Your first solo travel adventure can be nerve-wracking. You may have so many questions and concerns. Perhaps you don't even know where to start. So here are some answers to the big solo travel questions. Some great solo travel advice from women who have been in your position. You can ask specific country questions on our travel forum or even use the Female travel community to ask questions to our members.
I have had the pleasure of conducting several interviews and chatting to some amazing travellers from our community. I have put together a wealth of advice from these wonderful women. This is the perfect read if you are doubting travelling solo. It is an inspirational piece full of advice and wisdom. You can read more advice from the She Roams Solo Interviews and apply to be interviewed by filling out this form.
Solo Travel Advice: What happens if things go wrong?
Things are bound to go wrong. It doesn't matter how many countries, cities and years you have under your belt as a traveller, things WILL go wrong. But they will go wrong if you travel with someone as well. Understandably the fear can be not having someone to lean on or help you.
This is the beauty of solo travel. You soon learn just how resourceful you are. You learn that you need to stay calm and sort the problem out.
Sometimes you even learn the beauty in other humans like in this example from Caroline from the travelling sloth
"My journey started off in Phnom Penh and I made my way along the coast to Kampot, Kep, Koh Rong and Sihanoukville. I was meant to travel for longer, however, in Sihanoukville, I was robbed of my camera, credit cards, wallet and money. I was stuck in a new country with no money. There is a silver lining to this story, though. I had met an Israeli girl while on Koh Rong. We decided to travel and stay in Sihanoukville together. When I came home, balling my eyes out, she managed to comfort me and keep me sane throughout it all. The next day I managed to transfer some money to her so she could withdraw it and pass it to me so I could make my way back home.
This trip didn’t go smoothly. So many bumps along the way and it was definitely a learning curve. Regardless, it taught me to trust strangers and throw me out of the naïve mentality that travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and sh*t does happen. All you can do is learn from it and prevent it from happening again."
Solo Travel Advice: Misconceptions of your own company
It is understandable that you may fear to be on your own - but is it? What is so wrong with your own company? You spend more time alone then you probably think and your company isn't as bad as it may seem. Being alone isn't scary. It's a misconception. You are always alone.
Learning to love your own company is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Caroline has some wise words on this too.
Personally, I prefer travelling alone. I don’t feel obligated for any one else and I can decide how my day unfolds. It feels more liberating making your own decisions and being independent. You don’t have to wait around for the other to sort their plans out. To top it off, travelling solo does force me to meet and interact with more people than I would if I travelled with someone else.
Solo Travel Advice: It gives you more than you think
Travelling alone will always help you discover more about yourself. When travelling with someone, you have their influence around you. You share in decisions, good and bad. But when you travel alone - it is nothing but YOU. Your decisions, the results will make you understand more about who you are, what you like and don't like. It brings you a step forward to self-actualisation. As Rebecca mentions below
When I am travelling by myself, I am completely present in the travel experience: all decisions are my own and I am not accommodating someone else’s preferences. I feel that travelling by yourself also opens you up to meeting locals/fellow travellers easier. Solo travel gives you more freedom and flexibility in your travel plans. I usually don’t plan my travel destinations too much because you never know how you will truly feel about a location until you’re actually there.
Travelling alone has taught me to be more open. That life is vastly different all over the world and to have the privilege to visit these countries and experience a new way of life, even if just slightly different from your own, is amazing. It’s made me curious, and to be a little bit more assertive. To not be so worried of what people think of you and just enjoy yourself.
Solo Travel Advice: You will grow into you
You will get much more than just self-actualisation. You will grow skills and parts of your personality that you never thought you might have. As Alice from wherever I want mentions below, there are things you can get from solo travel that you can't get from anywhere else. Most importantly, a belief in yourself.
There are lessons, and then there are skills. I think it’s taught me more than I can really articulate, but honestly there is a confidence I have now that I’ve traveled alone and conquered the challenges I had. I know that there are few things I can’t take on now that I’ve traveled to almost 20 countries.
Faith from a life out there talks to us about how empowering Solo travel is and how there are always more and more things to learn.
That I can do anything. There are few things as empowering as travelling alone, especially as a woman. I've learned to solve problems I never thought I'd encounter- to think outside the box in order to go somewhere or get the hell out of a place or situation. I've learned that I don't need to have a partner or companion to be happy. I've learned that although it is heartbreaking, some experiences are isolated moments in time; people can come into your life and leave nothing but the time you shared- but I've also learned that you can find friends, shelter and kindness in the strangest of places.
Solo Travel Advice: It is so easy to meet people
Our friendship circle if we don't challenge our comfort zone remains that our social group are our high school or college friends, our family, our workmates and if you're lucky a few people that you met through those people.
By challenging your comfort zone and travelling alone, you enable yourself to make new friends. You put yourself in a situation where you have to expand and socialise with others. You meet people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and you soon adopt a more mature and open-minded personality yourself. Once you have learnt the skill of making new friends on your own. Nobody can take that from you. Caroline has some great advice below
Despite the stereotype that solo travel is lonely, this experience is to show that it’s quite the opposite.
I started off my South East Asian travels in Yangon, Myanmar mid-2015, alone. My first hostel didn’t have a great common room so meeting new people was a little challenging. I managed to meet two girls (a Scottish and Catalan) who happened to be staying in the same room as me. We didn’t quite know what we were doing so we had the flexibility to change our plans. All three of us got along really well and ended up travelling together to Bagan.
Over the next fortnight, we would meet other solo travellers who joined our little “group” and slowly it expanded to about 10. There was never a dull moment. Since we were all solo travellers, there was a common understanding that we would either go off and do our own thing and reunite at the end of the day or do things as a group. There was no expectation that everyone had to do the exact same things since we have different interests.
