In recent years, a staggering 32 million American women traveled independently and as this trend of single-woman travel grows, both online and traditional travel industries are rushing to meet demand. Airlines, travel websites and tour operators are wising up and catering to this dynamic demographic -- welcome news for the adventurous female.
Though women still need to take the necessary precautions and be aware of cultural norms when traveling abroad, there are great perks to hitting the road alone. Traveling solo offers approachability, enabling one to meet more people than if she were traveling with a group, and giving her a unique window into the lives of the host culture.
Below are tips to make the solo travel experience a safer and more satisfying one.
Before You Go
Before you hop on a plane and head to your destination, learn about the geographical and historical lie of the land, read up on the country's artistic and cultural events and practice some key local phrases to make your trip richer. Don't forget to research some of the cultural norms and prevailing belief systems, specifically those that pertain to women.
When packing your bags, remember that less is best. Traveling with minimal gear not only increases your economy of movement, but also decreases your chances of becoming a target for thieves or pickpockets.
It has never been easier to find expert advice on travel, particularly by travelers in the know. A great way to find out more about your destination is to get the inside scoop from other women travelers who have been there. There are travel sites online that regularly feature seasoned travel writers and travel bloggers, including WorldHum.
When You Arrive
It is wise to check in with the consulate once you arrive at your destination. As a safety precaution, you may need to be contacted by your country's consulate in the event of an emergency, or if your family has to be notified of your whereabouts.
As a woman traveling alone, insurance may come in the form of a cell phone. Though you should rely far more on your intuition than a cell phone in the event of a dicey situation, knowing that you can call ahead to secure a hotel room or contact a friend can be extremely helpful. If you plan on being in a country for some time, having an unlocked GSM cell phone with a local, prepaid SIM card is a great option.
If you plan on getting cash or staying in remote areas for extended periods of time, a money belt is indispensable. Remember that timing is everything: as a single woman traveler, going to an ATM in the middle of the night can be unsafe. Ensure that you have enough cash not only to get from point A to point B, but enough to last for as long as you plan to stay.
If you are going to be walking around a city or town, write down the name of your hotel and note landmarks. When taking a taxi, always try to get the taxi number or license plate before you head off in case you encounter any trouble along the way. Agreeing on the fare beforehand and having the exact change will prevent you from getting overcharged. Avoid traveling alone at night in a taxi unless absolutely necessary.
Traveling solo can be a liberating experience, and keeping your friends and relatives abreast of your travels is a great way to assuage any bouts of loneliness. Blogging about your experiences is a great way to share your trip with those that cannot join you.
If you're traveling alone, choosing a busy hotel in a central part of town is a great option. Not only will it make you less conspicuous, you'll have the opportunity to meet other travelers passing through.
When you're on the move, try to travel during the daytime, or time your trip so that you will arrive in the morning. The stress of arriving in an unfamiliar place in a foreign country is only exacerbated at night.
Projecting a confident attitude and walking with intent is 1 of the best ways to stay safe and avoid hassle. Even if you are unsure of your destination, people intuitively bother you less if you appear to be going somewhere. How you carry yourself, and the confidence you project, speaks volumes to passersby.
Ultimately, as a solo woman traveler out in the world, no matter where you land or how you arrive, keep in mind some basic truths: your wits are your friends, intuition is your guide and adventure is yours for the taking.