Many women have anxieties and fears about traveling alone, but in reality most of these fears are totally unfounded. Here are five solo female travel myths, debunked.
The notion of solo female travel was first introduced to me by my friend Carolyn. I was prepping to leave for my semester abroad in Germany, and one day when we were hanging out she mentioned a travel blog she’d recently stumbled across called World of Wanderlust. At the time, World of Wanderlust was one of the only blogs dedicated solely to solo female travel. As I read through those first few blog posts, I was immediately hooked on the notion of solo travel. I wanted to try it for myself, and I knew my semester in Germany was the perfect chance for me to test the waters.
Flash forward five years and I’m still absolutely smitten with traveling by myself. It’s a rush I never tire of, and since discovering that first blog dedicated to female travel I’ve found so many more amazing blogs to read. And if you were to look through my Instagram feed right now, you’d scroll past photo after photo of female travelers posing — all alone — in front of some of the most well-known landmarks in the world.
But because I’ve been traveling solo for so long and have curated my social media feeds to reflect that, I tend to forget that solo female travel is still a brand new, intimidating idea to many women. When friends comment on my “bravery” for traveling alone, I’m taken aback. Me? Brave? It’s never seemed brave to travel by myself. After discussing this same point many times with friends, I’ve noticed a pattern in their responses to my arguments that solo female travel is for everyone. Namely, they all share the same handful of fears and uncertainties about solo female travel.
After having this conversation countless times, I realized I needed to sit down and debunk these solo travel myths that my friends were so afraid of. My hope with this post is that it shows you that there’s nothing to fear when it comes to solo female travel. So many of the fears you may have about it are big fat lies. Here’s everything you need to know about what solo female travel really is like.
Solo Female Travel is Unsafe
This is the biggest concern I hear from my friends and family when I tell them I’ve booked another solo trip. Even after five years of solo travel, I still get comments about how brave I am to travel by myself, followed up by questions about my safety while abroad. Here’s the thing: traveling solo is perfectly safe. Yes, you should use your street smarts and do your research before visiting a new place alone. But in general you shouldn’t be scared about traveling alone.
Case in point: when I traveled to New Orleans by myself I knew not to walk around in the less touristy areas after dark all alone. Although I was bummed that I couldn’t easily experience New Orleans’ nightlight on my own, I felt better having gotten back to my room while the night was still young. I don’t tell you this story to scare you, but rather to illustrate that, yes, there are some places you’ll travel to alone that will require you to be a little more careful at points. In New Orleans, I felt completely safe during the day, even in less touristy parts of town. But at night I knew to be more cautious.
When traveling alone, trust your gut. If a place feels safe to you and you’ve done your research on it beforehand, you’re probably fine. There’s really no need to fear for your own safety just because you’re a solo female traveler.
You’ll Get Lonely
Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be lonely. Traveling solo does take some getting used to, and not everyone feels completely at ease those first few nights of sleeping alone. But after a few days of being by yourself you will adjust to traveling solo. In many ways, I prefer solo travel because I don’t have to worry about holding up my end of the conversation at the dinner table or keeping my travel companion entertained. I can do what I want and let my thoughts wander at their leisure. I often return home after my solo adventures feeling more relaxed and well rested than I did when I left, simply because I gave my mind a complete break from its usual thought patterns and routines.
If being lonely is an aspect of solo travel that you’re really worried about, read up on ways to overcome homesickness before your trip. I also find that planning phone calls home really helps, especially if I’ll be traveling to a different time zone. That way if I do feel a little lonely on my travels I know that I have a call with a friend or relative coming up soon. This always perks me up, as it gets me excited to tell them everything I’ve seen and done so far on my trip.
Solo Female Travel is Expensive
I recently wrote a post sharing the many reasons solo travel sucks (and why I love it anyways!), and at the top of the list was that you have to pay for everything yourself when you travel alone. There’s no splitting meals with friends, sharing a hotel room, or any other cost saving measures you’d normally take when traveling. But although solo travel often costs more money than traveling with friends and family does, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
In fact, I’m usually able to save more money when I travel alone because I don’t have to take anyone else’s schedule or preferences into account. I usually book accommodations that are a little further from the main tourist attractions, I make most breakfasts and dinners in my room, and now that I’m freelancing full-time I’m able to book flights at odd hours of the day without worrying about wasting my vacation days. I still create a careful budget for every trip and try not to go crazy when booking tours and such, but overall I don’t find solo female travel to be crazy expensive. As long as you’re smart about it and take the time to search out good deals, you can save a few bucks here and there when traveling.
Read more: 10 Easy Ways I Save Money While Traveling
Solo Female Travel is Boring
Maybe it’s my introverted nature speaking, but I’m always shocked when friends tell me the reason they haven’t traveled alone is because they’re worried they’d get bored. Say what?! I love those quiet moments to myself in a busy airport or train journey. And I need those few hours of solitude in my hotel room after a day of exploring to recharge fully. Admittedly, eating alone at restaurants took some getting used to (especially in nicer eateries that take forever to get your food out to you). But I quickly learned how to keep myself entertained when eating out and now love the time I get to spend with my own thoughts over a good meal.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but if you haven’t traveled alone for fear of being bored you need to suck it up and give it a go. How can you possibly know if it’ll be boring unless you actually try it? Before traveling, think of all the scenarios you think you’d be bored in. For me, that’d be eating out at restaurants alone, waiting in line for attractions alone, and riding public transportation alone. My fix for these boring situations? I bring a paperback book or Kindle with me everywhere I go. Or, if I’m somewhere where my phone works, I’ll call home and pass the time chatting to my parents or friends.
Solo Female Travel is Only for Young Singles
Not at all! There’s no age limit on solo travel, and there’s absolutely no reason to stop traveling by yourself just because you’re in a relationship or are married. Solo travel never gets old, and you’ll learn so much about yourself through the process no matter what stage of life you’re in. If you’re in a relationship and are interested in traveling alone, I do think it’s important to discuss it with your partner and give them a heads up before you leave town. And if you’re worried your partner won’t want you to travel without them, well, that’s a major red flag in my book.
Also, keep in mind that you can tailor your solo travel experience to whatever stage of life you’re in. For example, if you don’t want to share a hostel room with five strangers who are much younger than you, then don’t book that room! There are so many affordable accommodations these days, so you should be able to easily find a room to yourself. This logic applies to every aspect of solo travel — cater to your own interests and enjoy your trip however you see fit.
Tell me: What’s one fear you have about solo travel?
More posts you’ll love:
- My Solo Travel Nighttime Routine
- 10 Useful Tips for Taking Your First Solo Trip
- 15 Common Solo Travel Mistakes to Avoid
- Thinking About Traveling by Yourself? All the Reasons You Should Do It
- 5 Apps for Keeping in Touch with Long-Distance Friends
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