Traveling Alone for the First Time:
Well, that’s not scary or anything!
I was PETRIFIED traveling solo for the first time. Like really scared.
But I Did It Anyway.
And I think that’s the most important part. It’s not about being scared. but It’s about doing the very things that terrify you the MOST.
Just because I traveled alone for the first time and lived to tell the tale, doesn’t mean I was prepared for the experience. Like not at all.
I Made so Many Mistakes.
Truth be told, I would have had much more fun if I had known what to expect.
So That’s Where This Post Comes in!
You’ll learn what to expect when traveling alone for the first time and receive some expert tips and tricks on how to travel solo for the first time, like a pro. Once you’re finished with this post, traveling abroad alone, as a female, will be a total breeze (or at least less of a migraine).
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Traveling Alone for the First Time Female: 15 Solo Travel Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Trip
1. You Will Get Hit on
Annoying but true.
It’s like guys see a first-time solo female traveler and immediately think, “Aha! Fresh meat!”
I mean, just because you’re alone and a female, doesn’t mean you’re looking for male companionship. Maybe you’re totally okay with traveling alone or maybe you’re in a relationship and just need some me time.
But in Fairness:
It’s not just skeezy creeps that act like you need a man/companion to travel.
I’ve had so many well-intentioned people say to me, “Well, maybe you’ll meet someone while you’re away”
Like yeah sure, I’ll just know someone for five seconds and suddenly rearrange my entire life because yeah, that’s SUPER healthy and not needy or codependent at all.
Okay, rant over.
So what do you do when creepers hit on you because you’re alone and more approachable?
I typically say that I’m waiting for someone or that I have a tour and walk away.
Another one of my favorite tips for solo female travelers is to try walking with purpose (aka look straight ahead, no eye contact, and pretend that you’re annoyed and have somewhere to be. We also call this b*tchy resting face).
Whatever You Do Though:
Don’t say that you’re traveling alone since that indicates that no one is waiting for you. And if this person is no bueno, they could easily take advantage of that fact.
So be smart and get as far away from shady creepers as possible.
2. Pack Light
Biggest solo travel mistake?
Packing WAY too much. Pack all that stuff and guess who has to schlepp it around, all alone? Yup, that’d be you.
That’s why one of my go-to tips for solo travel is to pack light, like a Minimalist light.
Only pack essentials items into a carry-on backpack that you can actually carry on your own, without fear of any crippling back spasms.
Packing less is WAY more important than looking like a rockstar. Plus, if you forget something, you can always buy it there since they probably have stores wherever you’re going.
Need some packing inspo?
3. Don’t Go Out Late at Night Alone
One of those duh tips for traveling solo but still worth mentioning since this can be an issue even in one of the best places to travel alone for the first time.
I’m a granny so this is a non-issue for me since I’m usually home before the sun sets. But if you’re a die-hard, party animal then this tip is for you.
Be Careful at Night:
Doesn’t matter if you’re a guy, a girl, or a llama because, under the cover of darkness, criminals get a bit bolder, especially when no one is around. And if they think you’re alone and that no one will be looking for you, you become an easy target.
So heed my solo travel safety tips and stay in well-lit areas with a ton of people, and try not to get too sloshed.
The more alcohol you drink, the more impaired you’re judgment is and the more vulnerable you are.
So be the responsible solo traveler that I know you are and you’ll be just fine.
4. Stay at a Hostel (If you’re not an anti-social hermit like me)
Yup, I’m a total introvert so the idea of staying at a hostel brimming with twenty-somethings is my idea of a living nightmare.
I skip this tip for traveling solo female since I love being alone and am not super prone to first-time solo travel loneliness (trust me, I got lonely back in the day when I first started to travel alone. I even started to wonder, “is traveling alone fun?” But the more I traveled alone, the more I began to enjoy it. It just took a little getting used to).
I generally find hostels annoying and the idea of sharing a shower with twenty other people rather vomit inducing.
