What does it mean to be a solo female traveler? How do you become a solo female traveler? Can a woman do a solo trip? Is it OK to travel alone?
These are the essentials you need to know about what it means to travel alone as a woman, told by a woman (me, Gabby!) who actually travels the world alone.
When I first started solo traveling, I was very young and perhaps a little naive. But over the last decade, I've mastered the art of adventuring alone and learned how to do it as safely as possible.
As a young female traveler, you may be intimidated by the thought of going to a new destination on your own. Questions like “Will I be safe?” or “What's the real benefit of going alone?” might be swirling around your head – and that's where I come in!
This is your starter guide to solo travel as a young woman, with info, advice, and insights I've collected from my years of trial and error.
What is a solo female traveler?
A solo female traveler is very simply a woman who travels, for any length of time, and usually for leisure or enjoyment, by herself.
I've been traveling alone for almost ten years. I took my first solo trip at just 17, so after a decade of experience, I can honestly say solo travel is one of the best adventures you can give yourself.
3 examples of solo female travel:
Jessica might have a group trip planned for her 30th birthday. She and three girlfriends talked about going to Hawaii for six days. However, her friends flake and say they can no longer afford to go one month before the trip.
Jessica decides to keep her reservations and take the trip on her own. She mostly stays in her accommodations and by the local beach, and fills her time by reading, swimming, and chatting up other travelers at the tiki beach bar.
Lily is 19 years old and just got her first passport. She wants to go on a more meaningful winter break trip, but her friends want to drive to Miami and party. She searches online and finds a work exchange in Costa Rica, working at a hostel in exchange for free accommodation and meals.
Lily decides to go for it and flies to Costa Rica—having never been there before, not knowing anyone, and stays for two weeks. She meets tons of new friends in the hostel she works in, and they explore the island together. She's traveling solo, but she's rarely alone!
Diana is a 68-year-old retiree. Her husband died last year, and so she is now a widower. They always talked about doing a Mediterranean cruise for their 40th wedding anniversary.
Diana decides to go on the cruise even though her husband is gone. Diana works with a travel agent to organize the trip and goes alone. She keeps to herself the whole trip, and it's the first time she realizes she's gotten to wake up with no plan and act on whatever whims she has that day.
Many women have never thought about venturing out to a new state, new city, or new country without their family or friends. Many women might struggle to understand why a woman would want to go alone when we live in such a dangerous world.
But I'm here to tell you it is worth every minute.
Is solo female travel safe? 😰
Solo female travel is not inherently dangerous. At least, not any more so than it is to exist as a woman in any other circumstance. Anything that could happen to you abroad could happen while at “home.”
…are you American?
Being from a big city such as Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington DC, Miami, or New York City has likely prepared you with the street smarts and intuition to travel safely more than you might think!
(Seriously. We're the country on other countries' red lists. It's not as bad out there as you think, and it's worse in here than you think…)
Many factors affect a woman's safety while traveling… same as at home
Safety as a solo female traveler varies based on many factors, including race, sexuality, gender identity, “pretty privilege,” class, behavior, and more.
To be honest, generalizing any city or country as safe for the solo female traveler is a disservice. There are safer parts of a city than others for all people, and there are safer parts of the country for tourists than others.
Experience is everything!
Of course, you will have a better, safer experience traveling solo as a woman if you have as much information and advice as possible.
Knowledge is power, and while I recommend preparing and researching the destination before any trip, I consider it essential if you want to travel alone.
Which are safe countries for women to travel alone?
Although there is no right and wrong when it comes to solo travel, there are certain countries that have impressive security measures within their infrastructure that many people find comforting.
No destination is be perfect—but there's no harm in starting your solo journey to a destination with a positive reputation amongst other female travelers.
And if your ultimate bucket list solo vacation spot isn't on this list, don't let that stop you! As I said, certain parts of a country may be safer to explore than others, so a little independent research may be able to help you decide if a solo trip to any part of the world could work for you.
If you're open to suggestions, let me recommend a few places that I personally felt very safe in. Below is a list of countries that I have found relatively safe for a Black, young, solo female traveler:
10 SAFE countries for solo female travelers! (from my experience)
After my decade of solo female travel, there are a few places that I think make amazing first-time trips for any young woman. While my experience will be unique to yours, these are the places I felt welcome by the communities, safe to explore throughout the day, and would definitely go back alone and with friends!
Think of this as your starter pack for solo female travel destinations. If you're feeling any doubt or confusion about where in the world is good to visit alone, this list is made for you:
- United Arab Emirates
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
Is solo female travel lonely?
I don't think solo female travel is lonely. People who can't be alone find themselves feeling lonely no matter where they are.
People—especially women—who are used to constantly thinking of the wants and needs of others—their partners, their children, their families, their friends—may find the sudden quiet and autonomy of solo female travel overwhelming.
…But that's why I think everyone should try it.
Learning to be alone and enjoy your own company for a prolonged period of time is an amazing way to reconnect with yourself. What are your dreams right now? Your goals? Things you need to work on? Traveling solo can teach you so much about who you are; quality alone time is the best gift you can give yourself!
And, if it's any consolation, you probably won't be alone the entire time. In my experience, traveling solo as a woman is a great way to meet new friends and spark conversation during your travels!
Do I think solo female traveler is easy? Not always! But it never has to be lonely.
Why should you try traveling alone as a woman?
Solo trips are often the first time women have complete autonomy over every aspect of their day. So often, our schedules revolve around our partners, friends, or children, making sure everyone else is happy and that peace is kept. During a solo leisure trip, a woman's focus is her enjoyment alone—and that is very empowering.
I am always asked: Aren't you scared to travel alone as a woman? What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you because you were solo? Aren't you lonely without a partner or friends with you? How does a woman make friends while traveling?
These are very typical and very smart questions, which I have answered time and time again. However, I believe these questions come from a fear of the unknown. Many women have never had many life-changing experiences or made big decisions without the input from or influence of their close family or friends.
Society tells women: we are weak. We are defenseless and need the protection of men and communities to survive, let alone enjoy our life. Society tells us this story so often—in TV shows, movies, and terrifying news stories—we women have come to accept it.
But this is precisely the myth that solo female travel disrupts.Society tells women: we are weak. But this is precisely the myth that solo female travel disrupts. Click To Tweet
What are the benefits of solo female travel?
You make your own decisions! Do whatever you want!
The solo female traveler gets to decide what time she wakes up. She decides if she wants to keep her plans for the day or abandon them and do something else. She decides what she wants to eat and when she wants to eat it. She's allowed to be instinctual, spontaneous, and explore her true desires without judgment. She's totally in control.
For me, this was always the most appealing part about traveling alone. But I understand that other women have different reasons for wanting to travel solo. Many women might find complete freedom to be the most frightening part.
When you've always made decisions and planned as part of a unit, it can be overwhelming to suddenly be in charge of booking flights, arranging accommodations, researching current events, etc., let alone trying to make friends and enjoy your adventure!
Whether total control is a challenge or a thrill, I know the change of pace will benefit every single woman who embraces the unknown of solo travel.
The challenge of traveling on your own is one that every single woman in the world tries at least once. Not everyone will have a great experience—but solo travel gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself and the world around you.
Would you have stopped into that cafe your friend had said they weren't in the mood? What could you have discovered trying that coffee in a new place? Who might you have met? What could you have crossed off of your bucket list if you could have gone to the destinations you wanted to go to?
If you had gone on that trip solo and your hotel did cancel last minute, maybe you would have discovered how resourceful and capable you are of handling issues.
Suppose you had gone on that trip (the one all of your friends bailed on) by yourself. In that case, you might have been lonely—but you also might have discovered how much you love your own company or how great you are at making new friends.
Traveling solo as a woman is the ultimate speed hack. As a party of one, you rarely have to make restaurant reservations—you can almost always find a seat at the bar or a table for one!
Even at events or in lines, when people see a solo woman, they are more likely to make her an exception. They might let you skip the line, or the flight attendant might give you an extra blanket or glass of champagne. I don't know how many times I've been allowed into a fun new club or made a custom dish by the chef because I was on my own!
Take the risk and book the trip
There are things about yourself and the world around us that we can only discover when we ultimately have room to be ourselves. A woman doesn't become a solo female traveler when she's alone—she becomes one when she's free.
As cliche as it sounds, the things that scare us most often teach us the most valuable lessons! If venturing out into this world on your own feels intimidating, take it one step at a time and embrace that nervous-but-excited feeling in the pit of your stomach!
I promise that a little time away from everything will at least teach you more about who you are.
Solo female travel has changed my life. It gave me a dream career, a chance to see the world, and a deeper sense of self-confidence than ever before.
If you've been having thoughts about taking a solo trip, do it. I think you'll find the experience empowering as hell, and at the very least, you can enjoy a drink with no one to interrupt you.
Where would you like to go on your first solo trip? Let me know in the comments below!
Don't forget to join the Young Travelers Network Group for more advice from fellow solo travelers.
You have written such an elaborate post on a question I always get. I am a solo female backpacker myself, travelling for the last two years, and I really appreciate the post
New Zealand is high on my bucket list. By the way, you could add Switzerland to the list as well. That is my personal experience.
Thanks for that opinion, I totally agree though I’ve only spent just a few hours there on my visits so I would not be able to say quite yet—it’s definitely a place often mentioned as safe 🙂
I’ve been travelling solo for years (my first trip was in 1992!) & completely agree with all your points. I lost my husband 8 years ago & reacquainted myself with travelling alone again. I haven’t looked back. It has allowed me to heal & grieve on my terms. I’ve made heaps of friends around the world & had a lot of adventures that I know would never have happened if I was with someone else. Everyone should experience solo travel at least once (although after the first time, it becomes addictive!).
Thanks for your sharing. I’m also a female and would like to have a solo travel or working holiday experience in Japan Your tips are useful and informative 🙂