Although traveling alongside a group of friends and family creates shared memories that last a lifetime, traveling alone comes with its own set of joys. As a young female, I found that waiting around for people to agree and commit to a trip – whether some new domestic destination or international excursion – usually ended up with disappointment and having to sort out a list of conflicting schedules, expectations, and accommodation preferences. Once I made that initial solo trip, I never looked back, and instead found myself navigating the world as a solo woman. Believe it or not, traveling alone in 2023 can actually help you save money on your global journey.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges that come with being a solo female traveler. Like all things, there are risks involved — which we’ve covered a fair bit, BTW. But with some planning and prep, the joys far outweigh the challenges and risks. I feel certain of that.
So next time you’re bookmarking the cheap jungle bungalows of Southeast Asia, longing for a visit to the sandy shores of Costa Rica, and wanting to lessen the language barrier between you and the cities of the world, go back to this article and get inspired by these women travel influencers who have taken the world in the palms of their hands.
“Learn to be social” & “Enjoy your solitude” — KRISTIN ADDIS (@bemytravelmuse)
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I’ve been solo traveling for over 10 years now and the biggest challenge I think is that you need to learn to either be really outgoing or enjoy your solitude. I would really say both. It is easy to be outgoing because travelers tend to be friendly people but if you’re not willing to put yourself out there at all then you will be spending a lot of time truly by yourself. Now I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, I think it’s actually one of the beautiful things about traveling alone. It can really be a joy, actually. But eating alone and making all of the choices yourself can be hard.
I feel the joys are much more than the challenges. I think everyone should do it at least once in life because you really become aware of what you’re capable of. You realize you don’t need anyone else to be successful in life. It encouraged me to try so many things that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have done if I didn’t have that self-efficacy that I built through traveling alone. It allows you to be totally selfish, which I don’t think is always a bad thing. It’s important to have that experience and be whoever you are without other people’s opinions or ideas coloring your experience. You get to know yourself on the most intimate level possible.
“Rely on the kindness of strangers” — LUCY RUTHNUM (@absolutelylucy)
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After seven years of living as a nomadic solo female traveler, I’ve definitely had my fair share of challenges. But I’ve also experienced so much joy in solo travel. As a solo female traveler, it can be challenging at times to be fully responsible for yourself. There’s no doubt the world can be a difficult place for a woman on her own and when you’re traveling you experience the best and the worst of people. That’s not to say it’s something you shouldn’t do though.
If anything, I think the challenges you face bring you so much closer to strangers and it really shows you the kindness of other people. The amount of times that I was struggling being a solo female traveler and someone has come to my rescue by inviting me into their home and making made me feel completely welcome, even we don’t speak the same language. People welcomed me into their country, shared food, and introduced their friends to me. It really reminds you that although the world can be a difficult place, just how positive it is and that it’s full of kindness.
You can rely on the kindness of strangers which is something that, quite frankly, growing up in the UK was told to avoid. I think that’s the most heartwarming thing about solo female travel is finding good-hearted people. I highly recommend traveling alone, it is without a doubt the best investment that I’ve ever made and it was worth every penny.
Face your “fear of the unknown” — ZOE GATHI (@zoe_gathi)
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As a solo woman traveler, I’ve experienced so many emotions while exploring different parts of the world. On one hand, there’s the thrill of exploring new places, getting to know new cultures, meeting interesting people and — why not — making new friends. But on the other hand, there’s also the fear of the unknown and all the possible dangers that come with traveling alone.
One of the biggest challenges that a solo female traveler faces is the fear of the unknown. When you’re traveling by yourself, there’s no one to rely on but yourself, which can be discouraging at times. Research and planning ahead of time can be very useful and go a long way in easing some of these fears.
Despite the challenges, travel has definitely filled me with joy and brought me personal growth. It has allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone and experience new cultures and ways of life. I’ve learned to be self-sufficient and independent. I’ve met incredible people along the way who have enriched my life in countless ways. Ιt has changed my perspective on life and the way I see things. Travel has taught me respect. Ιt has made me wiser and a better human being.
Being a solo woman traveler has taught me that anything is possible if I believe in me and I’m willing to take the risk and put myself out there. While it’s not always easy, the rewards of solo travel are more than worth it.
“The feeling of accomplishment” — EMILY HART (@emilyventures)
The challenges of solo travel are often the same things that bring joy – I get to do everything by myself, but I also have to do everything by myself. When I’m sick or tired or confused or out of service, solo travel can easily turn from an empowering experience to one that is frustrating if I don’t work at keeping a positive mindset.
Logistically being solo can be challenging as some restaurants don’t want to seat solo travelers at a table, some excursions require two people (or make you pay for two) and some hikes just aren’t safe solo. When I recently visited American Samoa the park was nearly deserted, and with no search and rescue on the island, I decided not to do many hikes even though I had a satellite device. The unnecessary strain on resources I might cause as a solo traveler was not worth it.
Oh, the joys!
Too many to accurately express really – if that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t have traveled this way for a decade. I think, for me, what it comes down to is the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that solo travel creates. It is a cycle that repeats itself and continues to level up – I feel accomplished and confident from doing things on my own, which leads to more of the same. I have this great well of trust within myself because I know I have faced things that at one point I didn’t think I could. I have solved all of the problems that have come at me thus far – one way or another – on my own. I’m not bound by anyone else’s plans or schedules or preferences – I can just be me.
Take the difficult “first step” to meet people — OLIVIA CHRISTINE (@ochristine)
Traveling as a woman in today’s world is so different than even a decade ago. There are so many more platforms, apps, and communities that uplift women explorers. I have met people along my adventures that I’ve stayed in touch with and reconnected with years later, in random parts of the world! If I was traveling with a group of friends, that likely wouldn’t happen.
Traveling as a solo female can be extra special because it helps you unlock fears, leave your comfort zone, and get to know yourself. I am introverted in unfamiliar situations plus I don’t come from a traveling family, so taking chances and socializing are not naturally in my vocabulary. Solo female travel helped me step out of that mindset by making me believe in myself one trip at a time. You don’t have to be a fearless social butterfly to solo travel.
The biggest challenge I’ve come across is myself. I really enjoy being by myself so sometimes I have to give myself a pep talk to go out, but once I am there and comfortable I am just fine. That first step is hard. To get over that hump while traveling, I’ll befriend a couple of people (this is where hostels, co-working spaces, and group tours are super useful) and then I use those friendships to motivate me to get out. It is like a domino effect thereafter.
Enjoy being a “clean slate to each new person you meet” — SOJOURNER WHITE (@thesojournies)
I’m Sojourner White — a Black woman traveler who travels solo via plane, bus, and train (which is my favorite) around the world. I love meeting new people and trying new things. But one of the biggest joys of solo traveling is creating my own itinerary and no one can tell me I have to change it or I can decide to completely abandon it and sleep all day. It’s freeing to get up and decide that I want to take a twerk class in New Orleans, a cooking class in Mexico, hike a volcano for pizza in Guatemala, or do a street food tour in Panama, just for the fun of it. I feel like society tells women we have to be caretakers for everyone all the time. But when I solo travel I can take up as much space as I want and be selfish with my own time. You’re a clean slate to every new person you meet and that’s so cool to me.
Some early challenges in my solo woman traveler journey really had to do with me being a Black woman traveling solo in places where there aren’t many Black people. I had to deal with people staring at me, questioning if I was really born in the U.S., or trying to touch my hair or skin. Lots of these interactions are out of curiosity, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. And at the end of the day, I’m never letting those experiences stop me from seeing the world and doing what I want to do. A consistent challenge is always navigating new places solo where I don’t know the language and learning how to trust strangers in the moment when I don’t know anyone else. I’ve learned over time though that people are more genuine and nicer than you think.
I’ll also add that I’ve found so much joy in doing scenic train rides solo and I think they’re an interesting experience to do solo. I’ve done them around the U.S. (Amtrak’s California Zephyr and Coast Starlight) and the El Chepe Express through Copper Canyon in Mexico. There is just something about being solo, through the middle of nowhere, on a train watching the sunrise that is so serene and simple. Oddly enough I think a scenic train ride is a great solo trip option because they’re easy to plan and you can really see if you like to be solo.
Recognize that the “experience is what you make of it” — MELANIE SUTRATHADA (@melaniesutra)
I used to be afraid of solo traveling. The idea of going to a new city or country alone would give me debilitating anxiety that left me with more questions than answers. What if I got lost? What would people think about me eating alone? Would I be safe? Would I get lonely? There were so many fears.
Then, one day, I decided that the only way to know was to do it. So I booked a solo trip to Iceland and jumped right in. It took me out of my comfort zone, and it challenged me, changed me, and ultimately made me a better person. I came home with new friends that I still keep in touch with, stories of once-in-a-lifetime adventures, and more faith in the kindness of humanity than I ever expected. Since that trip, I’ve traveled to about 15 other countries completely solo and haven’t looked back.
