The idea of solo female travel can seem daunting and intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Traveling solo is an amazing and empowering experience that I recommend to all female travelers welcome to the idea.
However, when I was preparing for my own solo traveling through Thailand, I found that most solo travel tips I read were lacking substance. I was left feeling like I wasn’t given enough information for women traveling alone and quite frankly, felt as if the answers were a bit sugar coated.
Sooooo considering I just returned from my Thailand trip, I thought I’d give all my girls my tips for traveling solo to take the plunge and travel the world!
Top Solo Female Travel Tips:
Tip Number 1: Research Your Destination
Do your research and understand where you’re going. I know this may seem like a no brainer but never underestimate the power of knowledge. Especially as a woman, if you know your shit, you will be taken more seriously and look like you know what you’re doing.
My top things to research are:
- Religion – What is commonly practiced? What should I wear to religious sites? What is considered respectful and disrespectful?
- Language basics (hello, bye, thank you, yes, no, bathroom, good morning, emergency phrases, etc)
- Politics – Is there political unrest? Why? Where is it? Should I avoid these areas? Is it a sensitive subject to locals?
- Etiquette & Customs – Dining etiquette, table manners, dress etiquette, and hand gestures…
- How are women viewed in this country? Remember not every country is as progressive as Western cultures.
Tip Number 2: Have a Tentative Itinerary
The beauty of solo female travel is that your plans can change at a drop of a hat and that’s exciting! But having a tentative itinerary helps ease the mind of loved ones at home knowing your plans. Let them know where you are going, for how many nights, where you’re staying, etc. And when you do have a change in plans, update family and friends back home. Keep in touch with them regularly and always let them know when you make it to a new destination safely.
Tip Number 3: Be Prepared & Know Where You’re Going
Spend time familiarizing yourself with a new destination before getting there. One of the hardest things about traveling is landing somewhere new and being unprepared. Here are my favorite tips for an easy transition to a new location while traveling.
- Know how to get to your hotel/hostel/guest house from the airport, bus or train station. This will alleviate any stress you may feel arriving to a new destination. I spend some time before heading to a new place to familiarize myself with maps of the area and which transportation methods are safest/cheapest. Have a game plan to travel safely.
- Have currency on you before you arrive or pull some out at a currency counter or ATM. You don’t want to be empty handed and be sure you have enough funds to get you to your destination.
- Arrive in day light hours. This may seem to be another no brainer but sometimes we get caught up in seeing a flight for 75% cheaper but there is a reason for that. Usually these land late at night and unless you have a guaranteed ride by a friend or someone you know, I don’t recommend it. Pay the extra money and take a flight/train/bus that will guarantee you arrive before the sun goes down.
- If you’re in a destination where you don’t know the language, take a business card of the hotel or hostel you are staying at in case you need to take a taxi home. It helps the driver understand where they need to take you and get you home safely.
- Try to avoid this situation if at all possible, but if you find yourself in a new destination without accommodations booked, book one ASAP and arrive before it gets dark!
Tip Number 4: Have a Budget & Know Your Finances
First things first, know how much you can spend and how budget friendly your destination is. You don’t want to be stuck in a half way around the world without any money or in a bind. Here are my favorite tips to stay within budget.
- Be realistic and know how much you can spend per day – this should include: accommodations, food, activities, transportation, shopping, spa treatments, etc.
- Pay for as much as you can before you go. This means activities like cooking classes, flights, hotels/hostels, & travelers insurance.
- I love Hostel World but they take out a deposit at time of booking, usually around 10-20%, so be sure to factor balances like this in to your daily budget. Balances not accounted for can be sneaky and sometimes forgotten. I have found keeping a spreadsheet while planning helps keep me organized and aware of what I still owe.
- Know the currency, exchange rates, ATM & Bank Fees. Before going to Thailand, I familiarized myself with how much to spend per day and stuck to that. Check a currency converter or download the XE app (available for both Apple and Android phones) to stay on top of exchange rates. ATM & bank fees can also add up so be aware and take this into account when pulling out money.
- Have a buffer for overages, incidentals or in case plans change and you need extra money. I recommend at least 30%. If your travel budget is $2000, then your buffer is $600. This is all relative, but from my experience traveling, it’s always a good idea to budget for a little extra.
- When you head out for the day, bring extra currency with you just in case. Keep it a safe spot seperate from your daily spending allowance, like in the zip pocket of your purse, your bra, or shoe.
