply say “no thank you” and keep walking. That’s not being “rude.” And even if someone else perceives it as “rude,” who cares? Your safety is more important than being “nice.”
And you also don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. No is a complete sentence.
It can be a good idea to not tell random people that you’re traveling by yourself. You can just say that you’re on your way to meet a friend, family member, or whoever.
If you’ve never done solo travel before, don’t jump right in with a weeks-long adventure.
Start small, with a day trip or overnight trip by yourself, somewhere you feel comfortable and would only be a marginal challenge.
As you get more experience and skills under your belt, you can begin to take on longer and more challenging trips.
Traveling is all about having fun and experiencing new things.
So obviously take precautions, plan, do your research, but remember the reasons why you love to travel in the first place!