Solo traveling can be freeing, empowering, and inspiring at times. It can also be tiring, overwhelming, and exhausting at times. There are days when solo traveling might mean going for a magical night hike to see the Northern Lights or cathartically crying as you sit underneath a waterfall that looks straight out of a postcard. And there may be other days where you spend an exhausting night in a laundromat because of a bedbug problem at your hostel or have to teach yourself how to change a flat tire through a buffering YouTube video in the middle of nowhere. The beauty of solo travel is that the experience is all your own and is what you make of it.
Deciding to go alone is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself, and I hope you’ll decide to take the leap. You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.
Make the leap of faith and “community will follow you” — SAM MCCLENDON (@sammcclendon)
Solo traveling is really a huge part of my life. I took the biggest leap that I could’ve possibly made when I solo moved halfway around the world to Paris to live and work without really knowing anyone there. This was a huge solo journey for me to experience the French culture and be in Europe. From there I kind of made it my mission to go and see as much of Europe as possible.
It was really hard to make travel friends and connect with people when I was just starting my business and social media brand where I didn’t have a community surrounding me yet. So, I just started going on solo trips and I would find a really cheap ticket to go to Italy for the weekend. I would go to spots where I knew other solo travelers would hang out, like certain cafes, bars near hostels, and doing group tours. I made a lot of friends while out on the road and now I have at nearly every destination that I travel to because being a solo traveler really forces you to do uncomfortable things, meet new people, and spend time with yourself while figuring out who you are. You’re figuring out what kind of people you want in your life and what you want with your life.
I really took all of these experiences to heart and it has made me who I am and very open-minded. I very much want to see all of the world and what it has to offer while surrounding myself with people who are like-minded. A lot of girls feel the same, which is why I recently started a girls group trip company for solo travelers to meet other travel friends. I feel like meeting people who feel the same and want to go out and experience the world through solo travel will help inspire you to take the leap in solo travel and meet new friends on your journey.
Stand tall, smile, and “prove it to yourself that you can do anything” — MIKALA LUGEN (@miklugen)
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Let me tell you something: As soon as you walk into the light of your own power and realize that you can travel the world alone, you’ll never want to look back. As a 25-year-old female, it’s easy to get caught up in all the risks and challenges that come with traveling alone. Along with maybe not knowing the native language of a foreign country you’re in, being familiar with the area and streets, and needing to figure out a whole new currency exchange rate, just having to walk around as a solo female puts a target on your back. A woman traveling alone could be seen as an easy target to those with bad intentions or wanting to take advantage of you.
But that is also where you find the joy. Stand tall, smile – but only when you truly feel like it – and embrace the adventure of doing literally whatever you want. You get to spend some intimate time with your own inner thoughts and consciousness while navigating a new city or country. The joy that comes with figuring out some unknown and slightly scary or difficult situation by yourself while also basking in the all the amazing moments you share with yourself out beat the challenges. It truly elevates your confidence when you summit that mountain, fly halfway around the world, and eat a meal…alone. Once you get past these fears and prove to yourself that you can do this, you’ll want to keep it up.
With a positive and go-with-the-flow attitude, you’ll also likely meet some cool like-minded fellow travelers who are also looking for new friends. Whether you want to treat yourself to a solo wine and dine or share the table among new travel friends, you – and you alone – get to make that decision for yourself. It comes with this newfound sense of power over your life that trickles as a positive inspiration for you and those around you.
Get out of your comfort zone and “experience new things that you wouldn’t experience otherwise” — CHLOE CALDWELL (@chloeicaldwell)
To me, the hardest yet most rewarding part of solo travel is how it forces you out of your comfort zone — whether its navigating your way through a new city, communicating (or trying to) with a language barrier, or simply sitting down at a table for one to eat dinner alone. As a woman, overcoming the ups and downs of solo travel has given me a sense of independence and confidence I didn’t have before. I know now that I can rely on and take care of myself. It’s also taught me how to truly have fun with myself and given me a greater sense of who I am in this world.
I love that traveling solo opens you up to experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have and conversations with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet — like grabbing beers with local tattoo artists in Kauai or taking tequila shots with a bachelor party in Cabo. On my most recent solo trip to Paris, I met three other women solo travelers throughout my visit, and it makes me so happy to see this growing trend of women taking travel into their own hands. I hope that more people continue to embark on their own travel journey and experience the exciting, scary, eye-opening moments that come with it.