Solo Female Travel Handbook: Tips, Tricks & Tales from the Road

Female in Humbug Mountain State Park, USA

Traveling as a woman can be an incredibly empowering and enriching experience. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or planning your first solo adventure, you must be well-prepared and informed to make the most of your journey.

I have been traveling solo for over ten years now, and I know the worries and concerns of family and friends. While I consider solo travel my biggest freedom and privilege, my friends sometimes can’t help but feel sorry for me. 

So, in this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know as a female traveler, from discovering your travel type to packing smart and managing your fear of being alone.

Get to know your travel type:

1. Identify what tickles your wanderlust:

Identifying your travel type as a solo female traveler is a crucial first step in planning a fulfilling journey.

Start by reflecting on your interests, comfort zones, and the experiences that excite you the most.

Consider your preferred pace of travel, whether it’s a fast-paced exploration of multiple cities or a leisurely exploration of a single destination. Your social preferences may also influence your travel type – do you thrive on meeting new people and immersing yourself in local cultures, or do you relish moments of solitude and introspection?

By honestly assessing these factors, you’ll be better equipped to choose destinations and experiences that align with your unique travel style and ensure a more rewarding solo adventure.

2. Choose a destination:

Selecting that first travel destination as a solo female traveler is thrilling and transformative. For me, it all starts with intuition and curiosity. I ask myself what part of the world has always piqued my interest or ignited a sense of wonder.

Once I’ve identified a few potential destinations, I dig deeper. I research extensively, delving into travel blogs, forums, and guidebooks to understand the culture, safety, and unique experiences each place offers.

Safety is a top priority, so I look for destinations known for being welcoming to solo travelers. I also considered the language barrier and how easily I could navigate without knowing the local language.

Ultimately, though, it’s about what calls to my heart. My first solo trip was to a place that had been whispering to my soul for years, and that sense of adventure and self-discovery I found there has forever shaped my love for solo travel.

Trusting your instincts and doing thorough research is key when choosing that perfect inaugural destination.

Here’s an example: Solo female travel guide to Sri Lanka

3. Stick to traveling alone:

Solo travel can be incredibly liberating. While it might seem intimidating at first, it offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth. Embrace the freedom to explore the world on your terms.

Most likely, some friends would love to join you as you talk about your travel plans. As tempting as it might sound, traveling solo is way different, and I highly encourage every woman to try at least once!

Planning your first solo trip:

  1. Research your destination: Before you embark on your adventure, thoroughly research your chosen destination. Learn about its culture, customs, language, and any safety concerns. Familiarize yourself with local laws and traditions to show respect for the local community. Check out the touristic infrastructure, such as hotels and tours, and get a rough idea about your potential travel budget.
  2. Find the best time to travel: Timing can make or break your trip. Consider the weather, peak tourist seasons, and any special events or festivals happening during your visit.
  3. Decide on the things to do: Create a list of activities and attractions you want to experience at your destination. Having a rough itinerary will help you make the most of your time. When traveling solo, it’s always best to be more flexible. You might meet people on the way and decide to prolong your stay or change your route. Give yourself the flexibility to enjoy this freedom!
  4. Plan on how to get around: Research transportation options within your destination, including public transport, taxis, and ride-sharing services. Uber has been a great asset almost anywhere in this world, especially when it comes to transportation from the airport. 
  5. Budget: Establish a realistic budget for your trip, taking into account accommodation, food, activities, and unexpected expenses.
  6. Safety: Prioritize being by staying informed about the political situation at your destination. While some destinations appear safer than others, it is best to get a rough idea of the safety situation and get local advice once you reach them. Also, ponder whether drinking alcohol is a good idea or not.
  7. Choose your first stop: For your first solo trip, consider starting in a destination known for being safe and traveler-friendly. It’ll give you a sense of confidence as you embark on your adventure.
  8. Pack smart: Packing efficiently is an art. Packing as a solo female traveler is a bit of an art form for me. I’ve learned that versatility is key, opting for clothing that can mix and match effortlessly to suit different occasions. Packing light is essential; I’ve ditched the “what-if” items and focused on the essentials. A universal charger, adapters, and a power bank are non-negotiable, ensuring I stay connected wherever I go. My first-aid kit is always well-stocked with essentials, just in case. Two items have changed the way I pack: Packing cubes: I’ve also embraced the beauty of packing cubes, which keep my backpack organized and make it easy to find what I need. Travel backpack with wheels: When traveling solo, it is important to me to be able to handle my outage by myself. A backpack with wheels has become my go-to piece of outage as I can always comfortably handle it by myself. 
  9. Pack your travel necessities: Ensure you have all the necessary documents, including your passport, visas, and travel insurance. Take pictures of your most important travel documents and email them to you so you can always access them.
  10. Consider buying an E-Sim: Consider getting a local or international SIM card to stay connected during your trip, whether for navigation, communication, or emergencies. I usually get a Europe eSIM or a USA eSIM so I can get myself from the airport to my first stop.
  11. Manage your money: Mix of cash and two credit cards to manage your finances while traveling. Be cautious when using ATMs, and never put any money in your checked luggage!

