The Woman’s Guide to Solo Travel: 5 Steps to Travel Alone as a Woman
Let me guess, you caught the adventure bug but all your family and friends are busy? Here’s a thought: solo travel!
It can seem intimidating at first, but traveling solo can be such an incredible experience if you fully embrace it. Think about it this way: when you’re alone, you can literally do whatever your heart desires. There’s no planning your days around someone else and that freedom is amazing!
Solo trips teach you how to depend on yourself, truly understand what you want, what you like, and how you can bring these skills into your life at home. Going on a trip alone can pave the way for opportunities you never even imagined. Building new connections is much easier than you might think, and you’ll be surprised about how many fellow solo travelers are out there too!
Read on to learn how you, as a woman, can plan and take full advantage of an epic trip alone.
Table of Contents for Solo Travel:
Questions I’ll Answer Throughout This Post:
- Where should I head for solo travel?
- How do I find activities to do where I’m headed?
- What are the chances I get homesick or lonely? How do I cope with that?
- What are some ways that let me meet new people without being weird?
- What are some ways I can stay safe while solo traveling as a woman?
Step 1 – Set Yourself Up for Success
When choosing how, where, and when to embark on your first solo journey, it’s important to be realistic. If you’ve never been on a plane or traveled overseas, it’s probably not the best time to start. Try something a bit closer to home and work up from there. Similarly, if you’ve never enjoyed cold weather, don’t book a trip to Norway in December. Think about what brings you joy and what you’d like to get out of your trip, then plan accordingly.
Step 2 – Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know, I know, planning your first solo trip is probably a huge step outside your comfort zone already, but hear me out. Push yourself just a little further with some of the smaller things, like taking yourself on a dinner date or saying hi to your seatmate on the plane. You’ll look back on these smaller challenges and realize how big of a difference they actually made.
Research your destination and plan to do at least one thing that gets you stoked–maybe it even scares you a little. Sign up for a group tour, take yourself out for a meal, or do that hike! The first few solo adventures or activities can be a little unnerving, but I promise, it gets much easier. Fake it ‘til you make it right?!
Get out there and experience all the amazing things your destination has to offer, and then give yourself a big pat on the back for being there and doing it!
Pro tip: Consider consulting the Outdoorsy Gals group to get some local tips and tricks for a successful solo trip.
Step 3 – Prepare for the Uncomfortable Moments
Homesickness. Loneliness. Odds are, you’ll experience either or both at some point, and that’s totally normal! Especially if you don’t spend much time alone in your day to day. The important thing is to be prepared not if but when these feelings creep in. Bring something like photos, a book, or heck, even a face mask if that brings you some comfort.
Maintaining some part of your usual routine can also help with loneliness, whether that’s a cup of morning coffee or a 20-minute flow.
It can be tempting to try and squeeze in every possible activity (believe me, I’ve tried), but try and take it slow if you can, especially for the first day or two, and give yourself time to adjust to this new lifestyle and absorb your surroundings. This can help you avoid travel burnout. It also gives you the chance to be a little spontaneous. Take a dip in that hot spring the bartender told you about; drive to the other part of town to taste the best lobster soup of all time; oh, the northern lights are supposed to be EPIC tonight? Drop everything and go on that tour! Why? Because you CAN! There’s no one else’s feelings, wants, or needs to consider. Get after it!
Step 4 – Stay Curious and Meet New Friends
It sounds slightly counterintuitive to solo travel just to meet new people, but it’s one of the best ways to truly expand your horizons and learn about the world. Not to mention, it’s FUN!
Instead of walking up to a rando on the street and saying, “Hi, I’m Kait! Want to hang?” (I’d say the success rate on that one is pretty low), sign up for a group walking tour, a hike, or stay in a hostel. Put yourself in situations where you’ll be around other travelers, and who knows, some might be traveling solo just like you!
Secondly, always be curious. Ask questions, then ask more, and don’t forget to share your story too!
