First time solo female travel: 34 tips from the lady bosses
I’ve been traveling by myself for the last 10 years and believe it or not, I am still using these tricks. If you are going on a first time solo female travel, you’re in for a treat! Along with my tips, I called 15 other solo female travelers to pitch in their best tips for traveling alone!
Reader Question: Hey Trisha. I have a question… I am 17 years old and have never been out of my large (but confining) state of Alaska. I am planning my first solo female travel to Spain for next fall (a month before my 19th birthday) and so far everyone is against me traveling alone. Do you have any tips on solo female travel that’ll help them feel as confident as I am in my abilities?
– Bubby, USA
I want to go to Europe!”
“How about South America?”
“Fine. The Holy Land?”
“It’s pretty cool but you know, they have this ongoing war with Palestine.”
“What’s pretty cool is India! They have a very rich culture and I can learn a lot. Maybe I’ll go there.”
“You know they treat women differently there? You can get raped!”
“Okay. The USA! It’s a first-world country! It’s safe.”
“Gun shooting and…. Trump.”
This is the usual conversation you will get when you are talking to friends and family which is normal. I had tons of these and, believe me, I’ve had countless stressful arguments with my mother just because she has a premium subscription to CNN.
“You will only understand me when you become a mother someday” is the famous line and though this is very true (right, correct, 100% precise, factual), the solo female traveler in me was unleashing like Bruce Banner struggling like crazy when he transforms to the Hulk. It’s that severe.
The thing is, solo female travel is not for everyone but when it comes to you, in my opinion — grab it. It’s a gift. Having this urge doesn’t happen to every female life form so consider it as a skill. Thinking about traveling solo is already a big leap so don’t ignore it.
In this age of COVID, terrorism, war, and every violent crime there is in the history of mankind, one of the greatest challenges of living in this world is to be a woman. A traveling woman. It’s been 10 years since I left home to travel the world but the idea of living and surviving in this world as a solo female traveler still amuses me. This is what lead me to discover that I am made for this: by simply doing the first step.
I wouldn’t imagine my life right now if I didn’t say yes to everything. If I didn’t jump into opportunities before me. If I didn’t YOLO. The YOLO part is what I would usually say (IT JUST EXPLAINS ALL!) but I want to try to be more serious in this post for our friends who are new to the solo female travel league.
Before you go on your first time solo female travel, consider this
Of course, you have to choose where to go and when to do it but believe me, this is the easy part. The guide books can take care of that but what if you never traveled anywhere yourself and you feel like a noob with zero knowledge of anything? Your head screams I don’t know anything!!!
Then you’ll get panic attacks and in the end, you’ll just decide that first time solo female travel is not for you. Don’t worry. You can practice and train for the big league while you are still at home. These are very simple and are often not given importance in our daily lives but try it.
Why is this guide for females only? What about the males?!
I first wrote this in 2015 and was republished here to fit the current travel conditions of 2021. Back then, I was highly focused on solo female travel but I know that bad things can happen to anyone, not just women. However, based on my observations from reader mails sent to my blog, I always receive inquiries from solo female travelers, not males.
In real-life interactions, I also saw that men tend to travel in pairs and in groups. I barely met men who are traveling solo. There are more women who are traveling by themselves than men. These first time solo female travel tips are also applicable to any gender so if you’re already here, read on!
Where should I travel alone for the first time?
#1: Southeast Asian countries
The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc are the most popular countries for first-time travelers. This terrain is super easy to handle and is often called the Banana Pancake Trail. Southeast Asians are used to tourists that it is a part of their everyday life. Although you will get a lot of attention as a white person, these countries are harmless.
As a Southeast Asian myself, we have this underdog attitude towards white people and most of us are very proud that you are visiting our country. We will do our best to accommodate you and make you feel at home. It’s just a part of our culture to be hospitable, most especially to foreigners.
