Here is my semi-complete guide to solo female travel! Traveling alone wasn’t really something that I consciously decided to embark on, but it sort of just came up. Once I started I just couldn’t stop! I probably searched for “tips and tricks” on traveling alone every day for weeks before my first solo adventure. Here I’ll share some of the good advice I received, as well as some lessons I’ve learned through experience. This has all led me to create this guide! I’ll continue to update as life goes on.
In this semi-complete guide to solo female travel I will cover:
- Why? The big question – why do I travel alone and why should you?
- What to think about while planning your trip – how to be prepared to handle situations alone and safety/security considerations.
- Battling loneliness or boredom (yes, it’s very real to feel both of these when you travel solo).
- Places I have travelled alone and places I have in the works for 2021-2022.
Disclosure: there are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I have not verified and/or personally used.
Why do I travel solo?
I began traveling for work at age 24, and frequently those trips were alone. So, I was “forced” into doing all of the things that deter folks from embarking on trips solo. Things like navigating airports and cities, dining out alone, and finding activities to fill free time.
In 2018, I went to Italy on a familiarization trip for work and decided to extend my trip a few days. Tough life, I know. I had been to Italy before and felt confident that I would be able to navigate. It turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Ultimately, I think that trip is what led me here to creating this blog.
"I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein
Traveling alone is not for everyone, I’ll admit it. It takes some time to get used to and you must get comfortable with some emotions that are generally uncomfortable. However, if you have ever felt that urge to visit a place, yet your partner couldn’t get the time off work or your best friend didn’t want to join – just go.
Start by testing your comfort level by staying in a fancy hotel for a night or going camping for a few days. These options can be great adventures on their own and definitely give you a taste of what longer trips will be like. Another option would be to join an organized trip. You wouldn’t be alone but you would have a new sensation of traveling with strangers! In college I took a few group trips with some friends but also some people I didn’t know. I can say that not much brings you closer than exploring a new country together!
I travel solo because it gives me great joy in exploring this world without regards to anyone else’s thoughts. It’s not that I don’t also love traveling with my friends and family. There is just something special about going alone. I’d be lying if there wasn’t also a sense of pride in knowing that I am capable of traveling alone. It feels good!
Guide to Solo Female Travel: Safety Considerations
No guide to solo female travel would be complete without addressing safety! Safety should always be one of your top considerations when traveling. However, when you’re traveling alone, definitely if you are traveling alone as a woman, safety becomes even more important.
Before You Leave
- Research your destination. There are tons of resources online for most destinations. Some places are considered less safe for female solo travelers, however that doesn’t mean that you cannot visit them. It only means you need to take care!
- Make a plan. I love adventure and can be spontaneous, but traveling solo is not the time I choose to give in to whims every day. Before I leave on a trip alone I always know two things: where I will sleep every night I am gone and how I will get to/from. Making reservations and having a plan for transportation gives me (and my husband) peace of mind. Travel during the day and if at all possible, avoid arriving at new destinations after dark.
- Pay for your cell phone’s international plan. I’ve travelled internationally without a cell phone before and I don’t think there’s really not reason to. My cell phone carrier’s plan is only $10/day in most countries. It is 100% worth it to be able to communicate with home and also hotels, restaurants, etc. where I am visiting.
While you’re at your destination:
- Stay sober. I love a good glass of wine as much as the next girl, but when I’m traveling I limit myself.
- Don’t advertise that you’re alone. Use your best judgement here, but I don’t really like to tell people I am traveling solo. I’ve read stories of other women meeting wonderful people and having a great time. However, I’ve listened to way too many true crime podcasts to think it’s a good idea.
- Blend in. Dress for the location and try to look like a local. This helps cut back on any street harassment and also pickpocketing.
- Learn a few phrases. Take the time to learn key words and important phrases before you get there. It will help you in a situation where you might need to communicate and will also make you look slightly less like a tourist.
Packing doesn’t always fall into the same bucket as safety when traveling, but when you’re going alone I think it does. Not a ton changes in regards to packing when you’re traveling solo except that you can’t count on someone else in your group bringing that thing you forgot and not planning ahead can jeopardize your safety. My general tips are to pack clothes and accessories that will allow you to blend in with locals at your destination, make sure you have a phone charger at all times, and pack as light as possible.
My final and possibly most important safety tip for traveling solo...
Tell someone your plans! Leave your itinerary, where you’re staying, and any relevant details for your trip with someone at home. If something changes while you’re on the road, update them. There is a lot of peace of mind in knowing that someone else in the world knows when to expect you.
