what is travelling solo as a female really like?
THE REALITIES AND HONEST TRUTH.
I’ve had a couple of girls recently asking me almost the exact same question, how do I get my loved ones on board with me wanting to travel solo? The answers I gave were all personal to each girl, but ultimately came down to remembering that their families concerns are only coming from a place of love. I mean, it can be a scary concept – one of the most special people in their lives are deciding to travel to a completely foreign land that is way of their comfort zone, with solely themselves to rely on. I totally get the hesitation. However on the other hand, and probably my more slightly over persistent hand, is to remember that no one is in charge of you. If you truly want to go out and do something that will bring you happiness, e.g. travel solo – then there’s your answer.
Before you make that final decision I do think it’s SUPER IMPORTANT to really know the ins and outs of solo female travel, to ensure even YOU are on board travelling solo. Solo travel, especially as a female (I hate that we still have to categorise female-male travelling) isn’t all pretty, and I honestly think the truths on the matter are something we see too little about on the internet. You hear about all the advantages of solo travel – the empowerment, freedom, and opportunity to ’find yourself’ (or however that saying goes), but surely thats not all there is to it? You’re not wrong my friend…
I haven’t always solo travelled, but it is my most common and most preferred style of travelling these days, and I frickin LOVE it. But, just like everything in life (and Instagram ha!) there’s always what you see and hear about… and then there’s reality.
Combine these honest truths along side my seperate solo travel tips post and share with your loved ones, that way you both know what you’re truly getting yourself in for while travelling solo as a female. I’m not trying to scare you or put you off travelling solo (I’ll forever be encouraging chicks to go out on their own!) – But simply inform you.
The reality – solo female travel doesn’t suit everyone and this is what this post is all about. Keep reading and hopefully you’ll get a better idea of whether it’s for you or not! If it is – awesome. If not, that is also completely fine. Everyone has their own travel and life style – you do you!
So what is travelling solo as a female really like? Let me tell you.
I’ll start off with a pretty EASY GOING one, but probably the one that secretly makes me want to clench my fists, every single time.
NO ONE TO WATCH YOUR STUFF
This is so.damn.annoying. Totally a first world problem, but imagine – you have finally scored yourself the prime spot on the floor of the airport, powerpoint and all, and all of a sudden you need to go to the bathroom. Oh I’ll just get up and run while you watch my stu… think again! Have you never seen the signs saying ‘don’t leave your valuables unattended’? Yeah, you should probably listen to that Briar. So instead you heave your backpack back over your shoulders, squeeeeze into the bathroom cubicle, and carefully manoeuvre yourself to avoid knocking the toilet paper holder off the wall, causing an absolute scene. Then, you finally scurry back – all to find your sacred spot was whipped up in 2.5 seconds flat.
I remember meeting another random solo female traveller in the Colombo Airport who was also waiting hours before being able to get through security – we talked about this exact topic for half an hour straight. We were beyond stoked that we could hop up whenever we pleased and scoot to the loo, while the other kept an eye on our things (reason #189 to pack light!) Oh the joys haha!
This is more of a touchy subject, but one I do think needs to be addressed when it comes to the realities of travelling solo as a female. The truth – it happens a hell of a lot.
THE PROPOSITIONS AND UNWANTED ATTENTION
Yes I know this happens to females, and males, who are travelling regardless of if they’re solo or not. But in my experience, when I’m with a group of girls I’m approached half as much, and if a guy is thrown into the mix then literally once in a blue moon.
The yelling out from the side of the street or death stares on public transport happen in some corners of the world more than others. In some places you simply stick out like a sore thumb and that understandably intrigues people.
If something serious is going to happen, sadly there is nothing you can do, wear, or say. However, this is one side of travelling solo as a female where you really need to keep your wits about you.
Getting propositioned by a guy on the streets will either go one of two ways, and real talk here, I have experienced both at extreme ends of the scale. A majority of the time guys will come out of no where and start chatting away, and keep walking and walking alongside you. Personal space – what’s that? Sometimes it’s unwanted attention that you really just can’t be bothered with after coming off a 12 hour bus ride and are trying to find your way to your hostel. This could turn into them persisting you to meet up with them later, that’s when you have to make the bold choice to be firm and walk briskly away – if you don’t want to of course. However, be a little open minded – some guys are genuinely just being friendly and are eager to hear your story and ask where you’re from. You could end up having a great, friendly convo with an insightful local!
I met a guy in a train station in India who done this exact thing to me and is someone I ended up meeting further down the country. I still keep in contact with him till this day. See, you can find amazing friends in all sorts of places!
