Solo Female Travel Tips for Wanderlusters

July 28, 2017

I remember the first time I went on my first solo female travel adventure – it all seemed so scary at first, but then after a few days I settled down and it actually turned out to be rather easy to travel alone.

The media, and our parents of course, make it seem so dangerous to be heading out into the world all alone, but the planet has never been safer and women have never had the same opportunities as today for global travel.

Traveling solo is an eye-opening experience that helps you to become more independent and mature when you’re out on your own having to do everything without any help.

One problem that I ran into when I was planning my own solo trip to the UK was that I had some trouble finding relevant and actually helpful solo travel tips that weren’t just regurgitated and copied over information.

A lot of the tips and blogs that I came across didn’t have much information specific for women and female travelers, so after spending nearly three months  traveling solo by myself I wanted to come up with my own helpful post with some of the different tips that I learned on my adventure.

poland travel

The Best Solo Female Travel Tips

Number 1: Do Your Research Beforehand

There are a surprising number of people that simply book flights and leave for their trip without doing much planning at all.

For some people, this might work out well, but a lot of the time this can lead to a more stressful trip where you run into a lot of problems finding accommodation or arranging transportation options between cities you want to visit.

As a female traveler, you’re better able to avoid any issues on the road like having to wander around a new place at night looking for your accommodation, or getting lost in a foreign train station because you really don’t know where to go, if you come prepared with your research done before you leave.

You don’t have to completely plan everything in advance, although it’s a good idea to know where you’re staying, how you’re getting between the different places you’re visiting, and having a general idea of the directions you need to follow when you arrive somewhere new.

Some of the other things I research before leaving on a trip include:

  • Is it safe?

The majority of travel destinations throughout the entire world are extremely safe for most people, although there are some cities and countries that could pose a problem. For the most part,  it’s very likely that you’ll be visiting safe countries and cities but keep an eye out for any travel advisories and be sure to check forums like Reddit or TripAdvisor to see what other female travelers had to say about their personal safety.

  • Local language basics

Before arriving somewhere new I like to pull up the local language basics on my smartphone and I always have the Google Translate icon on the first page of my phone ready to use in case I need to translate anything quickly. This can be super helpful if you need to ask for directions or if you just need some basic answers to any questions you might have when you arrive somewhere new.

  • What’s the transportation like?

Depending on what time of day you arrive to your destination, you might want to check out the public transportation options to see how you can get around. For example, you don’t want to arrive somewhere late at night and then have to walk a few kilometers to reach your hotel or hostel. Check to see if there is any public transportation running and write down the directions you need before hand so that you can easily make it to your destination without looking like a lost tourist. If there isn’t any public transportation available check to see if you can take an Uber, or even if you can arrange a transfer before you arrive.

Number 2: Create a General Itinerary

taking a selfie with a great sunset

Like I just mentioned, a lot of people are traveling solo because of the freedom that this style of travel happens to offer. The problem with not having any concrete plans is that it can easily lead to you running into some problems when you’re out on the road, such as there being no transportation options available or accommodation being all filled up leaving you with nowhere to stay.

You don’t need to come up with an itinerary that covers every hour of every day that you’re abroad, but it’s a good idea to have a general idea of:

  • The different cities and places you’re visiting
  • How many nights you’re planning on spending in each place
  • Whether you’re hoping to stay in a hotel, hostel, or AirBnb
  • How you’re getting between your different destinations

Having a general itinerary like this might not be as fun as going on a random trip without anything planned, but it’s going to be a lot safer and cost-effective for you in the long run and you can also that your friends and family back home know where you are just in case something happens.

Number 3: Familiarize Yourself with Your Different Destinations Beforehand

Before reaching your destination I’d recommend spending some time getting to know the area. This is actually really easy these days and you can just head over to Google Maps to check out the city layout, see where your transportation is going to drop you off or pick you up, and you can quickly take a look at your accommodation neighborhood to see what’s going on.

I really love using the navigation feature on Google Maps where I can just input the different addresses I have and take a look at the surrounding area to see how I can get where I need to go and what the best way to get around is.

This way, you can familiarize yourself with some different landmarks or other points of interest that’ll let you know that you’re heading in the right direction, and this can especially be helpful if you’re not traveling with your smartphone or if it runs out of power or something and you can’t use it properly.

With Google Maps you can also use it for public transportation and it will let you know how to get from your accommodation to the local train station or bus station with really detailed directions, so you can rely on Google to help you out rather than having to ask somebody for help or rely on written instructions.

Google is a huge lifesaver when you’re abroad and whenever you run into any issues you can always refer to it for help and support whether you’re looking for somewhere to eat or your lost trying to find your way back to your hotel.

One more tip that I would recommend is that you should try to arrive when it’s still light out. This helps with safety and it also makes it easier to get around a new place when the sun is still up, rather than trying to navigate in the dark. Arriving very early in the morning is also fine, but keep in mind that if you have 5AM arrival or something very early that you’re going to be stuck without a room until you can check in later on around 2-3PM.

Number 4: Try to Arrive with Local Currency

public transportation alone

When you’re visiting Western Europe or places like Canada and the United States,  it’s not that big a deal to arrive with just a Visa and debit card, but for many other countries you should try to arrive with a small amount of the local currency.

This way you don’t have to rush to find an ATM right when you get off the plane, and this also helps to save you a bit of money because ATMs in transportation hubs like the airport and bus station tend to have higher fees than what you would find in the city center.

You don’t need too much currency, anything between $20 and $50 is definitely enough to get you started, and it’s a lot better than showing up without anything at all.

