The ultimate guide for first-time solo female travelers

Mar 3 2020, 8:10 pm

With International Women’s Day just around the corner, what better way to celebrate being a badass independent woman than to venture out into the world and claim it as your own?

It may seem intimidating, but traveling alone as a womanĀ can be one of the most empowering and rewarding experiences that you will ever have.

It can feel like an intimidating experience, but it doesn’t have to be, and we’re here to help.

Here is our ultimate guide for first-time solo female travelers.

Research, research, research!


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For your first solo trip, it’s best to conduct as much research as possible to prepare you for the journey ahead.

Picking a location with a language you’re fluent inĀ may be the best way to go in terms of dipping your toe in the water without having a massive language barrier. However, it doesn’t need to be an official language. It may make first-time solo travelers feel more comfortable, though, in any instance where you may require help from locals.

If you are looking for more of a challenge, and want to take a walk on the wilder side and venture to a destination that is unlike home, more power to you!

We still recommend that you research as much as possible to make yourself aware of the specific customs, beliefs, and dress codes that are unique to that region.

It’s nice to be surprised, and you don’t have to plan everything down to the minute. Still, this information is good to know so that you aren’t completely taken aback when you arrive, and also to ensure that you don’t accidentally offend anyone.

You don’t have to stick to the standard travel guides, either. Diversifying the scope of your research to extend to blogs, Facebook groups, and influencer accounts can be a great way to receive a broader picture of a destination while immersing yourself in the global travel community.

Pick a safe destination


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We encourage first-time travelers to err on the side of caution and select a destination that is considered safe to travel to.

Common methods to decipher whether a destination is safe to visit can include looking at its crime rates, visiting online forums, and reading the blogs of other female travelers who have visited these places. Additionally, checking government travel websites can be a valuable resource in finding out if there are any current travel advisories or warnings in place.

You’ll feel more comfortable traveling alone if you aren’t constantly in fear of something bad happening. However, while it is good to be cautious, don’t let it completely close you off to new and exciting opportunities.

Budget accordingly


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Establishing a clear and practical budget is essential to ensuring the best possible trip.

If you plan a holiday that you will not be able to afford realistically, you will ultimately end up feeling disappointed.

Once you select your destination, you can set more realistic expectations for your journey that align with what you want to do without necessarily breaking the bank.

On the other hand, you can approach it from the realm of understanding your budget and what you are able to afford and then, with that information, make an informed decision on where it is that you would like to go.

Either method works, but all forms of travel require saving and pinching pennies, which will ultimately result in having to make some sacrifices.

Trust us. The scrimping and saving will be well worthwhile once you get to where you’re going.

Book ahead of time


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Establishing where you are going to stay and how you are going to get there can bring much-needed peace of mind for first-time solo female travelers.

While you shouldn’t plan everything down to the wire, you should, at the very least, always book your first night’s accommodation to ensure that you have somewhere to go when you arrive.

When selecting your accommodation, it comes back to research again. Select where you want to stay by looking into where it is located. Choose places that are in safe neighborhoods close to public transit or taxi/ride-hailing hubs. Additionally, always check the reviews of a given location to avoid disappointment.

Once your feet touch the ground in your destination, you should have the address of your hotel or hostel handy. The last thing you want as a first-time traveler is to be stranded, trying to find your hotel late at night or while jet-lagged.

Make Maps great again


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Getting lost is a common and legitimate concern.

Use Google Maps or a device equivalent while in areas with WiFi access to plan your route, and save maps for offline access to ensure that you are going the right way.

Additionally,Ā MAPS.ME is a great offline map tool built on the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap database. It offers offline maps for 345 countries and islands and allows for bookmarking, orientation tracking, and location sharing so that you can let others know where you are. It’s also free, which is a bonus!

When you are in taxis or ride-share services, utilize Maps to ensure your safety and follow along with where you are going. You can also use Maps as a means of preventing the possibility of drivers taking a longer route to charge you more money.

Inform your loved ones


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In the realm of letting people know where you are via Maps, no matter where you go or what you do, it is essential to let those you care about (and who care about you) know where you are as well as where you plan on visiting next.

Updating your family, friends, or significant other on your whereabouts is another way to ensure your safety while easing the worries of those who are concerned for your well-being.

Bring the essentials and don’t overpack


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We know this can be a challenge, particularly forĀ first-time solo female travelers.

However, a majority of the time, a lot of the stuff that you thought was necessary to pack at the time doesn’t make it out of your suitcase.

Not only can overpacking lead to overweight luggage and hefty baggage fees, but it also leaves less room to collect souvenirs and mementos from your journey — which, trust us, you’ll want!

To avoid this nasty habit, make a checklist and then eliminate half of the things that youĀ think you need. Bring versatile clothing items that can mix and match with each other to create an assortment of outfits.

Depending on the climate of your destination, you should pack, at most, three pairs of shoes, sandals, a comfy sneaker/slide-on (think Keds or Toms), and an athletic shoe for more adventurous activities. If the destination is colder, consider packing a pair of comfortable boots instead.

Don’t carry around large amounts of cash


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Avoid anything that can make you a primary target for theft or pickpocketing. While it may be advantageous, depending on your destination, to pay for items in cash, refrain from drawing attention to yourself by carrying large amounts of money.

When withdrawing money from ATMs with your credit or debit card, only take out the amount that you think you will need for that specific day.

Additionally, it’s wise to inform your bank or financial institution ahead of time that you will be away. Tell them how long you will be gone, and where in the world you will be so they do not suspect your card of being fraudulently used and consequently block it.

Have an itinerary but leave room for serendipity


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Having an understanding of what you would like to see and where you would like to visit at any given destination is a useful method to remain organized.

However, refrain from planning so much that you miss out on any opportunities for adventure that may present themselves along the way.

Part of the appeal of traveling alone is the unpredictability of it, and some of the best memories that you will take away from the experience are the serendipitous moments.

Make yourself available to meet new friends


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While traveling alone may seem like a daunting endeavor, in all likelihood you won’t be by yourself for long.

Placing yourself in scenarios where you are likely to meet new people is an invaluable way to enrich your solo traveling experience.

Activities such as guided tours and cooking classes are excellent ways to meet new people with common interests; either that, or you can bond over trying something new together.

As well, hostels are an ideal location to meet other travelers to embark on excursions with.

Trust your gut


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If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Your instincts act up for a reason, and primal responses such as fight or flight are essential in ensuring survival.

It’s good to venture outside of your comfort zone and try new things, but if you get to a point where you fear for your personal safety, get up and get out.

Confidence is key


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When in doubt, fake it til you make it.

Traveling alone can be an intimidating experience, but as a means of ensuring safety, keep your wits about you and remain confident on the outside even if you don’t feel it on the inside.

When you appear to have it together and are self-assured, you are less likely to be taken advantage of or attract any unwanted attention.

Be assertive. If someone is bothering you or you feel uncomfortable, don’t crumble. All you have to do is keep your cool. Alternatively, calmly get up and remove yourself from the situation entirely.

Building confidence will happen on its own with time. As you become more self-reliant and comfortable on your own, the assured self you are presenting will transform into genuine confidence.

Enjoy every minute


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Venturing out on your own is an intimidating feat to conquer, especially as a first-time solo female traveler, but once you take that jump into the deep end, you will realize that you had the strength inside of yourself to do it all along.

Traveling alone is an invigorating and empowering experience that teaches independence and self-acceptance. It is only through venturing out of our comfort zone and testing the limits that we learn to grow as individuals.

So, take a deep breath and get ready because you are going to love every single minute of it.

Emily RumballEmily Rumball

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