Don’t be scared and let it ruin your trip. The harmless yelling out to try get your attention really doesn’t bother me, but it is something to be weary of happening. Safety isn’t to be messed with – however accepting help and meal invitations from perfect strangers is all part of the adventure! Just a reminder to always keep head strong while travelling solo as a female.
One thing that sucks about travelling solo is there being no one to split costs with, equalling more money spent. Keep this in mind when sussing out a budget for your next solo mission! I find if I’m travelling with a group of friends there’s always group discounts on offer. You can book an entire house on Airbnb for the same price as if you all booked a single bed in a hostel – I know which one I’d prefer! Sadly when you’re travelling solo, the latter is your only option.
One way to combat costs is to find friends along the way that want to do the same activities as you, that way you can share the price of a taxi or tuk tuk, or even the price of a room if it’s an over night stay somewhere!
NO ONE TO RELY ON OR HELP YOU NAVIGATE
This one is just as much an advantage as it as a disadvantage in my books.
Sometimes you’re so lost, your maps app is no bloody help, and you wish for nothing more than having someone on your side to help you figure out how on earth to get from A to B. On the other hand you’ll learn to be super self reliant, independent, and overcome every hurdle that hits you like a tonne of bricks.
You are in charge – if you want to stop, you stop, if a place doesn’t float your boat, then you move to somewhere else. You don’t have to stress about the whether another person is having a fun or not, and I find the planning side of things a million times easier. Freedom at it’s finest girls!
I would recommend being as prepared as possible before you leave. By no means you have to plan out every single bit of your trip (I certainly don’t!) But clue up on all the extra bits and bobs – visas, insurance, common scams and traditions – you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Some may say travelling solo makes you lazy as you have no one to give you that extra boost you need sometimes to get out there and start seeing those sights (travelling can get tiring!) But for me, it’s the total opposite. I’m fully aware that I’m the only one in that moment that can push me to get my shit sorted, and I’m not keen on missing out… As a result, I’m extra motivated when I’m solo!
It’s second nature for me to dine alone while I’m travelling (unless I’ve made a travel buddy) and it doesn’t faze me in the slightest – I’d happily go to a restaurant, by myself, any day of the week. However, I’m well aware that some people aren’t and it’s something you really don’t need to be worried about. Sure, you may feel like everyones eyes are piercing towards you as the waiter frantically rearranges the cutlery down to one set in front of you, but I guarantee you’re probably doing more judging in this situation than any other soul!
Spend that time catching up on emails, replying to your loved ones, and just enjoying that delicious cuisine and lively atmosphere around you.
Bonus for dining solo – you never have to wait in lines as places always seem to be able to accommodate a seat for one in a jiffy, far quicker than if you’re in a group! Wooo.
SHARING THE EXPERIENCE
We’re being real over here, so I’ma say it. There is no way in hell you can travel solo as a female for months and months on end and not at one point in time wish you had someone to share the experience with. 95% of the time I am completely content with being solo, but there is occasionally the odd thought floating about where I wished I had someone to experience that ridiculous view or gorgeous sunrise with. My most favourite travel buddy back in the day was my sister and sometimes if I’m in a destination I know she would lose her shit over, I wish more than anything I could show her just what I’m experiencing (ahem Aimee, where are we going next?)
Even though you’re travelling solo, don’t forget you are almost never completely alone. From the gorgeous local families at home stays, to the backpacker friends from all over the world that you meet in hostels – you’ll no doubt get your fair dose of all the human interaction you need.
WHERE’S YOUR PARTNER?!
Honestly, I couldn’t even count on all my fingers and toes how many times I’ve been asked this question while travelling solo as a female.
The questions and comments that you’re bound to receive from friends, family, and more commonly – complete strangers, is nuts. They aren’t trying to be rude, but are genuinely baffled as to how you’re travelling the world all by yourself as a woman. I’ve had gasps from SOLO guys when they find out I’m not with a partner or friend. My reaction – how is there any difference? Somehow it’s perfectly okay for men to travel solo, but not women? Beats me haha…
Oh, and not to mention the ‘what are you actually going to do with your life?’ Be happy, that’s what Sharon. There’s only so many times you can hear this before you start doubting your own decisions, but please please do whatever is right for YOU. If travelling solo is the journey you want to take, without a partner, then do it. Go. If it doesn’t work out whats the worst that can happen – you move home, right?
There ain’t no rulebook around here.
I hope this wee insight into the ins and outs of what travelling solo as a female is really like, has given you girls that are keen to get travelling by yourself but unsure whether it’s for you, just that little bit of clarity needed.
In a nutshell, solo female travel is incredibly fulfilling, freeing and fun. But the reality is that it’s not all fun and games, just like anything else in life. Trust you intuition – you know what’s right.
Promise you won’t regret it.
Thanks for reading,
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