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Solo female travel: Fall in love with travelling alone

Staying safe, making friends, and having the adventure of a lifetime

By Projects Abroad | 08th February, 2024

Solo travel for women can open the door to a world of self-discovery and cultural exploration.

The number of women embracing independent journeys is on the rise. However, a global study revealed that women rate personal safety as the biggest obstacle to solo travel, above high costs and getting lost.

That’s why it’s so important for women to have access to travel safety information. Below, discover tips for staying safe as a female solo traveller and making friends abroad.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to book your dream trip, explore bucket-list destinations, and form friendships across borders.

Can I travel solo as a female?

Solo travel for women in Cambodia

Absolutely, women can certainly travel solo! In fact, a recent report from Condor Ferries found that 84% of solo travellers are women.

In recent years, there has been a notable rise in women embracing solo travel, proving it to be a rewarding experience. While safety is paramount, careful planning and using a reputable travel company will lead to unforgettable adventures.

Many women find solo travel an opportunity for self-discovery, cultural exploration, and building connections around the world.

I went to the Galapagos for two weeks. It was my first time travelling alone and going on a big trip like this. All the staff were extremely friendly and I really enjoyed my time there. Overall, I made some great friends and had experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life!

- Miriam, Projects Abroad Alumni

Is solo travel safe as a woman?

Lone traveller in Mexico

With proper precautions, solo travel for women can be completely safe. It’s important to research the destination, choose safe accommodation, and stay vigilant in unfamiliar surroundings.

Additionally, communicating with friends and family, using travel apps, and trusting your instincts are crucial for a safe solo travel experience. Remember, millions of women safely complete solo journeys each year.

The benefits of solo female travel

A solo female traveller in the mountains

Solo female travel offers unmatched opportunities for personal growth and empowerment.

By travelling alone as a woman, you will:

  • Build self-reliance and independence.
  • Find time for introspection and self-discovery.
  • Enjoy the freedom of travelling at your own pace.
  • Develop confidence and self-esteem.
  • Connect with local people for cultural immersion.

These benefits extend beyond the trip itself. You’ll return with newfound perspectives and a sense of accomplishment.

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How to stay safe as a solo female traveller

Excited to travel solo but worried about safety? Let’s delve into practical tips on how to navigate the world securely.

Soon enough, you’ll be embarking on solo adventures with confidence.

1) Have an emergency support system

Staying safe abroad

Having emergency processes in place can give you peace of mind. It means you have a safety net in the rare event that something goes wrong.

Your emergency support system should consist of:

  • Regular contact with friends and family. Share your itinerary and check in periodically so they can track your whereabouts.
  • Connections with fellow travellers and local people you trust, creating a wide network you can reach out to.
  • Knowing the emergency number of the country you're visiting. 
  • Using travel companies with a 24/7 emergency helpline you can call.
  • Travel insurance to cover the cost of emergency care.

2) Arrange airport pickup

A staff member at the airport waiting to pick up a travellers

While airports often feel safe, stepping outside can be an overwhelming experience. Leaving the airport Wi-Fi, navigating the taxi system, and not knowing which drivers to trust can cause concern.

Alleviate your worries by arranging airport pickup in advance:

  • Reserve a taxi online.
  • Book a hotel with an airport shuttle service.
  • Choose a travel provider that includes airport pickup.

Doing this will relieve any arrival anxiety. You’ll simply find your driver before being safely transported to your accommodation. For extra safety, note down the number plate of your vehicle.

This trip was the first time I had travelled alone abroad, and although I was extremely excited, I was also very nervous about the trip. As soon as I exited the airport, there was a Projects Abroad staff member there to meet me, instantly making me feel at ease. They took me to my host family's house and told me a bit about Guadalajara.

- Becky, Projects Abroad Alumni

3) Stay in women-only accommodation

Women volunteers sharing a dorm in Botswana

You may feel more comfortable when sharing your living space with other women.

When booking accommodation check for:

  • Women-only hostel dorms.
  • Female hosts.
  • Travel companies that separate rooms by gender.

These establishments often prioritise security measures tailored to the needs of female guests.

Opting for women-only accommodation also fosters a supportive atmosphere. It’s an opportunity to connect with like-minded solo female travelers.

4) Complete a cultural awareness course

A woman meets a monk during her travels

Many solo travellers are worried about navigating an unfamiliar culture. Not understanding the local customs can cause you to stand out, making you feel vulnerable.

Overcome this by:

Armed with greater cultural sensitivity, you’ll find it easier to navigate the local way of life.

This will help you avoid unintentional cultural misunderstandings that could offend local people. It’s also a way to have a more enriching and immersive travel experience.

5) Other safety tips for female travellers

A female solo traveller in the mountains

There are countless ways for women to increase their safety abroad.

Some of the travel safety tips we’ve found most useful are:

  • Sharing your location on your phone with both trusted people you meet abroad and your family back home.
  • Downloading offline maps and adding a pin for your accommodation so that you can always find your way.
  • Carrying a small card with your address and emergency contact details that you can show to a taxi driver.
  • Packing a charger or portable power bank to ensure you always have battery on your phone.
  • Making friends with the receptionist at your hotel or hostel so you have someone you can trust who knows the area.
  • Letting people know when you’re going out, especially at night.
  • Staying healthy by eating and sleeping well to maintain alertness.
  • Being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut if something seems wrong.