If you’re a solo female traveler who is more convinced with facts and numbers, the Global Peace Index ranked Iceland as the safest country in the world 2020. Iceland is also in the top 5 countries of most gender-equal countries in the world (in terms of pay, race, etc). The people are very friendly and there are lots of outdoor adventures in Iceland. You’ll never run out of things to do!
Mexico is a country with the very bad press but have you ever wondered why Americans and Canadians keep coming to Mexico? Apart from its close proximity to the US and Canada, Mexico is a popular destination in North America because of its people.
The Mexicans are very friendly and are very welcoming to tourists. They are very inclusive. Mexico’s GDP is also very reliant on tourism so they will never do anything to stop or harm the tourism flow. I also live in Mexico at the moment so if you ever choose this for your first time solo female travel, get in touch with me and I’ll definitely try to meet you if we’re in the same area!
#4: Hong Kong
I first went to Hong Kong for my 18th birthday. Instead of having the traditional 18th debut party (which is super big and expensive in my country), I asked my parents if I can travel. They allowed me to go to Hong Kong because HK is a very friendly destination, not just for females but also for families traveling with kids. Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world and you’ll never go wrong if you choose this as your destination for first time solo female travel! I guarantee you’ll have meaningful experiences!
#5: Czech Republic
I went to University in Italy and had a chance to travel different European countries. To be honest, Europe is the least safe I felt in my life but when I went to Czech Republic, it was a different vibe! If it’s your first time in Europe, Western EU is very enticing but try Czech Republic and you’d be surprised! Prague is a great city for solo travelers so better start your trip here!
28 first time solo female travel tips from the pros
#1: Eat out alone (pre-departure)
Seriously, what are people’s problems when eating alone? It might be sad. It’s torture. People are looking at you in a restaurant like an idiot but ignore them. Go to a restaurant (preferably mid-class). Sit down, order a drink, decide what you want to order. When you are eating out with friends, you will usually start dinner with “what are you going to have?”
If you’re eating by yourself in a restaurant, there will be no one to consult if you’re going to have a margarita or a Whisky on the rocks – it’s all you. We don’t notice it much but the food that we order in the restaurant is more often affected by what everyone in the group is going to have. Your brain transmits that you want this food but in reality, you only want it because your BFF from grade school tells you it’s good.
This can be compared to the daily decisions that you will make if you ever travel alone. A small “turn right” is already labeled as making a decision so at this very moment, while you are still back home, please try to be alone and decide for yourself.
You can also go to the movie house alone. Again, it will appear sad but I’ve done it a lot.
#2: Trust your instinct – lame phrase but 100% true
When I am caught in two different situations, I always choose the difficult one and it really sucks. “Two, Trisha! You have two freaking choices and you always choose the hard one! Why?! Why! Why!”
What I found out to be true is that difficulty is not always the wrong choice. If I strongly feel that I should spend a night in this sketchy $5 hostel, I go for it. When we are faced with situations that don’t look comfortable, we always think it’s not the right choice.
Don’t get me wrong – please, by all means, you have all the right to feel comfortable. Let me put it in an easier saying: for example, you are about to go to a restaurant in Bolivia where you have to pass by an alley. Not dark but maybe a bit of green stinky dumpsters hanging around. What is the difference between this when you are in Paris with the exact same environment?
Our mind often plays tricks on us. If a hotel is more expensive than the other, then it’s better. If there’s a free Wifi sign outside the window, then this place serves better food than the other. You know, all this stuff that forces us to look at things based on aesthetics and notions because that’s how we were raised.
But trusting your instinct is still the best policy. It always gets me through. If it feels right, then it will fit. If it doesn’t feel right, run in the other direction but always look where you are running to.
#3: Act like a man
It’s sad to say that most people are drawn to us because of our femininity. I am not a very feminine person so most men find it hard to chat with me. I also have very strong facial features. But what if you don’t? I once rode a 4-hour shared ride with men (yes, I was the only woman). Although it did not feel strange, I talked and walked like a man.
