If you're a woman planning on taking a solo vacation, there are things you need to know that your male counterpart might not. In short, you need solo female travel tips.
Just like not all travelers are the same, not all travel tips are alike. The world is decidedly different for women than it is for men so it's important that as a woman, you're prepared before venturing out. The following are 20 of the best solo female travel tips culled from the people know best, women who have traveled solo.
1. Confidence is key.
Kiersten Rich of The Blonde Abroad has traveled to over 50 countries, traveling solo for many of her adventures. One of her biggest solo female travel tips is to be confident. And if you can't actually be confident, to fake it.
"Solo women who look lost or confused can often attract the wrong kind of attention," she explains in a post on solo female travel tips on her blog.
"Try to look confident and walk as though you know where you’re going until you develop your own natural confidence. If you ever do feel uncomfortable, use your best judgment and seek help. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness or carelessness in a sketchy situation."
2. Try and travel during the day.
Rich also suggest that for long journeys, try to travel during the day. She notes that if you have to travel at night, "Try using trusted transportation and looking for a private cabin or couchette that can be locked."
3. At night, try and walk with people.
In a post on solo female travel tips on Travel Break, longtime traveler Stephanie Be suggests that if you have to travel on your own at night, try and walk with others.
"Walk slightly behind a couple or a group," she writes.
"It sounds a little creepy, but you don’t want to stand out as walking alone, especially if you are a girl. Obviously, don’t follow them home, but stay on the same side of the street as them."
4. Know where you're staying.
Among her solo female travel tips, Be also suggests writing down where you're staying in both your native language and the language of the country you're visiting.
"Write the address of your accommodation in both your phone’s notes and in a little notebook (in case you lose your phone or it dies)," she advises.
5. Limit your alcohol intake.
Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust traveled the world solo for a full year. And though it may seem obvious, in a post of her solo female travel tips she suggests not overdoing it on the drinking when traveling alone.
"I still get a very mixed reaction when I tell people I don’t 'go out and party' while I travel," she writes. "The reality is that it would be one of the most insensible decisions I could make as a solo female traveler."
She says if you find yourself out with friends you feel comfortable with, go ahead. But, "By no means should you go out getting wasted on your own and attempt to make it home safe after a night of heavy partying in a foreign city." As she puts it, "It just won’t end well."
6. Leave a social media trail.
Saward also recommends using your social media accounts as a trail of sorts.
"A simple check-in at a new location or a quick photo upload will help to keep your family and friends back home in the know of your whereabouts," she writes.
"Before you leave home, try and set a sort of 'time frame'—a.k.a.—if you don’t see me post anything for five days straight, you know something is probably wrong."
7. Don't keep all your money in one place.
In a post on her solo female travel tips, long time solo traveler and writer Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer advises distributing your valuable between your belongings. If you keep all your cash, credit, cards, passport, traveler's checks, etc., in one place—like a money belt—and you're robbed, then you've lost everything.
"Keep some money with you when you walk around, but also leave something in your backpack or other belongings in your hotel," she writes. "Keep a photocopy of your passport in your backpack or hotel; you can even have a scanned copy in your email for additional protection."
8. Trust your feelings.
Taboclaon also advises listening to your instincts when out in the world alone.
"The nervous feeling you have (even though you may not be able to identify the reason why) is your body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong," she writes. "Listen to your body’s discomfort and seek refuge. I have done it a couple of times during my travels and while I don’t know if I was right, I was happy not to find myself in a situation where I regretted not following my intuition."
9. Stay aware of your surroundings.
In a post on solo female travel tips for backpacking in Nicaragua, Eva Casey of Eva Explores suggests avoiding wearing headphones while walking through densely populated areas, as it makes you a target for theft.
10. Don't give strangers too much information.
Casey also suggests being a bit coy with your personal information while traveling.
"Men often asked if I was traveling by myself, and usually I said yes," she explains. "However, I didn’t usually tell them the truth about where I was going next or where I was staying. Being vague is the better choice."
11. Plan for your period.
Vicky Chapman's post on solo female travel tips for The Gap Year includes a reminder that a lot of developing nations won't have the same menstruation products you might be used to.
"Take a supply from home. Remove from their boxes and keep in a watertight container," she advises. "Don't rely on tampons alone. It isn't always possible to wash your hands in non-western roadside loos."
Though she notes, "Changes in climate, diet and lifestyle can mess with your menstrual cycle. Your periods might even stop altogether."
12. Talk about sex.
Chapman also advises female solo travelers be proactive about their sexual health before they leave by talking to their doctors about make sure they have enough of their chosen birth control and condoms.
"Consider packing the morning-after pill for emergencies," she adds. "It works up to 72 hours after sex. It offers no protection from STIs and shouldn't be used instead of contraception. Available over the counter, but talk to your GP first."
13. Follow local cultural norms.
Shannon O'Donnell of A Little Adrift's post on solo female travel tips advises women follow the local cultural female norms regardless of whether you are for or against them.
"Though Western women are afforded 'male' status in some countries, you cannot accept that as a given," she explains. "That means things like direct eye contact, touching, and even the way you address others is up for adjustments as you travel."
14. Throw money at the problem when it comes to safety.
O'Donnell also recommends spending money on things that can provide you a measure of safety.
"Take a cab. Spring for the closer hotel. Plan enough of your day that you’re not left risky areas after dark," she writes. "Traveling on a budget often puts us in a mind-frame of penny-pinching and it’s easy to get caught up in the notion of saving every dime possible."
But your safety is worth the added expense.
15. Expect loneliness.
"The best advice I can offer first-time solo travelers is to expect to get lonely at times and to embrace this emotion as you will every other thought and emotion that washes over you during your trip," she writes. "There is a real power and simplistic beauty that comes from knowing you have the strength to lift your own chin up when sad, comfort yourself when lonely and keep moving forward."
16. Pack what makes you comfortable.
Vargas also advises bringing anything that makes you comfortable, even if it takes up valuable space in your bag. She says that for her, it meant she brought books and her journals—but says any item that offers comfort is a good packing choice.
17. Ask the locals.
Naomi Liz of Roaming the Americas' post on solo female travel tips includes a suggestion for asking locals for any tips on what to be extra cautious about.
Liz says that though she reads up on issues in the area she's traveling in ahead of time, "Asking locals is the best way to find out if a specific area is safe."
18. Register your trip with your government.
Liz also suggests registering your trips abroad with your government.
Doing so means the government will send you travel warnings as well as inform your embassy that you are in the country should any sort of national emergency or natural disaster occur.
U.S. citizens can register through Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
19. Carry a local shopping bag.
The first thing long time solo traveler Evelyn Hannon of JourneyWoman does when she gets to a destination is find the local grocery store.
"I make a small purchase just so that I get a shopping bag with the store's logo on it," Hannon explains in a post on her solo female travel tips.
"To avoid looking like a tourist and to fit in, I leave my backpack at the hotel and carry my camera and maps in this grocery bag. One added benefit—thieves are far less prone to steal my shopping bag than to grab my backpack."
20. What do you do for a living?
Hannon also advises a white lie for answering what you do for a living if you're not sure if the person can be trusted.
"Tell them you're a policewoman on holiday," she writes. "I do it all the time, just to be on the safe side."
Stay safe and go explore!