First Timer Solo Travel Tips for Women
Solo travel as a woman isn't as daunting as it sounds. Traveling solo can be fun, empowering, and introduce you to a level of independence that can carry over into other aspects of your life. But like any type of travel, preparing for solo travel ahead of time will make you a safer and allow you to travel smarter.
1) Take Safety Precautions Prior to Your Trip.
Be sure to register your trip with the State Department. This is a good practice because you'll also receive news alerts if there are any safety warnings in the area you're traveling to that you should be aware of. Also be sure to purchase travel insurance there are many inexpensive options and it's worth the peace of mind to know you're covered. Share your itineraries + copies of your passport with an immediate family member or close friend. I like loading everything into Evernote and just sharing that prior to travel. Be sure to check in with that loved one during your trip so they can raise an alarm if they haven't heard from you.
2) Do extensive research to make sure your accommodations and surrounding areas are safe.
Check in with your accommodations to ask about the neighborhood you're staying in. Also do your own research from trusted travel advice sources and/or travel guide books. It's all the better if you actually know someone from the place you are visiting so you can ask them opinions from a local perspective. If you don't know people in real life, mine your social media networks. DM that friend you chat with on a regular basis on IG who lives in the country or city you are visiting. Even if you don't find any info or note, doing your research in advance is a good practice regardless of who you're traveling with.
3) Figure out the main mode(s) of transportation to navigation for the duration of your trip. Research and confirm your chosen modes of transportation for your trip.
For example for my solo trip to Mexico City earlier this year, I decided to take a pass on figuring out the subway system and chose to use Uber as my main method of transportation (outside of using an airport shuttle to get to and from the airport). Even though I speak no Spanish, this was a pretty easy to get around the city and the prices were cheaper than the Uber prices at home, so it wasn't a budget buster. For other cities, I've visited like Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, I had good experiences taking the subway. Transportation will really just depend on your destination so you can determine what makes the most sense in terms of safety, ease of use, and budget.
4) Figure out how you plan to stay connected.
If you are a heavy user of data on your smart phone, you may want to consider purchasing an international phone/data plan with your cell phone carrier if they have that as an option for your destination. You can also purchase a SIM card upon arrival in many countries to use for the duration of your trip. Rental of an external wi-fi devices is another option so you can be assured that your connection is secure when abroad.
5) Plan Group Tours as a Way to See Sights and Meet Fellow Travelers.
If you are a solo travel newbie or simply just like meeting fellow travelers, seek out info on group tours. In many major cities, you can find free walking tours in touristy areas where you just pay a tip to the tour guide if you choose to at the end of the tour. If you prefer more structure, research tours based on your interests (i.e. cooking, arts, culture, nightlife, etc.).
6) If you don't feel comfortable traveling in evenings and at night alone, then get an early start and stay in or nearby your Hotel/Hostel/Bed and Breakfast.
Don't feel obligated to take in the nightlife on your trip. You totally can check out night life if you choose, but be sure to use the normal safety precautions you'd take to go out solo in your own city/town/burb. But if hanging out solo for an evening is not your thing, you can hang in the lobby of your hostel, hotel or BNB and socialize with fellow travelers.
7) Be careful of how you handle and access your money.
Another practice for travel solo or with others is to not travel around with all of your cash and credit cards with you. Hide part of money and copies of your passport in a locked safe in your room if one is available. Be mindful of your surroundings when taking out money from ATMs or exchanging money. If the opportunity presents itself, I prefer to use an ATM in a busy hotel lobby, so I will seek out one even if I'm not staying in a hotel. It's just easier to be inconspicuous inside a hotel rather than on a busy street. Figure our your plan to use your funds in advance. You may feel more confirmable exchanging money while in the airport even if they aren't the best rates, and that's totally ok.
8) Be mindful of how you share your travels online/social media in real time.
It's unfortunate that you have to think about this, but if you don't live somewhere that has 24 hour front desk concierge, consider just waiting until you get back to share your amazing video footage and images on social media of your trip. It just alleviates the concern of people seeing you're not home and taking advantage of that to steal from you.