This is something I’ve done throughout this 10-year journey. When someone looks at me disgustingly, I walk like a boy and put a cigarette on my mouth because it allegedly takes power from them. I noticed that the tougher you look, the more that people run away from you.
#4: Pretend to be on the phone (my best-seller)
A lot of times, I was shaking like crazy and couldn’t get a word out of my mouth but I am a big talker and can definitely pretend I am talking to someone. Say things like “I’m on my way there now,” “I’m walking now at blah blah.” In your conversations, always put strong words like “now,” “going there,” or “meet you here.”
Make it appear that you are going to meet someone and that fake person on the phone knows where you are at that very moment. I tried this a lot but I found this most effective when I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil – a city that is so dangerous a lot of people at the hostel wonder why I dare walk by myself.
#5: Don’t always tell the truth
Not to the nice people you met but of course, to those people, you don’t feel connected to but are forced to sit down and have drinks with because that is the current situation you are in. Remember, you don’t always have to divulge all the information about your life when they are asking you a question, especially if you are not comfortable. You don’t have to say you’re alone, you don’t have to say where you are staying – you are totally in control of what information to share.
However, if you are comfortable with the people you are with, of course, you don’t have to lie. Remember that first-time solo female travel will earn you friends – maybe even friends for life. That’s what happened to me and up to now, the idea of meeting people who will be your friends forever while traveling still amazes me.
#6: Get in touch with your country’s consulate or embassy
In the event that you don’t have a BFF to tell your plans and whereabouts to, you can always come to the friends of your nation and the world – the consulate of your country in a country you are traveling to.
When I traveled to Northern Africa and Western Sahara, there were so many red alerts on travel warnings but I ain’t going to rot in my hotel room if I know it’s okay to go. I always send an email to the Philippine Consulate of any country I am in and I wasn’t really sure if I was making sense.
Below is the letter I always send to the consulate whenever I am in doubt regarding safety in my travels as a solo female traveler.
To whom it may concern:
My name is Trisha, a Filipino citizen and I am currently traveling to Morocco. In the days to come, I might head to Western Sahara, Senegal, Algeria and Libya but I have read a lot of travel warnings in these countries. Therefore, I would like to inform you that I will be here (on this date).
In case of emergency (or in the event that my family are not able to locate me), please tell them I got in touch with you and relayed you this information to. Thank you so much!
(Local Mobile #)
P.S. But please exert your effort in finding me, just in case.
Their e-mail addresses are not usually updated on their websites and I often get mail delivery failure so you better watch out for this. Make sure your e-mail gets in.
#7: Pack the basics
Seriously, it sucks that women are not always free to wear whatever they want. This is so much of a man’s world and it sucks. Being blamed, abused, and taken advantaged of by what we wear is one of the most stupid human acts but still, we have to play by the rules in this department most especially if you are in countries that have a very deep-rooted culture.
Western countries are usually okay with whatever you wear but please, take the dress code seriously. When I traveled to Iran, I wrote to the Embassy to ask about appropriate clothing and they said I am required to wear what the Iranian women wear. I then had to improvise because you can never ignore these kinds of warnings especially if you really want to travel and be part of a culture. Girls, this is really important so pay attention!
#8: Learn some basic phrases (in the local language)
The best tip I can give is to learn the local language. I love languages and can communicate in 7 different languages!
Next to “may I have a beer please,” the word “help” is also one of the things that I always learn when I am in a new country. Even if you think that the country you are in speaks English perfectly, in tough situations, their instinct only responds to their local language.
To make it more clear, if you are, let’s say in South America for example and someone grabbed your purse: if you shout help, there is a big 5-8 second gap from the response you will get as opposed to the half-second response when you say “Ayudame!!!” I hope that makes sense now, ladies because I am really at the moment – but of course, we all want to help Bubby.
When you want to learn a local language, don’t just focus on the hi, hello, bye, etc – think of the words that have a big impact on you in your native language and learn it.
