Solo Travel: Guide & Tips

There are more and more solo women travellers. But for some, finding the audacity and courage to do so is not easy. For others, there are still many questions and concerns before the big start. I’ve been there… Today, I realize that travelling alone is a real opportunity. The experience is unique, enriching and unforgettable. These solo trips have made me grow, they have contributed to my personal and social development. As time went on, travelling alone became a real passion.
Through this article, I would like to share my advice to help you find the confidence, motivation or answers to your questions before travelling alone. Of course, these tips are, for the most part, valid for both women and men.

Women Travelling Alone

In this post, we’ll discuss all questions for women travelling alone:

  • Travelling alone when you are a woman: going beyond the judgments of our society
  • Travelling alone? Finding the motivation and inspiration to move forward
  • The biggest challenges when travelling alone and how to overcome them
  • Should we be afraid to travel alone when we are a woman?
  • Advice on how to make the solo trip a reality and prepare for it

I. Going beyond the judgments

Announcing that you are going to travel alone means facing many reactions: misunderstanding, astonishment, annoyance, incredulity, and it raises many questions from those around you… Depending on your gender, age and family situation, you will be judged even more.
These judgments are not only intended for travellers. In most cultures and societies of the world, women are judged for what they say, think and how they behave, how they dress, and even for the choices they make. This is one reason why it is all the more difficult for a woman to make the decision to travel alone.  For the public opinion, a woman travelling alone in South America, for example, is perceived as dangerous and unconscious.
Fortunately, things are evolving… slowly, certainly, but they are evolving.

This is why it is important to go beyond these judgments. Above all, do not be intimidated by these judgments. Whether they come from your family or from strangers, let them know that it is time for the world to change and that women should be considered on an equal footing with men. Surround yourself with positive people or feel free to talk to other travellers who will, I am sure, give you a lot of motivation. I am happy to see that there are many women who travel alone and who have managed to overcome these judgments. You

In my entourage, I was the first to travel alone. Not only did I not know how to tell my parents, but I found it very difficult to “justify” it to my friends or acquaintances. Not to mention the boyfriend… Today, I no longer wait for the approval of others to make decisions that concern me.

II. Why travelling alone?

Travelling alone is first and foremost a unique and personal experience. Everyone has their own reason to go alone. If women are asked why they want to travel alone, the first reason that stands out is “for freedom, for pleasure and for a taste for adventure”. I think we could easily find 1001 reasons to travel alone.

Initially, there may be different situations – which push you to embark on the solo journey:

  • No one wants to come with you: you have no one around you who has the same desires as you, in terms of choosing a destination, for reasons of good understanding or simply because you are the only one who loves travelling so much.
  • No one can go with you: your friends and relatives are busy, they work, they study when you have time, so it’s now or never. We are not always synchronized on timing and budget with the people who share our lives….
  • It’s your choice! It is quite normal to want to have such an experience once (or several times) in your life. Travelling alone can be a pleasure. You want to discover and experience this adventure, it’s your own project. Personally, I travel alone because I like to travel and I also like to do it alone.

My very first trip alone I had never imagined doing it… alone. At the time, I was 22 years old and I wanted to visit the great American West. I was hoping to share this trip with others, but no one was available, so I had to make a choice: drop this dream OR make the trip alone. After long hesitations and many conversations, I dared to take the plunge! Since this first experience, I have also – but not only – travelled alone for 6 years.

III. The biggest challenges and how to overcome them

Although I think the benefits are much more numerous, there are some challenges and disadvantages to going on a trip without friends/family/boyfriend. But when you prepare for it and know these challenges in advance, you can easily overcome them and be proud to have faced them.  It’s up to you to see them as a great challenge!

1.The disadvantages and challenges of solo travel and how to overcome them

I encountered some difficulties during my travels, but they allowed me to gain in maturity and in the end, I gained self-confidence!

