Your Complete Guide to Traveling Solo as a Woman: Destinations, Tips, Safety, and More
Solo travel has innumerable benefits, both in terms of your growth as a person and the success of a vacation. But not everyone has the same privilege when it comes to solo travel. Depending on your gender and sexual identity, race, ability, and more, you may face different obstacles when traveling.
Traveling as a woman with many overlapping identities is often difficult and can be billed as a scary experience. But armed with knowledge, there are certain steps you can take to make your travel experience both a safe and amazing one.
Below are the steps that will help you as a women feel empowered and able to travel alone!
Must-Know Safety and Fun Tips for Traveling Solo as a Woman
Do your research to ensure your safety
Before heading to a new destination, it is crucial that you know the basics: what the currency and conversion rate is (to avoid getting duped), social norms and customs (including what sort of dress is appropriate in your host country), and what areas are safer for women. You can find answers to these kinds of questions through Google, at the back of guidebooks like Lonely Planet, and through mobilizing your network of connections. Make sure to check out Jubel’s guide to prepping for a trip to make sure you have all your bases covered!
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should, at the very minimum, know your first destination’s housing, so that when you arrive you can head straight there.
Get an international plan or a local sim card
You never want to be in the position of not knowing where your hotel or hostel is, or to be completely out of contact from local authorities. Make sure before departure that you are going to get an international plan from your own carrier or get a local sim card.
Pro-tip: Local sim-cards, particularly in South and South East Asia, are much cheaper for data rates than in the US. However, verify that your phone is unlocked before you leave, and bring a paper clip so you can easily change the sim cards out.
Tell people where you are going
Make sure your friends and family back home know the specifics of where you are staying, in case anything bad were to happen. Give them the name, address, and phone number for the hotel, hostel, or AirBnb.
During the Trip
Find a network of local women
Many times, there are networks made for women traveling to a new place! Check out Women Welcome Women, an organization out of Britain which promotes international friendships among women. This could be a great way to tap into a local network and make new friends who can help you get situated in your destination.
Other great ways to meet women friends while abroad is staying in an all-female dorm in a hostel. Sure, privacy may be subpar, but you will definitely meet people and hopefully make friends, which is always a plus when traveling alone.
When Traveling Alone, Keep your Hotel Name and Address Private
Make sure to tell your friends and family at home the name of your hotel, but when you are on the trip, keep your hotel name and address to yourself. Set the Uber to the next door location, so they do not know the address and place of your stay. If people ask where you are staying, simply give them a vague answer without any specifics.
Limit drug and alcohol consumption
Drug and alcohol consumption can often addle our abilities to make safe decisions. To avoid this, limit your drinking and drug consumption abroad (and always watch your drinks). We recommend avoiding accepting drinks from strangers. And make sure to always be in accordance with local drug and alcohol laws!
Don’t draw attention to yourself in public
We have already discussed the need to dress in accordance with the country’s customs, but there are other ways you can limit the attention drawn to you when you are walking around in public. Take off any flashy jewelry and watches, keep the use of your phone when on the streets to a minimum, and avoid talking loudly, pointing, or taking pictures. This will avoid marking you as a tourist, or at least make you look aware of your surroundings.
Share your Uber rides with someone
Check what is more suitable to your destination, but we tend to recommend taking Ubers and other rideshares over cabs because your location and your driver can be tracked. A great tip for when you take an Uber is that you can share ride updates with people, so your friends and family back home can see if you made it to your destination safely.
Destinations Suited for Traveling Solo as a Woman
Not all destinations are created equal in terms of where women feel comfortable traveling alone. Below are some of Jubel’s favorites. These are tried-and-true destinations that many women travel to each year. In particular, we looked for destinations that were both off-the-beaten-path while still having enough societal infrastructure to maintain your safety while adventuring. We also added in additional safety tips to observe should you go to any of these destinations.
Kathmandu and Annapurna, Nepal
Nepal, according to travel blog The Longest Way Home, is a highly-regarded country for women traveling alone. Kathmandu in particular houses a lot of tourists, so your presence there will be banal. In particular, the Thamel and Lazimpat areas are popular amongst tourists in South Asia (we recommend Lazimpat or Bouddha if you want to avoid the crowds of the party-heavy Thamel).
Moreover, most people in the major cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara speak English, so getting around should not be a problem.
From Kathmandu, head on a trek into the Himalayas. In Nepal, many trekking locales require local guides and porters. There are many all-female companies that can fulfill this rule for you. Check out 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, operating out of Pokhara, as well as Nepal Female Guide Company.
Cape Town, South Africa
This beautiful African city, flanked by majestic mountains and oceans alike, is a wonderful place for women traveling alone. In particular, the Observatory area is a great place for women to stay, and there are many hostels which have women’s dorms.
However, whether you are hiking Lion’s Head or going out on Long Street, there are certain precautions you should take as a solo traveler. Make sure to keep your belongings safe from pickpockets, which are rampant in the popular nightlife areas, and avoid walking alone at night. Instead, hop in an Uber, which are quite cheap in this city.
Germany is an incredibly safe Western European country for women, and English is ubiquitous here. Munich in particular is a lovely place to visit, as in the warmer months many young people love to go to parks like the English Garden and hang out -- which makes such outdoor spaces a great place to meet people!
There are often festivals (besides the infamous Oktoberfest), which are super fun ways to plug into a new city! Check out this website for the down-low on all the upcoming festivals in Munich.
Pacific Crest Trail in Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington
Cheryl Strayed may have done it first, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow in her footsteps and also hike North America’s PCT. The PCT has become a lot safer and more popular amongst women in recent years.
If you are thinking about hiking part or all of the PCT, check out these invaluable tips from the women hikers who have done it. In particular, make sure you have a tracker so that your family from home knows where you are, and find a strong trail family to help you through it all.
The cobble-stoned lined streets of Antigua are the perfect place for women to explore alone -- the town is big enough to feel expansive and exciting, but small enough that you won’t get lost. As the oft-proclaimed “Hipster Capital” of Central America, Antigua is a great place to meet other fellow women travelers.
Take Spanish classes and Guatemalan cooking classes, explore the local bazaars, and ponder the Spanish architectural sites. You can even take a day trip to volcanoes or local ruins. Many hostels, including El Hostal BnB, offer female-only dorm rooms.
We at Jubel want to empower every woman to feel confident enough to travel alone. With these tips in mind, you will feel ready to conquer the obstacles ahead and have the best vacation -- solo or otherwise -- of your life!
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