#9: Get an international bank account
Originally, this was “call your bank and inform them you are traveling’ but being on the road for 10 years made me discover the many ways we can manage our finances without relying on our banks at home. If you lose your card, it won’t be easy to have access to a bank card. Believe me, you don’t want to be stuck in a place you don’t know without money. This happened to me a lot!
When I was backpacking South America for 3 years, I was galloping around different countries so much that my bank from my home country blocked my card many times. Lesson learned: I now use Wise for International banking. They have better conversion rates and I can easily send money in different currencies and bank accounts instantly!
#10: Click ‘cancel’ before inserting your card in any ATMs
Before you insert your card in any ATM machine anywhere in the world, make sure to press cancel at least three times. This kind of resets the transactions and no one will have access to your bank card details. Although there is no proof that this is true, I’ve been doing it for the last 10 years and it just became a habit.
#11: Bring a padlock
Padlocks are usually not in our packing lists but most hostels you will stay in have lockers. You may need to rent them which is an extra cost and buying a padlock in each destination you visit will also cost a lot even if a padlock is cheap. You don’t really need a fancy one. Whatever padlock you choose, as long as you feel that it works, just always make sure it’s in your packing list.
#12: If you’re backpacking long-term, do work exchange
Now a lot of you here are going big on their first time solo female travel because, you know, COVID. The new trend in our current world situation (aka COVID) is to travel long-term. It saves you more money and you don’t have to move every four days. Backpacking and digital nomad lifestyle have become the preferred travel style by many but not all of us can afford it. So what’s the best money-saving tip?
You won’t believe this but I spent a year in South America without paying for accommodations. I did this by volunteering. Volunteering here means work exchange where you work for 5-6 hours a day (max) in exchange for food and accommodations. I use Worldpackers to look for volunteering gigs. If you click that link, you can get a discount on your yearly membership! You can also use PSIMONMYWAY10 code upon checkout.
#14: Get travel insurance
I don’t judge you if you don’t want to pay for this. When I was in my 20s’, I felt so invincible that I never bought travel insurance. In 2014, I was in an accident in Colombia (just as stupid smack on the face where I lost my tooth) and I had to pay $1,000 USD! Instead of paying a small amount every month, I ended up paying big bucks in one go. Since then, I promised to be always subscribed to health and travel insurance that will cover me when shit like this happens.
I use SafetyWing and I only pay $40 USD per month. They cover lost luggage, delayed flights, emergency medical assistance while you’re abroad, and many more! It’s not a lot to include an extra $40 USD on your monthly budget so I really really encourage you to NOT travel without travel insurance. It’s super important!
#15: Always stay in hostels
You are going on a solo trip – come on, please don’t tell me you want to isolate in a fancy Airbnb? I know this is the preferred accommodation for travelers now but for solo female travel, hostels are the best! It allows you to meet other people which makes you NOT feel alone. I know that it’s strange to stay in shared dorms during COVID but hostels have private rooms, too!
Get a private room in a hostel if you’re more comfortable. Sure. This way, you can still interact with other people. Hostels have a lot of common areas that make it easy for solo travelers to meet other people and interact. I’ve been booking hostels on Hostelworld for the last 10 years and it never fails!
Hostelworld only charges you for a reservation fee (which is about the percentage of your total stay). The booking platform is super safe and you don’t even need to save your credit card. Just make sure you have a profile so you can leave a review for the hostels. This way, you can tell other travelers about your experience.
#16: Stay with local families
Aside from volunteering, one thing that saved me money on accommodations is by staying with local families abroad. I’ve done this a lot in many countries in South America and Asia. This is also how I became fluent in Spanish! It’s the best experience I’ve ever had and up until today, even if I am not backpacking anymore, I am still looking for host families to stay with.
Looking for host families abroad is usually for free. It’s easy (and for free) as long as you are a sociable person and you know how to live with people you don’t know. Many of my family members worried at first but when they saw how I always end up with good families, they immediately trust my decisions.
