According to Phocuswire.com solo travel has grown in popularity and it now makes up about 18% of global bookings.
What is truly impressive are the statistics gathered on solo women travelers. According to Condorferries.co.uk, 32 million single American women went traveling at least once over the past year and 1 in 3 travelled 5 times or more. The search volume for “female solo travel” has increased by 62% across all search engines in the past three years.
As a woman that has traveled by herself in over 30 countries over the past 20 years, I can say that solo travel is amazing!
When you travel solo you open up to a whole new world of possibilities. You tend to seek more adventures and do things that you may not have otherwise done if you had someone next to you. Solo travel is extremely enriching in many ways but we will explore this subject on a later post. Stay tuned!
To all solo women travelers out there: I respect you, I commend you, and I encourage you to continue to doing it. You are amazing, brave and just all around badass!!! 😉
On this article I wanted to focus a bit on the negative side so that we know the sort of things that can happen out there. The more we know, the better prepared we can be to stay safe.
It is a sad but true reality that solo travel is more challenging for women than it is for men. This is due to a myriad of cultural, religious, and political reasons among others.
I’ve had my share of difficult times traveling as a solo woman. A few come to mind, especially from the two years when I traveled solo to twenty four countries around the world.
Here are some examples:
I was told that my life has no purpose because I don’t have children, and that I will never find true happiness unless I get married, in India.
Men yelled and made gestures at me on the streets, in Sumatra. At the time, I was fully covered in appropriate attire in order to be respectful to local customs and religious rules so I can only imagine they did it to intimidate me.
I was robbed in three different occasions, one in Nicaragua, one in Cambodia, and one in Vietnam. Of course this happens to men as well but I know many thieves out there believe women to be weak and therefore, easy targets.
I have been verbally harassed and insulted for traveling alone as a woman in my forties, in Morocco.
I have been ambushed, groped and grabbed by men in India. I have been followed and chased by men on bikes and on foot until I had to confront them to make them stop.
And then there are the (usually) innocent typical remarks that even come from women themselves, in many countries, including the US like… Why are you not married? Don’t you feel alone? You must be unhappy? Why don’t you have children? Why do you want to travel alone? And the list goes on and on…
For this post, I wanted to share tips on how to stay safe out there as a solo woman traveler. Although I’ve had my share of difficult moments, I have thankfully survived all of them unscathed.
Here are some tips that may help you stay safer out there:
- BE CONFIDENT AND HAVE YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU: Never make yourself seem like a victim. Don’t ever seem like a weak person. Always have a plan for where you are going and be confident, or at least seem like you are.
- TRAVEL DURING THE DAY: This is if the place where you are seems unfriendly or dangerous for women at night. Find group activities online (through Couchsurfing, Meetup) that you can join to go out at night. Take an Uber back to your accommodations or have someone accompany you.
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY: not only to respect local religious rules and traditional customs but to avoid unwanted negative attention.
- LEAVE BREAD CRUMBS: Always stay in touch with family and friends back home. It is easy to do this through social media nowadays but if you are going off the grid or to a remote place with no wifi or cellular signal, tell someone where you will be and when you can be expected to be reachable again. If something goes wrong, they will know where to begin looking for you. Send them the info of the outfitter company or travel agency that will take you on the tour, if doing one.
- SEEK PRIVACY WHEN NEEDED: especially when traveling on public trains in places like India, Malaysia, and Mexico where they offer “female only” cars. They also have the sleeping bunks with curtains on trains in India.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO CONFRONT THE ENEMY: If someone is following you, turn around and face them! Ask them what they want in a loud and confident voice. Chances are, they will feel so intimidated they will run the other way. It has worked for me!
- LEARN THE BASICS IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE: this is specially important if you need to ask for help.
- TAKE A BUSINESS CARD FROM THE HOTEL: If you don’t have cellular service in the country where you are or your phone runs out of battery, just hand the business card to a taxi driver to take you back to your accommodations. If you are staying at a homestay, just write down the address and phone number on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket.
I hope you have found this post and these few tips helpful.
Don’t be afraid to travel alone! Yes, $hit does happen once in a while but as long as you prepare yourself well, your chances of surviving and overcoming major obstacles are very high. Although I’ve had my share of bad experiences, the good ones have always outnumbered the bad ones by a lot! I don’t regret going to any of the 54 countries that I have visited so far and I don’t plan to stop traveling solo anytime soon. 🙂
I would love to hear about your uncomfortable experiences traveling as a solo woman and how you dealt with them.
The more we know, the better prepared we are.
Help other women through your stories.
Stay safe and keep on traveling!