But if You’re a Social Butterfly or Broke Like a Joke:
Hostels are a great way to travel for less and meet a ton of people from all across the globe.
You can also try Couchsurfing; another way to meet people while traveling for less.
5. Book a Group Tour
As anti-social as I am:
I have booked a ton of group tours, well, out of pure necessity since whatever I wanted to see was impossible to reach on my own.
As averse as I am to group activities, I do enjoy a nice high quality, group tour. Not only can you meet people from around the globe, but generally speaking, you share some common interests with them sicne you guys are all on the same tour.
They can also be insanely obnoxious and make your ears bleed when they won’t stop talking. But that’s noise-canceling headphones come in.
Am I right?
6. Skip the Taxi
Taxis are expensive, to begin with.
But when you’re traveling alone, they’re even worse since there’s no one to split the cost of the taxi with.
Unless you have a trust fund or some off-shore bank accounts at your disposal, I suggest that you use public transportation.
Either That Or:
Make a bunch of friends at the hostel and then just hop in a taxi with them and split the cost of the trip.
But we all know how socially awkward I am.
So yeah, that’s a no-go for me. I’ll just rock my headphones as the universal sign for, “don’t talk to me, I’m not a fan of people.”
7. Blend in with the Locals
As an American through and through, I shout a resounding, “huzzah” to liberty, freedom, and individuality…just NOT when you’re traveling alone in Europe, or anywhere for that matter.
Try and blend in as much as humanly possible. You don’t want criminal wannabes targeting you because your Sketcher Shape-ups scream, “Plunder me because I’m a tourist and have no idea what is going on and am totally susceptible to dubious criminals of all kinds”.
So while no, you don’t have to dress like you’re Heidi Klum at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show:
I would wear something a bit nicer than the traditional American ensemble of yoga pants and an old college sweatshirt with 10,000 holes in it.
8. Carry Copies of Important Documents
As a former environmental science major:
I’m all about saving trees and traveling more sustainably.
There is a time and a place for regulating paper usage; just not when you’re planning a solo trip to a country you’ve never been to.
You can save your documents in your email account (which is another great addition to this list of tips on how to travel alone for the first time), but what if your electronic device breaks and you need a copy?
See, technology doesn’t always play nice.
That’s why I always carry a paper copy of important documents. This way, if my passport does get stolen, the process of getting a new one will be infinitely easier.
Yup, when you have anxiety, the worst case scenario is always the FIRST case scenario.
Perhaps a bit paranoid?
You betcha! But better safe than sorry, as the most cliched saying on the planet goes.
9. Stay in Touch with Family at Home
This is one of those travel tips for solo female travelers that I absolutely suck at.
I always get caught up in my travels and am like, “Friends and family? What friends and family? Travel is my life!”
Than Before You Know it:
It’s been six weeks since I contacted my mother, who has sent out an alert to Interpol and has authorized them to issue a $25,000 reward to anyone who aids in my safe return.
So Don’t Do That:
Always let someone know where you ‘re going and what you’re doing.
If something does happen, someone at home will realize something has gone awry and will notify the authorities that you need help… like NOW.
Criminals start to feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they realize that no one is looking for you. I’ve watched enough Investigation Discovery to know that they think they won’t get caught.
Make criminals unhappy and your mom super happy by staying in touch while you’re away.
10. Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
I know this solo travel tip kind of sounds the same as the one above,
You basically want someone to know where you’re going so that if anything happens to you, they can notify the cops and send someone to rescue you
But it’s not enough to just tell your family at home.
Of course, they deserve peace of mind and to know that you’re safe. But if something happens, the amount of time it would take for them to notify your home embassy you would be kind of insane.
So Let’s Cut Out that Time Lag Shall We?
To do this, just let someone at the front desk know where you’re going and when to expect you. Accordingly, if they don’t see you, they will know something has gone wrong and notify local officials.
And as we all know from the movie Taken, when something goes wrong, time is of the essence.
Or at least that’s what Liam Neeson told me. Lol.