#17: Join Couchsurfing and go to weekly meet-ups
Couchsurfing is also one of the best experiences I’ve had as a solo traveler. Back then, the community was so active and there were no violent crimes or sketchy members who abuse female travelers. There were weekly meet-ups for every city and this is also where I made my long-time friends!
The idea of Couchsurfing is to stay for free with a local if they have a couch to spare. I’ve done this a lot too but I’ve outgrown it when I got older. I still contact people on Couchsurfing whenever I am new to a city. They are usually the authority and are walking travel guides of their cities. Couchsurfing has a new feature called “Hangouts” where you can meet people who are also traveling in the same city as you.
#18: Get in touch with me wherever you are going – I can introduce you to cool people!
I’ve traveled in over 90 countries and have made friends along the way. Like real friends. I have introduced readers of this blog to many many cool friends all over the globe so if it makes you more comfortable to know someone as soon as you arrive the country, just send me a message on Instagram of via e-mail and I’ll definitely hook you up!
#19: Start your solo travel locally
by Gabby, Packs Light
Don’t feel pressured by social media to fly straight to the opposite side of the world. Local travel is still travel, and a solo staycation in your own country, state, or even just to the other side of town can help you build the confidence and know-how to navigate more distant lands.
With luxury accommodations with sites such as Airbnb and an easy-access experience on sites such as Groupon, you can make a weekend in a town 50 miles away feel like an adventure abroad very affordable. And when you make time to eat, experience, and adventure on your own you get all the thrilling excitement of solo travel no matter the distance.
I ventured off on my first solo international trip to Iceland when I was only 17-years-old, but I never would have had the courage to if I hadn’t been exploring my home state of Virginia solo since the day I got my driver’s license (and Virginia is the same size of Cuba so even this was no small feat.)
I began by going to the movies by myself. Then I practiced getting lunch on my own in the town next door. Next thing I knew I was driving across the entire state visiting friends for long weekends. I would not be the solo traveler I am today if I hadn’t started by gaining an appreciation for exploring my own backyard.
#20: Start small
by Jac, The Occasional Traveller
Planning an epic solo adventure somewhere remote may be the dream, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be both stressful and daunting. I found it best to start small – I mostly traveled with my friends and families, but I created small solo experiences for myself by either taking a day for myself or extending trips by an additional day on my own to get that taste of solo travel before I finally embarked on my first solo trip in 2011.
Even then I kept it simple by keeping the trip short, choosing a city that’s easy to get around with public transport, and planning everything well – it gave me time to figure out my actual likes and boundaries. While I feel that solo travel has been instrumental in shaping me into who I am today, don’t feel bad if you decide you don’t like solo travel, it’s not for everyone but you should be proud you gave it a shot.
#21: Buy a whistle
by Vicky, Buddy The Traveling Monkey
When I travel solo, I always keep a whistle nearby, usually in an easily accessible pocket of my backpack. However, I keep it closest when sleeping in mixed dorm hostels. When possible, I try to stay in female-only rooms, but those aren’t always available.
I haven’t had any bad experiences so far, but I think it’s always good to be prepared. You sometimes hear about women being harassed, or worse, in hostels so I always keep the whistle under my pillow. That way I can reach it easily if I need to make a commotion. I hate to think negatively or think the worst, but better safe than sorry!
#22: Learn self-defense
by Alice, Teacake Travels
My ultimate solo female travel tip is to learn self-defense. We can buy all the gadgets and security devices out there in the world to ‘protect ourselves, but when our own hands and body can very much do the work, how empowering is that?!
I personally went to China to study Jiu-Jitsu every day for 3 months to master the self-defense moves that I sensed I would have to whip out one day. Throughout the whole training, did I enjoy it? No. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I believe in the goodness of people. The last thing I want to experience is conflict.
But lo and behold, I actually did have to use these skills in India. It was the wrong time and the wrong place and without Jiu-Jitsu I’d be telling a very different story. I tell you this not to scare you, but to empower you to embrace your own strength and courage – and to go out in this world with an open mind and a curious and excited heart. I still travel in India and I love solo female travel. Just take the step to invest in your own inner toolbox. You’ll be a total badass for it.