It’s almost been two years since we last travelled together and we still keep in touch. Some of us have also travelled and visited each other. Speaking of which, I’m heading to Barcelona later this month to visit Jana (the Catalan girl)!
There are ways to meet new people. Stay in hostels, take walking tours, go to bars or pub crawls, Join SheRoams Solo. (or other travel communtieies). Becky from JetsetterJones says
When you travel alone you are never alone for long. The first few days in Bangkok, I eased myself in by staying in a hotel. My anxiety got the better of me and a hostel stay felt out of my capabilities. This was possibly an error in judgement. Although I enjoyed the luxury and sleeping off the jetlag in peace, I met no one and ended up fleeing Bangkok in a miserable negative state that nearly saw me flee back to England instead. As soon as I moved to hostels this changed. Meeting people became easy and having a new buddy to learn all about every few days is fun and exciting. Of course there is always the slight fear when you part ways with your new chum that you won’t meet another like-minded soul, and maybe you won’t for a while, but those days alone are peaceful and character building and actually welcomed after the repetitive travel chat of "where are you from? How long are you travelling for? And where are you off to next?"
Solo Travel Tips
You can google all the tips in the world. But some things will just come down to experience. Some things, you have to learn the hard way. Always trust your instincts and keep an eye open. Don't be afraid to ask people.
I'd never flown alone, had no idea what to do or how to get around but quickly learned to navigate public transport and found myself in the city centre with my giant suitcase.
I took myself to a beautiful courtyard and a teeny secret aquarium but otherwise, was content to sit in an outdoor cafe drinking the thickest hot chocolate I've ever had and people watching. These days, I know about public lockers for suitcases and would have looked online for some more attractions to visit but at the time I didn't know any better and was a little overwhelmed.
Solo Travel Tips: Is it Safe
Is life safe? Bad things can happen in your own backyard. In the comfort of your own home. Through people you have been for ages or trusted. The scariest part is not living your best life for fear of things going wrong or being "unsafe"
One piece of advice I can offer is to start in safe countries. My first trip was New Zealand (I'm from Australia.) it was my safest possible route. Caroline puts it well by saying...
"Of course, there are several places where we can travel carefree and go about our day without thinking twice."
Don't ignore your common sense and if there are places that are known to be more dangerous, keep your instincts about and do your research.
Living life as a woman is just as dangerous. Not to be dramatic, but the problems you face as a solo female traveller are the same you would face walking the streets of your hometown. The only difference is the lack of familiarity, and maybe you stand out more when in a foreign country. I think it’s important to try and enjoy yourself, but I am sometimes cautious to a fault. Give me a perfectly safe street, but if I’m there at night I am on edge instantly. It’s a shame that this is something women need to deal with on a day to day basis, but when you are travelling and meant to be having a good time, it sucks.
As for protecting yourself, take a self-defence class (or youtube video, save some money !), know key phrases if there is a language barrier (Help, police etc), know the emergency number for the country you travel to (i.e 999 for the UK, 911 for the US). It’s, unfortunately, part of our lives, hopefully, one day that will change.
Some more great advice from Caroline:
There are simple steps we can take as women to help take control of our situation and our safety. Avoid arriving at destinations after dark, being conscious of our surroundings and presenting ourselves a certain way are all measures we can take to reduce any potential risks.
Majority of the time, people are friendly, warm and welcoming, making travelling alone a breeze and enjoyable. However, there are a few bad eggs so there’s no harm in remaining observant.
"This is where preparation comes in. Do your research! As a woman, we need to be smart, MORE cautious, MORE careful, MORE vigilant, and MORE aware of our surroundings. But don't let the issue of safety stops you from traveling alone!"
Solo Travel: Just do it! Book that ticket!
Nobody ever regretted travelling. Just book it, is the advice I give many. I know it isn't as easy as that. But if you have been checking out flights constantly for the last few weeks/months and considering it and it's in your heart to do so you are reading this blog post because you're constantly search things like "should I travel solo" or "should I book the ticket" then the answer is "what are you waiting for?" there will always be an excuse, always a reason. Always an event and always a negative opinion or someone/thing holding you back. Only you can make that leap and book the ticket.
I was 28 when I left England and it was a case of now or never as I knew that I wanted to work in both Australia and New Zealand and VISA age restrictions unfortunately exist. I spent literally a decade waiting for this friend or that boyfriend, the perfect opportunity or, just to not feel scared anymore. The truth is, you're never ready. There's always more you could do to prepare, someone you could wait for, more money you could save and the fear never goes.
With an anxiety disorder this fear is, at times, all encompassing but that's really what this journey is about. I am challenging myself and battling my mental health to take on the world, one step at a time. I jumped in with both feet and despite a few wobbly days, I've never looked back.
Wondering where to start? How to dip your toe into this big wide world of solo travel. Take some advice from Carmen.
JUST DO IT! You’ll never know until you do it. You will be amazed on how much you can accomplished by yourself. You can start by going to places alone that you usually go with others such as a restaurant or the movies. Then go to a familiar place on a weekend for your first solo trip. Choose somewhere where they speak your language if you’re uncomfortable, find an easy vacation spot, do your research, and then GO FOR IT!
A lot of people think that you can only really travel or travel alone if you sell all your stuff and go abroad for months, or years, at a time. I think this is completely wrong! If you’re scared, take it a small step at a time. Try to do more things alone (even a weekend trip!), and even try to think of things that might go wrong. Picture those possibilities, and then come up with a plan of how you will respond to each one. That way, when something inevitably does go wrong, you already know what you’re going to do. I have more on this topic at How to Overcome Your Travel Nerves.
Or the advice from me! Join She Roams Solo. Jump on Skyscanner and just book that ticket.