Solo Female Travel Tips: How to Travel Alone as a Woman for the First Time

Solo Female Travel Tips: How to Travel Alone as a Woman for the First Time

Travelling alone for the first time as a woman can seem daunting, but solo travel will be one of the best experiences of your life. You will discover new cultures, food, friends, and languages. When you’re a solo female traveler, your safety and planning are imperative.

In this post, I’ll reveal 15 travel tips that are helpful for any first-time solo travel scenario.

Women used to be dismissed with criticism when traveling alone – whether it was too far from home or too dangerous to go alone. Today, there are more women travelers than men, and for a good reason.

Whether just out of school or later into adult life, travelling alone for the first time can be an eye-opening and self accomplishing right of passage. As air travel becomes more within financial reach than ever before, the opportunities to explore faraway countries and interact with foreign cultures and people are endless.

The freedom to choose where you go, when you go, and how you wish to get there is a luxury one should not underestimate. 

Take a step out of your comfort zone and experience the world in the most authentic and inspiring way possible when traveling alone!

Here are 15 useful tips on how to travel alone as a woman for the first time:

1. Don’t be discouraged

Not everyone will start as an extremely confident solo traveler, and you might be presented with some intimidating challenges as you embark on your inaugural journey. 

Often, arriving in a foreign country alone at night can be daunting enough to make you question your solo travel decisions. However, as soon as the sun rises and you can make better sense of your surroundings, your physical reorientation will do wonders to inspire your excitement.

PRO TIP: For this reason, it’s a great idea to properly plan your arrival and book accommodation for your first night in a foreign country. It can be discouraging arriving after hours of traveling to a place where you don’t speak the language, with no plans of where you’re headed.

2. Choose the right destinations

Choosing the right travel destinations for when you’re travelling alone for the first time can be challenging. Here are four things you should consider before booking your ticket:

  1. Start your first solo trip in a place that sparks your interest. Narrow down your search by deciding whether you would prefer big city exploring, learning about foreign cultures, or engaging in outdoor activities.
  2. Ensure your destination is safe for a solo female traveler by considering the local economic and political scenarios in the country you wish to explore. Some simple research and common sense should help.
  3. Be mindful of your budget and how much time you have to spend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRyslbdtT90&ab_channel=vagabrothers
  4. Consider the season and weather.

PRO TIP: For your first solo trip, tt’s a great idea to travel to a location where you know there will be many other solo travelers doing the same thing as you. Often, big cities, such as locations around Europe or the United States, are a great place to start. It is also straightforward to travel around these continents due to interlinking borders and safe transportation services. 

3. Do your research

Once you’ve chosen a travel destination, gaining a good understanding of your destination is essential for planning what to do once you arrive. 

You don’t need to have an hourly schedule set out (in fact, this would be a barrier to your inspiration as things always change when you’re out and about); however, you should have some general knowledge about what landmarks you would like to visit and how long you would like to stay in one city or area before moving on.

4. Keep an open mind

Travelling alone is all about experiencing new places, people, and activities. While it might seem convenient to stay in touristic areas packed with English-speaking travelers, you could miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting new people from different backgrounds and visiting places you wouldn’t be able to find back home.

With no one to guide or advise you, please take the opportunity to let the place you are visiting show you what it has to offer.

5. Protect your valuables and documentation

If you are staying in a shared hostel room, keeping your passport and personal documentation safe should be a priority.

PRO TIPS: 

  • Bring as few valuables as necessary on your trip. The less you have with you, the less you will have to worry about losing.
  • Bring along a coded lock and lock your passport in your suitcase at all times. Losing a passport while in a foreign country will require you to file a police case, visit an embassy and wait for your home country to post you a temporary passport. 
  • Always carry documentation (driver’s license or ID) and a bit of cash wherever you go as a safety precaution.
Solo Female Travel Tips: How to Travel Alone as a Woman for the First Time

6. Don’t be shy – talk to the locals

From shopkeepers to taxi drivers – chat to everyone. One of the best parts of traveling solo is meeting new people from different cultures. Speaking to locals can teach you invaluable things about a place and its people, which might not be available online.

PRO TIP: Break the language barrier. Locals always appreciate it when you take the time to learn a few sentences in their native language. This shows respect and interest in their culture and can be useful when you need guidance or advice. 

‘Ice-breaker’ phrases to learn in a foreign language:

  • My name is _____ and I am from ______.
  • I only speak a bit of your language.
  • Do you speak English?
  • How do I get to _____?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Do you sell _____?
  • Where is the bus stop?

7. Stay in the right areas and don’t skimp on accommodation

If you’re embarking on a hostel staying adventure with a ‘wing-it’ attitude, you should, at the very least, book your first night of accommodation before your arrival. Arriving in a new country with no plan can be daunting, and having a room to store your bags while you set out to explore safely is essential.

Do adequate research on your accommodation location beforehand and don’t try to save too much money on accommodation. More often than not, the cheapest accommodation is located in dicey areas, which can be risky for someone traveling alone for the first time. 

PRO TIP: Try to plan to arrive at your travel destinations in the early afternoon (at the latest) so that you will have adequate daylight to find transportation and get to your accommodation. Transiting an unfamiliar place with all of your luggage in the dark could make you a target for petty crime.

8. Trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings

When it comes to safety, the most important thing to remember is to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a certain area or near a group of people, walk away with confidence.

