How To Become A SOLO Female Traveler

by brian on June 22, 2009

Loyal reader Rhona has been traveling Germany solo for the last three months and has been enjoying her experience. There are a lot of women who like to travel but only go when their friends or family go with them. That limits your opportunities if you need other people to go with. Now you are not only dependent on own your schedule and money, but someone else’s.

Completely unacceptable!

Rhona explains how she started traveling solo and why you should too! Check out her blog about her Germany adventures at the end of this post.

Rhona in Austria

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What was your first first trip solo – where and how long?

My first international solo trip was to Barcelona, Spain over the Easter Weekend of April this year. I was supposed to meet some friends that weekend in Spain but at the last minute, they bailed. Since I had already paid for my trip, I went alone. I was upset at first to not be sharing the weekend with my friends but in the end I had a fantastic time!

This trip to Barcelona was a great intro into my travels as a solo female. I was able to set my own timetable, go where I pleased, when I wanted to and for how long. It was truly liberating and exhilarating.

What prompted you to go? Did you try ask friends and family to go with you? What happened when you did?

I am currently in Germany on a 3 month program for work and I decided to see as much of Europe as I could in my short stay and I am proud to say that I have and am. For Barcelona, my friends and I agreed on this locale for a short break.

I am not going to lie, I was nervous about certain things as this was my solo trip and away from my comforts zones (home in Ontario, Canada and family, friends, familiar surroundings, being able to speak the language) but I made it a personal mission to enjoy myself and see as much as I could of Barcelona.
Once I got to Barcelona and found a place to stay, I was able to relax and totally enjoy where I was. I became so excited that I was in such a romantic and exciting city.

What was/is the reaction of your family and friends when you take off by yourself?

My family and friends know and understand that I am an independent person so they were not too surprised about this first solo sojourn. My parents were obviously a bit nervous but I made sure to send my sisters emails and texts on my whereabouts to sooth my family’s nerves.

Where have gone since then by yourself?

I have gone on all my weekend trips here alone! And, I love it! I have visited a lot of places in Germany as it is my favourite country thus far. German locals include: Heidelburg, Ludwigsburg, Düsseldorf & Köln, Berlin, Munich, Tübingen, Ulm and Bremen. Not to mention the numerous cities all around the city I live which include Kornwestheim, Stuttgart, Degerloch, Bietigheim. There are too many to list off here. Around Europe I have been blessed to visit Salzburg, Austria. Strasborough and Paris, France.

Any crazy experiences abroad as a woman? Men trying to pickup, mistakes in customs or culture, etc?

Everything with customs or train travel (my prefered method of travel around Germany) has been hassle-free. I will say that the men in Germany are very forward for the most part. In Barcelona an older gentleman tried to ask me out. In Strasborough I was fed some flattering compliments. I took all (not that there are much) with a little laugh. I have never once felt threatened though.

The Bavarian Alps

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What tips would you give women who want to travel by themselves?

I would say confidence is key. Be confident in whatever you do as you travel. Be confident in asking questions and the way you conduct yourself around locals. Most people I have encountered were only too happy to help me with any inquiries I had. I was always friendly and gave a smile which opens a gateway for conversation.

If you are unsure of anything, ask, ask, ask! A great resource are taxi drivers. For myself, when I ask for a location of place or site etc., I am always given correct instructions.

If you are unsure of how to get to a hostel from the airport or main station, simply send a message to the hostel or hotel on complete directions a few days before you actually leave. I have always received timely responses.

Having a map, itinerary or some sort of vague plan for the city you are planning on visiting is somewhat key if you are alone. Of course it is not necessary but it might help to avoid missing tours or airplanes or trains etc..
Of course, listen to your gut instincts and practise common sense. No matter how “safe” the country, be safe. Investing in a purse that has a long strap so it can be worn across the body is wise. Making sure to always have extra cash just in case a taxi cab is needed is also a good idea. If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, making sure you have the address on you at all times is a good idea.
Also, keeping your family or friends aware of your location might be something to think about. Most internet cafes are inexpensive so shooting a quick email to advise of change of local or new plans etc., may be a good idea.

If travelers, especially women, need to be reassured about traveling by themselves, what would you tell them?

Please, just take the plunge and do it! There is a giant wonderful and exciting world waiting for you.

If you are not shy, making friends anywhere you go will be a no brainer. But, for people like me who are semi-introverted, don’t be afraid to talk to other people. Making conversation at hostels is a great way to meet other people and open your world completely.
Last but not least, do it!! The first trip alone might be scary but I promise, the second, third and others will be exhilarating, eye opening and wondrous. By traveling alone you have the option of being by oneself when one wants to be or inviting others into your world.
As a woman, I have felt that people are a bit more eager to help me out if I have a question. There is nothing to fear. Go, practice common sense as you do at home and see the world. You will never regret it.
The only regret I have is the limited amount of time I have to spend in Germany. Also, you will come home a completely changed person. For the better!

