Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet’s Globetrotting Gurus
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Pack Light and Smart
One of the most important tips for solo female travelers is to pack light and smart. Carrying a huge, overloaded backpack or suitcase can weigh you down, both literally and figuratively. It also makes you stand out as an obvious tourist, which can attract unwanted attention in some places. Packing light has so many advantages for the solo female traveler.
First, you'll be more mobile and able to move quickly if needed. Dragging around a 50-pound suitcase everywhere you go is exhausting. With a light carry-on, you can hop on and off trains, buses and ferries with ease. You'll also have an easier time navigating crowded streets and markets.
Second, you reduce the risk of theft and loss. Valuables kept in your room are safer than those checked in luggage. And you'll have less to keep track of overall. Lost luggage is a huge headache, especially when traveling alone. Don't check anything you can't afford to lose.
Third, packing light forces you to bring only essentials. You can't overpack 10 pairs of shoes if you only have room for 2. This saves time spent agonizing over what to bring. And you'll end up with a perfectly curated capsule wardrobe.
The key is being ruthlessly selective. Lay out everything you think you'll need, then cut it in half. Mix and match pieces that work together. Stick to neutrals that won't show dirt. Bring layers you can add or remove. And choose fabrics that are lightweight, quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant.
When it comes to luggage, go for a carry-on with backpack straps. This allows you to keep your hands free and deter pickpockets. Opt for anti-theft features like lockable zippers. And make sure it's comfortable when fully loaded - the last thing you want is shoulder strain.
What else is in this post?
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Pack Light and Smart
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Stay in Female-Friendly Accommodations
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Use Ridesharing Services Cautiously
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Research Cultural Customs Thoroughly
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Have a Backup Communication Plan
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Trust Your Gut Instincts
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Make Local Friends Along the Way
- Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Focus on Personal Growth and Discovery
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Stay in Female-Friendly Accommodations
When traveling solo, a safe, comfortable place to lay your head is a must. For women, finding accommodations designed with our security in mind takes research, but is worth the effort. Female-friendly lodging should provide locks on room doors and windows, good lighting, and secure parking areas. Avoid ground floor rooms when possible.
Reception areas of hotels, hostels and Airbnbs should be staffed 24 hours a day. Well-lit corridors and common areas also help. Carefully read online reviews by solo female travelers to suss out any safety concerns. Many list whether room doors auto-lock, if there are women-only floors or dorms, if room keys are needed for elevators, etc.
All-female dorms in hostels are ideal, as are female-only guesthouses. These offer an instant community. Elizabeth Gilbert raved about the Mangosteen Guesthouse in Jakarta, run by women for women. Private bungalows with space to relax amid lush gardens provided a sanctuary.
When sharing dorms, vet potential roommates through hostel booking sites beforehand. See if your schedules align to walk home together at night. Exchange info like where you’ll be and when to expect you back. Watch out for each other.
Airbnb now has over 25,000 listings verified for enhanced safety measures and woman-led hospitality. They offer private rooms or full apartments, often with kitchens. This allows you to cook your own meals and save money. Reviews highlight warm, welcoming female hosts who share local secrets.
Homestays arranged through programs like Women Welcome Women Worldwide connect travelers with friendly female hosts for home-cooked meals and cultural immersion. You can live like a local in a family environment.
While more expensive, female-only boutique hotels provide upscale amenities with a focus on women’s security and comfort needs. For example, India's Querencia Hotels limit guests to women to create a protected space. Egypt's El Nour offers airport transfers, modest beachwear and local tours.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Use Ridesharing Services Cautiously
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft provide a convenient way to get around in unfamiliar places. However, women traveling alone should exercise caution when using them. While rare, there have been reports of harassment and assault by drivers. You must keep your safety top of mind when ridesharing solo.
Trust your instincts - if a driver or vehicle seems shady, cancel the ride. Wait in safe, well-lit places where others are around. Avoid revealing you're traveling alone; if asked, say you're meeting friends at your destination. Sit in the back seat and use child locks if possible. Share your trip details and ETA with a friend back home.
To minimize risk, do extra research on ridesharing safety at your destination. See if there are female-only options, like Pink Taxi in Mexico City or LadyJek in Jakarta. Or use apps like Mystro that let you switch between Uber and Lyft to find female drivers. India's Safr provides women-only cab services with drivers trained in first-aid and self-defense.
If regular rideshares are your only option, take preventative measures. Use live ride-tracking apps so others can follow your trip. Enable "share status" functions that notify selected contacts when you book, start, and end a ride. Report issues immediately through the app - this creates a record that could aid police reports later.
Many recommend chatting with the driver, as attackers tend to avoid witnesses. But don't reveal too many personal details, as cordial conversation can lure women into a false sense of security. If you do talk, pay attention to your gut feelings about the driver. Stop chatting if you get bad vibes.
