We’ll be the first to admit that when our minds indulge in wanderlust fantasies, they are often imagined with family or friends. To many, the prospect of not being able to share sights, sounds, random cultural encounters, tastes and smells with those closest to us may seem like an unfitting arrangement. Yes, you may have to enlist the kindness of strangers to help you get photos beyond the standard selfie. And yes, the responsibility of the entire trip is solely in your hands. But, therein resides some of the reasons why solo travel can be so different from shared travel. The prospect of jetting off alone, especially if you’re female, can be one of the most liberating ways imaginable to embrace travel.
The obstacles most commonly expressed as hurdles to solo female travel are safety-related. These are legitimate concerns and making the decision to embark upon a solo journey doesn’t mean throwing crime stats or diligent research to the wayside. On the contrary, ensuring that your solo travels are safe and comfortable requires ample research, careful selection of a destination and awareness while traveling alone. This level of concern for safety should be present regardless of whether you’re in Boulder, Boston or Bumthang.
While safety is obviously a critical consideration, it’s just one of many factors of traveling solo as a female. The following top reasons why a ticket abroad for one can be an amazing way to travel, along with some tips for getting started.
Get empowered. You’re the boss!
The decision to travel solo sets into motion a process that is considerably different than traveling with family or friends. Right at the outset, itinerary planning and all decisions rest squarely on your shoulders. It’s all about what you want to see and what you want to do.
We interviewed ATJ travel expert and solo female travel connoisseur, Katie Weiland, on her vast experience with traveling alone in the last issue of Journey. “Traveling solo is incredibly empowering,” Katie states. “It’s such a confidence-boosting thing to do and there’s no better way to discover your own strength than a situation where you’re relying on yourself 100% in such an independent manner.”
Ultimately, you decide what you’re going to do at all times. This sense of fulfilling your own desires without having to negotiate with other friends and family can be quite liberating and refreshing. You’ll be traveling in a manner where you don’t have to make any compromises.
Become a master of confidence and resourcefulness
Travel is inherently a collection of problem-solving opportunities. Whether you’ve missed a train connection to your next in-country destination, find yourself lost or need to figure out how to get from one end of the city to the other in order to make your dinner reservations, travel is permeated with a series of challenges both small and large.
When you’re traveling alone, the responsibility for managing these challenges is solely yours. You become more resourceful of your own time purely out of necessity and that has a tendency to boost your confidence.
“I found myself feeling so much more independent,” Katie Weiland recalls. “Your confidence gets nurtured as you continually rely on yourself. It’s easy, when traveling with others, to share responsibility or rely on someone else. When it’s just you, you take the reigns and don’t have that process of negotiating with others. The decisions are freely yours to make. It’s really a different mindset than traveling with others.”
Get to know new people… and yourself
On the surface, traveling solo may seem like a lonely way to set abroad. But in reality, there are abounding opportunities for connections with locals and other travelers when you’re traveling solo. Not having family or friends around automatically creates a scenario where you’re more open to seeking conversations and connections with others around you. Traveling alone will also illicit some curiosity from fellow travelers. Or, you may very well encounter other great people who possess the same mindset and are traveling alone as well. Traveling alone has a unique way of opening doors to connections with new people throughout your journey.
While making unexpected connections with others is a highlight of traveling solo, connecting with yourself is an equally powerful experience. Katie Weiland sums up a treasured personal aspect of solo travel: “While a trip with friends or family might be a little more extroverted – you go out more at night and consistently have folks around you can converse with – I found traveling solo to be a much more introverted. I could go to my room in the evening and spend time meditating by myself rather than go out. I found this internal connection to be great! This alone made it such a different experience than traveling with a group.”
When traveling solo, there are naturally precautions one must take and there are certainly more precautions needed if you’re a woman. Research your destinations well to fully be briefed on etiquette and dress code for women. Understanding the cultural nuances of your destination and the impact that your behavior and actions may have will go a long way toward ensuring problem-free travel.
Get in touch with your inner street-smarts and avoid any scenarios that may potentially put you in harm – like going out to bars alone late at night. And, as always, be acutely aware of your surroundings and what’s happening around you.
Some destinations are more female-friendly than others. Take the time to decide on a destination that fits your comfort level to mitigate any stresses while you’re actually on the trip.
If you’re selecting a tour company, choose one that is intimately experienced with the specific needs, concerns and objectives related to solo female travel. For example, ATJ’s in-country partners are dedicated to the safety and comfort of our solo female guests at every stage of their journey.
Lastly, a common situation many solo travelers experience is expressed concern from loved ones. It’s natural for family or close friends to react with curiosity or outright worry to your decision to travel abroad without company. Understand that this is a natural reaction from those who care for you. Having a conversation with loved ones beforehand, introducing them to the location you’re visiting and outlining the precautions you’re taking will go a long way toward reassuring those who may worry.
Making the most of it
Traveling solo is an exciting opportunity for personal growth. Your independence, confidence and sense of self-reliance will blossom. You’ll also connect with yourself and locals in a manner that is harder to do when you’re traveling with a group of people you know.
As with anything, you get what you put into it. Embrace the experience. Be friendly and open to conversations to allow connections with captivating locals and other travelers. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
ATJ Travel Experts, like Katie Weiland, specialize in crafting custom solo journeys that revolve around your specific desires and needs. Paramount to your journey is safety. ATJ’s trusted in-country partners are dedicated to the safety, comfort and peace-of-mind of each of our solo travel guests. Start planning today for a enriching solo journey with ATJ to learn why we provide a Journey Beyond the Ordinary™.