10 Things to Know as a Female Solo Traveler
“I could never travel alone” This is a sentence that I hear quite a lot. I usually answer “Why not?” and the answers often include fear in general or fear of being alone, and that I must be very brave. Actually, I do not think that I am very brave at all and far from being fearless. I am afraid of so many things, mostly related to “Could I die doing that?”. The older I get, the more afraid I am. I remember as a teenager I could ride every rollercoaster and free-fall tower. By now, I already shit my pants when jumping two meters down into a pool – I am not kidding.
Also, I do not enjoy flying at all. I don’t like the feeling of turbulence, flying through clouds and different weather conditions. After every travel, I am thankful that I am still alive 😀 and I always have to remind myself that airplanes are by far the safest means of transport. A friend of mine is a pilot, I once asked him to explain a bunch of things to me when it comes to flying an airplane. So whenever I sit on a plane and it gets bumpy, I go through this conversation in my head, telling myself everything is fine. I know that this must sound ridiculous to you, since it feels like I am sitting on a plane every other week.
I don’t like flying, but I love where it takes me 😉
Read more about my travel passion: I was 15 when I stepped on a plane all on my own to fly on the other side of the world for the very first time
I usually travel all by myself, since most of my travels are business-related and unless there is a colleague who eventually booked the same flight, or if I go on a rare vacation with friends or family. Getting to the airport, going through security, hanging out at airports waiting for boarding, sitting on a plane for up to 12 hours, getting through immigration in various countries, finding my way in an unknown city (by rental car, Uber, taxi, public transport, and walking) becomes just part of the deal. I totally understand that all this might sound overwhelming, but trust me, once you are actually there, you will manage. Actually, you don’t have any other choice anyway 😉
I was thinking about a few things that I learned or noticed during all these years of traveling:
Things to know as a female solo traveler
1. Get comfortable with being on your own
I know that this is probably the hardest part for some people out there. The idea of being alone, I mean like being alone for longer than a few days, freaked me out a few years ago. By now, I can’t think of anything better than coming to an empty hotel room or apartment and just hang out by myself. I also enjoy exploring new places on my own (maybe not a hidden jungle trail with cell phone one service 😉 Does the idea of being in charge of all your decisions sparks joy? It takes away the stress of agreeing with others, compromising on plans, and so on. If you wake up in the morning and feel like doing something different than you planned the other day, then you just do it, or you do nothing at all, if you feel like it:)
2. Don’t be reckless, be confident
Traveling on your own, being responsible for yourself and no one else but yourself, and being the queen of your every day, will boost your confidence. However, do not mistake your newly discovered independence and self-esteem as being the unbreakable traveling superwoman. Things you should always inform yourself about:
3. Have a valid travel insurance
This might sound so obvious, but check your insurance, if you already have one if it covers the country you are traveling to. In all these years, I never had to actually use my insurance – fingers crossed – but there are things, which could happen that are out of your control, so better be safe.
4. Inform yourself about the area
If you are staying in an AirBnb or having some kind of a host at your accommodations, ask them about the area where you are staying. In particular, touristic areas are usually fine during the day, but things might change at night time. Some streets, which are busy during the day, might be quite empty at night when the stores and restaurants are closed. You may even want to check some local facebook groups, where you can ask for advice or read about recommendations.
5. Get yourself a local sim card
This is usually the first thing I do when I arrive in a new country and stay longer than only a few days. Almost everywhere you get cheap prepaid sim cards by now. Simply top it up with a few gigabytes of data and some credits for calls. Google, maps, and other apps are my daily helpers on all my travels. Furthermore, you can stay connected with all your social media friends, and send the daily Whatsapp message to your mother to tell her that you are fine. (I usually keep my Whatsapp connected to my main number, even when I put another sim card in my phone, like this I don’t have to give a new number to my friends and family, and usually nobody calls me anyway on my actual number, because I take care of all my calls using Facebook, Whatsapp, and Skype)
6. Be prepared to meet new friends
Unless it is just a few days stressful business trip, I always end up meeting new people, and some of them became really good friends by now. I don’t even plan it this way, things just happen – the girl that stays in the room next door when you arrive at your new accommodation and you spontaneously go for dinner together, the bloggers who came for a lunch to the same small local restaurant where I was eating every day, and you ended up talking about blogs and writing for hours,… the list continues.
7. Be also prepared to meet guys – if you want it or not
It is funny that many guys assume that – as a female solo traveler – you are desperate to find a man to rescue you from being alone 😀 (maybe this is your actual travel goal, but I just go with the assumption that it is not). I can’t count how many times I was just relaxing and enjoying sitting at the beach on my own. I had situations where it felt like someone tried to talk to me every 15 minutes. Usually, I try to be nice and say something like: “Do not take it personally, but I am really enjoying myself right now, and don’t want to talk to anyone”. But sometimes, I am already annoyed by previous attempts. I remember once a guy came up to me and wanted to sit down next to me on the beach, while he was preparing to sit down, I looked at him angrily and almost screamed “NO!” pointed with my finger in the air to send him away and said in a very mean way “Don’t you dare to sit down… go!” Confused by my aggressive tone, he was gone within a second 😀 Always remember, you are not obligated to talk to anyone, have a drink with anyone, or else. Don’t feel bad about it. If they walk away saying “what a b*tch!”, I am almost amused. However, I try to be respectful and rejecting in most cases, but if someone is annoying, he gets what he deserves, the bitchy reaction.
8. However, don’t be scared to ask for help if you actually need it
I have always been a person who wants to figure out everything on my own. I don’t need help, and I always felt uncomfortable asking other people for help. This changed when I first moved abroad a few years ago, and did not speak any word in the local language, but had to arrange a lot of things, such as registrations, rentals, and insurances. I never had a problem with helping others, but I never wanted to bother other people. You will learn that many people are just genuinely nice and willing to help you – you just have to ask!
Depending on the country you are currently traveling, people can be very helpful, but some may expect you to pay them. Get a feeling for the locals and habits. If you are, for example, staying in an AirBnb or hostel, there are usually other travelers and hosts who can easily help you to get started.
9. Be prepared to make beautiful memories
This is the most beautiful part of all the traveling. I try to capture many moments with my phone or camera, but I have to say that the best things are the memories, which are only in my head. These situations where you forget to take your phone, the moments where you just smile because of the things you are just experiencing, the conversations you had with new friends and people you met on your journey, the walk on the beach with nothing on you than a bikini and the keys for your bike….
These memories are yours and only yours, and no one can ever take them away from you!
10. Be prepared to become a new person
Before my travel schedule started to fill up during the last recent years, I was a completely different person. My life was not bad but traveling, spending time on my own, meeting new friends, finding out how I want to live my life, and respecting how other people want to live their lives, changed a lot of things in my mind. I am happier and much more confident than before. I know that I can do whatever I want to do, there are no limits.
Why limit yourself and only do what you should do instead what you want to do?! So many times I thought: “I would love to live like this” or “This would be a dream”. My whole life changed and traveling gave me so much more than a life stuck in one place.