Avoid napping or wearing noise-canceling headphones, no matter how tired or jetlagged you are. Stay alert to your surroundings at all times. Text loved ones when you reach your destination safely. And don't wait until you're already in an Uber or Lyft to research safety tips - do that beforehand when planning your trip.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Research Cultural Customs Thoroughly
Before departing on your solo adventure, be sure to thoroughly research the cultural customs of the places you’ll be visiting. While you should absolutely say “yes” to new experiences that take you out of your comfort zone, understanding local social mores as a woman traveling alone prevents awkward or unsafe situations. You’ll be able to avoid unintentionally offending local sensibilities or bringing unwanted attention upon yourself by acting in ways deemed inappropriate by others.
For example, dressing modestly to cover shoulders, knees and cleavage is a must for women in many Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries, especially sacred spaces. In Thailand, pointing your foot or shoe at someone is considered extremely rude. Public displays of affection with men may be frowned upon even in progressive nations like Italy or France. In some Latin American countries, making direct sustained eye contact is seen as impolite or disrespectful.
Beyond fashion and body language, look into gender norms and expectations of women in your destination. In some places, venturing out solo could draw concern for your respectability or safety as an unchaperoned woman. Traveling without a male companion may sadly be more perilous in intensely patriarchal societies. Knowing this allows you to take extra precautions, only go out in groups, stick to well-populated areas, and ignore remarks or stares.
Of course, attitudes won’t be the same throughout an entire country. Rural areas tend to be more conservative. And some destinations like Dubai have very different social standards for tourists versus residents. So read traveler reviews of the particular spots you’re visiting, not just general country guides. Connect with locals ahead of time through expat groups or social media. And ask staff at your hotel for advice once you arrive. They’ll provide insights on which neighborhoods or behaviors to avoid.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Have a Backup Communication Plan
Having a solid backup communication plan is absolutely essential for women traveling alone. While we’d all love to imagine our trips being completely smooth and hassle-free, the reality is things can and do go wrong sometimes when we’re on the road. From missed connections to lost luggage to medical issues, you need to be prepared with alternate ways to get help and stay connected in case your primary phone fails.
Numerous female solo travelers recount incidents where their smartphones were lost, stolen, or simply ran out of battery at inopportune times. Rachel found herself in a panic when her phone picked up no signal as she was supposed to meet her Airbnb host upon arriving in Panama City late at night. Unable to call or access her booking info, she wound up wandering around lost and vulnerable after dark.
Courtney's iPhone met an untimely demise when it fell into the Adriatic Sea while boating in Croatia. Thankfully it was early in her trip, so she could purchase a cheap replacement phone locally. But she stresses the value of backing up critical info like passport/visa photos in the cloud or on an external hard drive in case a device is unrecoverable.
Having a secondary device can be a lifesaver. Outdoor travel blogger Cheryl brings a spare phone that stays locked in her hotel room as a security measure. That way, if her main phone stops working or gets stolen while she's out sightseeing, the backup ensures she's not entirely stranded. A local prepaid SIM card lets her use it anywhere.
For extended international travel, Cheryl recommends renting a hotspot WiFi device that works globally, like Skyroam or GlocalMe. Though pricier than local SIMs, this keeps you connected independently of your phone in any country. You can use WiFi-calling and messaging apps to communicate.
Alternate messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Skype require only an internet connection. Set these up beforehand and inform key contacts at home. Share your username and trip details so they can reach you in emergencies. Similarly, log into your primary email remotely on any device.
Keep printed backup copies of critical info, like hotel confirmation numbers, flight itineraries, passport data page, visas, debit/credit cards, local embassy contacts, and emergency phrases in the local language. Carry a paper map or small offline GPS device as navigation backup.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Trust Your Gut Instincts
Solo female travelers must remember one crucial thing above all else - trust your gut. If a situation doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to leave. Don't worry about potentially offending someone or looking silly if your instinct says you may be in danger. Listen to that little voice inside warning you something is amiss. Your subconscious picks up on subtle cues that your conscious mind misses. Going against your intuition can have dire consequences.
A prime example is that of Lola Akerstrom, a seasoned solo traveler. While journeying overland from Thailand to England, she stopped to trek in Nepal's stunning Annapurna Range. Along the way, she met a pair of fellow backpackers who seemed friendly enough. But when they invited Lola to split a hotel room that night, she got a strange vibe and declined. Just 24 hours later, they robbed another traveler at knifepoint on the same trail. Lola realized her unease had been dead-on.
Political instability can also set off alarm bells. Christina Zhu flew to Nicaragua in April 2018 amid nationwide protests against the government. She wanted to practice intensive Spanish total immersion, living with a host family and taking language classes. However within a day of arriving in Leon, Christina sensed rising tensions. As demonstrations escalated, she decided to trust her instinct that remaining could become dangerous for foreigners. Though she lost her tuition, Christina cut her trip short after just 2 days and flew home - a choice that may well have kept her safe.