  • Lack of contact with my family and friends: if you go away for several months or on certain occasions, such as Christmas, it is sometimes difficult to be alone and away from your family and friends. Fortunately, communications and technology make things easier and allow us to be in quick and easy contact with our loved ones back home. My mother often reminds me that when she travelled in her time, she had to send letters by post and find a phone booth to contact her parents!
  • Person to share the moment with: Some moments have more flavours if they are shared with people you appreciate. I was sad not to be able to share some sunsets or funny moments with my friends. We could certainly have laughed about it for many years. But fortunately, you are rarely really alone when you travel. There are so many other travellers in the same situation as us and we always end up making new friends. These moments are therefore shared with them.
  • Solving problems alone: It’s normal, if you have a little problem when travelling alone, you have to be ready to face them on your own. I sometimes missed the bus and had to wait alone for the next one, which only arrived 8 hours later! The reward is that you end up gaining self-confidence and above all you learn to manage your life on your own.
  • Ephemeral encounters: As I said, you meet a lot of people when you travel alone, but often these encounters are ephemeral. We spend a few days with some people and then our paths separate and we have to start all over again… For me, it is a difficult aspect to live with, especially over long periods, since I have the impression that I only weave “artificial” relationships. So I learned not to get too attached and to keep in touch with those I really appreciated.
  • Higher costs: No matter what you do, it may cost more when you are alone rather than with others. Accommodation, transportation (e. g. taxi), meals or activities. In many cases, being in pairs helps to divide costs. This is one more reason to find some company during our trip.
  • Some restrictions: You can’t do everything when you’re alone. For example, it is not easy to take pictures of yourself. Then you have to ask other people. Also, I rarely went out to eat outside (or to the restaurant) alone… On the other hand, I was freer to decide where to go, when to go back and I had no one to stop me from stopping a little (too) long in a place to take some pictures.
  • Insecurity… sometimes: I would be lying if I said I never felt insecure. Most often, to avoid putting myself in uncomfortable situations, I avoided going out at night or making certain trips because I was alone. For example, when I was in India, I felt compelled to take a taxi home at night and I didn’t dare to go out at nightfall if I didn’t have anyone to accompany me. It’s a pity, but we learn to live differently, and it opens our eyes to the different ways of life abroad.
2. Insecurity: Should we be afraid to travel alone when we are a woman?

This is one of the most debated topics. The one who apparently poses the most questions and the most problems: “You’re going alone?! You’re crazy, it’s dangerous! »
My answer: No, it is not dangerous to go alone, and no, you should not be afraid to travel alone.

What you need to know:

In her life, a woman is more likely to be a victim of violence or harassment than a man, regardless of where you are on earth. We will never change this trend by staying at home and never leaving home. Travelling and thriving means showing the world that we must stop considering women as the “weaker sex”.

Insecurity can also be felt in us – in you. We are no more insecure when we are abroad. I think I have visited many places that were much safer than Brussels or Paris. Cities like Vancouver are so much more pleasant to live in.

It’s not’dangerous’ because you’re a woman. What may be problematic is being alone in certain places or situations. A solo traveller – male or female – will more quickly be considered an easy “target” for aggressors compared to travellers who are in a group. It is just necessary to find out in advance what “places” to avoid. But that also applies to our outings in our own city, doesn’t it?

In short, you shouldn’t be afraid to travel alone when you’re a woman! And if you want to be convinced, read the many testimonies of women travellers who go on a trip around the world or who go on holidays alone. These women, young and old, in couples or single, used to it and not, all come back with great stories. Just look at some Facebook groups like Women Solo Travel l Women Travel Group or Girls Love Travel or We are Travel Girls

IV. Tips for travelling alone

Here are some tips to prepare your first (or tenth) solo trip. Instead, think of them as a checklist (not exhaustive) that can help you reassure yourself or prove that you are well prepared. I would like to stress that this advice also applies to men. You can also find my 20 tips for women travelling alone in India.

  • Find out about your destination, learn about the country’s cultural and religious customs. This will help you answer several questions: where to stay, how to get around, how to get dressed,… This is probably the most important point, even if you travel in a group.
  • Dress according to the destination and local customs. Respecting the dress code of the region or country you are visiting is above all a way of showing respect for local populations and being favourable to integration and meeting others.
  • Choose your accommodation according to the opinions of other solo travellers. I found that not all youth hostels offer optimal services for solo travellers. Ask yourself the following questions: Is the accommodation welcoming for those travelling alone? Is there a common room to meet other travellers? Is the accommodation in a safe area? You will probably find the answers to these questions by reading the comments of other travellers.
  • Make a note of important phone numbers and save a copy of your identification documents. This is a “safe” advice to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this: our phone has no battery and we don’t know how to get to the hotel or we have to take a flight but our passport is lost/ has been stolen.
  • Find out more about night transport. It really depends on the region you are travelling in. In some countries, private buses are recommended, in others night trains are preferred. The best thing is to find out in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • If necessary, buy a local SIM card. Having a mobile phone that works everywhere and having access to the Internet, even when you are lost on a street where no one speaks English or French, can help you find your way back.
  • Keep in touch with your family and friends. When you are travelling you are immersed in another world and (almost) forget that there are our friends and families somewhere on earth. However, it is important to give them news of us. First because they will be delighted that we are sharing this adventure with them and then because it can reassure them that everything is fine on our side
  • Trust your instincts. If you talk to strangers, you don’t have to tell them that you are travelling alone. Trust your instincts. If you are approached on the street and you are not comfortable, show that you have confidence and that you know your way…
  • But above all… Have confidence in yourself! It’s the best we can give you. You have an unforgettable experience so enjoy the trip and live your adventure to the full! And then, come and share your experience with us 🙂


Ressources & useful links

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