If you love to travel, if you follow travel bloggers/influencers and if you are a part of Facebook travel groups, you have probably noticed the surge in solo female travel. For the most part, I think this trend is a positive one. However, for those reluctant to have that solo female travel experience, I believe their concerns should be acknowledged and discussed.
I do not believe that every woman has to take a solo trip in their lifetime. I do not believe in giving into peer pressure or hopping on the bandwagon of a travel trend you may not be ready for. I do believe in stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. A lot has been written about solo female travel. But, I have been sitting on these thoughts for a long time and wanted to share them with you.
In 2011 I curated my first solo female travel itinerary based on the novel and movie “Eat, Pray, Love”. I wrote about this solo female trip to Northern California on Travel Noire. It was a really tough year with the loss of my mother and the end of a serious relationship. As a single woman traveling alone, I was nervous at first. But during this solo female trip I found strength I did not know I had. I regained my confidence, inner peace and hope for the future. Since then, I have been on several satisfying solo female trips. I am fortunate in that I have friends, family and a husband to now travel with. However, I still take time out once a year to focus on myself.
Solo Female Travel: The Good
Now let’s jump into all the good things about solo female travel. As mentioned in my story above, a solo vacation is great therapy for your mind, body and soul. Do you ever feel like just getting away to think for yourself and about yourself? These are not selfish thoughts. Everyone deserves and needs this. Solo female travel can be extremely rewarding and relaxing. It can awaken your adventurous spirit. A successful solo female trip can also lead to empowerment. “I am woman, hear me roar”.
If you have been on group trips you have probably been subjected to a strict schedule or having to adjust to someone else’s schedule. You may end up going to places that you have no interest in and missing out on the places that you do. In contrast, when you go on a solo female vacation, you set your own rules. You can wake up and go to bed when you want to. You do the tours and activities that you want to do. You eat when and where you want to. You don’t have to share a bed or a bathroom. You can be more spontaneous.
And, what if you don’t have people to travel with? Do you wait around for someone to go with you to destinations on your bucket list? Nope. Life is short, take the trip. This is another advantage of solo female travel-not having to ask anyone to join you. You won’t miss that great internet deal waiting to find out if a friend is available. You can just book it. In addition, there are no discussions or disagreements about airfare costs, hotel costs and other expenses. You have total autonomy to build your own solo female itinerary.
Solo Female Travel: The Bad
So what are a few bad things about solo female travel? First of all, it can be lonely. If you are not used to spending time by yourself, a solo trip may be tough. I did not get married until my 40s and I have no children. Before my first solo female trip I was used to dining alone, going to the movies and events alone. I have spoken to women that have never done any of this. Just the thought of being lonely is a turn off for them.
I do find that eating alone at a table in a crowded restaurant can be intimidating. I usually read or play on my phone but another great trick is to eat at the bar. You can chat with the bartenders and it is easier to meet new people. Recently there was a report of women not being allowed to eat at a bar in NYC since they were cracking down on prostitutes. Crazy. But, I have heard from fellow black female travelers that they have been mistaken for prostitutes in some countries.
Another bad thing about solo female travel is picture taking. You may end up taking a lot of selfies. I hardly ask people to take my picture out of fear they will run off with my phone or camera. Lol This is highly unlikely. Options include a selfie stick, GoPro, a tripod with remote and a drone.
Something else to consider with solo female travel is not having anyone to share the excitement or experience with. There is no one to talk to when you climb to the top of Table Mountain in South Africa, when you finally get to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, tour the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam or cruise along the floating markets in Thailand. To me, telling the story to someone or sharing pictures is not the same as being there with that person.
Another factor when planning a solo female trip is the cost. You will not have anyone to share the costs and expenses. This could be anything from hotel/room costs, rental car costs and groceries. If you are doing a road trip there will not be anyone in the car to help the time go by faster or to help you drive. If you are flying long distances there will not be anyone to keep your company or comfort you if you have a fear of flying (like me).
Solo Female Travel: The Ugly
When I think of the ugly side of solo female travel, the first thing that comes to mind is safety. Women have to be extra careful when traveling alone. Fortunately, I have not encountered any troubles while on solo trips. Unfortunately, I have heard some horror stories.
Narrowing down your solo female travel destinations can be difficult. You will need to decide if your solo vacation will be domestic or international and for how long. Before making your decision, check out the travel advisories and warnings on Travel.State.Gov. Research is key! Talk to people who have been to the destinations you are considering and get contacts for hotels, tour operators and mutual friends in the area.
Here are some tips for keeping safe. Take a picture of your passport and email it to a family member. Keep extra copies of your passport in your hotel safe or luggage. Learn some of the language and common phrases of your destination. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t spend so much time on your phone or taking pictures that you miss someone watching or following you. Take a look at maps and directions prior so you can avoid asking for directions.
Share your itinerary with friends and loved ones. An easy way to do this is with the app Tripit. Do not let people know that you are traveling alone. Do not post your location on social media. Stick to busy public areas at night. Register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to be made aware of any issues in your destination.
Solo Female Travel: Conclusion
In conclusion, I think solo female travel is a positive thing. I think every woman should try it at least once. If you are reluctant, start with a staycation close by or visiting a neighboring state. But, please consider all the aspects of solo female travel listed above. If the idea of solo female travel does not appeal to you, I am here to tell you that it is OK. Just Travel.
So, what do you think about blog post on solo female travel: the good the bad & the ugly? Have you been on a solo trip? If so, name some great solo female destinations below.
I think it is important to gather as much information as possible on solo female travel before you take the plunge so check out these other great resources!
Lily of Sunshine & Stilettos has been exploring the Caribbean solo for over 14 years. In this blog post on Solo Female Travel in the Caribbean she shares safety travel tips as well as the best Caribbean islands and areas for solo exploration.
Also, check out these solo female travel blogs for great travel tips & inspiration.
Dr. Nadeen White is a "Blogger by Day, Physician by Night". She is an award-winning travel blogger, Amazon bestselling author and speaker. The Sophisticated Life Blog covers affordable luxury travel, culinary travel and wine. Her domestic and international travel guides gets people to the destinations of their dreams. So, if you are living the sophisticated life or desire to do so, this is the blog for you!