Deciding to take your first solo trip can be daunting, especially as a female, so I came up with a handy dandy list of solo female travel tips for all the badass ladies out there. I’m a huge advocate of planning ahead, avoiding the easy pitfalls, and having the most amazing adventures around the world. Read on for the top solo female travel mistakes to avoid on your first (and all subsequent) trips!
1 | Ignoring your instincts
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a solo female traveler is to ignore your instincts. Yes, this is super vague, but if your instincts are telling you something is wrong, trust them. Get out of the situation and put yourself in a place where you feel safe. Basically, I have a rule that if I ever feel uncomfortable in any way or with anybody, I’m out of there faster than 12-year old me chased the ice cream truck (it was very fast.)
2| Failing to share travel plans
Before I leave for a trip, I ALWAYS send my parents a rough itinerary. When you’re traveling solo, it’s important to have a safety net and someone to check in on you if it’s too long between Insta posts. You don’t need to share every detail of the trip, but I do always share hostel info and dates, flights, and if I’ll be away from the city (and/or wifi) for longer than the day.
3| Not researching local culture
For some trips, this is less important than others, but if you’re traveling to a more conservative country, or even a country with unique customs, it helps to be prepared. Plus, I try and always learn the basics in the language: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc. I admit that I 100% failed in Iceland, but that’s only because their words were quite a mouthful! In Icelandic, this is thank you: Þakka þér fyrir. Anyone sure on the pronunciation? No? Glad I’m not the only one!
4 | Becoming too trusting of new friends
This one is basically a scene from the movie Taken. Don’t tell strangers you’re travelling along or where you’re staying. If I meet someone on a train, plane, or wherever, I’m always polite but don’t volunteer extra information. If someone specifically asks if I’m travelling solo, I’ll usually say that I’m meeting up with my (fake) boyfriend, friends, family later.
5 | Avoiding your own company
On your first solo travel trip, you might be tempted to try and pack in as much as possible, stay at hostels, and make a million friends. That’s all great, but make sure to pencil in some solo time too. One of my favorite things about staying at hostels is the social atmosphere, so I love hanging out there in the evenings or going to dinner with new friends; however, I like to balance that with doing all sorts of awesome day activities on my own. Everyone has their own perfect balance, but just make sure to focus on you…this is the time to do everything you want to without worrying about anyone else. Take advantage!
6 | Being unprepared for an emergency
Let’s be real, you never want to be unprepared for an emergency. But you REALLY don’t want to be unprepared when you’re thousands of miles from home without a working cell phone and you don’t speak the language. A few things I like to do before trips are jot down local emergency numbers, find the nearest US embassy, and downloading offline maps and translation apps. You also want to make sure you have plenty of cash, and don’t keep it all in one place. I’ll spread my cash and cards out between different bags in the event that something bad does occur.
7 | Displaying expensive items
Again, this goes whether you’re traveling solo or with a group, but make sure to leave your flashy jewelry at home. Also, keep an eye on expensive cameras, and even your phone in some places. This obviously depends on the place and time, but it’s smart to just be aware. When you’re strolling through cities along, flashing expensive items makes you a greater target, and the goal is to blend in as much in possible. As a very tall blonde, I have enough issues with this.
8 | Not staying vigilant
Make sure to always keep your eyes open and on high alert. When walking around quiet areas (even during the day), I don’t listen to music and only use my phone when necessary (aka whenever I’m lost). The same thing goes with drinking…I love to have fun, but when you’re traveling solo, the only person looking out for you is you, so keep your wits about you!
9 | Arriving at new destinations in the dark
Ok, I know this one can be tempting…the flight that awkwardly lands at 2AM is often much cheaper than the daytime options…but unless there’s a safe way to make it to my destination, I don’t want to risk it. If you have shuttle options, Uber, etc. then go for it. However, I’m not into walking around new cities by myself in the dark trying to find my hotel or hostel.
10 | Over scheduling your trip
It’s never fun trying to fit too much into a trip, but overscheduling the beginning and end of your trip when traveling solo is even more difficult. If you’ve just taken a long haul flight, give yourself an easy first day to get acclimated. For your last day, you’ll probably be a little worn down after having so much fun, and also having to take care of all of the logistics on your own. Give yourself plenty of time to pack, get to the airport, and whatever else you need to do. No need to rush!
Traveling solo is an amazing experience, and this guide is definitely NOT meant to scare you, just give you a little edge when you’re flying solo. With these solo female travel tips, you should be able to avoid any issues and have the trip of a lifetime!
For more recommendations, check out my guide to talking to family about solo travel (click) and a first-timer’s guide to staying in a hostel (here). If you’re looking for great solo female travel destinations, some of my favorites are Iceland (click), Prague (click), and Portugal (click). I have plenty of other great guides on my site, to be sure to check them out! Have you traveled solo? Do you have any other tips, suggestions, or solo female travel mistakes to avoid? Let me know in the comments!