A Fashion & Lifestyle blog by Tobi.com, featuring fashion inspiration, beauty tips & tricks, travel guides, delicious recipes, fitness & health routines and more!
Written by Jessica Moore
We’re all looking for that Eat Pray Love experience at some point in our lives. Being whisked away by the sights and sounds of a picturesque faraway place is a dream that women are making a reality every day. In fact, two-thirds of travelers are women and a ton of female travelers are choosing to see the world alone.
And guess what? You can do it, too! Nope, it’s not impossible. Contrary to popular belief it’s not inherently unsafe (if you’ve done your research and you’re prepared). And it’s wonderfully empowering and freeing to explore the world on your own.
Sure, it can be daunting at first to step outside your comfort zone and take the plunge into the unknown, but the rewards of seeing the world will outweigh all your doubts and reservations.
Whether you’re studying abroad, traveling to check another country off your bucket list, looking for some self-discovery, or searching for that perfect slice of pizza (or all the above because why not?), we’ve got helpful tips for your first solo trip so you can focus on the adventure of your life while staying safe, confident, and happy.
Before choosing your destination and securing your flight, check Travel Advisories for up-to-date alerts about the foreign country you’re considering visiting. This U.S. government site lists safety levels and the precautions you should take when you plan to travel to any country. It’s a smart practice to consult this site before doing any traveling outside the US.
A great tool to plan your trip is Pinterest. When I took a year off to travel, I heavily relied on Pinterest to plan my trip. It’s a great way to access and organize articles and blogs from fellow women travelers to get their insights on your city of choice. It’s also a fantastic visual platform to pick up good tips and best practices, as well as and discover local favorites instead of just sticking to tourist hubs.
Before I embarked on my first solo trip, my father forced me to watch Taken twice to make sure I knew what I was getting into. As hilarious and fatherly as that sounds, it was actually pretty terrifying.
But after my 4-month trip, everything I’d seen about the dangers of traveling as a woman was far from what I experienced. I felt totally safe because I trusted myself with the research and knowledge I gained before my trip.
Toss aside all your sensationalized perceptions of the dangers of international solo travel. Of course, every country has their fair share of dangers: thieves and pickpockets, harassment, you name it. But when you think about it, so does your hometown.
Every day, no matter where you live, you’re at risk, no matter who you are. You’ll often hear that as a woman, you should be fearful of your surroundings. I’m sure you’ve heard that as a woman, you shouldn’t be alone.
What’s important is being prepared, knowing your surroundings, and trusting your instincts. Focus on prevention and make smart choices. “Knowledge is power” rings the truest when traveling. This can be key in shifting the way you think about the world. You can choose to live in fear, or you can do ample research to solidify your confidence. Walk with confidence to keep people from thinking you’re a tourist–this small practice can significantly decrease your chances of being a target for a scam (anyone experience the wedding ring trick? Yeah, it stinks). Confidence will go a long way in your travels.
There’s no need to bring that expensive pair of shoes with you or even carry a laptop when you’re off on your adventure. It’s a good idea to leave all of that behind. In fact, don’t bring anything with you that you’d hate to lose, or anything that would attract unwanted attention from thieves.
Traveling solo is a great way to see the world, especially if you’re a self-identifying control freak. You get to set your own itinerary, you don’t have to wait on your friends and family to see the sights. You get to do the things YOU want to do. There are no opinions to consider, only yours.
That being said, it’s important to keep an open mind during your trip. Go with the flow and keep an open mind. An itinerary is great, but being adaptable will really take you places.
Opt for the road less traveled and stay safe doing it. When you do things outside your comfort zone, you’ll be amazed at what will happen. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It’s about the little things. Travel to a cafe with the sole purpose of eavesdropping on foreign conversations. Make a friend by offering to take someone’s photo in front of a monument, or trying your best to converse in French with grocery clerks (with your Google Translate at hand, no doubt) even if they give you funny looks. Whatever your comfort zone feels like, challenge yourself to do something new and you’ll be surprised at what you discover about yourself.
It’s totally natural to crave human interaction on your solo travels especially after a few days of constant solitude. Instead of falling into the trap of FaceTiming your friends at home, or checking your DMs for convenience, make some friends!
Most cities offer free walking tours, where you can meet like-minded backpackers from all over the world! You can compare notes for must-see hole-in-the-walls and obscure landmarks you wouldn’t hear from anywhere else.
If you’re studying abroad, choosing to stay in dorms will make meeting students easy. If you decide to go with a homestay (which I did in Paris), it can be more of a challenge. Ask your host parents for travel tips, recommendations for places to meet people, or maybe they may have young people in mind to show you the ropes. Universities are safe spaces to meet other students.
You can also connect with other women solo travelers in online forums! TripAdvisor has a ton of threads full of women seeking advice and companionship! Female travel forums are a fabulous way to build community with other solo travelers.
When you’re traveling, safety is key. The more people you talk to, the more you make your presence known. So get social, you butterfly! Talk to the owner of the Airbnb you’re staying at and ask for recommendations and essential tips. Talk to the concierge at the front desk of your hotel. Chat up fellow wanderers at your hostel and if you make a friend or two, discovering a new city can be sweet with some company to switch things up after a long time of solo travel.
If you’re lost and looking for directions, travel to a populated area and don’t be shy to ask people for help. One of the main takeaways from my travels is people are, for the most part, really decent. If approaching people for help makes you nervous at first, practice talking to a traveling family. People with kids are usually much more approachable. Travel enough and you’ll begin to spot fellow travelers everywhere (the “travel” look usually involves shorts, backpacks, and a guidebook or map out).
Sure, when we’re abroad, we all want to show off our best clothes. But sometimes your favorite crop top and short shorts combo just aren’t going to cut it. Knowing what to expect in each country also includes knowing about cultural norms in fashion.
For instance, in Morocco, it’s inappropriate to show your shoulders and wear any bottoms that are above the knees. You’ll be catcalled and it’s not pleasant. And in most European cities, it’s important to cover your body with a scarf or shawl when entering places of worship. Not knowing what to wear can attract unwanted attention, so make sure to do some fashion research so you blend in with the crowd (you’ll look less like a tourist, too).
When you’re on vacation, it’s lovely to disconnect from social media and your phone from time to time to stay present and really soak up a new city. But your phone is also an incredibly useful tool for when you’re traveling abroad.
Download Google Maps on your phone. The app allows you to temporarily download an entire map of the city you’re visiting and you don’t have to be connected to the internet to access it. Input any address, restaurant, and landmark into Google Maps and it’ll read as if you’re connected to WiFi! You’ll never get lost.
Before you take off, search for emergency phone numbers in that country and keep it with you at all times. 911 isn’t universal just yet!
Download and print out a map of the city’s public transportation system so you can familiarize your way around confusing metros, train, bus city transit systems.
A huge part of any solo trip is connecting with yourself. Traveling solo is a reflective experience and you want to make sure you capture it all. I regret I didn’t journal during my travels, so take it from me: journal as much as you can. Twenty years from now you can look back at your younger years and be reminded of how truly amazing it was to conquer the world.
And maybe you can even turn your journal entries into a great post on your personal blog!
Here are some other things to consider when traveling to your destination:
Adventures await! Grab that passport and travel solo. Cure that wanderlust and discover the world. You’ll surprise yourself.
Wondering where to go? Check out our top 10 things to do in Japan!
Planning to escape for a while? Here’s what to pack for your long-term travels.