Women travelling the world solo is more common than you would think, easier than you could imagine and a huge boost to your confidence. Every high experienced while travelling is that much greater because of the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Knowing that you planned this trip, you went through with it and made it happen, and you did it all on your own despite being utterly terrified! Even little things like buying a bus ticket in an unfamiliar language is an even greater boost to self confidence simply because it was a solo accomplishment.
I don’t think solo female travel is such a big deal anymore. We’ve been chipping away at this mentality that women should be chaperoned when abroad and that we’ve now made it the norm. There are thousands of solo females travelling all over the world right this second and the more of us out there travelling alone, creating a community abroad and looking out for one another, the safer it is.
Some time ago I wrote about the difficulties of solo female travel and then I just left it at that, which I think sends the wrong message.
So here are all the reasons I think travelling solo as a woman actually benefits your experiences:
Female only dorms. There’s almost no ‘male only’ dorms, so we are privileged to have that option, one that allows us to easily find other solo females to pair up with, borrow a little coconut oil, and (in my experience) make more respectful dormitory buddies.
Strangers look out for you when they see that you’re alone. When locals have asked me who I was travelling with, and I said 'nobody, I'm on my own', they often looked horrified. But then they took me under their wing, watched out for me on the long bus rides, gave advice, or made conversation with me, worried that I was lonely.
Women are naturally more wary (probably the residue of a lifetime of cautious warnings from our mothers). I think we are more aware of unusual attention, and have pretty fine tuned 'creep detectors' and are much less likely to drink ourselves to oblivion in a strange bar, or walk around at night alone than our male counterparts.
Locals find you more approachable, children will talk to you, teenagers will ask for a photo with you (in Southeast Asia) - perhaps more a curse than a blessing, and families will invite you into their home for dinner. When I travelled South America with my partner Jack, I found that I was engaged in fewer conversations with residents. Perhaps it's because of that male dominated culture, because all small talk from waiters, taxi drivers and hostel owners were directed at him, often excluding me.
Of all the risky stories I’ve heard on the backpacker trail, very few involved women. The stories I’ve heard are of injuries, assaults, thefts and scams and 9 times out of 10 involved men. It seems it’s our cautious attitudes play the largest role in our safety and we are not as hindered by our gender as the media would have us believe.
P.S. You might be interested in:
First time travel fears - everything I wish I knew before I began travelling
When you're too homesick to be happy, solo travel tips for the heartsick
You want to travel, but your partner doesn't. What now?
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