Guide to Solo Female Travel: But won't I get bored? or Lonely? Or anxious?
Yes, probably. I’ll be honest, loneliness was not something I was prepared for the first time I travelled. It hit me around dinnertime on my first full day alone in Florence and I had a bit of a panic and thought “what on earth have I done??” I went back to the apartment I’d rented, watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on my computer, and fell asleep.
I woke up early the next day and watched the sunrise from my rooftop balcony and immediately felt this sense of awe and freedom. Here I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world with nothing to do but whatever I fancied! It never fails that around dinnertime on my solo trips, I start to feel a bit homesick. That’s normal and I would be a bit concerned if I didn’t miss my family and my home.
Tips for combating loneliness, boredom, and anxiety when traveling solo:
- First and foremost, feel your feelings. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to feel loneliness or boredom. You have emotions for a reason! Acknowledge what you’re feeling and then decide how to address it.
- Bring a book (or e-book) everywhere. I bring a book everywhere at home, too, but I find it particularly helpful when traveling. If you’re uncomfortable eating alone at a restaurant, read a book! If you get bored on a train, read a book!
- Keep yourself programmed….but not over-programmed! For most destinations, I have a general plan for what I’ll do each day and then I keep a note on my phone for some additional activities or locations just in case I find myself with more time than expected. As part of my planning, I keep a prioritized list of what I want to do and use that to fill in any gaps of time. This keeps me from getting bored without keeping myself so busy that I get overwhelmed.
- Call home! Sometimes just hearing my husband’s voice or receiving some photos of my pups and kitties is all the boost I need. Checking in also helps ease concerns anyone at home might have, too.
- Finally, remember why you chose to travel alone in the first place. That feeling of adventure, excitement, and curiosity should only intensify when you arrive! Think of all the reasons you embarked on your solo trip and let them bolster your mood.
Guide to Solo Female Travel: Where should you travel solo?
Anywhere! Just be smart. There are many location specific guides on Pinterest and I’m sure you can find one for wherever your heart desires. I have travelled to several cities in the US solo for work, including Atlanta, Chicago, Naples (FL), Dallas, and Washington D.C. However, my first solo trip for fun was the aforementioned few days in Italy a few years ago. I spent some time in Florence (love!) and then took the train to the coast and hiked Cinque Terre.
I felt perfectly safe in Italy as a solo female traveler and by following some basic cautionary rules, there was never any time that I was uncomfortable. Although, I don’t speak Italian, I know all the common words to get me through.
In March 2020, I took a few days and went hiking in southern Utah alone. There are a whole host of other considerations when you decide to go on a solo hiking trip, but that isn’t for everyone. As with any other trip alone, I made a plan in advance and shared it with Jess. It was a delightful few days and in fact turned out to be the last trip I took without a mask! I was actually in Utah when flights began to get cancelled and international borders started closing. There was a moment where Jess and I talked about a plan for what would happen if my flight was cancelled – I said I’d just keep my rental car and make the trek home! Luckily, I arrived home without incident. However it was wild traveling at the beginning of a pandemic when everyone was very unsure of what was happening…perhaps one day I’ll write about it!
"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." - Henry David Thoreau
Although I did get to travel domestically this year, I unfortunately had to cancel several international trips that I’d been planning. The first cancellation was Jess and I’s first European adventure together. We had both been to Europe previously, but not together. This trip was YEARS in the making – Jess isn’t a traveler like me. However, I found a great flight deal to the UK and we planned to visit London (my favorite city!) for a few days, then spend a few days road tripping around Scotland. Mainly so that Jess could golf and I could pretend I was in Outlander. I also cancelled my 30th Birthday Extravaganza, which actually would have been right now as I post this. I’d planned four days in Paris, then a few days in the snowy Black Forest, a quick jaunt to Switzerland, then back to the French countryside before heading home.
I am cautiously optimistic for what 2021 has in store. Scotland (although solo this time) has been rescheduled for the spring and I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips throughout the year to Italy and France. I have also recently been sort of obsessed with the idea of renting a campervan and driving around Iceland…although that is in the very early stages!
I hope you found this semi-complete guide to solo female travel helpful and inspiring! If you love to experience new things and are itching for an adventure – do it. Don’t wait for someone to come with you! Be prepared and be smart, but don’t let the anxiety of being alone scare you. I promise you will discover at least one thing new about yourself and you’ll be proud of yourself for having the courage to explore solo.
If you need trip inspiration, follow my Instagram, read this post about my recent trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. When you’re ready, use my ultimate Google Flights guide to start planning your next adventure!