There are a few thoughts which make us girls hesitate when we think about travelling alone. Some thoughts we feel stronger about than others but chances are we all have at least one of these which we find concerning.
Over the 10+ years of on and off solo travel I’ve experienced, every one of these solo female travel myths has been raised with me from either friends or family or by strangers I’ve just met. If these thoughts are holding you back, let’s tackle them head on and expose why they’re nothing but fear-inducing myths.
At any one moment, there are millions of women kicking ass travelling solo. In fact, more women travel solo than men. It’s totally do-able. If you’re prepared with knowledge and practice you’ll be just fine!
1. It’s dangerous to travel alone
I’m not going to lie, yes, it is dangerous to travel alone. But it is also dangerous to be alone in your home town, it’s dangerous to drive your car to work, it’s dangerous to eat lettuce with the risk of getting E. coli… see where I’m going with this?
Travelling with a friend or a partner isn’t going to lower your risk of getting into trouble that much more if you are smart about the decisions you make and actions you take. Whether you’re alone or with a friend, if you avoid getting yourself into bad situations in the first place, its likely trouble won’t find you.
If you research the destination you’re visiting and are aware of scams, go prepared, and make good decisions, then travelling alone is a lot safer than diving into the unknown unprepared. I’ve travelled solo to more than 15 countries and have never gotten into serious trouble. To be honest, the times I’ve been scammed were when I was with someone else. I was either distracted talking to a friend while the taxi driver took us for a spin, or we didn’t go with our gut instinct and made a poor financial decision.
The occasional tragedy will hit headlines which can be frightening, but the likeness you will be in an area when that occurs is incredibly low. You will find people come together to help in these situations, and while it would feel more secure to have someone you know there with you, it won’t necessarily make you any safer.
The one instance however that travelling solo is a real disadvantage is when you’re actually travelling from one place to another, especially if it’s a long haul on an overnight bus or train. Falling asleep in a public place with all of your belongings can always be a bit sketchy, but I’ve got tips to help you out in those situations coming your way soon.
2. You’ll get lonely by yourself
There is a big difference between being lonely and being alone. Let me go through the benefits of travelling alone:
You make friends easier: Even the shyest person will make friends easier being alone than with a friend. When you’re with someone else, you’re a lot less approachable as a little bubble grows around the both of you.
You can do what you want: that’s right. No compromises, its all you baby! Want a rest day? Take a rest day. Want to check out that quirky cat café? Do it! I find decision fatigue is a lot less straining while on my own. When I’m with someone else there is a lot of “what do you want to do?” “Maybe we can do this?” “How are you feeling?” And it gets exhausting!!!
When you’re on your own, you generally know what you want without making a fuss about it. Even as a very indecisive Libra, I make decisions so much easier on my own!
Choose when you want friends: This sounds a little terrible but it’s really not. Everyone needs their own space and time to themselves. When travelling with a friend or partner you feel compelled to be with them every single second. It can be hard to say when you need a ‘you’ day as you don’t want to hurt their feelings.
When you make friends on the road, you can schedule them in to join you on the activities you want to share with someone, then have time for yourself when you want it. Then if you feel like you didn’t jell well with them, you never have to see them again, perfect!
Now not to say you can just sit back and expect new friends to come running your way, especially if you’re staying somewhere secluded like a hotel. If this is you, have a read of this article about the best apps for making friends while travelling.
Another great way to meet people is on a tour, whether it’s a longer tour like G Adventures, or a day tour from GetYourGuide, this can be an awesome way to meet people.
3. You must be brave to go alone
I’ve met a lot of people on the road here in America and this has become a common statement I’ve been hearing.
“You’re by yourself?? That’s so brave, I could never do that!”
It really pains me every time I hear that. I wouldn’t say I’m much braver than the girl next to me. I’m terrified of public speaking, deep water, sharks, and losing friends and family. Honestly, I get anxious before a trip just like anyone else. I went out to dinner before catching the plane to Vietnam and I couldn’t eat with chopsticks because my hands were shaking so much.
