If you’re a woman who’s looking to travel alone and reading this, chances are you’ve probably heard the following before:
“Don’t do it! It’s too dangerous!”
“Take a man with you!”
“Is it safe?”
“You shouldn’t be travelling alone.”
“Don’t you want to travel with your boyfriend / your friends / your husband?”
“You should be thinking about getting married, settling down, instead of going off somewhere!”
“Be careful! So many things can happen to a solo female traveller!”
Before you let these words discourage you, let me tell you that a lot of women travellers across the world adventure alone, and they enjoy every minute of it. In fact, women travel solo more than men.
Data from Overseas Adventure Travel tallies over 60,000 solo female travellers between 2018 and 2019. The company also identified that 85% of their solo travelers were women.
Additionally, a non-gender specific survey from Klook found that 74% of women have either experienced travelling solo or would be interested to travel solo.
I’ve been traveling alone for over three years now. I’ve crossed from Asia to Europe by walking and hitchhiking, relying on the kindness and openness of people I meet along the way. I’ve spent countless nights camping outdoors and trekking across mountain ranges. I’ve immersed myself in various cultures and stayed in the homes of kind hosts hailing from various walks of life while learning their language, dancing to their music, playing their sports, and listening to their stories.
As a professional solo female traveller, I can say that enjoying my own company on my trips is the best way to see the world, and I think every woman must travel solo at least once in their lives.
However, I do realize travelling by yourself as a woman can be daunting. You might be thinking twice about booking that flight, packing that suitcase or sticking that thumb out on the road. Your families and friends might go against it, warning you endlessly of the perils that lie ahead. Inner fears and doubts might hold you back from taking the first step towards the freedom and adventure you’ve been yearning for.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of reasons why women should travel solo.
- To take a great leap of faith and be brave
As Paulo Coehlo says in one of my favorite books of all time, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
I usually hear a lot of women telling me they’d travel by themselves if they weren’t scared. The biggest enemy of a solo female traveller is FEAR, and it’s there for a reason.
Since we were adolescents, we’ve been taught about our physical safety—avoid walking alone after dark, don’t wear clothes that are too revealing, tell family and friends where you’re heading—and we’re programmed to think that way till the day we die.
Although the world is full of compassionate people, there’s still so much to do to make it safer for women. However, these risks shouldn’t be the things that stop us from buying that ticket or going on that weekend getaway all by yourself.
Planning that trip and gathering the courage to travel by yourself as a woman is the first step towards that great leap of faith, and once you take the plunge, you’ll know what’s in store for you is worth it.
Solo female travel is a life-changing experience. You meet so many amazing people and create plenty of unforgettable memories: exploring the nooks and crannies of a new city, standing in front of renowned landmarks, tasting local and exotic food, going on an intense climb up a high summit.
There’s something to gain out there for every aspiring solo female traveller.
- To build confidence and character
Solo female travel takes guts and a whole lot of responsibility. There’s no one else to look out for you or to get you out of a mess when things go south. The minute you decide to go on one of those solo trips for women, you’re already aware about your ability to take care of yourself. Your own life is in your hands and you can shape it into whatever you wish.
If you asked experienced women travellers, they’d probably tell you how empowering it is to travel by yourself, and these sentiments are true.
Figuring out your way in a foreign city where you don’t speak the language, renting a motorbike to go from island to island, dining in a restaurant alone, pitching your tent in the middle of the mountains and arranging travel plans solo teaches you to be more self-assured.
And these victories aren’t shared triumphs. They’re accomplishments that are only yours to enjoy and remember for the rest of your days.
- To be more resourceful
When I decided to burn my return flight ticket and be a full-time traveler, I didn’t know where to get funds that can sustain my trip. I had only saved up for a month’s worth of travel, and I already blew my budget.
That’s when I decided to start traveling as cheap as possible. Since I loved cultural experiences, I installed Couchsurfing (which was for free back then) so I can request for free stays on a local’s spare bed or couch. I ditched the rickety bus rides and set off on the highway to hitch. I bought a tent and a sleeping bag to camp outdoors, since I spent a great amount of time exploring nature. I stopped booking tours and did everything DIY. Sometimes, I even skipped touristy places altogether.
Until you’re in dire straits trying to figure a way out of it, you can’t really tell how resourceful you really are.
Travelling is a dream many of us have, but it’s not always picture perfect. Sometimes, you miss the train to the next city you want to go to. Sometimes, there’s this incredible experience you want to try in an area that hasn’t been developed for tourists. Sometimes, you just have a rough day on the road or in my case, you get stuck abroad during a global pandemic.
There are plenty of experiences like this when you travel, but trust me, my most beautiful memories are born from the most spontaneous and accidental moments in my adventure.
