In an ever-changing world of possibilities, shifting politics and inequalities we are blessed that most of us can still travel freely, that solo travel is possible for women, if you have the means to do it, but in my opinion we should always stay careful and aware of our surroundings as well!
As a woman I love to travel alone, but am always mindful and prepared. So far I have traveled to 42 countries in the past 39 years, both for business and holidays. And although I mostly travel with my partner or friends at the moment, I did travel solo on many occasions before, and currently mostly on city trips.
Why travel solo?
I love to travel on my own, because it makes me feel empowered and more aware of my surroundings, but I must admit it does require more effort and preparation as well.
It’s a shame that you’re more vulnerable as a woman traveling alone, but that’s a fact…. So instead of being afraid and avoiding it, I would highly recommend it, and am happy to share some smart and fun tips to help you prepare and stay safe along the way.
7 Solo travel tips:
I always do my research in advance, both on the internet and social media. I look for inspiration, useful articles and tips, but most importantly recent blogs about people’s own experiences! Like the one I read about the 10 safest to least safe islands in the Caribbean, written by a fervent Caribbean traveler who compared the safety and facilities based on her own experiences with the most recent developments on each island.
Sometimes a destination was safe before, but due to current changes in politics, economic situations, corruption, tourism or terrorist threats things change, so it’s important that the article is recent to still make it reliable.
Good websites to check for this are: Foreign Travel Advice or for the Netherlands: NederlandWereldwijd.nl.
But many ministries offer apps for this as well, with push messages of current events, changes and providing you with all the emergency and service numbers of your destination.
For specific cities it’s also useful to read Tripadvisor reviews of recent visitors to be prepared and learn from their experiences.
Preparation-wise there are some useful things I’ve learnt during my past 20 years of intensive traveling, which you can use as a checklist as well:
For most countries your passport has the be valid at least 6 more months when you enter, so make sure to check this,
For certain countries you need a Visa, an international driver’s license, an international plug and certain vaccinations,
Always have a power bank with you to charge your phone in case you’re delayed or in lack of sockets,
Research the local customs, rules and regulations to know what you can bring, especially with regards to appropriate clothing. Also taking along alcohol and certain medication might be prohibited!
Make sure you’re insured internationally, also covering hospitalization in case of an accident or health emergency,
Put all emergency numbers and the phone number of your bank and travel insurance company in your phone in advance,
Bring enough cash, as well as bank-and preferably credit cards, and make sure your bank card is activated for the country/continent you’re traveling to,
Never keep your bank cards and cash together, but in separate spots, so if one gets stolen you still have the other,
Make sure your emergency contacts at home know your itinerary and how to reach you,
You can even give them a copy of your travel documents, passport, credit card and insurance records, and keep copies of this for yourself on a safe online spot as well.
So don’t be scared, just be prepared 😊 And now that you are, let’s have some fun!
Meet up apps
One of the nicest things about traveling alone to me is: meeting new people!
That does sound a bit contra dictional, but when traveling solo you will generally be more open to new people in my experience. Although I was lucky to spontaneously meet quite some friendly female solo travelers during my trips, it differs per destination, and sometimes you’ll encounter mostly couples, who are not really open to this.
That’s why I was happy to find a good app for this now, called: Tourlina. Don’t be mistaken, this is not a dating app, but a female-only travel app, that is safe and verified!
The great thing about Tourlina is that every new user has to apply and will be checked first, so only verified users can chat with others, and look for travel companions per destination in advance or during their trip!
It works as follows:
You can download the app for free on Ios or Android, easiest to sign up by connecting your FB account, but by mail is possible as well for a small fee,
Their team will verify that you’re a woman and accept your request manually to ensure that all users are real and trustworthy,
I love that they value quality over quantity, although the app already has more than 100,000 female users,
Fill out your own profile and upcoming trip plans by country and date to discover matching travel companions for your destination and travel time,
It’s also possible to look for travel companions based on mutual interests, chat and plan a trip together,
Or just find locals and other female travelers in your area during your trip, to meet up with for a day trip, dinner or night out!
Easy and flexible right?
I really like to use this app because it’s more safe, trustworthy and you can make more meaningful connections with other women, as the matches on Tourlina are based on shared interest in travel and socializing.
Find out more at: Female Travel Companions
You can also meet up with locals by booking local tours.
When you book with a local tour company you can ensure that the tour is insured and licensed. I love exploring a new city through a local point of view. And booking a private guide or small group tour through a local company is also a good way to meet people and truly uncover those hidden gems in a less commercial way!
Business & pleasure
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive if you put some effort in it. Apart from the general tips of looking for cheap flights, offers and reducing accommodation costs by couch surfing or booking Airbnb’s, I always tried to save money by combining business with pleasure.
I used to travel to fairs all around the world for work quite often, so always tried to combine this with a few extra private days. This way my own plane ticket was already paid for and my boyfriend or other friends could fly in after the fair to spend some extra days together in a cheaper accommodation.
Stay alert & safe
So now that you’re prepared and found some fun ways to meet nice people along the way, it’s still important to stay aware of your surroundings. That means; stay alert and safe with everything you do. For this I want to share these tips from my own experiences:
Always trust your gut, don’t randomly trust strangers, take a ride from someone or join a group of guys you just met,
Don’t walk into quiet dark alleys alone (in the evening), or go into less safe areas of a city by yourself,
It’s wise to cover up, especially when walking alone or visiting a Muslim destination. Being covered will make you stand out less, is considered more respectful, and will make you less vulnerable. I usually bring a big light scarf with me everywhere to tie over my shoulders,
Leave most of your valuables at home, especially big watches or jewelry, and keep things like your mobile phone out of sight,
Respect local customs and refrain from being too loud or intimate in public,
Be careful with alcohol and don’t do drugs,
Don’t take pictures of locals without asking permission,
Be careful with taking pics or video’s in proximity of airports or military locations, as this can be misunderstood by local authorities,
Don’t take anything in your bag home given to you by strangers,
Certain souvenirs and natural products are prohibited to take home with you, so check the rules for this, or download the customs app for your country.
I hope these tips, based on my own experiences, will be useful to you as well, and will make you feel more safe and confident when traveling solo!
Of course some tips are obvious, and it’s always important to be careful, but I tried to share some more in depth tips as well, to help you feel less afraid and more secure to travel alone.
But most importantly to have fun and experience the positive sides of traveling solo as a woman!
Do let me know when you have questions or other experiences and tips I can add here. Or find me on social media via the buttons below.