“Being brave” is often mistaken with being confident which comes from being prepared. I am careful not to use the word “ready” because chances are you’ll never be ready.
For those who feel you need bravery to conquer solo travel, it’s the same as any other fear in life, if you don’t face it you will never overcome it. Sometimes the best option is to tackle it with baby steps, and sometimes it’s better to dive right in and see that there was nothing to fear in the first place. This just depends on your style and comfort levels.
Once you arrive in a new place, settle into your surroundings, make a few friends, eat some incredible food and see something you’ve never seen before. Soon you’ll forget your fears because you’ll be having such an amazing time!
The nice thing about being born at this time is that many people in foreign countries learn at least a little bit of English and we also have accessibility to technology. Can I just point out that our parents did this without Google maps or Google translate! You’ve got it easy girl!
4. You won’t have anyone to share your experiences with
This solo female travel myth is the one I get told most. “I don’t understand why you would want to travel alone, you’ll have no one to share the memories with” To some degree it’s true, I most likely won’t have someone back home to reminisce about all the crazy stories that happened. But here’s the thing. I’m not living in the past, and I am not one to say “Hey remember that time when…”, I’m more likely to share the story with new people and start with “There was this one time when I was in…”
Bring those awesome stories home to tell around the water cooler or at a party with everyone instead of having an “in joke” with one friend. People will love hearing about your adventures and want to live vicariously through you, instead of feeling left out of a personal conversation.
This also relates to my previous point. Those hundreds of amazing people I’ve met along the way? While I’ve lost touch with a lot of them, the friends that belong in my life have stuck around. Those are friends I shared a moment. There’s something so special about randomly connecting with a stranger and sharing something magical with them.
Friends come and go, and partners I’ve taken overseas trips with have been out of the picture for years. Don’t let this hold you back from making incredible memories.
For those times you can’t find someone to share an experience with, sometimes it’s nice to have it on your own. Take your time, clear your thoughts at that moment, and keep it as a treasured memory you will have forever.
5. You can’t be an introvert
I was an incredibly shy child. I actually didn’t say a word until I was 3. Apparently, my older brother could read my mind and communicate for me… not that I remember! It was only when he went to school that I had to speak.
Even in my teenage years, I was a shy little weirdo that struggled to fit in. My friends were classed as the “randoms” that didn’t really belong to one particular group. Be it the “sporty girls”, the “alternatives”, the “cools kids” etc.
Over the years, I’ve been in situations which have forced me to make friends, it hasn’t been easy but it happens within minutes now. Travel has been a big part of that, mostly because I know it’s unlikely I’ll see that person again so if I stuff up, I just move on to the next person until I can find someone as weird as me. Now I’m known among my friends as the one who can befriend anyone.
Even if you’re not the type to start a conversation, if you look open and approachable, the likeness of someone starting a conversation with you is pretty high. Keep in mind that all the other solo travellers are in the exact same boat as you and they’re probably an awkward weirdo too! You’ll find that most people are really nice. If they’re not, you don’t want to be friends with them anyway!
6. You’ll have to eat alone
Eating alone in a restaurant isn’t terribly appealing to me, so I try to avoid it. A café never seems as bad as I usually have my laptop there anyway, but when a candle is flickering and I’m starring at an empty chair across the table… yeah okay… I get it.
Luckily, if you’re a resort or hostel kind of chick, you’ll find plenty of them have communal tables. You can also check out sites like EatWith and WithLocals who give you the opportunity to eat with locals in their own homes.
On the odd occasion, it can be nice to eat alone. I try to challenge myself to not look at my phone but struggle every time. Eating by yourself in a restaurant can be an ideal time to reflect on the day you had, or gather your thoughts about what you want to do tomorrow. If you feel you need to keep entertained, bring a book or people watch (one of my favorite activities). Instead of sitting at a two-person table feeling lonely, dine at a restaurant with booths or choose a seat at the bar.