On the road

How to make friends while traveling:

  1. Embrace Openness: The first and most crucial step in making friends while traveling solo is to embrace an open mindset. Be approachable and ready to engage in conversations with fellow travelers or locals. Strike up a chat with a smile, and you’ll often find that people are more than willing to connect.
  2. Stay in Social Accommodations: Choosing hostels or guesthouses with communal spaces is a fantastic way to meet fellow travelers. These places often organize social events, group outings, and communal meals, providing ample opportunities to bond with like-minded adventurers.
  3. Join Group Activities: Participate in group tours, workshops, or classes related to your interests. Whether it’s a cooking class, a surf camp, a city walking tour, or a yoga retreat, these activities create a natural environment for interacting with locals and fellow travelers.
  4. Utilize Social Media: Social media can be your ally when making friends on the road. Join travel-related Facebook groups, follow relevant Instagram accounts, and engage with fellow travelers on platforms like Twitter or Reddit. These online connections can lead to real-life friendships.
  5. Attend Local Events and Festivals: Research local events and festivals such as the carnival in Jamaica. These gatherings offer a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of your destination.
  6. Learn Basic Local Phrases: I always learn a few basics in the local language which goes a long way in breaking the ice with locals. It also indicates respect and curiosity for their culture and can lead to more authentic and memorable interactions. You can start with French here.
  7. Travel Apps and Communities: Apps like Meetup or Couchsurfing can connect you with locals and fellow travelers interested in meeting up. Additionally, other resources such as websites and forums like Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree or TripAdvisor’s Travel Forums can help you find travel companions or local recommendations. Here are 2024’s must-install travel apps.
  8. Be Mindful of Safety: While making friends is important, always prioritize your safety. Meet in public places and trust your instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right, stepping away is okay.

How to enjoy being alone:

Embracing solitude during solo travel has been an eye-opening journey of self-discovery for me.

At first, the idea of being alone in unfamiliar places felt intimidating, but it soon became a priceless opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth.

There’s a certain magic in those quiet moments, whether sitting by a tranquil lakeside or strolling through a bustling market, where I’ve connected with my inner thoughts and aspirations in ways I never thought possible. During these times, I’ve learned to truly listen to my desires, ambitions, and fears, gaining insights that have helped me grow as a person.

Solo travel has been my ultimate teacher, showing me the strength in vulnerability and the beauty in solitude.

Plus, I only ever truly had solitude when I sought it out because when traveling solo, you’ll be surprised by how many people you’ll get to know. And that’s just one of the many benefits of solo female travel!

How to take pictures of yourself:

Invest in a small tripod or selfie stick to capture your adventures. Ask friendly locals or fellow travelers to take your photo and reciprocate the favor.

 

I am self-conscious about asking someone to take pictures of me or even take selfies. So, I practiced in the comfort of my home, which made me much more efficient and less shy when asking someone to take a picture.

How to stay in touch with loved ones at home:

Staying connected with friends and family while traveling solo has become remarkably convenient. I rely on apps like WhatsApp to send messages and make video calls.

Another invaluable app in my travel toolkit is Polarsteps, which automatically tracks my journey, creating a visual timeline of my adventures. Friends and family can follow along, see my photos, and read about my experiences.

While solo travel offers moments of solitude, these apps ensure that the bonds with my loved ones remain strong, and they can share in my excitement no matter where I roam.

Where to stay? Hostels, AirBnBs, or All-inclusive?

Choose accommodations that align with your comfort and budget. When choosing accommodations as a female traveler, I’ve come to appreciate the diverse options available.

  • Hostels are a fantastic chance to meet fellow travelers, fostering a sense of camaraderie and often providing budget-friendly prices. The shared spaces encourage social interaction, making it easy to forge new friendships and swap travel stories.
  • On the other hand, Airbnb offers a more intimate experience, allowing me to immerse myself in the local culture and live like a resident. The independence to cook my meals and enjoy privacy adds a unique touch to my journeys. With their personalized service and attention to detail, boutique hotels provide a touch of luxury without feeling overwhelmingly large or impersonal.
  • Couples and families often frequent all-inclusive hotels, which may make you feel lonely as a solo female traveler.

As a female traveler, the world is your oyster. With careful planning, an adventurous spirit, and a strong sense of self, you can explore the globe confidently and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Embrace the unknown, cherish your independence, and remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Safe travels!

Keep reading: Solo travel mistakes to avoid