11. Don’t Flash Your Money Around or Carry All Your Cash with You
Okay, This One is Super Duh.
But it bears repeating since well if you flash around a bunch of dollar dollar bills y’all, everyone is gonna think that you’re rollin’ like a big shot and will try to separate you from your money.
Catch my drift?
But if you act like you’re broke and carry only enough cash for a single day, chances are people will leave you alone since you’re literally not worth the hassle.
This goes for fancy bags and electronics too. So that $1000 camera lens that is the size of a small baby? Yeah, I would leave that at home.
When you travel alone, the less bling the better.
12. Never Tell Someone That You’re Alone
First Rule of Traveling Alone:
Don’t tell anyone that you’re traveling alone! Get the Fight Club reference? No? Okay, this got awkward fast. You should watch it though. Great movie.
Don’t tell strangers you’re alone. Lie if you have to and make up a family of five cute, illegitimate children that are waiting for mommy to feed them. Or a beefy boyfriend named Butch. Whatever works.
The basic idea is that you want people to believe that if something happened to you, not only would you be missed, but people would come looking for you.
And fast since as far as this rando stranger is concerned, good old Butch is waiting for you right down the street, like now. So if this creeper tried anything, law enforcement would be all over him like white on rice.
At least as far as he knows.
Therefore, don’t tell anyone you’re traveling alone. Or tell someone but be super selective and make sure that they are trustworthy.
13. Keep a Lock on Your Day Pack to Avoid Pickpockets
You’ve heard at nausea about how my wallet got stolen in Barcelona. So let’s move on shall we? Let’s talk about Lisbon, a city where my iPad almost got stolen because the lock on my bag wasn’t closed properly.
So save yourself the worry, anxiety, and hardship associated with having your stuff stolen.
Forego fashion and get a lock for your daypack that you will actually use. Doesn’t matter what type of lock, as long as it is easy to use and difficult for wannabe criminals to get into.
One of those little ways to help increase your vigilance while traveling alone since no has your back because well the very definition of solo travel is a distinct lack of companionship.
So make your life easier and instead of constantly looking over your shoulder, just put a lock on your daypack.
14. Don’t Freak Out About Safety
I know some of my solo travel hacks are a bit overdramatic and make it sound like you’re gonna become the inadvertent star of the next installment in the Taken franchise, but all my solo travel tips are to help you stay safe and have fun at an assortment of solo female travel destinations.
99.9999% of people are super nice and are going about their daily lives, giving you little to no consideration.
Then there’s that other .0001% of the population. Yeah, they are not so nice. We want to do everything we can to stay away from them.
Use common sense, always tell someone where you are, don’t carry around wads of cash, don’t walk around alone at night, always be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be fine.
No one is out to get you. If I’m honest, something bad can happen to you anywhere. So as long as you take reasonable precautions, there is no reason to freak out and have a level 5 panic attack about traveling alone.
And I’m no James Bond so trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
15. Be Open to New People But Trust Your Gut
This one is the absolute hardest for me. I’m introverted by nature and really loathe small talk.
I usually avoid people and put in a pair of headphones that acts as a warning to, “stay away”.
When I do this, I miss out on meeting a whole bunch of really awesome, super interesting people that are from many different walks of life. So don’t be like me and let fear get in the way of forming new and lasting friendships.
That Being Said:
If your gut tells you that someone is bad news, believe it! You have intuition for a reason, so use it to keep yourself safe. But balance that safety with meeting new people and making new friends that you can hang out with.
As antisocial as I am, I have still been able to meet a ton of amazing people while I was traveling alone. So be careful but don’t let fear consume your vacation and ruin your travel experience.
There you have it, fifteen of my absolute favorite solo travel tips for anyone who is planning to travel alone for the VERY first time. Use these safety tips for traveling solo and you’ll not only have a blast, but you may even create an awesome solo female travel network of your own.
Ready to start your solo travel journey? Then pin this now and read it again later!