7. You’ll be in trouble in an emergency
Unfortunately, this one is pretty much out of your hands whether you’re alone or not. Natural disaster, car accident, medical emergency. None of these are likely to happen, but there’s always the possibility they can. Fortunately, most people in the world are kind and will help you if you’re in trouble.
If something out of your control does happen, just think what you would do if this happened while you were in your home town.
A few examples…
If you’re at home and your appendix is misbehaving, I assume you would most likely get on your mobile phone and call an ambulance… So if you’re in a non-English speaking country in the same situation, find a local and ask them to call the ambulance. Sign language, facial expressions, and pointing is a wonderful thing. Even if they don’t know what exactly is wrong with you they’ll be able to see you’re in distress and call help.
If a natural disaster hits, no matter where you are, common sense is the best option. It’s easier said than done but try your best not to get distressed or overwhelmed in the situation. Follow the orders of anyone official and look out for yourself first.
If you’re concerned that you may become unconscious and no one will know who to call, have an emergency contact somewhere obvious in your wallet or on the back of your phone.
The most important thing is to have travel insurance! You don’t want to hesitate to get help when you seriously need it because you’re worried about the financial consequences.
8. It’s too expensive to travel alone
Depending on how you travel, this can be true. If you hire a car and stay in hotels then yes, all of those costs could have easily been halved if you were staying with someone else. If you’re staying in a dorm room and taking public transport it makes no difference.
Many companies used to have a single supplement to encourage a fellow traveller to join you, some companies still do this with their deals but keep an eye out for it and avoid booking with them if you can. Businesses are catching on to the rise in popularity of solo travel.
Book with a tour company that offers roommate matching. I did this in India with G Adventures and it worked out great. Other companies which don’t have a single supplement are Intrepid Travel, Dragoman Overland, Wild Frontiers, Exodus Travels, and Contiki. Your roommate is generally chosen by gender but not always. If you have any concerns about who you will be matched with, get in contact with the tour company at least a few weeks before you leave.
If you’re not the planning type, you can occasionally find a bargain booking last minute if the company only has one more seat to fill. If you have fixed dates or locations I wouldn’t recommend this as tours can very easily book out.
9. Solo travel is only for singles
I love this myth! Last year was the very first time I had travelled abroad single! I seem to be very good at leaving boyfriends behind while I see the sites… haha #SorryNotSorry
I’ve met plenty of single travellers, married travellers, travellers with kids… but they were solo travelling at the time we met.
It’s refreshing to get away and spend some time on your own. By no way does it mean you’re having issues in your relationship. It’s perfectly healthy to not need to spend every second with your partner. Sometimes it’s something as simple as they can’t get the time off work and you can, so don’t let something like that hold you back from taking a bucket list trip.
People don’t just travel alone because they couldn’t convince anyone to come with them, they do it because that’s how they prefer to travel. I much prefer travelling solo than with someone else, even when I’m in a relationship… clearly!
10. You will get a lot of unwanted attention
As a woman, it is very likely you’ll get unwanted attention anywhere in the world. Travelling abroad is only different because your sense of security is heightened and these actions are perceived more like a threat.
A few prevention tactics can help: dress appropriately in the country your visiting, don’t go heavy on the make-up, and research the culture before you arrive so you don’t accidentally act provocatively.
In India, I was stared at a lot. My initial reaction would normally be to stare back with a death glare until they felt uncomfortable. However, if a woman stares at a man like that in India, it is a very strong sign that she is sexually attracted to him. The total opposite of what we’re trying to achieve ladies! Most people in these countries stare because you’re interesting to them. It’s just innocent curiosity.
The best thing to do is stay aware of your surroundings, keep modest in your actions and clothing, keep your head up, make a loud fuss if anything uncomfortable is happening, and stay confident.
Have other solo female travel myths that are holding you back from travelling? Comment below!