3 Simple Ways to Win at Solo Female Travel

When I was planning my first 6-month solo backpacking trip in 2013, many people told me how ‘brave’ and ‘inspiring’ I was for wanting to explore the world on my own.

In reality, I was no different from any woman who dreams of solo travel – I had my set of fears and insecurities. I had sleepless nights spent wondering if things would go wrong, if I would feel miserable being alone, or if I would ‘make it’ around the world safely.

But now, after being on the road for over six years, I only wish that I had embarked on this journey earlier! Not only am I having the time of my life, but I am a better version of myself in more ways than I could have imagined.

I won’t lie, though, and tell you that things are always rainbows and unicorns.

There are days I feel homesick, emotionally and physically drained, or disheartened from witnessing things I wish I hadn’t. The good and bad experiences are an inevitable part of the journey. I embrace all of it as a contribution to my personal growth.

After traveling solo for many years now, my mission is to share my experiences and inspire other women to create a life of fulfillment and self-discovery through their own journey.

If you are feeling uncertain or fearful of traveling alone, I want to share with you three simple ways to make the trip one you will never forget.

1. Say Yes

We all have our own comfort zones. Certain life patterns, foods, and environments make us feel safe, and we inevitably lean towards things that make us feel comfortable.

I urge you to say yes to things you wouldn’t otherwise do while traveling solo.

After all, you’re traveling to explore new experiences, discover yourself, and gain new worldviews.

When I was traveling through Laos back in 2013, I signed up for a zip-lining adventure in which I’d be spending two nights in the middle of a jungle, sleeping in a tree house 100 feet above the ground. I was excited about this experience until I found out that I was going to be joining a group of young boys who were nearly half my age. I was convinced that we would have nothing in common and that I would be miserably out of place.

Despite every part of my being telling me to reschedule the trip, I decided to ‘say yes’ and make the most out of my jungle adventure. And as it turned out, I joined the 18-year-olds, and we had the time of our lives! We had such a great time together, in fact, that we ended up traveling together even after our zip-lining adventure came to an end.

Believe me when I tell you that the ‘old me’ would never have hung out with 18-year-old boys. But when I allowed myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new, I ended up having the best time.

So say yes more often. You’ll surprise yourself when you open up to new possibilities.

2. Get Outdoors

Whether you love camping, hiking, scuba diving, cycling, or trekking, joining outdoor activities when traveling is a sure way to meet like-minded (and usually awesome) people!

My passion for scuba diving led me to many destinations solely to explore underwater life around the world. I signed up for various scuba diving trips, from day trips in the Philippines to a 7-day cruise in Komodo, Indonesia. On almost every trip, I met incredible people from all over the world, some of whom eventually became lifelong friends, including one of my current BFFs!

When there is a shared interest for something, it becomes a natural magnet for connecting people and creating a space for seamless interaction, engaging conversations, and a genuine bond.

Meeting other travelers who share the same passion also helps you plan for future trips, as they will introduce other destinations that will interest you.

When I was traveling in the Philippines, for example, I met a group of scuba divers from Singapore who shared with me about this special place called Sipadan in Malaysia that I had never heard of. When they told me that some phenomenal diving was available there, I took note. Some weeks later, when I continued my backpacking in Borneo, I looked up Sipadan and booked a 3-day scuba trip. True to their word, the scuba diving was fantastic!

To add to the incredible dive trip at Sipadan, I met a new friend while staying in a dormitory. We stayed in touch and ended up connecting again a few months later for another dive trip in Anilao Philippines.

What’s funny about “solo” traveling is that you actually spend so much time with other people that you often don’t feel alone!

3. Book Female-only Dorms

This is obviously a personal preference, but in my experience of staying in countless co-ed hostels and dormitories, female dorms generally provided a better space for rest and peace.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the men I met in hostels were friendly and interesting to talk to. But men tended to snore more often, be less considerate (like slamming doors in the middle of the night), or be messier (like having their personal things spread about).

I can only speak from my experience, but sleeping in co-ed rooms was not as restful as being in female-only rooms.

Besides, in a space shared with only women, I could dress or undress in the room, whereas in co-ed rooms I had to go to the bathroom every time I wanted to change clothes. Not all hostels provide female-only rooms, but finding one with the option is worth it. If you become frustrated, irritated, or sleep-deprived, the quality of your travel will undoubtedly suffer as a result.

If you are keen on making friends with the opposite sex, don’t worry. There are plenty of opportunities to mingle with male travelers either in common areas of the hostel or during your outdoor excursions.

Final Word on Solo Female Travel

It is natural to have doubts about traveling solo, particularly as a single woman. But if you let your fear stop you from exploring the unknown, you will never know what you are capable of, or what is possible on the other side.

Solo traveling is so much more than just seeing new places and eating new cuisines – it is about conquering your limiting beliefs, discovering yourself, and expanding your horizon.

I hope that you found my tips useful and can allow yourself to explore new possibilities. And like me, I hope you find solo traveling to be the best adventure of your lifetime!

Mo is a Bali-based scuba instructor whose current passions include coconut ice cream, rescuing street dogs, and sharing her travel tips and resources on Travelust 101.

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