See Rhona’s Blog @
In Stuttgart

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Solo travelers: Comment below and give your suggestions and tips to others who may want go see the world but still a little hesitant to do it alone.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

http://ALittleAdrift.com June 22, 2009 at 10:24 AM

love the post and your observations about solo travel – I traveled around Australia by myself for two months and it was amazingly liberating and I would also recommend solo travel to women – don't listen to anyone who tells you it's too dangerous…as long as you have common sense you can have amazing adventures and stay completely safe!!! :)

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rhonalala June 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

thanks for posting my interview Brian! I am proud to see myself like that on your blog and giving others sound (I hope) advise.

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brian June 22, 2009 at 3:51 PM

@www.alittleadrift.com
This is true which is why I've been trying to get solo female travelers to guest post. We should trade!

@rhonalala
You have helped and I've glad you were so enthusiastic to do it. You never know who will read this and be inspired to get up and go.

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http://ALittleAdrift.com June 22, 2009 at 5:39 PM

I'd be interested in a trade of sorts, what do you have in mind?

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Bee June 22, 2009 at 6:14 PM

I, too, have been fortunate to travel solo, first at age 22 in Europe in 1980 and 1981, later in S.E. Asia for 4 months at age 44, and most recently, in China off and on for the past 6 years. At the tender age of 52, I'm more convinced than ever that solo travel for a woman is entirely liberating and great fun.

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Scribetrotter June 23, 2009 at 12:04 AM

There are more of us than you think! I took my first solo trip when I was 15 (not 'quite' with my parent's approval though)… More recently I backpacked for three years on my own across Africa and Asia, and have met many women who more or less follow the same path… It's a wonderful thing to see the world on your own (especially if you pack your good sense with you!)

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Heather Hapeta June 23, 2009 at 1:37 AM

solo travel is WONDERFUL.
i do it as often as i can . in fact wrote a book about my adventures ….. Naked In Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad .. all about me running away from home and travelling Alaska to Zimbabwe

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Carla Young June 23, 2009 at 2:15 AM

I love solo travel as well. Rhonas story was great and I look forward to reading more from her, and more on here as well.

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brian June 23, 2009 at 2:20 PM

@www.alittleadrift.com
We'll talk offline.

@Bee
The reason I really wanted this blog post is because I see women travel in groups to travel and someone is NOT happy because they didn't get to see what they wanted to see. It doesn't have to be that way. You are a superstar traveler with your experience!

@Scribetrotter
I know you're out there, but you are definitely the exception to the rule. A lot of women feel vulnerable and sometimes they just need to hear that someone else has done it before they try.

@Heather Hapeta
Running away to Alaska to Zimbabwe. Excellent!

@Carla Young
Rhona was excited to know her interview got such positive feedback. We'll continue to have great content here. Tell your friends and subscribe.

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A_Gallivant April 6, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Great to read about your travels solo. I definitely concur about talking to people if you are an introvert. I spent most of 2009 traveling the tennis tour and one of my best times came as a result of starting a conversation with a stranger who was catching some tennis as well. We spent the day together and had a wonderful time.

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Jen March 7, 2011 at 11:01 AM

When i was 20, i went to study culinary in Florence, Italy for about 3 months. I changed and learned so much in those 3 months.
I remember on my return back to the U.S. how ready I was to be home. I missed my family, friends, and just my ‘normal’ life and food. I swore that I was not going to leave my country again. haha. Well, it took me a few months to forgive some of the mishaps and struggles of my journey, but I realized what a uplifting experience it really was. On the weekends I would go traveling. I went to Pisa, Venice, Palermo, etc. I even managed to spend a weekend in Germany, France, and Switzerland.
I have since started my career, but long to go back to some randomness and exploration. I just don’t know when or how to start my travels. How do you have enough money to travel? What do you do when you come back home from travels? Where do you live when you return?
Any help to get the adventure put back into my life would be greatly appreciated.

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brian March 11, 2011 at 12:50 AM

Since you’ve started your career hopefully you’re able to save some money to travel. Cut back on Starbucks and lunch out everyday. People don’t realize how much they are spending until they document and track every cent. I sold my house and saved up for my trip. Nothing special. Also direct deposit is your best friend. Stash away money on a regular basis without any human interaction from you.

If you’re determined, you’ll find a way to do it. There are many who went before you and there will be plenty after you. Just make the commitment to save. That is half the battle right there.

Jumping back into life at “home” is not a problem. If you have great family and friends it is very very easy. They may not understand your need to travel, but family generally supports you once you make it clear you will not give up. You can do it!

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Louvnia June 12, 2011 at 5:26 AM

I’m seventeen, and I just recently decided to travel for a living. I know money is involved of course and i am not from a wealthy family. How can I travel and be able to afford it? I really want to travel because my mother has sheltered me in little Alabama since i was born. So just going to Florida is a big deal to me :) .

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brian June 18, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Well you can work while you travel – teach English, work in hostels. You can volunteer abroad. Many organizations will pay for room and board. You can do something that is location independent, like Internet marketing, photography, graphic design, coding, etc. There are many many options. Look up phrases like ‘digital nomad’, ‘location independence’, ‘location independent professional’, etc. Also read the Tim Ferriss book “The 4 Hour Work Week” for more ideas. Good luck and please let us know what you end up doing.

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