It’s fair to say that the solo travel market is continuing to boom. According to recent figures collated by Solo Traveller World in 2019, they found that solo travel is “making up around 18% of global booking, [because] solo travel is becoming ever more popular and has increased by 7% in the last year alone. They typically take longer trips than the other traveler personas at approximately 19 days on average”. This growing trend has become a favourite for women more so than men as “searches for solo female travel grew by 52% between 2016 and 2017”, with 38% of those who have travelled solo before saying they’d do it again. The Solo Travel Society on Facebook has around 230, 000 followers and of 63% of them are women.
Why is this?
The question was posed to the female members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
- 46% mentioned freedom, independence and the ability to do whatever they wanted to do
- 22% said they did not want to wait for others
- 15% said they wanted a new challenge and this was a new and exciting way!
However these are only a few, there are many other reasons but girls, do we really need a reason? It’s 2019 so book that flight, go to your dream holiday, don’t wait for your man or your friend to be free, explore the possibilities! Plus, there are a network of people who can help you around as it’s a growing industry. Don’t believe me? Read the testimony of these two women who started their solo travel adventure and haven’t looked back since.
- “I took a year out to go travelling by myself and see some incredible sights. I spent 4 months in South America where I got to spend time in the Andes, trek to Machu Picchu and see the glaciers in Patagonia. I also explored New Zealand, Japan and South East Asia in the 6 months that followed, so many different cultures and beautiful places to visit. I found travelling really easy – just like going on holiday for two weeks… but then you just keep going! Travelling by bus and plane was stress-free and it’s simple to organise as long as you have a smartphone as everywhere has free WIFI. Travelling solo meant that I could make the most of every day seeing places I wanted to and then I could choose when I wanted to socialise with people I met along the way. I’m so glad I took the chance to travel the world, it really was worth it for all the amazing memories.”
- “I was very fortunate in that when I did my solo travelling it was in a very safe part of the world – Japan. Even so, I couldn’t be complacent and I made sure to keep my wits about me and not to do anything that would put myself at risk. If I hadn’t decided to travel by myself I wouldn’t have seen the parts of the country that I did, and I was able to pack so much into my days. My top tips would be to do your research into where you’re going, and keep friends/family informed about what your plans are for your trip. Oh, and take lots of photos to look back on!”
Having said all that, solo travel can be far more risky than travelling with a companion, even more so if you are female. But don’t let fear get to you, there are plenty of safe options!
So what would we advise to keep in mind when you set off on your journey of self discovery?
1. Do your research, know your destination!
Research, research and more research! We know it’s stressful and usually the boring part but it’s so important so whether you’re just travelling to a few countries or off around the world, having an itinerary planned beforehand can prove invaluable. It’s smart to leave these details with a family member back home so they know where you are.
Having said that, remain flexible when choosing where you stay; if you arrive and the establishment isn’t what you were expecting, tell them so and move hotels. If you feel unsafe, you may come across as vulnerable and therefore become an easy target. If you do change your mind, let someone back home know!
Be familiar with dress codes in different locations – Small shorts, slogan tee’s and Havaianas scream tourist so you’ll stand out by a mile! You should also check if a country you’re visiting has any specific dress codes; make sure you know these to avoid causing offence or getting into trouble. Have a read of our Social Etiquette Abroad blog for lots of helpful info!
Top Hack Idea: Reviews, Reviews, Reviews! Be sure to check them! Hotels, attractions, restaurants, everything. It is also recommended to pre book and pay for excursions or tickets before you go, saving on queues (and getting ripped off!)
2. Try to blend in
In keeping with the first point, trying to look like a local is the easiest way to avoid attention. This may be harder if you are visiting places such as Japan or Thailand (and look neither Japanese nor Thai) so instead, pass yourself off as an expat.
Learning a little bit of the language, if you can, is also ideal – it shows you have made an effort and are interested in your surroundings whilst also having a little bit of savvy local knowledge in your locker, too.
Remember to be confident, and even if you’re not, act like you are. Stride as though you have somewhere to be and ignore any harassment; you’ll notice the locals do it too.
Top Hack Idea: When out and about, rather than always carrying a bag, grab a local grocery store bag and pop your belongings in that instead – you’ll look more like you’re just shopping rather than sight seeing and pickpockets are less likely to pinch a bag of food!
3. Protect your valuables
Yes, many people will tell you not to take anything too valuable with you, and in the sense of expensive jewellery, heirlooms or your birth certificate, certainly take this advice!
Most will take with them a smartphone at the very least, with some taking tablets and expensive cameras too. If you chose to, make sure that when you venture out, you only take with you what is needed. The rest of your stuff should be safely stored where you are staying; make use of those hotel safes!
Ensuring you have adequate insurance is also a must; be sure to have this sorted prior to the trip and shop around for the best deals.
Top Hack Idea: When carrying cash, keep it close to your body and in small quantities. It’s smart to carry emergency money with you too – make sure this is stored under your clothes or in a shoe!
4. Protect yourself
You will need to be more aware of yourself when travelling alone. You won’t have anyone to take that 10th shot out of your hand or convince you the concoction swirling in a fluorescent bucket no longer looks appealing. Try and keep drinking to a minimum to avoid any unnecessary trouble, and not to mention save money too!
Some women like to adopt a fake wedding ring to ward off unwanted attention and others advise that you stay well connected to females around you; hotel reception staff or a group leader if traveling this way are always safe bets. Ask them to advise on the best places to visit or to book you a cab for example.
For the most part, if you can’t use public transport, book an Uber as their journey is tracked. Having said that, not all public transports are safe either, try to avoid local taxis or mini buses. Furthermore, when booking hotels, only book ones that have 24 hours security or AirBNBs that have the Superhost status. Don’t attempt to save money by booking a cheaper option as it may not be safe and your safety is paramount.