The Outdoorsy Gals Facebook group is a fantastic resource for meeting new people who share your passion for the outdoors. Find a hike or activity you’re interested in and invite the group! BAM! You’ve got a rad new girl group just like that.
The best travel stories often come from the people you meet and the experiences you share. Sightseeing is sick, but the connections you’ve made with other like-minded people at these sites are usually the memories you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
Step 5 – Stay Safe
Safety is often the number one concern for many who solo travel, especially women, and unfortunately, it can get to the point where you might start thinking a trip alone isn’t worth the risk. Solo travel can be dangerous, it’s true, but consider that tens of thousands of women solo travel safely each year and you can be one of them! Try incorporating a few of these safety precautions before bagging your solo trip all together.
How to stay safe solo travel safely as a woman:
- Tell someone where you’ll be and when they can expect you to check in. If you know your travel itinerary in advance, put it in a shared document with friends or family. If you’re traveling without a solid itinerary, send updates as you go through text or email so they’ll have a point of reference or some way to get a hold of you.
- Travel and arrive in daylight. Arriving at night to a pitch black campsite or Airbnb enveloped in darkness means you’re totally unaware of your surroundings, and that can be a little nerve-racking. I don’t know about you, but my mind starts to run wild. Arrive while the sun is still up to get your bearings and feel more comfortable checking out the local area.
- Stay at known and trusted accommodations. Whether you’re camping or renting an Airbnb, plan your overnight accommodations ahead of time. Look for plenty of positive online reviews and read them thoroughly. If you have specific safety concerns about a property, do not hesitate to reach out to property management and ask. Try asking other solo travelers for accommodation recommendations for an extra bit of vetting–the Outdoorsy Gals group is great for this!
- Know when to lie. Sometimes you’ll get the heebie-jeebies while traveling solo. It happens. Someone will ask you a question and your body instantly fabricates a lie. That’s totally okay! Having little white lies in your arsenal is a great safety tactic and can firmly shut down a conversation if need be. For example:
“What hotel are you staying at?”
“The Hilton.” (Or any chain, they’re everywhere!)
“Do you need directions?”
“No thanks, I’m just waiting for my friends/boyfriend/parents.”
As frustrating as it is, saying I have a husband has been the most effective way to avoid unwanted male attention. Don’t be afraid to be perceived as rude if needed–your safety and wellbeing are the most important thing.
- Look like a local. Dressing and looking like a local can help you avoid unwanted attention. If you’re somewhere where women usually dress modestly, always follow suit. Check maps and locations on your phone before leaving your accommodations to avoid looking like a lost or confused tourist (unless you’re using your GPS on the trail, then go for it).
- Leave flashy things at home. Brand name bags, expensive watches, and jewelry make you an easy target for pickpockets. Consider leaving these flashier items at home or, at the very least, in your hotel safe.
- Trust your gut. When you get that weird feeling in your stomach, get the heck out of there. Yep, even if you spent $$ on a hotel or tour or you don’t want to “be rude.” If something feels off, it probably is. Leave. Sure, there’s a chance you’ll look back on it someday and think you overreacted, but better to play it safe just in case.
- Pack the 10 Essentials. All 10 items ensure you’re prepared for nearly anything the outdoors throws at ya.
- Bring Some Type of Defense You’re Comfortable With
It’s important to have some sort of protection while traveling solo. Pepper spray and/or a taser are both common forms of protection. That said, these items can’t be carried on a plane, so you’ll need to pick them up at your destination if you’re flying.
Guess what? You did it! You’ve taken the first step towards your first solo trip!
I hope this list helps you feel more prepared when it comes to planning a solo trip and encourages you to take on the epic challenge of traveling alone. It really can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. Stay curious, say yes to spontaneity, be safe, and good luck! Maybe I’ll see you on the road!
Author: Outdoorsy Gals contributor Kait Norris
Kait is an avid traveler, hiker and vanlifer. She’s traveled to five continents and 37 countries, many completely on her own! She loves encouraging and assisting others with how to travel alone as a woman, taking on new challenges, and being the lead woman in your life!