True or false: It is impossible for women to safely travel the world solo. The answer is absolutely, unequivocally false! There are thousands of female travelers who explore every nook and cranny on this gorgeous planet without the aid of a travel buddy, and most have never once encountered a dangerous situation.
Of course, that is primarily because most of them are already prepared for the worst. Ladies who dream of flying (and trekking, busing, rafting, eating, and walking) solo but don’t know where to start should, perhaps, start here.
You will face quite a bit of adversity, especially at the very beginning of your trip. Most of your loved ones will be hesitant to support your endeavor to travel solo, and some will outright oppose your efforts. Your self-confidence should be strong enough to convince the naysayers of your capability and to encourage you to keep going.
World solo travel isn’t at all like the weekend trips you’ve taken to the beach. You do not have the luxury to pack three extra outfit “options” with corresponding shoes. When all of your worldly belongings are strapped to your back, you will be cursing even your most essential gear, so it is imperative that you pack light to begin with. Here are some fast and easy tips to packing right the first time:
- Choose light layers and convertible clothing
- Forget styling tools and extra make-up
- Remember weatherproofing
- Ignore one-time outfits
- Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes max
- Be Conservative
Outside of the Western world (and even places within it) women aren’t as free and equal as you might be used to. Though most Western travelers are granted rights not extended to local women, you should still err on the conservative side with clothing that covers potentially problematic body parts. When in contentious regions, you would do well to wear sleeves and pants or skirts that extend below the knee. You might also remember that modesty is more than how you dress; conservative behavior will also keep you safe and sane when you are in traditional regions.
You won’t get much out of your solo trip if you stay in your room and eat from international chain restaurants. You should plan to do and see as much of the places you visit as possible, which will likely mean seeing things you didn’t know existed and trying things you never thought possible. Here are some ways to get out of your comfort zone:
- Lodge in a community room
- Sign up for a trek
- Spend an evening in a local bar
- Eat from street vendors
- Explore local markets
Solo travel can be lonely, but it can be scary to attempt to make friends as a lone woman in a foreign land. Your best hope is to look friendly and approachable, which may mean mimicking the style and body language of those around you. When in the Netherlands, you should ride a bike. When in Eastern Europe, you should smoke an e-cigarette. With the right look, you should have gracious local friends in no time.
It is hard enough to shower every day when you are at home — who has the time to shampoo regularly? — but when you are alone on the road, you might have difficulty finding sanitary spaces where you can wash up. However, it is even more important that you stay clean while you travel, considering foreign diseases are often terrifyingly disastrous. Cutting your trip short because you didn’t wash your hands is lame — avoid it with good hygiene.
Long trips almost never go exactly as you plan them. Perhaps the weather isn’t right for snorkeling, or the trains to your next city are postponed. If you write your itinerary in stone, you should expect your entire trip to crumble. Instead, you should seek out spontaneity in your solo adventure. Travel is about gathering new experiences, and the most memorable moments are usually the ones you didn’t meticulously plan.
Solo travel is definitely different for women, and you must be constantly vigilant of potential dangers to your health and safety. You should avoid sharing details about yourself — especially where you are staying — until you know someone quite well. You should also always carry a means of protecting yourself and a method of contacting the authorities. Finally, before you leave, you must know where the closest embassies are. With awareness and preparation, you can enjoy solo travel just like anyone else.
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