Tip Number 5: Get Touristy
It’s OK to be touristy. I found that the more I did touristy things, the more fun I had! I feel there is a stigma about tours because they are too “touristy” and other travelers may talk bad about them. So if you want to do something touristy, do it because this your time to do you! This is your chance to do what makes you happy. My favorite touristy activities include:
- Cooking classes. Cooking naturally brings people together through food plus you will enjoy the company of other travelers while learning about the local cuisine.
- Historical Tours: Great way to see all the hot spots with a tour guide who is well versed in history. You’ll actually learn something and be out and about with other travelers!
- Hop On and Off Buses: Ok, I know, I know. These buses are super touristy, but here is why I like them: they take you to all the major sites and it’s safe. It may be a little bit pricier than taking public transportation, but it’s an easy and stress free way to to get around a new city.
- Also, never pass up on free tours that hostels or hotels may offer their guests. It’s a great way to meet other travelers and save money. If anything, you’ll have someone to take your picture.
Tip Number 6: Blend In
I’ve seen this tip on a lot of blogs and it is so true. As a woman traveling solo, you want to don’t want to attract any of the bad kind of attention.
Things to consider:
- Wear minimal make up and jewelry.
- Dress conservatively. You can still look cute and be covered up. I like wearing classic pieces in neutral colors and wearing comfortable shoes. Leave the heels and designer clothes at home.
- Try to dress like a local – check Instagram, magazines, and the internet for inspo on what to pack!
- Bring a scarf with you in case you need to cover up any cleavage.
- Pack a light sweater because you never know when you’ll need it.
- Wear the right attire to religious sites.
Tip Number 7: How to Overcome Homesickness
Understand there will be days of feeling homesick and it can be emotionally draining. It’s harder said than done, but try your best to not let it get to you. All solo travelers experience it during their journey and know you’re not alone.
My favorite ways to get over homesickness include:
- Have Skype dates with loved ones back home. It’ll give you that time to touch base and feel connected.
- Limit social media. I found the more time I spent on Instagram and Facebook, the more FOMO I got. When I stopped going on it, I felt instantly better and more connected to the experience I was having abroad.
- Write it out. When I was feeling homesick, I used it to my advantage and wrote down what I was feeling in a journal. It helps you really release your feelings and is actually very therapeutic. Being in solitude is a good time to self reflect and force you to work through some shit. Don’t ignore it. Tackle it head on and work on yourself. Surprise: It’s good for you!
- Revert back up to Tip #5 and get touristy! Sign up for tours, excursions, anything your little free spirited heart desires and get out there. You’ll be in a group setting so it’ll help ease the feeling of lonlieness.
- Try to be social at your hostel or hotel. It may be intimidating to join a group of travelers who are socializing, but it’s better to try to join in than to wish you had tried. Be the one to talk to a stranger first. Say hello and smile.
Tip Number 8: Have Confidence
Be confident. You have to be. Walk with confidence and talk with confidence. For someone like myself who can be shy at times, I found the experience of solo female travel to be extremely empowering and my confidence grew abundantly. Being confident will also help you want to engage with other travelers, making it easier to meet people. You want to avoid look as vulnerable as possible because scam artists prey on that. Even if you don’t know what your doing, or where your going, stand tall and fake it till you make it. *If you do find yourself lost, duck into a coffee shop, boutique or cafe to look on a map or ask for directions. Avoid doing this as much as possible in public.
Tip Number 9: Don’t Be Too Trusting
Once you get comfortable with traveling solo, your guard will come a little bit and that’s perfectly fine. That is a good sign because that means that you are enjoying yourself. However, what I am referring to is to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t drink too much, don’t trust the cute local who wants to show you around, don’t take drinks or drugs from strangers. Don’t do anything stupid. Trust your instincts and get OK with saying “no”. Sometimes your safest bet is your best bet. There were many nights where I stayed in at night, had a glass of wine, planning for the day ahead and getting a goods nights rest. And just know, there is nothing wrong with that. Like my daddy always said, nothing good happens after midnight.
Tip Number 10: Go On and Enjoy Being a Solo Female Traveler!
You are beyond brave to even embrace the idea of traveling solo so savor it. Traveling solo is wonderful for women because you are in charge of your own destiny. You can decide how you spend your days. You can sleep in. Have wine at lunch and dessert for dinner. You also don’t have someone stopping you from spending another night in Paris. If you feel like shopping and attending a ballet, then go for it! There is nothing more empowering than being in control of your life and traveling solo helps you shape that mentality in all aspects of your life. Now go on and be that bad ass bitch we all know you are and enjoy yourself!
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