I have been fortunate enough to be able to solo travel on and off for several years, and I am always meeting people who say things like “you’re so brave to travel alone” and “aren’t you scared being a woman?”
Understandably most of the solo travel questions I get asked the most are about safety for solo female travelers.
Most of the time, it’s the ladies asking these questions, and considering violence against women knows no borders, is completely understandable.
“I am thinking about traveling on my own but I am not sure how to go about it, and to be honest, I am a bit nervous.” is a phrase I hear often.
But it’s not just safety that you should be asking questions about before you solo travel. Below I have shared some of the top questions about solo travel you should ask yourself, especially as a woman (though men should ask these to), so you can see how prepared you are for traveling alone.
- Is it Different For Solo Female Travelers?
- Questions to Ask Before You Travel Solo As A Woman
- 1. Have I done my research?
- 2. Does where I am going match my level of experience?
- 3. Am I prepared?
- 4. Can I trust my own judgement?
- 5. Where is safe to travel to?
- 6. How can I keep my valuables safe?
- 7. Where can I meet other travelers?
- 8. What is the most cost effective way to travel?
- 9. What do I pack?
- 10. What apps do I need?
- 11. What documents should I take?
- Final Thoughts on Solo Travel Questions
Is it Different For Solo Female Travelers?
For me, and I suspect for many solo female travelers, safety is a separate issue.
I always consider myself a traveler first and foremost, oh, and I just happen to have two X chromosomes.
I try not to let the term ‘solo female traveler’ define me, but I am also not going to ignore that it’s a necessary category nowadays. You can read this full manifesto about it.
When I first started traveling on my own, it didn’t even occur to me to be concerned about not having someone else with me. Call me naive, but I just wanted to go to Paris and all my study abroad friends had other plans.
Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong that weekend, but I returned home filled with a whole lot of new lessons under my belt and an urge to try again.
The world is a forgiving place, and it’s much safer than people and media make it out to be.
I’ve almost never been in a situation overseas where I felt scared or threatened. Twenty minutes from my parents’ house in Washington D.C.? That’s another story.
It’s usually the case that you find more trouble at home than you do abroad, because when you are at home, you let your guard down. When you travel, you put up a wall and are often taking added precautions not to get into difficult situations.
Thinking back, sometimes I ask myself what are things I wish I had known before I started traveling. What could I have done differently? Which leads me on to…
Questions to Ask Before You Travel Solo As A Woman
Here are 4 key questions I ask myself before embarking on a solo trip:
1. Have I done my research?
I am a big advocate of researching where you are going, even just a little bit, so that you are as prepared as possible.
For me, spontaneity is one of my favorite parts of travel and I like to be surprised. This means I don’t plan out every moment of every day, have detailed itineraries, and instagram photos saved.
Instead I leave with a rough outline of what I want to accomplish, see, do, and most importantly, eat while traveling.
But for solo female travelers, and all travelers really, it’s important to do a little research into the culture of where you are going more so than things to do.
You can find attractions by reading travel blogs or by asking your accommodation, but you should be clued up on the culture before you arrive.
- Are they conservative?
- Do women cover up?
- Are there certain behavioral traits you can downplay to avoid problems or confrontation?
For example, in many countries smiling and looking men directly in the eyes can be seen as an invitation that can lead to trouble. Do you need to dress a certain way to visit places like a mosque or church?
I am not here to argue about the ethics behind this or women’s rights around the world, but for me safety is number one, and that means if adhering to a country’s unspoken rules will keep me safe, then I am doing it.
Doing a little Googling before you leave can save you a lot of hassles once you’re on the road. However, I think it’s also important to take everything you read or hear with a grain of salt.
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I say I am traveling to a certain place only to be cautioned against it or questioned by people who haven’t even been there.
Or it’s important to understand that incidents or problems that have happened in the past are not necessarily indicative of levels of safety for women.
Try to read unbiased reviews or talk to women who have firsthand experience of where you want to travel. Just because something happened there doesn’t mean you should avoid it at all costs.
You should also Google safe areas and unsafe areas, as well as neighborhoods to avoid.
2. Does where I am going match my level of experience?
I am a big fan of building solo travel experience over time.
Personally, I feel like I take away something new on every trip, and I love that. While bad things can happen anywhere in the world at anytime, some places are more prone to it than others.
If you are new at travel or solo travel, I recommend starting somewhere “easy” and then working your way up from there.
Countries like Iceland, New Zealand and Canada are considered some of the safest places in the world, and they are a good place to start because you won’t have to be on edge a lot of the time, and you will likely encounter plenty of other solo female travelers on your journey.
While experience comes with time, maybe some of these places don’t rank high on your bucketlist and you want to jump in feet first into some crazy adventures.
Go for it, if that’s your dream, just be smart about it. Go back to step 1 and do your research, be prepared.
