“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Travel is an amazing opportunity we humans have, should we be bold enough to take it! I either just won your heart with that LOTR quote or you’re thinking this is a very nerdy blog.
Either way, I’ve got 7 concrete tips for traveling alone as a female. Let’s dive right in!
1 Book Group Activities
Traveling alone is an amazing experience for any soul. It strengthens us, teaches us, and gives us time to do an internal State of the Union if you will, to reflect on our current place in life. However impactful solo travel may be, we are still humans in need of community and connection. After a few meals alone, things can start to feel a bit lonely. We still crave a tribe and sense of belonging, even on the road.
While in London I spent about 70% of my trip solo, and the other 30% with people.
I wasn’t meeting people on the street or in bars. I connected in what I felt like was a much safer and more secure way. I booked through Airbnb! Airbnb is fabulous for more than just a place to rest your head at night! They offer boatloads of experiences in different cities, including everything from walking tours, cooking classes, to photo shoots, and bar crawls.
This gives you the opportunity to explore the city you’re visiting with the safety and company of other travelers, in addition to a knowledgeable host that’s local to the area. You can read the ratings and reviews of the hosts for each Airbnb experience to get a feel for what to expect, and ensure it feels like a safe and cool option for you.
I booked two experiences while in London, a Harry Potter walking tour and a one-hour photoshoot at a local cafe. Both were AMAZING and my trip truly wouldn’t have been the same without them!
2 Be Careful What You Wear
I got this tip from a coworker who also travels the world with Tony Robbins for events. We were discussing solo travel as females and the potential risks involved. That’s when she laid this tip on me. Dress inconspicuously. Especially in airports, on trains, and when taking public transportation or commuting to a location. Dark clothes, a hoodie, a ball cap, they’ll all aid in helping you NOT get noticed, which is really the goal when it comes to avoiding human traffickers, thieves, or anyone looking to take advantage of a tourist.
I of all people get the appeal of donning your cutest outfit, heels, matching handbag etc. when in an exciting new city. But save those pieces for when you’re in a 100% safe environment, where it’s not going to put you at risk to be looking like a million bucks. Save anything flashy for another time.
For my London photoshoot I wore a big overcoat to conceal my outfit underneath and didn’t take it off until I was at my shoot location and in the company of the female photographer I was meeting.
3 Stay Calm When Issues Arise
Being in a foreign city can truly escalate the intensity of any issues that arise. You’re isolated, you’re in an unknown area, and you really only have yourself to rely on.
Naturally if things start to go south during your solo travels it’s going to feel 10 times scarier than if you were in your own neighborhood.
The best advice I can give you is to stay calm and manage your emotions. Let me repeat that last part, manage your emotions. Don’t let them run away with you.
If your heart starts to pound, your palms get sweaty, and your brain goes haywire you’re going to be of little use to yourself in the moment of crisis. You MUST clear your mind and calm your body down so that you can make the most intelligent decision to lead you back to safety.
Additionally, you do not want to draw the attention of potential predators if you’re in a less than desirable area. Hyperventilating, crying, looking around in a panic-stricken way are all dead give-aways that you are vulnerable.
I had a little scare myself at the conclusion of the Harry Potter tour I took. The Airbnb tour host and other tour participants had scattered in different directions at the end of the tour, and I was left on a sidewalk in central London with the light swiftly fading behind the buildings around me.
I had been using Uber to get around London, thinking that would be safer than their underground tubes. I fished for my phone out of my backpack and tapped for an Uber to meet me at my location.
Something I hadn’t thought of is that London has extremely old, crazy, crooked, one-way streets that zip around buildings, that sometimes make no sense at all. I saw my Uber stopped on the map but I could not make out how to get to him. After running up and down the street looking for the car on the app, I actually ran across the street, hoping to find him there. No luck. I phoned him. He told me he was outside “Paddywagon.” What the hell is Paddywagon, I thought to myself, searching the storefronts around me for a sign. Nothing.
I apologized and told him I wasn’t from the area and wasn’t sure where he was. I kept giving him my coordinates but he said he wasn’t able to turn around. Defeated and not sure what else to do, I told him I’d eat the cancellation fee and scratch the ride.
It was growing darker and I was looking very out of place. My Airbnb was a good 20-minute ride away and I did not want to try and navigate the tubes on my own after dark.
In this moment I really started to panic. Looking at the twisting roads on the Uber app made no sense to me at all, most likely because I was in a frenzied state. Eventually I called another Uber and had the same issue to my growing dismay. Desperate, I ran up to two different tables outside a local pub showing them my Uber app and asking how to get to where the car was parked. The second table was able to point me in the right direction and I FOUND MY UBER. After sliding into the car, relief washing over me, the friendly Iranian driver relayed that this was a really tricky area of Uber pickups. Noted, I thought to myself dryly.
4 Pick up the Essentials
One of the first things I like to do upon arriving in a new city is walk to a local grocery store to pick up a few essentials. Spare yourself the bacteria, heavy metals, and fluoride found in tap water worldwide. I ALWAYS stock up on bottled water and drink like a mad woman. Planes and travel are already so taxing on the body, I never want to add dehydration to the mix.
I also grab some healthy bars and produce if they have it for on-the-go snacks and to cut back on eating out costs. Plus, you never know when you may have a travel delay and need some fuel in a pinch!
5 Pack Light
This has been a lifelong skill I’ve worked on. It does NOT come naturally. But it will save you so much hassle having not only one suitcase, but a light one. After all, it’s you that will be the one lugging it around the entire trip. I aim to get everything into my Away carryon. My trick? Re-wearing a few basics and wearing my bulkiest items ON the plane. It’s worked really well so far!
This allows for you to maneuver through airports easier and not draw as much attention as you would having multiple bulky suitcases to struggle with.
For Europe, don’t forget that all carryon liquids are limited to one clear plastic bag. Save yourself the struggle of hunting for them inside your carryon and stuffing them into a plastic baggy while in the security line like I had to (the British TSA agents were NOT amused) and do it ahead of time.
6 Take Advantage of Being Alone
Go where YOU want, when YOU want. Eat what YOU want. Sleep as late as YOU want. Do it allll. It’s really the coolest part of solo travel. You have a city at your fingertips and the itinerary is completely inside your own mind. Dream big, make it happen!
Find an idealistic cafe and take time to journal and reflect over some local coffee (or matcha if you’re me).
Career, babies, care for elderly parents, financial obligations, and life in general can present a number of obstacles for solo travel, so do it while you can.
(The truth is you can ALWAYS do solo travel, but certain factors do make it more difficult. Don’t believe the lie that because of X you missed your chance for solo travel <3).
7 Plan Beforehand!
Not every city is solo-traveler friendly. Most of Europe will make the list, but you always want to do your research and check. I knew from speaking to other people that London Ubers would be a safe option for getting around the city. However, for example, taxis in Mexico are not something I would recommend for solo female travelers. Do your homework on the area and set yourself up for success, not regret!
Did I miss any solo travel tips for women? Comment below!
Photography by Emztography