When it comes to world travel, sisters are doing it for themselves—in droves. Female solo travel is all about freedom, self-exploration, and empowerment. While we are all for getting your Eat, Pray, Love on, it’s crucial to be educated and alert while jet-setting sans companions. Here are our favorite tips for keeping it real and staying drama-free as a single lady on the road.
Have a regular check-in time scheduled with someone back home. If traveling overseas, register with the U.S. Department of State, which will keep you apprised of any relevant situations back stateside. Also, registering with the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers is a valuable resource that grants you access to a broad network of medical services around the world.
Maintain hard copies of your itinerary and emergency contacts on your person at all times (but not in your purse). For added peace of mind, upload copies of key documents to a locked site such as Dropbox. You can always grant access as needed to friends or family. Be sure to keep a photocopy of your passport in each piece of luggage.
Be conscious of your surroundings. There is no need to ever advertise that you are traveling alone. If leaving your hotel room, placing a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and leaving the TV on gives the impression the room is occupied and could deter theft. At check-in and when ordering room service, be discreet and do not mention you are flying solo. If you find yourself lost, rather than checking your cell on the street, pop into a shop or café.
There are places to save on a trip and places to live large. Females traveling alone should budget a little extra cushion to lean back on if there ever comes a time you do not feel completely safe. A fallback fund will enable you to hail cabs when you don’t feel safe walking, switch to a hotel if your Airbnb feels sketch, or take a private train car. If renting a vehicle, get the GPS, and keep the gas tank above the half-full mark at all times.
Minimize attention by taking style notes from local women, and try to blend into your surroundings. If you can’t pull off a full-blown local look, at the very least, shoot for looking like a seasoned expat. If you’re traveling to the Middle East, the U.S. State Department recommends that single women wear a wedding ring. Do your research and get a feel for what other solo female travelers have packed.
Go for function over form. Cross-body bags with zipper tops are preferable, since they are harder to snatch. Choose a purse top that is harder to pickpocket, i.e. not a simple flap or something else that’s easy to open. Keep your passport and key documents under your garments in a hidden security wallet.
Street harassment is a multicultural phenomenon. Depending on your location, it can take many forms and range from subtle to aggressive. Expect it. Ignore it. Don’t be phased, and most important, don't engage.
The world of solo female travelers is a burgeoning and powerful sisterhood. There exists a bond of mutual respect and confidence you’ll be well advised to tap into. If you come across a fellow lady rolling solo, make friends, compare notes, and maybe strike out on a quest together. We promise it will pay off.
Trust your intuition. Don’t feel guilty about turning down anything. This goes for hanging out with locals or checking out an off-the-beaten-path attraction. While it’s exciting to be adventurous and embrace the moment, if at any time you’re not feeling the vibe, politely decline and move on.