3. Am I prepared?
Whether you are traveling on your own or in a group, it’s important to be prepared for all manner of situations.
I don’t consider myself to be extreme in my preparations, but there are a few simple rules I follow on the road and key things I can’t travel without.
I am very open and friendly on the road because I really love meeting new people and having those kinds of travel experiences, but I am careful about revealing too much information, like where I am staying or even that I am alone or single, depending on the situation.
I always travel with a doorstop for hotel doors so that they can’t be opened or kicked in, a whistle, and I make sure that I have access to a phone or internet and have jotted down the details of where I am headed to next, eliminating the need to show up in a new place without any information.
4. Can I trust my own judgement?
One of the hardest things about traveling alone is something you can’t buy or research in advance – common sense, that’s one of the big reasons I vouch for building up your solo experience over a period of time.
While you can be prepared as possible, if you have no common sense or don’t behave in a smart way on the road, you won’t have another person to help you out and it can be asking for problems.
Personally, I think many travel mistakes and problems that happen come from not having any common sense about a situation, something that can be learned over time and with experience.
The second part is about trusting your instincts and not second guessing yourself.
If you are uncomfortable or nervous, get yourself out of whatever situation you are in as fast as possible.
Don’t think twice. Don’t worry about being weird, rude or potentially upsetting/offending someone.
At the end of the day, your personal safety is number one, and your instincts can be a lifesaver!
5. Where is safe to travel to?
If you are concerned about safety, think about a solo travel destination that is considered safe. Most of Europe, for example, is a pretty safe place and makes for an ideal first place to visit as a solo traveler.
If you’re nervous, for peace of mind, don’t travel too far outside your comfort zone for your first trip. Get used to traveling alone before you head to notorious places.
6. How can I keep my valuables safe?
Another safety question you should ask yourself is how am I going to keep my belongings safe.
I would say the biggest threat to solo travelers is pickpockets, because you’re an easy target.
Don’t flash your smartphone or camera, keep your iphone in your waistband or in your bag. Wear your backpack across your chest and get yourself a money belt.
7. Where can I meet other travelers?
Traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone. You can find other travelers in hostels, on Facebook groups, or even by going up to someone in a cafe.
You can also start your solo travel adventures by joining small group tours and meet likeminded travelers that way.
Who knows, you might make a travel buddy to travel with for a few days of your trip. Loneliness is a big concern for those about to embark on their first solo trip, so if you are looking for a travel companion, don’t stress – there are many ways to find a friend.
Finding a travel buddy also means you can leave a selfie-stick or tripod at home and ask others to take your photos!
8. What is the most cost effective way to travel?
Money is a big issue for solo travelers, so you need to think about your budget very carefully before you embark on any adventures.
When you travel with people, you split the cost of rooms, public transport and other things between you, but when you’re alone you have to pay for everything yourself.
The most cost-effective accommodation is a hostel, which provides dorm beds for solo travelers. You can also sometimes find a single room for those who want privacy.
Hiring a car is also expensive, so is this road-tripped itinerary you had planned really feasible on your budget? Think about how you are going to get around before you travel.
9. What do I pack?
One of the biggest questions I get asked is what to pack as a solo traveler. Of course, the answer largely depends on where you are going, but I always recommend just pack the essentials and buy what you need when you get there.
Pack your passport, your toothbrush, and your wallet, and everything else is accessory.
You don’t need to pack a lot of luggage, and most of the time, you don’t need as many toiletries as you think you need.
The rest of the world doesn’t live in a cave, you can find toothpaste and body wash anywhere.
10. What apps do I need?
Another way to be prepared for a solo travel adventure is to know what apps you need to download.
Google Maps is a life saver. I highly recommend you download the Google Map of the place you are visiting so you have an offline map.
Alternatively, you can download the app MapsMe which is a free offline satelite map.
Google Translate will also come in very handy when you need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English.
Uber, Grab, Bolt and other taxi apps for the place you are visiting are essential for getting taxis. I always try to avoid taxis but you may have to get one at some point.
For travel insurance, the Allianz TravelSmart app is great.
Make sure you download all the apps you need before you go, so you don’t have to log into the slow airport Wi-Fi to download them.
11. What documents should I take?
You should take a photocopy of your passport, travel insurance, and visa, so that you have a copy of your identity incase of theft.
Of course, no one wants it to happen, but if you do end up getting your passport stolen for example, having a photo copy of it will speed up the process of getting a new one.
Final Thoughts on Solo Travel Questions
To travel alone in a foreign country is a big step outside of the comfort zone. You are in a new place, which is totally awesome but also daunting, and you have only yourself to depend on.
That being said, solo travel is a great way to see the world, and can give you experiences, be rewarding and teach you things that can be hard to encounter otherwise.
Of course, there are so many questions about solo travel you can ask. What are some questions you have about traveling alone? Let us know in the comments…