One of Travel Fashion Girl’s readers recently asked me for some tips on traveling alone as a woman vs traveling with friends. I thought I’d share my answer with you!
Traveling Alone as a Woman: Pros and Cons
I really enjoy your tips for traveling and I love your packing lists! QQ – do you travel solo? Or, do you travel with a friend or go to locations where you have friends / family? I plan to do quite a bit of traveling in the next year, but would like some tips for women traveling solo. Thanks!
I traveled solo
For the first three years I traveled solo and and then for the past five years I’ve traveled as a couple. Even in a relationship I still do take trips alone and I’ve traveled with friends on short trips.
To be honest, I much prefer my travel experience as a solo traveler instead of with other people. When you travel with another person you tend to close yourself off from others. You know you have the security of that person by your side and the trip is about your experience together.
The biggest downside of traveling with other people such as your friends is that sometimes you’re not on the same page. They might have different ideas about how they want to spend their time abroad. Perhaps they want a lavish dinner every night where you might prefer a low-key budget meal. They may love the local nightlife but you might prefer soaking in the culture.
If you travel with others you must be clear about your expectations from the beginning. It’s not uncommon for couples, friends, or family to argue when they’re traveling if things such as food, money, activities, etc haven’t been discussed before booking the trip.
Also, you get to see someone in a whole new light when you’re traveling. You really see their true nature. Unless you’re used to spending 24 hours every single day with someone, it may be quite a shock – and not a good one.
Unless someone is 100% in tune with my travel style, I prefer to travel alone.
If you want to travel but aren’t 100% ready to go solo, try an organized tour to get your started. Before I knew about the possibility of solo travel I took tours to South America and Africa with G Adventures and highly recommend this as a way to get comfortable with the idea of traveling alone.
Meet other travelers
Traveling solo is amazing and not as scary as you would think. Part of the fun for me is always meeting other travelers. Even now that I travel as a couple I still make an effort to meet other travelers because it adds to the fun. The best places to meet other travelers are hostel common rooms, hotel lobbies, airports, travel-friendly restaurants, and on organized tours.
At home, people tend to stick to the same circle of friends. It’s rare to venture out and meet others when you already know people. Traveling is a great chance to explore the world and learn about other cultures not just the one from the country where you’re visiting. By talking with other travelers you can gain new insight about so many things.
One of the my favorite things about meeting other travelers is that they also have some of the best travel tips. They may have just been to where you’re going or they might have heard a top secret place not found online or in guidebooks. This is how I’ve discovered beautiful places I would’ve otherwise never known to visit.
One of the best places to meet other travelers is on transportation. It’s easy to say hi or join in on a conversation when you’re sitting so close to others. In fact, I met my husband on a bus going from Vietnam to Laos! Next time you sit on tour shuttles, long distance buses, or other traveler transportation – smile and start a conversation.
As far as safety is concerned it’s always essential to be aware of your surroundings when you’re traveling alone as a woman. In fact, you probably have to exercise the same element of precaution at home, too. There are a few basic things you should do at home and abroad:
- Wear your purse across your body not hung loosely off your shoulder
- Keep your valuables in a discreet location. Learn where here.
- If you’re lost, go inside a store or restaurant instead of losing your guard
- Don’t drink so much that you black out
- Avoid walking in dark streets alone late at night
I highly recommend using a bra stash to hide your money and your cards. Always keep your passport locked away in your bag, locker, or safe. Never carry it in your purse to go sightseeing! Learn more about keeping your passport safe.
Don’t let safety put you off from going anywhere. Just always be aware!
Alone time whenever you want
The cool thing about traveling alone as a woman is that you can have “me” time whenever you want but if you want to meet other travelers then you have the option to do that as well. Remember, you have to put yourself out there and smile.
Ask someone where they’re from and where they’re traveling. People love to brag about their travel experience. Ask insightful questions and be a great listener, too.
If you have new pals to share experiences with that’s great. You might find that when everyone arrives to Paris they’re heading to the eiffel tower, in Cairo they’ll be going to see the Pyramids, or in Saigon they’re going to the Vietnam War Museum. It’s easy to join others to popular tourist attractions. However, if you prefer to enjoy the day on your own, you can do that, too.
Sometimes I’ve invited people to join me on my day or vice versa and the nice thing is that you have the option to say yes or no without hurting their feelings. If you’re traveling with someone you know you might feel obligated to do whatever they want to do and this can ruin your experience.
The beauty about traveling alone is that you don’t have to follow anyone’s itinerary but your own.
The best thing about traveling alone as a woman is the feeling of empowerment. You get to challenge yourself, get to your strengths, and yourself. It’s your trip and your experience. You can make it what you want and have as big or as little of an adventure as you want!
Do you travel alone or with friends? Share your stories in the comment!
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