Being a solo female traveler can be an exciting, and yet very intimidating experience. That’s why we’ve asked four female travelers from across the country to share their best travel advice to keep our female explorers inspired and empowered to continue discovering new parts of the world.
Talia H. – Washington, DC
I was a late bloomer as a traveler. Outside of smaller trips with my elementary school to New York City or the Nation’s Capital, I didn’t start planning trips until college spring breaks. This is when I acquired my love of places and culture. After visiting other countries, I realized there was so much more to see and experience - tastier food to eat and interesting people to connect with. But in 2015, I experienced a breakthrough in my travelling career. For the first time as a young female, I travelled by myself to Hawaii, one of the farthest places I had ever gone to as an East Coast Girl. Even though I did not originally plan to travel alone, I can thank my friend that cancelled on me a thousand times over because it ended up being one of the best trips of my life. This is what I did to be safe and have fun!
First, I asked my friends, coworkers and anyone I came across who had gone to Hawaii lots of questions. I researched and made connections with people that lived there prior to going such as hostel owners in Maui and Oahu and friends from college. I provided my close friends and family with all my flight and lodging arrangements. Most importantly while on my trip I opened up, got really dirty hiking up volcanoes, woke up before the sun rose, learned how to snorkel for the first time and much more. As a person afraid of the ocean this was huge! I pushed myself to connect and have conversations with people; therefore after day one I didn’t feel alone. I acquired new friends and we still keep in touch til this day.
Be smart, stay aware and live.
Sarah W. – Boston, MA
As women, we have to be especially vigilant at all times and traveling is no exception. During my study abroad in college, I celebrated my birthday in London and managed to get separated from my classmates. It was pretty terrifying being in a foreign city for the first time and find myself suddenly alone late at night. From there on I’ve stuck to a safety plan. Here are two of my most important tips to female travelers:
- Don’t rely on technology. Phones can die, get lost, or be stolen. Have the name of your hotel, local police, taxi service, U.S. embassy and local emergency numbers written down on a piece paper and with you at all times.
- Someone should always know where you’re going and what your plans are, especially if you’re traveling solo. Leave it as a message with the front desk in case God Forbid family/friends are trying to reach you.
Manon L. – Richmond, VA
Traveling solo as a woman can be anxiety-inducing for some, but it doesn’t have to be.
Like every traveler, it’s best practice to research the place you’re going before you get there. Understanding the customs and values in a new place will allow you to experience the country not as a tourist (an outsider), but as a respectful traveler. Demonstrating understanding of the place you are visiting and the social norms there is not only a way of showing respect to the residents, but it will make you feel safer, and you’ll have the opportunity to see and experience things as a local (and isn’t that the point of travel?).
As a gay woman, I find myself sometimes expecting the worst when traveling, considering even in the USA it’s not necessarily safe to be out. But beauty, gender, and affection are expressed differently all over the world, which is important to keep in mind. For example, traveling in Tokyo, it would be perfectly acceptable to hold hands with someone of the same gender, even though being out is still somewhat taboo or shameful. When I was visiting Cuba, I learned that LGBTQ+ rights are a given - President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, is out and heads up the National Center for Sex Education, even though homosexuality was not accepted until the 1970s.
The best traveler is an informed traveler, regardless of who you are! Happy trails!
Jessica Q. – San Francisco, CA
Not just traveling as a woman, but traveling solo as a woman, has got to be one of the most incredible and transformative experiences you can have. I’m not saying solo female travel is always easy or always fun; I’m not saying you’re never confronted with an awkward or sketchy situation, a moment of doubt that you can do this, or a foreign bathroom you have no idea how to use. But learning to trust yourself and your instincts, learning to follow your own passions and whims on a daily basis, learning how to talk and engage with strangers without a social buffer or a translator or an excuse not to, is life-changing. The confidence that solo travel builds sticks with you and makes you see differently every experience you have thereafter. If you want a reminder that you can do anything, be anything, and happen to be a woman to boot, get yourself a backpack and hit the road alone.