More and more women are traveling alone. But solo travel for women, is still a scary idea for many. And that's okay. But the bottom line is, just because you're scared of something doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.
"Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear." -George Adair-
Take a deep breath, relax, and let's discuss some common fears about solo travel for women.
10 common fears about solo female travel and how to overcome them:
"It's not safe."
This may be the foremost fear. This is a perfectly legit concern for EVERY traveler. This is something you have to keep in mind any time you are traveling. There's a few workarounds here. First of all, there are some countries that are known to be safer places in regards to solo travel for women, than others. So you can start by picking one of these as your destination.
Secondly, I think it's common knowledge that there is safety in numbers. So, particularly if this is your first time as women traveling alone, consider travelling as part of a group for some, or even all of the trip. There are many great options for solo female travelers out there. While you may see some debate about whether traveling as part of a group is "true" solo travel if you're part of online conversations in solo travel groups, I personally dislike anyone being shamed for this. It is YOUR trip, and YOU get to decide how you want to travel.
Thirdly, while you simply can't control everything in terms of safety, there are a number of precautions to take. From cross-body bags, to not drinking too much to being aware of your surroundings, you can be smart about safety.
"I'm too old to be a solo female traveler."
Here is another common fear. I can confidently tell you, YOU'RE NOT! Whether you're 25 or 55 or even 75, there are destinations, tour companies and travel communities that are a fit for you. With a little bit of research you will find your kind of people. I personally have traveled with groups that included solo travelers who were 18 to 30-somethings to a 70+ year old. And you know what? Some one of the best friendships was born between the oldest and the youngest!
"Who will I eat with?"
Many women are worried about dining alone. The truth is, most solo travelers find that it is actually EASIER to meet people when they are on their own. I am one of those. Locals, hotel staff, guides have often gone out of their way to get to know me and some have become life-long friends. Plus, there are many great ways to meet people while you're traveling. One of my moves is to join a free walking tour, which many cities around the world offer these days. When I was in Rio (which btw I consider a scary destination for a solo traveler), I made two friends who made the rest of my time there an absolute blast! Lastly, there are going to be times when you are going to have to make do with your own company. Enjoy the freedom of this, and get to know yourself in a different way as all the roles everyday life forces upon you fall away. Savor every bite of your meal. And guess what...you don't have to share your dessert!
"I'm worried it's going to be too expensive."
I'm always honest in saying that solo travel can cost more than traveling with others. BUT it doesn't have to. If you have made the decision to travel with a group, choose a tour company or package that doesn't charge a single supplement, and/or will match you with a roommate. In other ways, solo travel can actually be cheaper. Since you and only you, are making all the decisions - you don't have to compromise on where you stay, what you eat or what you do. So you can choose what suits your budget!
"What if I get lost?!"
Again, a valid fear. In reality this rarely happens. At least someone getting good and lost. Getting lost is something you can have a plan for. And technology is your friend. Google Maps can be downloaded to your device so even if there is no wifi connection, you can navigate. Google Translate is another good tool that can come in handy if you need to ask for help. Or carry a pocket dictionary if you don't feel comfortable relying on technology. Take the business card of your accommodation so you can hand it to a taxi driver, ask for directions or call if you need to. And remember, sometimes getting lost makes for a great adventure, and even better story to tell when you get back home.
"I feel guilty leaving my [partner, children, , parent, pet] behind."
Your loved ones should NOT make you feel bad about following your dream to travel. They should support and encourage you. This isn't always the case unfortunately. Caring, but misguided family members, almost triggered me cancel my trip to Colombia with all their worrying. A couple close friends took me out for drinks and set me straight; reminding me I was organized, knew what I was doing and would be just fine. Spoiler alert. I was!
Naturally, they are going to be worried about you. I'm a 40-something woman AND a Travel Advisor, and my momma still worries every time I leave. Ask them to trust you and reassure them that you've done your research and will be okay. And set times to check in if that helps. Definitely one of the benefits of technology is that we can connect from anywhere. Just keep the time change in mind!
"I'm going to be lonely."
This can happen. And it's okay to feel this way. Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp can help. Get in touch with your people. If it makes you feel more comfortable, plan to call at specific times. I will often text back and forth too if I'm feeling especially lonely, or I have something I just HAVE to share! But honestly, I often find I'm so busy and meet so many awesome people that loneliness doesn't creep up so often.
"I'm not confident enough to travel on my own."
I didn't think I was the first time either. But my desire to see the world outweighed the fear. Listen, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Like anything new. Start small and build. In fact, you can start practicing right now. Go out to dinner on your own. Go to a movie alone. I think it's good for everyone to do these things anyhow! You don't have to take a year off work to travel the world. Plan for a weekend away on your own. Or as already suggested, join a group so you don't have to do everything on your own. I have found details count. When I first began to travel solo, I had much planned down to the smallest detail. If you don't know where to start, hire a travel advisor to plan for you.
"It's better to travel with others."
Is it really though? There are pros and cons to both traveling alone, and traveling with others. In fact many myths exist about group travel. Seven Myths about Group Tours Debunked I will say that the sense of complete freedom that you have when you travel solo is incomparable. Liberating. Invigorating. You can do whatever you want. Whenever you want. No need to compromise. I can also say that traveling alone has boosted my confidence, improved my problem-solving skills, allowed me to learn new things about myself and just generally made me happier away and when I get back home. This is really only the tip of the iceberg. Honestly, I still choose to travel solo at least once a year, even if I have others I could travel with.
"What if I'm not brave enough?"
It all comes down to this. Fear is a tricky beast. It's not often rational and logic isn't going to shake it. You can make a gazillion excuses for not wanting to travel on your own. However. If you're tired of seeing everyone else post their incredible travel pictures, and are ready to take some of your own, then there is no doubt about what to do. Stop letting your fear hold you back and take that trip you've been dreaming of.
If you're ready to start planning, I would be honoured to help you. I'm a professional Travel Advisor who delights in helping solo female travelers in particular. Contact me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's get started together now.
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