#23: Always stay at places that will encourage interacting with others
Contributed by Agness, e-Tramping
When traveling solo, I choose to stay at hostels (preferably in shared rooms) because this is the best way to help me interact with people and never isolate myself from others. The social vibe at hostels is amazing hence I never feel lonely which was the case when I booked a hotel room or stayed in an Airbnb by myself.
The common areas at hostels are always filled with people who are open to a conversation, some drinks, food, and new adventures! You can play the pool together, plan the next day out and share a few fun stories from the road. Staying at a hostel will definitely make you socialize, make new friends and connect with others who love to travel.
Don’t isolate yourself when traveling solo and don’t be afraid of making new friends at a hostel – it’s much better than booking an empty Airbnb apartment or staying alone in a hotel room and watching TV by yourself.
#24: When you buy a drink, get it straight from the bar
Contributed by Karla, Karla Around the World
After a long day, most of us would like to unwind and grab a drink somewhere. As a solo female traveler, I always make sure to get my drinks from the bar. If I happen to meet someone and they are willing to get me a drink, I go with them to the bar just to make sure that they don’t slip anything in my drink.
I mean, better to be safe than sorry. More often than not, I end up sitting at the bar making friends with the bartender, occasionally, they also give me free drinks but more than that, I’ve had several occasions wherein the bartenders (male or female) look out for you.
That way you know you have a clean drink. All that being said, if you are a solo female traveler, learn your limits. Know when to stop. Don’t get too drunk!
#25: Plan in advance where you are going to sleep at night
Contributed by Sara, Mindful Travel
Is it a hostel where there are more women? Is it a hotel in a busy area? Is it an accommodation in a neighborhood away from the city center? Look on a map where the neighborhood is, what public transport connections you have if there is a restaurant for dining nearby if the surrounding streets are touristy if there are shops, and what time they close. That way, you will feel in control and that will give you more security when you walk at night on the street.
When you go out in the afternoon to go sightseeing and enjoy the destination, always have Google Maps on hand with the address of your accommodation (download the map if you don’t have an internet connection). In case you get lost and have to return to your hotel at night, you know how to get there easily and calmly. By having these kinds of things controlled, you will enjoy more every second of the trip.
Contributed by Mary, A Mary Road
Sharing your real-time location with your parents, family members, or friends when going on a solo trip (or even a date) can give not only your loved ones the sense of relief knowing your present location but also yourself.
I’m personally bad at updating my family and friends once I safely arrived at my destination. It might sound overreacting but in my mind, if something happened to me, my family can find out my last location.
#27: Wear sunglasses for confidence
Contributed by Sofie, Wonderful Wanderings
I very often wear my sunglasses when I’m traveling solo and walking outside, even when it’s not super sunny. I find it more pleasant to my eyes but they also feel like a barrier between me and the outside world. Yes, that does mean it may be harder to make eye contact with someone nice, but it also makes it a whole lot easier to ignore looks from people who make me feel uncomfortable or whom I just don’t want to look in the eye when passing them on the straight.
I’m lucky that I’ve never had anything happen that felt like a dangerous situation but I know there have been countless times when I felt safer because I could “hide” behind my glasses. Obviously, this works best with big sunglasses that you can’t or can barely see through.
#28: Make sure you always have Internet
Contributed by Mar, Once In A Lifetime Journey
The most useful tip I can give is to buy a local SIM whenever you are traveling anywhere and to do so as soon as you arrive. You can buy them in town, but I find that airports are the best place for this.
The first thing that I do when I step into the arrivals area is a scout for the local telecom company and buy a SIM card. Typically, most countries will require you to fill in registration with your passport to get one and this is a time when I will have it with me. Moreover, airport staff of telecom shops are used to dealing with foreigners and tend to speak enough English to get by, plus they will be well equipped to help you set your SIM card up, register you, change your APN settings if necessary and make sure it all works properly before you leave.
