Travel Tips for Solo Female (Male!) Travelers 

Some of the questions I’m asked the most often revolve around if I get scared traveling alone as a woman or if I feel safe in the more dangerous countries around the world. Personally, I get freaked out the most by the hypothetical scenarios I make up in my head rather than what might realistically happen to me. I think its like this for most people. We become afraid of what we hear on the news without realistically understanding how low the probability is of actually having an issue.

I traveled to 72 countries with my family and friends by the time I was 18 so when I started traveling solo I already had enough experience to feel comfortable navigating airports, cities, etc.. On that note, I have a lot of recommendations for women who don’t have much prior travel experience but are ready to start exploring the world, regardless of whether or not their family, friends or partners can join them.

The first thing I recommend to other women is to gradually transition into solo travel- go on a trip with your friends (if possible) and start in places with infrastructure for tourism like Europe or South East Asia. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too dangerous because all you need to navigate the world safely is common sense. Bad things can happen anywhere at any time so you shouldn’t let fear dictate what you do with your time. 

Planning Ahead

Create the Illusion that You Know What You’re Doing

Booking everything in advance has become somewhat taboo throughout the vagabond movement because people think that it leaves less opportunity for spontaneity. I agree with this to a certain extent because you aren’t as flexible in places like Europe or South East Asia but planning has been a essential part of my safety while traveling, especially in countries with bad reputations. It would have been impossible to travel to every country without a very structured itinerary. Make no mistake though, spontaneous adventures will find you whether or not you specifically allotted time for them. When I’m alone I always have flights and hotels booked ahead of time so I don’t end up on the street without a place to stay. This aspect can be more flexible for men but unfortunately as a woman its never been something I’ve been willing to risk.

I always have a general idea where I’m going so I don’t look like a lost target waiting to be preyed upon by someone trying to scam me. It also helps to budget how much money you’ll need for a trip. I usually plan on spending at least $50 a day and have an emergency reserve. I bring at least $1000 USD in cash on trips over two weeks just in case there are any problems with my debit card. Running out of money and having no way to access more is scary and can be easily avoided.

If you’re really nervous about going to a new country, I highly recommend hiring a local English speaking guide to show you around, at least for the first day. You can usually ask around for someone at any hotel or hostel. It can be a bit pricey but its definitely worth it & you’ll see the place from the perspective of a local which is always good idea.

What to Wear

Here’s some advice specifically for women who want to travel off the beaten path: Always do your homework. Research the country that you’re traveling to before you start packing. Would it be appropriate to expose my thighs and shoulders? Do I need to bring a hijab? Would I feel socially awkward if I wore this?

Always make sure to google the religion of a country before going there because you would be surprised. Understand the basics of Islamic culture to avoid being disrespectful. For example, in the capital of Maldives, Mali, you are not permitted to wear a bikini on the beach because of the strict Islamic culture. Or you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that abayas are mandatory in Saudi Arabia, but hijab are not. Unlike some female influencers, I don’t have the budget to go out and buy stylish long dresses, abayas etc. but I’ve found the old, baggy clothes buried deep in my closet will manage just fine. Little things like this can help you keep the costs of your trip down because believe it or not, the most expensive places to travel are the least visited countries in the world. The right scarf can be used as a headscarf and a skirt if you’re resourceful. Try to be the least attractive as possible, trust me, you’ll feel so much more comfortable. I call this look below “Please don’t sexually harass me” 

How to Take Good Photos of Yourself

Unless you’re dating a professional photographer, the reality is no one is going to take great photos of you. Which is fine because if you’re independent enough to travel alone the first place, you can learn how to do it yourself. Tripods, self timers etc. are all good options. My personal favorite and what I do for 90% of my photos is asking strangers or new friends to take photos for me. It’s good to profile people who have a big camera or look young enough to have an idea of what you’re going for. If there’s no one like that around then set up the exact frame of the shot first, then ask someone. Over explain. Show them the exact angle you’re looking for and show them where you’re going to stand. Ask them to take a bunch of photos and pray that they’ll get a decent shot but be prepared to be slightly disappointed. Usually random people will never take as good of a photo as you would yourself but I’ve gotten really lucky! 

Advice for More ‘Advanced’ Destinations

As I mentioned above, having a plan is really important in lesser visited countries- can’t stress that enough. Things work very differently in Africa and the Middle East than they do in the US or Europe. If you want to travel to offbeat places, you’re going to have to get comfortable with people staring at you- especially if you’re a white woman. This has actually been one of the things I’ve struggled with the most during the past year. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where everyone on the street is staring at you for whatever reason. These looks can feel like judgmental scowls and I’ve felt peoples eyes burning holes through me countless times. It thickens the skin. Attitude is everything. Recognize that smiling in certain cultures can be considered a sign of weakness so don’t always smile but carry the energy as if you are. Sometimes you’ll have to pretend to be in a good mood because more often then not, bad things happen to people with a bad attitude. 

Common Sense

Above all, common sense is the most important thing you can bring with you when you’re traveling alone. If you’re on a tight budget, know in advance exactly how much your taxi from the airport to the hotel should cost to avoid being ripped off. Only use certified taxis and don’t be afraid to ask to see their certifications if they’re using their personal cars. Know what the proper currency exchanges are and avoid changing money at a higher rate from the airport if possible. Don’t follow anyone you just met into secluded areas under any circumstances, especially at night. The two best pieces of advice I could give to a women traveling alone is 1. Don’t get uncontrollably intoxicated and 2. Don’t go out alone at night unless you’re with other people. These are very simple, somewhat straight edge and boring rules but following them has kept me out of trouble 100% of the time.

Another really important social skill I’ve cultivated is when I’m walking around markets or shops and men are breathing down my neck trying to hustle me. I either don’t acknowledge them or I tell them to take a step back. Don’t let strangers think they can take advantage of you. Confidence is key. All of these tips might sound obvious but you would be surprised how easy it is to make mistakes when you simply aren’t being mindful. 

Traveling alone is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself, regardless of your gender. After traveling to 190 countries, I can say for certain that women do not have to live in fear of the world as long as you move with awareness and common sense. 

I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen because they most certainly do. However, terrible things and scary people can be found anywhere in the world. That doesn’t mean that you should live your life in fear and miss out on the experiences that will change your life.

Be smart, have fun & change the world ladies!