The more you travel, the more you’ll build up your own bank of safety hacks for female solo travel. These can help you navigate the world with confidence for life-changing travel experiences.

How to make friends while travelling alone as a woman

Safety isn’t the only concern women have when travelling alone. You may also be worried that you’ll get lonely without any friends. Well, worry not – making friends on the road can be easy and rewarding.

Here are the best ways to make friends as a solo female traveller.

1) Travel with a well-known organisation

Making friends abroad

There are many travel providers out there, but choosing a larger one can help you make friends. That’s because you may get to meet their other travellers during your trip. This is a chance to connect and explore the country together.

Find an organisation that is highly rated on Trustpilot. Read through their reviews and discover the experiences of female travellers.

During the booking process, ask if there will be other travellers at your destination when you go. You may even be able to share flights or accommodation with them.

2) Network before you leave

You don’t have to wait until you arrive at your destination to start making friends. Social media is a great place to start finding other travellers to meet up with. There are Facebook groups for all major tourist destinations. Some are even dedicated to solo travel for women.

There are also many travel buddy apps on the market designed for solo travellers. These are an easy way to start making social connections before you board your plane.

3) Stay in shared accommodation

Host accommodation for women

It can be tempting to book the privacy of a hotel room when travelling abroad. However, this can make it hard to connect with other travellers. Instead, look at shared accommodation options.

This could include:

  • Hostel dorms: Make sure the hostel you choose is highly rated, popular with travellers, and accessible by public transport.
  • Co-living spaces: Popular with digital nomads, these offer a mixture of community spaces and privacy.
  • Host accommodation: A chance to live with a local host who will be your friend during your trip. There may be other travellers sharing with you, providing even more friends to explore with.

4) Find hobby groups

From salsa dancing to rock climbing, there are plenty of hobbies you do at home that can also be done abroad. Look online for hobby groups you can join to gain instant access to like-minded friends.

The benefit of this is that you can stick to activities you already enjoy. This offers the familiarity of home, providing a comfortable space to network. Alternatively, you could choose something new and pick up skills while making friends.

Volunteering abroad for women

Female Conservation volunteers

Did you know that around 70% of Projects Abroad participants are women?

We often find that solo female travellers are attracted by the benefits of volunteering abroad. Most notably, volunteering offers meaningful activities and a built-in support system.

Volunteering involves joining reputable organisations that prioritise safety. This provides a structured environment for women to contribute to meaningful causes.

The communal nature of volunteer work also allows you to form bonds with fellow volunteers.

Travelling as a volunteer is the best way to travel. Even though I was travelling solo, it didn't feel like it as I quickly made friends with the other volunteers. It was a great mix of local living whilst doing touristy things.

- Barbara, Projects Abroad Alumni

Why should women volunteer abroad?

Two female volunteers

If you’d like to see the world safely, make a global group of friends, and help those in need, volunteering abroad may be for you.

Female volunteers benefit from:

  • Meaningful travel: You’ll make a positive impact in local communities.
  • Built-in support: You’ll join a reputable organisation with a safe environment and a ready-made social network
  • Cultural immersion: You’ll work with local people in their communities, gaining deeper access than most tourists.
  • Camaraderie: You’ll work with a group of other like-minded volunteers, giving you new friends to explore with.
  • Personal growth: You’ll be challenged to step out of your comfort zone, which is where growth occurs.

What are the best volunteer opportunities for women?

There are a range of volunteer and intern options for women.

The most popular programmes include:

  • Childcare: Work in schools and daycare centres, teaching and caring for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Medicine: Work in a clinical setting or on community outreaches, providing free health checks and treatments.
  • Conservation: Work to protect some of the world’s greatest animals in a stunning natural setting.

Which countries are safe for women?

Your heart might be bursting with wanderlust, but how do you choose where to travel first? Many women want to see the world but worry that other cultures won’t be safe for them, especially when travelling alone.

Nearly every country can be safe for female solo travellers. It’s just important to understand the culture and avoid problem areas. If you stick to popular tourist destinations and have the support of an organisation, you’ll have a better chance of a safe and memorable adventure.

So, where is the best place to travel as a solo female? Here are some of the more popular destinations.

Africa

A female volunteer in Africa

A trip to Africa can be an unforgettable and life-changing experience. From the Great Migration to colourful city markets, it’s a continent bursting with excitement.

For a trip that’s safe for women, we recommend:

Asia

Solo female traveller in Asia

It’s a rite of passage for solo backpackers to explore Asia. However, some destinations are likely to be safer than others.

Solo female travellers should consider:

Latin America

A woman traveller in Peru

The vast and diverse landscape of Latin America makes it one of the most exhilarating travel destinations. If it’s your first time visiting the continent, travel with a reputable company that goes to the more well-trodden countries.

Top destinations for women in the Americas include:

Discover the best version of you

It’s important for everyone to take safety precautions in an unfamiliar environment, not least solo female travellers. But this shouldn’t stop you from having the adventure of a lifetime.

By preparing carefully, you can throw yourself into your travels and discover what you’re capable of.

For inspiration, read the stories of other solo female travellers:

  • Devon: A Medical intern who went to Kenya for a life-changing experience
  • Joan & Carolyn: Older women who travelled independently to Madagascar and ended up becoming best friends.
  • Sara: The epic story of one woman travelling the world for nearly a year.

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