Solo Travel for Women: A Beginner's Guide
Much like Eat Pray Love, Wild, or even, Emily in Paris, one-woman excursions have gained popularity of late, with solo travel for women becoming a huge market in the travel industry. You needn’t look further than the internet for travel inspiration. Women are documenting their best lives and demystifying solo female travel at the click of a button. And with the world opening up again, wanderlust is once again on the horizon, and solo trips are within arm’s reach.
Solo travel for women has come a long way from bulbous backpacks, sketchy hostels and scarcity. Although there’s a heightened vigilance about female travel, it’s an experience for all. I have travelled solo for many years, sometimes on my own, and sometimes with a tour group - and have made some lifelong friends along the way - I love it!
This era has witnessed the resurgence of solo travel, with the female-only travel market growing to 230%. It’s an awakening of the self-assured woman with the ‘romanticise your life’ mantra in her wake and this woman waits for no one. Done right, it can be an empowering venture that’ll leave you yearning for more one-on-one time, with the world as your ever-changing backdrop.
We’ve all been there, hoisting luggage to our destination and breathing a huge sigh of relief on arrival. Whether you’re a novice or a packing pro, preparing for a solo trip instils a newfound level of restraint. Wearing your carry-on kilos forces you to be discerning about your sartorial choices.
My advice? Marie Kondo your hoard, until it decreases significantly, and you’re left with realistic outfits. (Don’t forget you can always handwash your stuff). Aside from comfortable walking shoes and a reusable water bottle (essential), come prepared for the climate and surprise forecasts, with interchangeable clothing. I recommend packing cubes, to compress bulkier items and compartmentalise clothing and accessories. Pockets and padlocks are also must-haves, to protect documents and valuable items. Oh, and a microfibre towel, ALWAYS.
A good quality travel backpack with concealed pockets will see you through most circumstances. A money belt (hear us out) is also a handy method of concealing your passport, documents and currency, albeit hands-free.
Aside from the real essentials, you won’t regret taking a rechargeable battery pack, travel journal and tripod for self-timer shots. If you find packing stressful, why not check out pack my bags Alexa skill, and let Alexa do the hard work for you? Just tell Alexa where you’re headed, and she’ll tell you exactly what you’ll need, before adding it to your personalised packing list.
Offline Resources and Security
The internet can be flaky at the best of times, particularly whilst abroad. This makes offline resources invaluable for safe travelling. Printouts and pre-loaded travel routes lessen the reliance on Wi-Fi and in the dreaded event, your phone battery dies.
Be sure to pick a suitable insurance plan and protect your documents. Keep a written record of details, including accommodation address, photocopy of passport and insurance on your person. Leave irreplaceable items at home. Trust me, there’s nothing that’ll ruin the allure of travelling solo, quite like misplacing something close to your heart!
Travelling alone needn’t be a lonely experience. In fact, solo travel gives you the opportunity of being part of a wider community, with autonomy as the mutual consensus. It’s the best of both worlds. Did you know 70% of Contiki/Intrepid/G Adventures travellers join trips solo? It’s a great way to expand your horizons and meet new people (we call it social travel).
Whether you’re on a small group trip or not, daily activities like guided tours and cooking classes are great ways to connect with like-minded women who travel. Solo female travellers often recall meeting pals in nearby cafés and eateries. You may even decide to accompany each other on spontaneous jaunts, so leave room in the diary.
Developing connections with fellow travellers makes the solo travel experience worthwhile. However, choosing whether to disclose your location is your right. Tap into new and existing networks in a way that feels safe, and plan prospective rendezvous in public spaces. Check-in with family and friends on arrival at each location and have an accountability partner back home, to sanity-check any questionable decision-making.
Find the right accommodation for you
A huge factor in solo travel for women is accommodation. Nowadays, travel styles are abundant. Whether you’re a boujee backpacker or hankering for a humble hostel experience, there’s something to suit each female traveller’s needs.
Pre-booked accommodation will guarantee your reservation. Prioritise those rated highly on communication, with 24-hour help desks. Also, consider accommodation with access to nearby transport links and local amenities. It’ll save you money and steps, in the long run.
Female-only accommodations and dorms are no longer an anomaly. The extent of lodgings on offer makes the prospect of a solo trip more appealing. This said, deciding on a home away from home takes some consideration.
Remember, all accommodation on a small group tour is included (from French Châteaux to boutique hostels), so if you want one less thing to worry about…
Good research is often the difference between a profound, mediocre, or even lacklustre travel experience. Before taking off, it’s useful to prepare meticulously, to squeeze every drop out of your solo trip. (You’ll thank your past self for it, later).
Make it like you’re studying for exams and become adept with your surroundings, language and culture of your chosen country beforehand, to acclimate to your surroundings on arrival. (Or book a small-group tour and have the Tour Manager to do all the hard work for you – these lovely people are experts in the region you explore, and do all the planning and logistics for every single step of your trip).
Social media is a great start. Instagram and Pinterest are home to the online portfolios of women who travel, sharing their breadth of knowledge. There, you’ll find travel guides, printable checklists and recommendations. Prowl the feeds of solo female travellers and indulge in travel blogs, for tried and tested spots. At World Class Adventures, I advocate for solo travel and have a plethora of useful content and travel tips (if I do say so myself)!
Last but not least
Finally, enjoy it! Finding the courage to embark on a solo adventure will open a window of opportunity and have you wondering why you didn’t do it sooner. Document every waking moment and revel in the self-indulgence of doing what you want, when you want – your time is now!
Small Group Travel and Touring is one of the most popular ways for female solo travellers to connect with other people without having to worry about many of the things listed above (like accommodation, planning or support networks). So if that sounds up your street, check out where we go using the links below and find the perfect trip for YOU