Once I get my SIM card, I buy a large data package to make sure I will have internet access through my stay. I have learned to buy larger packets that I would use back home because oftentimes, I will be using several data-hungry apps like Google maps (especially if on a road trip), and social media apps such as Instagram to upload several stories a day including videos (which are usually recorded, downloaded and reposted later) which consume a lot of bandwidth. I may also have to download locally relevant versions of services I use like car-hailing apps or local maps.
I was recently in Nur Sultan, in Kazakhstan, and there was no telecom shop at the airport so we had to buy SIM cards in town and it was a much more complex affair as the staff spoke only Russian and it took more than an hour to find a shop that had SIM cards and then translate the self-service recharging kiosk instructions with Google translate and passers-by to get our data packs.
With a SIM card, everything is usually much easier and I feel safer knowing that I can always hail a cab even if I don’t know where I am or how to return to the hotel, or I can look for a place to eat nearby with the help of Google Maps, find opening times of museums to make sure I get there on time and anticipate closures. You can also use the local phone to make or receive calls, book restaurants, or even call the hotel if need be.
I would say these are all applicable to every first-time solo female traveler but overall, we are different humans with unique lives. Our auras and vibes are different. Some of us are troublemakers, accident-prone (really clumsy like me), or street smart but none of us have the same exact lives so I guess it’s all about confidence and taking control. You have the wheel. Go in the direction of your gut and may it be a very beautiful journey.
#29: When asked why you are traveling without a man, respond this way
Contributed by Alex, Lost With Purpose
Here’s my take on answering the most infamous female travel questions: I was dipping my feet in trickling spring water in Tajikistan’s Pamir when the man asked me in Russian: Why do you travel alone? You are not married?
Inwardly, I sighed. I get this question at least once a day when traveling and meeting locals. This man, my homestay host who had driven me here on his motorbike and was thus my only ticket out, was clearly building up to a flirtatious offer.
At this point, many female travelers recommend pretending you’re married or wearing a fake ring… but I think that’s nonsense. I shouldn’t have to pretend I have a husband to explain my existence, and I’m willing to put in the effort to defend my opinion.
Minye nravitsya svobodna, I replied, I like freedom.
He carried on with the usual: but don’t you want kids? What about a home? What if I said I love you? The key is to be firm, to have answers, and be unapologetic about them. Resting bitchface helps drive the point home.
If I have kids, I have no freedom, cannot travel. They need too much money. And I don’t want you. Men like you big problems for women when travel. You think we want you or love or sex. We just want to travel, that is why we leave our homes. We don’t need you to travel, we can do it ourselves. My Russian wasn’t perfect, but my points were clear.
The man was taken aback; he was not expecting such a brusque answer and had no response. I chuckled darkly and wandered off to smell some wildflowers. On my own.
#30: Use anti-theft gear for protection and peace of mind
Contributed by Nina, Where In The World Is Nina
Using anti-theft gear as a solo traveler has helped my peace of mind throughout the years. Regardless of where I’m going, solo or not, in nature or in the big city, or even back home visiting anti-theft bags and purses are ALL I wear now. Personally, I use Pacsafe.
Using an anti-theft backpack as my camera bag/day bag is a must for me. It’s extremely rugged and it has anti-slash material so if a thief can’t even slash it with a knife, then I know me throwing it around, taking it to 20 countries, the airlines chucking it who-knows-where, and my daily wear and tear will do nothing to the bag. I’ve taken mine hiking in Alpine climates, and through the crazy streets of Morocco and it still looks new. These bags last ages!
I also use a cross-body purse as my go-to everyday purse. I NEVER use a shoulder bag. In some regions (like Southeast Asia) it’s an invitation for thieves on motorbikes to whizz past you and snatch it off your shoulders. If your purse is across your body, this is a major deterrent.