Number 5: Stick to a Budget

Annecy france

Unless money isn’t an issue at all, you’re going to want to make an effort to stick to a specific budget during your trip. This makes it easier to find places to stay and it can also help you to pick out some budget-friendly destinations, depending on whether you’re looking to travel for longer on less money or you just want an action-packed week or two abroad.

Of course you’re going to want to bring along both a visa and debit card, so you can use your visa for paying for accommodation and transportation tickets and you can use the debit for withdrawing cash.

Most banks have smartphone apps these days, so you can easily keep track of how much you’re spending on a daily basis.

Staying within a budget also makes it easier for you to plan your trip because you’ll have a better idea of how much you want to spend which makes it easier to choose different accommodation types, different transportation types, and the types of places that you want to eat.

Here are some quick helpful budget travel tips:

  • Try to pay for everything big before you go

I always find it a lot easier to pay for hotels and different transportation tickets in advance before my trip. Not only does this mean that I have everything laid out for me beforehand but I also don’t have to worry about my expenses as much when I’m actually traveling. You can also pay for tours and excursions beforehand as well so that when you’re abroad the only thing you have to worry about on a daily basis is how much you’re spending on food and random activities.

  • Set a daily limit

When you start planning your trip you should make an effort to set a daily spending limit of how much you want to spend each day when you’re traveling. For budget travel, you can get away with spending less than $50 per day including accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. Otherwise, $100 per day or less is suitable enough for most countries in Europe and the rest of the world, and this is quite a reasonable daily budget as well.

  • Know the local currency rates and your bank fees

This is really easy to check on your smartphone and you should always have a rough idea of what the local currency exchange rates are wherever you’re traveling. This is going to help you avoid overpaying for things when you can quickly do the exchange in your head before spending money and it will give you a better idea of the value of the different things you’re spending money on during the day. Bank fees are something else you should keep in mind and you should know how much it’s going to cost you each time you want to make a foreign purchase or withdraw money.

  • Have a small emergency fund set aside

You never know what can happen when you’re away from home so I recommend having a small emergency fund that you set aside just in case something happens. This isn’t as important if you have a credit card with a higher limit, but if your budget is tight then you might want to set aside a few hundred dollars either in a savings account with your debit or even bring it with you in case you need to use it for something. You might need to get a last minute hotel room or you might need a quick hospital visit, so it’s a good idea to have some spare cash laying around for emergencies when you’re on the road.

Number 6: Spend Your Days Exploring!

exploring a new area

The best way to get a feel for a new city is to spend your time there wandering around and exploring. The first thing I do whenever I get somewhere new is drop off my bags and head out without any specific destination in mind. I love just wandering through city streets and stumbling onto all of my own hidden gems without having to rely on a tourist map or staring at my phone the whole time.

After I’m more comfortable with my surroundings and I have a rough idea of where everything is, that’s when I’ll focus on visiting all of the main tourist sites and maybe even going on a walking tour or some sort of local excursion/day trip.

There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist and it can actually be really fun to just get lost in a new city while discovering all of the best that it has to offer its visitors.

Depending on what you’re interested in, you might want to check out some of the top museums in the city that you’re visiting, or if you’re interested in food you might want to participate in a cooking class or food tour. Those if you interested in history can go on a general walking tour, and these walking tours also help you to develop a better feel for the city while getting your bearings on the surroundings without having to wander around alone.

Some hostels and hotels might also offer free tours, so you can consider going on one of these depending on whether or not it’s something that you’re interested in.

I really love going on tours or participating in local activities because they’re a great way to meet other travelers, especially if you’re traveling alone and looking to hang out with other like-minded individuals from around the world.

  • Bonus tip: Check out Instagram to get some inspiration for cool places to check out!

Number 7: Avoid Looking Like a Tourist

avoid looking like a tourist

This is a pretty general tip but I feel that it applies to everybody solo traveling abroad and blending in can really help you avoid a lot of potential issues when you’re on the road.

For example, when you’re in somewhere like Paris, Rome, or London where there are going to be a lot of people approaching you looking to sell something or asking for money, you’re much better off looking like a local because you’re less likely to be approached if this is the case.

It’s not even that hard to avoid looking like a tourist, you just have to avoid some of the more touristy-cliches that too many travellers seem to fall into.

Some ways you can avoid looking like a total tourist include:

  • Don’t hang your huge, expensive camera off your neck everywhere you go. You’re better off leaving it in a daypack or your purse until you really need. Consider leaving the DSLR at home unless you’re really into photography, otherwise your smartphone should be more than suitable for photos.
  • Wear the same clothes you’d wear at home. You don’t need hiking boots or cargo pants on a trip to a mostly urban area. Just dress comfortably like you would when you’re back at home.
  • Bring a light sweater or a packable rain jacket. You never know when you might want to warm up a bit or keep your body covered, like if you’re heading into a church or religious building.
  • Avoid wearing too much makeup and jewelry, unless you’re heading out for a night on the town.

Number 8: Be Confident (Or Fake it Til You Make it)

It doesn’t matter if you’re completely lost, scared, or just depressed and you want to go home as soon as you can – always be as confident in your decisions as possible, and even if you’re not feeling confident you need to at least try to fake it.

When you’re looking scared and vulnerable, this is when people might approach you offering to help, and looking lost is going to peg you as a total tourist, making you look like an easy target to someone with ill intentions.

It’s definitely going to be a bit frightening when you first head out on your solo trip, but you need to just keep in mind that it’s extremely unlikely that anything serious will go wrong apart from maybe you getting a little bit lost or leaving something behind at a hostel or on the bus.

With your smartphone and your credit card, there aren’t any problems that you can’t solve, and if you do happen to get overwhelmed just take a minute to collect your thoughts rather than trying to push through any overwhelming feelings that you’re experiencing.

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