So you find a flight deal, start scrolling through pictures of delicious destinations on Pinterest, and text your squad...but nobody bites. Now what? It's a common scenario and I can't tell you how many times I've heard women say "I'd love to go to *insert destination here* but none of my friends are available/want to/have the money/etc. I think back to earlier in my twenties, when planning my first trip abroad started with eight girls. Between scheduling and budgets, it eventually dwindled down to just me. This turned out to be my first solo trip and, since then, I haven't let a lack of group consensus slow me down. If I have the funds and the PTO, I go!
Benefits of Solo Travel
I enjoy a good girls trip as much as the next person so don't think this is me trying to convert you to a strictly solo travel life. This is me laying out the reasons I don't shy away from traveling alone. Traveling with friends, family, or a significant other are great ways to bond, create shared memories, and inside jokes. But solo travel has its benefits, too and is great for recharging and relaxing--especially for the more introverted among us. You can set the pace for your trip and change it up at any time as you see fit. Your time is all yours to do the things you most enjoy and decision making is so efficient when there's only one vote. There are no conflicting priorities, arguments, or sacrifices on a solo trip. The worst part about traveling alone in this Instagram-crazed age is the struggle to get good photos! I wrote all about how to get around that in this post.
Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone
Most of these come down to critical thinking and picking up on cues.
- You have to party a little differently traveling on your own. This means not drinking as much since there's nobody to get you out of a sticky situation or take care of you if you get sick/hungover. Don't let the turn-up put you at risk.
- Unfortunately, not every destination is a good solo destination. Do your research about the customs and laws specific to gender in the area to which you're traveling before booking.
- If you are single, wearing a fake wedding/engagement ring, also known as a "deterrent ring" might seem silly but can help ward off unwanted attention and even garner better treatment--especially in parts of the world with very family-centered cultures and/or where women's independence is not highly regarded. If you're married or engaged and traveling alone, it's still worth looking into a fake ring to protect the investment of your real one. While being robbed is in no way enjoyable, at least you won't have the emotional stress of missing and replacing such a treasured token, should that happen.
- During one of my (well-populated) hikes in Hawaii, I asked a couple of strangers with professional cameras to snap a picture of me on my phone and they offered to snap and email me DSLR photos instead. They both emailed me the photos that same day but one of the guys also mentioned in the email that he was available to take more photos of me at different spots around the island if I had the time. Since I was at the mercy of photo tools and strangers' kindness, it would have been easy (but not smart) to let vanity and my desire to get some fire shots for the 'gram lead me into a potentially unsafe situation. Travel should inspire a sense of adventure in us but running off with strangers isn't ever a good look.
- Share the details of your itinerary with someone back home (preferably your emergency contact) before leaving for your trip. This includes the address and phone number of where you'll be staying, flights, and local transportation. Being an independent woman doesn't mean you won't ever need backup.
- Lastly, follow the general safety guidelines you would at home: avoid isolated areas, don't volunteer personal information, and trust your intuition. Far too often, we women compromise our own comfort to avoid being branded as rude, stuck-up, or bitchy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting boundaries and putting your need to be and feel safe first--especially in an unfamiliar place.
I'm young in life and in my travel game (SO much more of the world I want to see) but get questions from women of all ages about what it's like traveling solo and how to go about it. They ask if I feel afraid or unwelcome in other locales on my own and, honestly, I haven't so far. I mean, being a black woman in America can be isolating, uncomfortable, and scary enough in its own right. So we're strong enough to navigate language barriers and unfamiliar terrain--it's kind of in our blood. Don't let fear hold you back from living your best life! And don't let anybody else put their reservations or assumptions on you either. We know that women can do anything, right? That includes travel to all kinds of places with or without companions. I did Oahu solo at the beginning of this year and explored Amsterdam alone last spring. The rest of my 2019 trips are with groups...for now. 🙂 What's your next destination? Let me know below and, as always, thanks for reading!
P.S. my favorite solo destinations: