The idea of exploring foreign lands, or even North America, on your own can be intimidating. This can ring especially true for a solo female traveler, who may feel particularly vulnerable where the local culture is unfamiliar.
But, when travel and learning are something you value, you shouldn’t have to wait for a friend or relative to join you — just go! Solo female travelers love exploring the world with Road Scholar. Journeying with us can provide an incredibly enriching adventure that leaves you with new experiences, new friends and lifelong memories.
Women today are venturing outside their comfort zones and seeking challenging and rewarding experiences as opportunities for learning and growth. Once you know how to travel alone, traveling solo is a great way to learn about yourself and the place you’re exploring.
To ensure you have the best solo adventure, we have compiled a few solo female travel tips to help female travelers maximize their experience and minimize their worries. Visit the special resource page for solo travelers to help you navigate the world of solo travel.
1. Research Your Destination
Where’s the best place for local cuisine? What is the public transit situation? Are men more forward in this area? The best way to ensure a stress-free adventure is to do the research.
You don’t have to have every detail hammered out, but the more you know ahead of time, the more relaxed you can be in the moment and make the most of your experience.
Try to anticipate any problems you may have and learn how to avoid them and research the best local hotspots and historic finds.
2. Be Sure Someone Knows Where You’re Headed
Prepare an itinerary, however rough, with contact information, including your cell phone and the hotels where you will be staying.
Share this itinerary with a friend or family member at home so they know where you are and when you plan to be back. Check in with them throughout your trip. It’s always good to have someone who knows where you are when you’re traveling alone.
3. Meet the Locals or Other Travelers
Spark up a conversation with a local at a coffee shop or another traveler in line for the Louvre. Chances are, if they’re on their own, they’re looking to make friends, too. Ask a local for the best places to explore and perhaps they’ll even show you around.
Technology has been a great help to solo female travelers, so check out websites and apps like mealsharing.com and EatWith to connect you with a local to share a home-cooked meal.
4. Set Up an International Phone Plan
If you will be going out of the country, contact your mobile phone provider and find out what kind of international plans they offer.
Having a working phone with you on your travels can give you peace of mind in case of emergency and also makes it easier to navigate and look up information like museum hours if you have a smartphone.
Being able to talk to friends and family can also make you feel more connected to home and allow you to share your daily adventures with the ones you love.
5. Try Organized Group Travel
Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to travel alone. Explore a destination with a group of likeminded peers and immediately bond over the shared experience of discovering new cultures and new places.
That way, you will most likely meet more solo travelers who are looking to make friends. Road Scholar even sets up roommate matching on most programs or has plenty of options to enjoy a single room at no extra cost. Have the planning done for you and the worry taken out of the equation so you can make the most of your new adventure.
Traveling solo is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Don’t let fear stop you from immersing yourself in new cultures, learning history and knocking off one more place on your bucket list.
6. Packing Essentials Guide
One of the most important tips for traveling alone as a woman is knowing what to pack. Packing as a solo female traveler involves considering practical and safety items to ensure you’re comfortable and safe on your adventures. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of packing essentials:
- Travel documents: Before embarking on any solo travel adventure, it’s crucial to ensure you have all the necessary travel documents to easily cross borders and provide identification when needed. Key documents include your passport, driver’s license, visa and any necessary permits. Consider making copies of these original documents to carry separately when outside of your lodging. Additionally, you may want to bring travel insurance documents, as well as emergency contact information.
- Money: While having a debit or credit card can be useful in other countries, it’s also important to carry physical cash. Getting local currency before your trip can ensure you can easily buy necessary items and services like food and transportation with ease. When it comes to women-only travel, make sure to bring a money belt or hidden pouch for your valuables to prevent pickpocketing, which can be prevalent in popular areas.
- Security items: Popular advice for solo travelers from other solo travelers is to bring extra security items to ensure you and your belongings are safe. Bring a portable lock for your suitcase and bags when left behind at your hotel or other accommodations. A personal alarm and a whistle are other important tips for solo female travelers, as they can help draw attention in case of an emergency. Additional safety and security items you can bring include a flashlight or headlamp and self-defense items like pepper spray.
- Health and hygiene products: To ensure you’re comfortable when traveling alone, ensure your bag is packed with all your essential health and hygiene products, including soaps, shampoos, skin care products, prescription medications and a basic first aid kit.
- Clothing: One of the more challenging aspects of preparing for a solo adventure is packing the appropriate clothing. Before embarking on your journey, research local weather, including temperatures and weather patterns like rain or heat. From there, ensuring you have appropriate layers allows you to dress up or down as the temperatures fluctuate. Additionally, ensure your clothing is comfortable and culturally appropriate for the destination.
- Footwear: Your footwear is another crucial consideration when preparing for your solo travel experience. Depending on the activities you plan to participate in, ensure you have the proper footwear, such as hiking shoes, sandals and walking shoes.
- Technology: As a solo female traveler, technology can play a key role in your travel experience. Packing essentials include your mobile device and charger, any camera equipment if you plan on taking photos, a portable charger or power bank, a travel-friendly laptop and adapters for different electrical outlets.
- Toiletries: It can be easy to forget certain toiletries while packing your other belongings. Before zipping up your suitcase and travel bags, make sure you have travel-sized toiletries like sunscreen, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, facial cleanser, insect repellent and any other necessary toiletries.
- Emergency preparedness: One of our most important tips for solo female travelers is to have your emergency preparedness essentials sorted out. This includes emergency contact information, local emergency services contacts and knowledge of their nearest embassy or consulate.
- Miscellaneous: Lastly, there are several miscellaneous items you may want to consider packing, such as a reusable water bottle, e-readers or books for entertainment, snacks, a travel guide, a hat and sunglasses.
As a solo female traveler, knowing your packing essentials can help ensure a smooth, safe and comfortable trip. As you get ready to check off destinations on your women’s adventure travel bucket list, use this packing guide to ensure you’re prepared.
7. Staying Aware and Cautious
As a solo female traveler, one of the top tips for traveling alone as a woman is to stay aware and cautious. Being aware of your surroundings is important for several reasons. To start, it ensures your safety and well-being. While traveling solo can be a rich and rewarding experience, it’s important to be mindful of your environment and potential risks to mitigate them. Always trust your instincts, and do your best to avoid poorly lit areas or unfamiliar places, as it can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations.
Additionally, staying aware and cautious can help you be respectful toward cultural sensitivities. Make sure to research local customs, traditions and dress codes, as adhering to cultural norms can help demonstrate your respect and minimize unwanted attention.
Another solo female travel tip is to secure your belongings with anti-theft bags and to keep your valuables in secure locations to avoid theft from pickpockets. Protecting important items like your wallet and travel documents can ensure a stress-free travel experience. Maintaining communication with friends or family is also important. Keep them updated on your travel plans and whereabouts. Having an emergency contact readily available can serve as a safety net should you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
Lastly, as a solo female traveler, you may want to consider joining a group travel experience. At Road Scholar, we offer a wide range of experiential learning programs that welcome solo travelers with open arms. Through our programs, you can explore some of the top destinations for solo travel by yourself but with the comfort and safety of a group. Group settings can add a layer of safety and security, allowing you to travel on your terms but return to a reliable and trusted group. Our expert-led tours can take you anywhere around the world, whether you’re interested in exploring the rainforests in Central and South America, historic and medieval cities throughout Europe or the safaris and wildlife of Africa.