In addition to keeping your stuff safe while you’re out and about, anti-theft gear is a huge factor for keeping my mind at ease when I want to leave my valuables in the hotel. Anti-theft bags often come with an accessory that can help you tie your things up making it very difficult for a thief to make a quick getaway.
My larger anti-theft backpack that I often use as my cabin bag has a metal cord that came with it. I weave this cord through the zippers and then around a fixed object like a heavy bed frame or obnoxious items like two chairs using a small lock to lock the cord together (the cord has two loops at the end). Since the thief would literally have to carry my bag and those two chairs that it’s tied to out of my room just to move my bag, I’m willing to bet they’d move on to the next room which has an easier target. If they did make away with it, I think someone would notice!
Lastly, these bags look pretty ordinary and it’s a good thing. using flashy bags can attract the wrong attention. I love that these bags are so plain and unassuming.
#31: Make room for souvenirs
Contributed by Hanna, Hanna Travels
One of the enormous frustrations for me when going for my 19-month trip to SE Asia was overpacking! And it’s not about the weight. It’s about a lack of space for all those cool travel clothes I wanted to buy myself on the road. I took too much stuff with me from home and couldn’t fit anymore.
And I just fell in love with comfortable, loose, colorful clothes that someone just tailor-made for you in Hoi An, Vietnam, or at the Sri Lankan beach. Now, wherever I go, I make sure I bring a half-empty backpack with me, and I recommend the same to everyone. That way you will be able to buy as many souvenirs and clothes as possible!
#32: Bring one sarong (cover-up) for your whole trip
Contributed by Sabrina, Just One Way Ticket
I always bring 1-2 sarongs with me when I travel, they are one of the most versatile travel items: you can use them as a beach towel, as a wrap dress, tie them to a long skirt, as a blanket on long flights or bus rides, as a headscarf or even to cover your head and face if you have to.
There are so many things you can do with a Sarong, which makes it one of the most useful things I bring on my trips. Plus they’re cheap and easy to get in most Asian countries. I found the prettiest sarongs in India and Bali.
#33: Download directions on Google maps while you still have Wifi
Contributed by Ashley, Wild Hearted
As a traveler, some common – and fantastic – advice is to download Google maps while you have wi-fi so that when you don’t have internet or data, you can still access your maps. This is great for anyone, honestly. For solo female travelers, I would suggest going a bit further.
I’m a pretty observant person and like to stay aware of my surroundings. I’m also pretty trusting, but not naive so while I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, I still try to keep my wits about me when I’m navigating a new city.
Walking around a city is my favorite way to get around. You absorb so much more of the atmosphere and the feel of a place, you really get a grip on the layout and your whereabouts, and it is great exercise so you can eat everything! However, it comes with an extra thing to think about: looking at your phone for directions constantly.
No matter how safe a place might be or feel, I don’t like constantly staring at my screen while walking. There are a few reasons. 1) You automatically look like you don’t have a clue where you are. 2) You can’t be near as aware of your surroundings. 3) You miss out on a lot of things.
I quickly pulled mine out (on the street) on a trip to Costa Rica, and I truly mean quickly, and I had a guy stop me and told me that I really shouldn’t have it out in that part of town. I already knew this lesson, but lesson learned again.
I will pull up the directions before I leave my hostel or hotel, look them over, and memorize them. I’ll know “Okay, I have to walk three blocks, then turn right, one block, then turn left” and so on. If the walk is longer than you can remember, then memorize part of them, pop into a store, and look at the remainder.
Another way to do this would be to have headphones in (only one side so you can still be aware and hear) and listen to the directions so you aren’t looking at your phone. When not using your phone, put it in your pocket or out of sight.
#34: Choose one destination that you will feel comfortable in
by Alyne Tamir, Dear Alyne
First time solo female travel? Start in countries that you’re more comfortable in! Maybe they speak the same language as you or maybe it’s a country you consider extra safe. You can always start small and then work up to countries that are a little more intimidating.
Meaning, you can start in Southeast Asia first which is super friendly, and then level up to bigger countries or backpacking routes like Latin America.