It’s been around five years since I became a solo female traveler, and while I’d been globetrotting all my life, the experience going solo can be very different and also very intimidating for us as females.
However, as more and more women around the world are taking the plunge, solo female travelers aren’t just a trend, but actors of defiance: As women, we deserve the same opportunities and freedom any man has to throttle the world freely and safely. So, if traveling solo’s been on your mind long enough, but you still don’t feel the courage to book that ticket, here’s a short guide on how to gather the confidence necessary – and stop waiting for someone else to join you on the adventure.
#1 – Get Used To Being Alone:
Let’s take baby steps here and first of all, ask yourself if you actually know how to be alone. Most of the time when we talk about the fears in becoming a solo female traveler many of those who haven’t done it yet cite being wary of getting bored, or having people judge them because they’re alone. While our society isn’t great on showing us the importance of being alone with ourselves, there are simple things you can start doing in your daily life to get used to the experience.
How about taking yourself on a dinner-movie date? Going out to explore your own city without anyone else by your side? Take up a hobby that’s just for you? Being alone can be exercised and these are great ways to start.
By jumping into the chance of being on your own you’re forced to listen to your thoughts, intuition, and emotions, which also has a lot to do with increased self-confidence and is the ultimate key to traveling solo without losing your mind.
Go ahead and sit by yourself at a public space and enjoy the pleasure of people watching, set yourself up for the opportunity to be in an unfamiliar place on your own by signing up to a new gym, picking up some dance classes or anything that puts you in the situation of being in a room where you don’t know anybody else. Sure, it can be intimidating at first, but as you start familiarizing yourself with the experience, you’ll find there’s a greater chance you won’t be alone at all, and not having anyone familiar around forces you to look at all you come across in a whole new way.
#2 – Get used to talking to strangers:
While the no talking to strangers rule was useful when we were 5 years old, as adults this may actually hinder our opportunities to truly experience the world. How else will you make new friends? How do you discover perspectives totally different from your own? If you’re hoping to become a solo female traveler it’s probably because of a desire to experience a greater sense of the world, and the best way to do so is getting to know other people who are completely outside of your regular circle – whether in a faraway land or in your own block!
Talk to that lady sitting next to you at the subway, engage in a conversation with the barista who makes your coffee every morning. Who are they? What are their names? What do they enjoy doing? How has their day been? The more you put yourself into these situations, the less terrifying it will all be, and who knows? You may even end up meeting some pretty interesting humans in the process!
One of the most beautiful things about being a solo female traveler is the opportunity to experience a place through the eyes of a complete stranger. Only in this way we can truly understand how wide and diverse our world is, and how much we can learn from those completely alien to us and our experiences.
#3 – Make yourself feel safe:
As much as we wish to experience the world, the reality is that it remains to be more dangerous for us than it is for men. However, don’t use that as an excuse to live in fear but to be prepared.
While most of the times crimes against women simply happen because we’re women, making yourself feel safe involves figuring out your own list of precautions.
For some solo female travelers, self-defense is a must – and it should also be for you. Others feel safer only taking Uber at night and some will prefer to travel with some kind of small personal weapon at hand.
In the end, it comes down to a combination of trusting your gut and enforcing your own limits and safety measures. As I was traveling alone in Morocco, for example, I measured with care my interactions with strange men – more than I had ever done while traveling around South America or Europe – simply because I didn’t feel so confident around the way women are perceived there, and while it was harder to meet locals that way and it even made me uncomfortable, it was what I needed to do in order to feel safe and fully enjoy my time.
Although you may be living your dream, you still need to keep an eye out for yourself and the signals around you. It is one thing to not let fear stop you from it, and a whole other to be reckless.
#4. Take it at your own pace:
I’d argue that the best thing about being a solo female traveler is the opportunity to go at your own pace and do whatever you want, whenever you want to. Therefore, when preparing to take that first trip on your own make sure that you’re doing it all at your own speed. Take it easy and consciously while also giving yourself time.
You’ll never fully know what had to happen in Freya Stark’s life before she felt confident enough to embark on her own adventures around the Middle East, so don’t compare your process to anybody else, and if you need to start by simply taking a weekend round trip to a nearby town, go ahead and enjoy it! Adventures are everywhere waiting to happen, and you don’t need to travel 15 hours away on a plane to find them.
#5. In the end, it all comes down to being able to trust:
And I don’t just mean to trust strangers, but particularly trust yourself. Trust in your ability to stay away from things that don’t feel safe. Trust yourself in the case of getting lost around an unfamiliar place, knowing how to handle the situations that come up, and above all, trust the fact that, in spite of what the headlines say, the world is not usually as dangerous as they portray it to be.
In the end, a successful solo female traveler relies on a combination of good intuition, precaution, and preparation. As you get ready to go on your own adventures across the world, take these tips into account and use them as confidence builders to be added to your daily routine.
For someone who has never traveled alone before the idea of it may seem intimidating, but you’ll find that it becomes much easier when taking baby steps such as these. Now gather some courage, get away from the screen and go find yourself an adventure right around the corner (literally!).