According to Expedia, 60% of travelers will take a solo trip in the next year. I found this super interesting and not representative of the women I know — at least when it comes to leisure travel. My goal is to make solo travel feel less scary, overwhelming, or out of reach for my fellow Gen X women travelers and inspire them to plan their first solo female trip.
Finding ways to get out of your comfort zone, while taking time for yourself to reconnect is an amazingly rejuvenating experience. It brings focus back to your day to day life, helps you feel more confident and provides avenues to meet new people.
Two decades of solo travel around the U.S., Central America, South America, China and India taught me all I needed to know in the world of solo female travel. On my solo adventures I learned to enjoy my own company and not be afraid of meeting others, all while increasingly seeking off-the-beaten path adventures to test myself a little more each time. Don’t get scared off though, this isn’t the only way to travel solo!
Usually the first step of planning any solo trip is giving yourself permission. Yes, it is ok to take time for yourself and spend money on yourself. This does not mean that you are selfish. Your partner, kids, job, cat, etc. will be just fine for a few days. They may even appreciate you more when you return.
Planning your first solo female trip
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Read on for some of my top tips traveling alone before you plan your first solo female trip.
1. Start small
You don’t have to travel the world or venture off to Europe or Southeast Asia for your first trip. Why not try something closer to home?
For my first solo trip I went to San Francisco from Texas. It was a bustling city that was easy to navigate on my own, but offered something different than what I was used to..
What was important was visiting a destination that it truly felt like I was in another place from my home. As my confidence grew, my trips became more adventurous. From San Francisco to New York to Guatemala!
So start off with a solo road trip, visiting a nearby city for an overnight doing the things YOU love, or escaping to a nearby campground, tiny house, bed and breakfast, or spa.
2. Take tours
You don’t have to be alone the whole time just because you are traveling solo. Check out free walking tours, cooking classes, or other day trip ideas that provide you the opportunity to meet others and share your experience of travel.
Another great way to travel solo, but with the safety and comfort of other friendly people around is to join a group such as Intrepid Travel or G Travel Adventures. These group tours are usually filled with solo travelers like yourself looking for others to travel with. Consider going to difficult destinations with a group.
You can also learn more about our Your Time to Fly community group tours!
3. Choose accommodation carefully
Choosing accommodation is one of the most important pieces when traveling solo. I highly recommend choosing accommodation that allows you to meet other travelers if you wish, but doesn’t force it upon you.
These days there are a ton of options from higher end hostels with private rooms to boutique hotels that offer classes or lobby wine nights that are great for female solo travelers.
One interesting new accommodation option is SisterStay. It’s a homestay community for ID-verified females over 50(ish), primarily in the UK but opening its doors to inquiries from both Hosts and Guests in other countries starting in 2020. They charge a low flat rate per night wherever you stay and pride themselves on offering a warm welcome to solo women travelers.
4. Do your research
As a solo female traveler, it is important to always research your destination. Know what areas are safe, what areas to avoid, etc. It’s important to know about your destination and its norms.
For example in a city like San Francisco, you are probably fine in most areas of the city during the day, however at night you would want to steer clear of the Tenderloin district.
5. Blend in, rather than stand out as a tourist
While traveling I always recommend that visitors blend into their destination as much as possible. For exotic places like India this means wearing long-sleeved shirts or Indian style kurtas.
For places in the West this can be your normal wear. Regardless of where you end up, keep an eye on the local norms so that you don’t attract too much attention as a visitor.
6. Network with people before you go
One of the wonderful things about the Internet these days is the ability to meet people online and then in real life. There are some amazing networks out there such as Girls Who Travel that can serve as lifelines for solo female travelers.
You can also join our Facebook group to meet other Gen X women interested in travel. You can post something in these groups to see who is going to be in your destination before you go, plan meet ups or even just get their advice on what to do and where to go.
7. Share your plans
One of the most important things to keep in mind for solo female travel is to let people know where you are. Whether you are going for a hike or taking a day trip, let someone, either your hotel or family/friends, know your plans.
Things happen and its best to know that someone will know where to look for you! In sharing your plans, also make sure to let your credit card and bank know you will be traveling to avoid any difficulties with accessing money.
8. Make a plan but allow for spontaneity
On my first trip to Europe on my own, I had the entire trip planned to the T. However, it wasn’t long before I met people who were doing something different.
I dumped my plans and let spontaneity take over. It was amazing and just what I needed to experience Europe in a different way. If you meet people you like, don’t be scared to adjust your plans to join them.
9. Get out of your comfort zone
Get out of your comfort zone while traveling solo. This could be by doing things that are different than your norm or it could just be talking to strangers. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers or people in your hotel.
So many people are looking for ways to connect with others that you will find it is easier than you think. Give yourself a challenge each day to do something new and exciting.
10. Listen to your gut
The most important thing to keep in mind while traveling as a solo female is to trust your gut. If you sense that something is off, trust yourself. Get to another location. Stop drinking your drink. Move hotels. Whatever it is, make sure to listen to your own instincts.
Bring a good book and/or journal. One of the best parts of traveling on your own is being able to do what you want when you want. You can sit in a park or cafe reading a book or writing in a journal for hours if you choose. This is also a great way to start conversation with others while in public places.
Regardless of where you go or how long your trip is, enjoy the feeling of being on your own, building your own confidence and testing your boundaries.