There are many free applications such as Chirpey, RedZone, MayDay, Tripwhistle and Noonlight that let women flag areas that they have found to be dangerous. Most of these will also show you how to contact local law enforcement should the need arise.
Always trust your gut! This cannot be stressed enough as most women try not be rude or seen as ‘overreacting’ so they often ignore the warning signs. Be wary of the ‘friendly’ strangers and if you don’t feel comfortable, try to leave the situation ASAP. Nothing is more important than your safety, that has to come first.
If you are travelling alone within a tour group, avoid trusting people too quickly. A 5 minute dash to the toilet could lead to vanished valuables – and how are you to trust them when they say they don’t have your stuff?!
Top Hack Idea: Carry a fake purse, filled with used gift cards, bits of paper and small change – in the horrid case that you are mugged, hand over the fakery and keep your cash!
5. Check In regularly
When you do head out, make sure your phone is always charged. If a power point is not available, invest in a pocket charger; this will become invaluable.
Whether you choose to check in via email, social media, Skype or a phone call, make sure to do so regularly; at least once a week! Not to annoy everyone on your newsfeed with amazing pictures, but to keep your friends and family’s minds at ease. Them knowing that you’re having fun is one thing, but knowing you are safe is more important.
When you can, try and opt for internet cafes or hotel computers for social media updates or emails. It saves you paying extra on roaming fees, keeps those batteries charged and you won’t be flashing your phone at all times. However, for any vocal communication, especially if talking about where you’re staying or heading next, keep that to the confines of your accommodation.
Also girls, I know updating your story is a big deal but try to update it once you’ve left that place. Because you don’t know who’s watching it with bad intentions and it can leave your location exposed as you’ll become easy to track. However, once you’ve left the place, it is no longer real time information.
Top Hack Idea: Feeling a little apprehensive about getting in a taxi? Make a call to a loved one for a random chat, dropping in the taxi driver’s licence number that should be displayed. Likewise, pretend you’re meeting someone and ‘call’ them, saying where you are and how long you’ll be.
6. Pack lightly
We all know someone who wants to pack the whole house when they’re going away or maybe you are that someone! But regardless, when travelling solo, the last thing you need is lots of supplies, most of which you’ll probably not even use, so please do yourself a favour and only pack the necessities. Below are some of the tips on how to achieve that:
- Have a checklist ready, and cross out all the unnecessary stuff. We know it’s difficult but do you really need 5 bottles of perfume? Use the halving rule, look at what you have and halve it, this will really help narrow down what you actually need.
- Have a few outfits packed like shirts and trousers and then mix them around. Don’t be afraid to wear the same outfit again!
- Packing a comfortable pair of shoes is a must so pack some trainers because whilst heels and sandals look cute, you don’t want blisters on your first day. But if you must, take only one pair of heels or sandals because the chances are you won’t be using them as often.
- Keep your choice of makeup small, you don’t need the whole table, just grab a few must-haves!
- Why not wear the heavier items like jackets and coats on the plane? That way you’ll save a lot of space in your suitcase.
- Why not wear the heavier items like jackets and coats on the plane? That way you’ll save a lot of space in your suitcase.
For more information, check out our Packing Hacks blog for a more comprehensive guide!
7. Top 3 Best Places for a First Time Female Solo Traveller
Now that you’ve made the decision to travel solo, we thought we’d help you out with your first solo adventure by listing the top 3 safest and best places to travel.
Global Peace index 2016 states that Iceland is the safest country in the world. It has been awarded this title six times in a row now so we think it’s a pretty safe place to start!
The natural beauty is also a scene of wonder, it has over 30 active volcanoes decorating the beautiful mountain terrain, it is a sight to wonder and admire!
In its capital city Reykjavik, you’ll also find many solo female travellers and hopefully you can find some new friends. Not to mention the insta-worthy photos you’ll take as the whole country is just full of beauty so your Instafeed will definitely be glowing by the end!
Denmark has been ranked as the Happiest Country in the world and who wouldn’t want to visit that place?
It is also a budget friendly country as most people use their bike to get around so just rent a bike for a day or a week. So, it’s not only healthy for you but also good for the environment too as less pollution this way. So cycle around the beautiful Nyhavn canals and take in the postcards-views and lose yourself in this picturesque country!
Whilst Denmark may be the number one Happiest Country, Sweden is ranked among the top ten so it’s certainly a worthy contender!
The only thing suffering in Sweden will be your bank account as it is known for its expensive style. What with it being home to big brand names such as Acne Studios to smaller ones like H&M. So, get your shopping list ready and buy yourself a new outfit but not too many though because remember you’re still travelling!
Other places to visit
If the places mentioned above did not appeal to you, not to worry, Unicef has data which as measured violence in countries so you could go ahead and check that out yourself and make a decision that way. Alternatively, World Bank also provides a gender data portal that gives statistics to women whether a place is safe or not. So, you have loads of options, do not feel like you’re stuck to visiting any specific country but do make a balanced judgement before going!
Trekeffect.com have a great blog on the best (and safest) locations for solo female travel which we have detailed below to inspire your next trip. Check out the blog for more info on these beautiful destinations!
We are! Travelling should be a fun experience, a chance to make memories that last a lifetime and to do a little self discovery. So go out there and face your fear because you’ll feel so accomplished! Whilst it feels like bad things are always happening, there is also so much good in the world, so go out and see it for yourself! But, of course, your safety should always be your priority.
So there you have it, your definitive guide to solo female travel! Have you ever travelled alone? Let us know about your experiences.
Remember though, although this blog has focussed on female solo travel, most of it is certainly transferable to any guy travelling by himself, so please share this information with anyone thinking of jetting off.