Keeping safe in a foreign country:

  1. Exude confidence. Whether you have it or not, one of the best ways to avoid unwanted attention and approaches is walking with purpose. 
  2. Keep your possessions close to you, and don’t trust anybody with your luggage other than yourself and the baggage handler at the airport. 
  3. Avoid walking alone at night, but if you must, carry pepper spray with you and keep your hand on it when walking in suspicious areas.
  4. Don’t listen to music while walking alone in a city. Unless you’re in an enclosed park or somewhere you believe to be absolutely safe, having earphones in your ears can reduce your awareness of your surroundings.
  5. Don’t flaunt your valuables. This includes keeping your phone in your hand where it can easily be grabbed. Keep your possessions in your bag and your bag close to your body at all times.

9. Dress with respect to the culture you are visiting

If you’re heading to a country that holds religious views, you should be mindful of dressing conservatively with respect to the culture of the people you are visiting. 

For example, it would be disrespectful to visit an ancient Buddhist temple in Cambodia or a Catholic church in France wearing revealing clothing. Appropriate dress requirements usually mean covering one’s knees and shoulders in loose-fitting clothing.

Some temples in the Middle East and North Africa might even ask you to cover up your arms, legs and put a scarf over your head.

PRO TIP: Always carry a sarong or large scarf with you on your daily adventures. Even if you don’t plan to visit a site of holy or religious importance, you never know where your day will take you, and it’s always best to be prepared to dress modestly rather than not being able to enter certain places.

10. Get insured

Think you won’t need insurance? Think again! The only thing worse than missing a connecting flight or being ill in an unfamiliar place is having to spend your hard-earned travel savings on it. Taking out basic travel insurance coverage (which allows you to seek emergency medical attention) is one of the most worthwhile purchases you will make on your solo travels.

Whether it be losing your phone, an airline misplacing your luggage, or falling and breaking a bone, general insurance is often very affordable and can give you extra peace of mind on your journey.

11. Don’t drink too much

Enjoying a cold drink with a new friend in an exciting country can be a great way to socialise. However, remember to drink to enjoy yourself, but not to get drunk. Being drunk is one of the biggest risks solo female travelers face. 

Being under the influence can make you vulnerable and unaware of your surroundings. When it comes to a night on the town, always remember to drink in moderation and, if possible, join up with another group of travelers who you trust to have your back if anything goes wrong.

12. Stay in hostels

Most hostels offer options to book a private room, a shared gender dorm room, or a shared female-only dorm room. Sharing a room with other girls is a great way to meet other solo travelers on their first trip.

Besides being substantially less expensive than a private hotel room or Airbnb, hostels are filled with other friendly travelers from across the world who will make great friends for, at the very least, the duration of your trip.

Hostels are usually run by young locals who know a lot about the destination. As an invaluable source of recommendations, chatting to friendly hostel workers can provide a wealth of information on the best places to visit and the cheapest ways to do so.

PRO TIP: Download Hostelworld.com to browse some of the world’s most exciting hostels.

13. Kit yourself out with a medical bag

Packing an emergency medical bag can save you great hassle in a foreign country. Besides language barriers, it can be difficult to find your preferred medications when abroad. Keeping stock of some medications will help ease you through minor ailments that don’t require emergency medical care.

What to pack in a travel medical kit:

  • Painkillers
  • Antihistamines 
  • Anti-nausea pills
  • Imodium
  • Rehydrate
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Saline eye drops
  • Nasal spray
  • Anti-bacterial creams
  • Disinfectant wound wipes
  • Burn gel
  • An assortment of plasters

PRO TIP: Ask your doctor for a prescription for a general 3-5 day course antibiotic before you depart, especially when going into a developing country that might not have an efficient healthcare system. This way, if you get a bacterial infection, you can contact your doctor back home and start medication without visiting a doctor in person.

14. Download the right apps yet limit social media time

From listening to music and podcasts during long journeys to mapping your city routes to booking accommodation and transportation, your phone will be an invaluable possession during your travels.

Top applications to download before an adventure:

  1. Find My Friends – a great way for others back home to know your exact location for safety purposes.
  2. Google Maps – essential for tracking public transport lines and routes.
  3. Hotels.com, Airbnb, and Hostel World – for booking accommodation.
  4. Google Flights and Hopper – for booking flights.
  5. Google Translate – to understand foreign signage. You can even record and translate people speaking.
  6. XE Currency Converter – to convert currencies and avoid scams.
  7. Uber – to book safe and convenient cash-free cabs.

15. Join a walking tour

Partaking in a walking tour is one of the best ways to get to know a new city. Often attended by other like-minded travelers, you will be able to meet new people and familiarise yourself with the most well-known parts of a city. 

You’ll feel more confident finding your own way around a city after being guided by an expert.

Solo Female Travel Tips: How to Travel Alone as a Woman for the First Time

When you have no one to rely on but yourself, nothing stops you from following your instincts, doing what you want to do, and going where you want to go. If you don’t already, solo female travelers should learn to love their own company.

Natasha Bernstein

Born in South Africa, Natasha is a Masters educated writer with a passion for sustainability, travel, health and food. With experience in the hospitality, energy, production, and broadcast industries, Natasha has a rounded and unique worldview. When she isn’t writing in her favourite coffee shop, Natasha likes to spend her time travelling the world, surfing, gardening, sewing, and experimenting with fun new recipes.

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