Of course you can’t be paranoid about every little thing when traveling solo. But pay close attention to vibes in situations involving personal safety and be ready to exit politely. If a charming stranger pressures you for a date, a taxi driver takes odd detours, or a tuktuk operator gets a bit too touchy, don't downplay the threat. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings - just leave. Have a plausible backup excuse, like meeting friends for dinner. Then get yourself somewhere public and populated immediately.
When sightseeing or touring, let someone (hostel staff or a contact at home) know your route and when you should be back. If delayed, phone them ASAP so they can take action if need be. Schedule check-ins if hiking or going places alone. And don’t be afraid to give pushy hawkers or faux guides the cold shoulder, even if it seems impolite. You need to protect yourself first.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Make Local Friends Along the Way
Making local friends can truly enhance your solo female travel experience. While an independent, adventurous spirit may define the solo traveler, we are social creatures at heart. Forming connections with people from the places you visit adds beautiful depth and insight to any trip. Plus, locals can provide safety tips, ward off scammers, and prevent the solo travel blues that occasionally crop up when journeying on your own for long periods.
Intrepid solo traveler Megan G explains how her most memorable and authentic experiences happened after befriending locals. In Helsinki, a university student named Aleksi invited her to tag along to watch him play ice hockey after chatting at a coffee shop. She was the only foreign fan in the entire arena, taking in an iconic part of Finnish culture. Later Aleksi introduced Megan to other Finnish students at a sauna party - creating an incredibly fun insider’s look at daily life.
Making local friends starts with staying at smaller boutique hotels, homestays, or hostels that cultivate community over anonymity. Luxury resorts isolate you from real immersion in the destination. Instead, places like Pakistan’s Broghil Festival Homestay have guests join in traditional Wakhi culture. Hosts take women on village tours, involve them in cooking, and sell their handicrafts.
Bonding over shared interests also sparks fast friendships. Passionate foodie Maeve connected with local gastronomes wherever she went through cooking classes and food tours. Sharing meals brought amazing camaraderie. She recommends dining at hole-in-the-wall mom and pop establishments too, chatting with owners and regulars.
Of course, exercise natural caution when interacting with strangers, especially men, as a solo female traveler. But women-led tour groups like JourneyWomen provide safe networking with local women. Their Philippines trip promotes sisterhood through weaving lessons with indigenous artisans in mountain villages. You gain perspective on their lives while preserving ancient traditions.
Solo volunteering also connects you with communities in need. Organizations like SE7EN match volunteers with impactful projects worldwide. Teaching English to Buddhist nuns in Nepal or helping South African youth develop business skills rewards you with new global friendships.
Going Solo: 20 Expert Tips for Women Traveling Alone From Lonely Planet's Globetrotting Gurus - Focus on Personal Growth and Discovery
Solo travel inherently fosters immense opportunities for personal growth and discovery. When it's just you out there exploring the world, you gain a deeper understanding of your true self. Freed from the distractions of daily routine, you can finally slow down, reflect, and reconnect with your innermost desires.
Transformational solo journeys help you push beyond comfort zones. Veteran globetrotter Amanda yearned to conquer her fear of heights on a trip to China. She signed up for a glass bridge walking tour in Zhangjiajie National Park. Suspended a terrifying 300 meters above the canyon floor, the transparent panes gave a dizzying view straight down. Amanda admits being paralyzed by vertigo initially. But taking deep breaths and focusing inward, she found the courage to cross the entire 430-meter-long bridge. The exhilarating sense of accomplishment upon finishing ignited Amanda's sense of self-belief.
Solo travel also illuminates your authentic priorities in life. Blogger Mira Zaslove spontaneously quit her lucrative finance job in NYC for an open-ended solo trip through Asia. The time alone helped her realize she valued meaning over money. Inspired by teaching yoga to orphaned kids in India, Mira launched a nonprofit empowering underprivileged youth when she got home.
Being on your own allows you to design each day precisely as you wish. No obligations to please anyone else or do the tourist shuffle. Lucia, an introverted solo traveler, used mornings in Tokyo to wander gardens and temples in quiet contemplation. She sank into the calm Serenity of simply being, without having to talk. Then Lucia spent her evenings singling out quirky small music venues, connecting with locals who shared her alternative tastes.
You learn to become your own best friend and rely on your own judgment solo. There's no one else there to handle logistics for you. Every navigational victory and successful encounter with locals further augments your confidence.
Solo travel lets you tune out other opinions and tap into what genuinely sparks joy within. Youtuber Lavinia took sensual delight in little pleasures like strolling for gelato in Verona, sniffing fresh guavas at Indian markets, sipping Italian espresso al fresco. She doctor Gorgeous views often provide the contemplative backdrop needed to make difficult personal decisions as well.
While meaningful introspection requires some solitude, be careful not to isolate yourself completely on long solo trips. Seek kinship through experiences like voluntourism, wellness retreats, or language exchanges to stay balanced. Focus inward but stay connected outward too.