- To become more careful and alert
Since no one’s looking out for you when you’re travelling alone, you become more cautious about the people you meet or the places you go. You develop your gut feeling, and you go with it.
That guy at the bar is giving you creepy looks? That man on the street is asking you where you’re staying? Someone shady trying to figure out if you have friends in town? That smug shop owner seems to be ripping you off?
If there’s one thing I learned about interactions in travel, it’s listening to your body the moment it warns you something is wrong.
When you’re travelling alone as a woman, you learn how to read body language. You ask more questions to reveal true intentions or you completely avoid talking when you don’t feel secure. You hold back information that can compromise aspects like budget, time and most of all, safety.
Let’s say you’re a woman travelling alone. On your trip, you shouldn’t be telling everyone you meet that you’re on your own. It exposes your vulnerability and puts you at risk for having a negative experience.
Sometimes, you have to flat-out lie about your status when mingling or immersing with locals. You can tell them you’re meeting a group of friends or that you’re enjoying a few minutes alone before rejoining your companions. I myself wear a wedding ring when I hitch and tell people I’m married with kids so male drivers won’t hit on me. Sometimes, I tell them a friend’s waiting for me in the city I’m heading to.
As women, it’s sad we have to do this. It angers me how much precautions we have to take compared to male travellers. We have so much to do to make the world safe for female travel, but it shouldn’t discourage aspiring women travellers from taking on the world alone.
- To meet new people
When travelling alone, you’re most likely to strike up conversations with locals and fellow travellers alike.
Let’s say you want to go where the locals go to eat or you want to dodge tourist traps to hang out somewhere more lowkey and authentic. These are some things you can’t pull out from a guide book or a blog post. For answers, you need to turn to the locals.
This might seem scary at first, but you’ll find that when you keep an open mind and when you’re eager to learn about the country’s culture, the local people will be more than happy to welcome you and give you a glimpse of something beyond travel guides.
All of my travels are like so. As somebody who’s always seeking a unique travel experience that’s mostly immersive, I discovered that people all over the world have the capacity to show kindness and offer you a chance to get closer to their customs and traditions.
Likewise, there’s a high chance you’ll be meeting with other travellers in hostels, hotels, public transport or tourist sights be it when you’re sharing your travel stories, talking about your hometown, discussing insights from your trip or from the place you’re visiting or telling them about your experiences as a solo female traveller. Sometimes, you might even need to team up with them to lower costs like sharing a cab to a common destination or dividing expenses in a tour package.
You can also join them to gain a new skill or experience. Never tried rock climbing before but your new friend’s asking you to go with him to conquer some boulders? A fellow traveller’s asking you to take diving lessons with him? A girl in your hostel inviting you to hitchhike with her (wink, wink, that’s me)?
Don’t be afraid to say yes.
- To seek self-development
A lot of women travellers roam the world to challenge themselves, whether it’s going for a multi-day trek relying on their own physical strength and survival skills or heading the off beaten track and skipping a touristy town.
Without familiar surroundings and familiar company, this can be intimidating. However, most women travelling alone find inner strength, resilience and bravery they never thought they had.
Besides this, travelling alone as a woman provides ample time to reflect on one’s self. You learn something new about yourself from every solo trip you take. You get more in touch with who you really are, and you celebrate yourself for your strengths and weaknesses, your gains and losses, your past and your present.
You can use this self-discovery to produce new ideas, work on your character or fuel your passions and pursue new ones.
- To have the freedom to do what you want
Lastly, the biggest benefit of travelling alone as a woman is having the freedom to go wherever you want, do whatever you want and to accomplish both whenever you want.
Tired of staying in guesthouses and hostels? Why not try these unique camping ideas? Not feeling the vibe of the city you’ve been exploring? Why not take a chance at the countryside? Eager to pick up a new skill on the road? Why don’t you stay a little longer and take some master classes?
Everything is completely up to you. When you travel solo, you don’t have to worry about affecting anybody’s plans or preferences. You don’t need to worry if your companion can’t take the heat in a Thai restaurant or if your travel buddy needs to sleep in rather than make the most out of your day.
YOU are the master of your fate in solo travel, and YOU are in charge for the experiences you’ll make from it.
Get ready for the best days of your life
I started travelling solo because it took ages for my friends and family to say yes to taking a trip out of town or abroad. I’m sure if I waited for them to save up for comfortable travel or clear their schedules, I wouldn’t have hitchhiked and walked from Asia to Europe and experienced all these cultures. All these beautiful places I’ve seen would remain in my dreams, and I would never have crossed paths with some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life.
So who says you have to wait for anyone to give you the best days of your life? Who says you have to let the risks win all the time?
As one of my early followers told me, “The universe favors the brave.”
Go live your best life. Go ahead and be the brave.
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