Top Tips for Solo Female Travellers

Varsha Rao, Staff Writer

Women’s solo travel is on the rise, with statistics the world over showing more females than ever are taking trips alone. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we sat down with five women who have discovered the world on their own to get their insights and tips on how to make the most out of your next solo adventure. 

Aindrila Mitra 
Editor-in-Chief, Travel & Leisure India 

Image Courtesy: Aindrila Mitra

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

Solo trips lend you a fresh perspective on travel, and life, in general. For me personally, it’s freeing, the ability to be with ‘me’. My first solo trip was to Paris when I was studying in London way back in 2007. It was bittersweet. I watched the Eiffel Tower in awe, took the subway to Champs-Élysées from the hostel I was staying at, and gawked at the LV store from outside because I didn’t have the guts (or the money, then) to walk in and even window shop.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

For me, solo trips have always been spur of the moment, impulsive. The only thing I do keep in mind when I travel solo is to make sure that the city is more or less safe. Honestly, no one can guarantee safety, because every city has pockets that might not be ideal for solo women travellers. When it comes to choosing where to stay, I like to be in a place that’s easily accessible by public transport. So typically, these will be well-known luxury properties that offer a certain standard of safety, comfort and hygiene.

How do you go about meeting like-minded travellers?

When you travel, it opens up your world, because you meet so many people from different cultures and regions. And then you meet some people you feel like you’ve known for years, and they eventually might become your friends. It’s also happened the other way round with me. Where I have known someone socially, but ended up becoming buddies after we travelled together. So, there’s really no formula to meeting like-minded travellers. I think it happens, in most cases, by chance. And that’s the beauty of travel — the unpredictability — you never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll meet and when you’ll meet.

Tips for solo travellers:

  • Always be aware when you’re alone.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Know the basic rules of the place you’re visiting.
  • Be friendly, but not gullible.

Where to next?

Kerala, possibly to a wellness retreat, and pamper myself a bit.

Sofia Levin
Culinary Travel Journalist & Founder of Seasoned Traveller, Australia

Image courtesy: Sofia Levin, Photographer: Kitti Gould

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

When I’m penning travel guidebooks or articles, I spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of months on the road solo. I adore travelling on my own time, namely because my travel buddies usually can’t keep up or want to take it easy and relax. I’m more of a doer – I cram a lot in and don’t want to miss a single experience. The thing about solo travel is that you end up meeting more people. I’ve had so many memorable moments, but spending six weeks in East Nusa Tenggara on a Lonely Planet job was certainly a highlight. From sitting across from local kings and riding to remote villages on the back of a rickety motorbike, to sharing ikan goreng (fried fish) with strangers, I’ve never felt so attached to a place I didn’t grow up in.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

I do so much planning and preparation before every adventure. I’m a researcher by both personality and trade – I adore the whole process and the excitement of finding something that gives you a buzz. Most of my planning is based around where and what to eat. I’ll look up regional and hard-to-find dishes. I cross-reference websites, blogs and experts, then I’ll often find someone to share some lesser-known spots with me and check whatever list I’ve put together. That said, the most important thing about travelling is to be prepared to throw all your research to the wind – it’s the moments and experiences you can’t plan for that are often the best.

When I’m deciding where to stay, I first research the neighbourhood. I’m looking for somewhere that feels local and on-the-pulse, but that isn’t the most obvious choice. I like being surrounded by locals within close proximity to a main hub, but not necessarily in it. From there, I want to feel like a local, too. That often means staying at an Airbnb or a smaller boutique hotel with lots of charm.

How do you go about meeting other like-minded travellers?

Like-minded travellers will always find each other, you don’t need to search for them. If there’s an off-the-beaten-track restaurant you want to dine at, for example, and you come across other travellers there, then you’ve found your people.

Tips for solo travellers:

  • Take calculated risks. Follow your nose when something smells delicious and your gut when something feels off.
  • Embrace your alter ego and be someone you might not be on home soil. Travelling solo is an unfiltered way to learn about another place and culture, but also to learn about yourself.

Where to next?

I was meant to travel to South Korea in 2020, and it’s still at the top of my list. Someone once said to me that Seoul is like Tokyo with the volume turned up, and Tokyo is one of my favourite places in the world. And, of course, the food. I’m desperate to eat my way around the place and learn about the nuances of the culture as I go. Besides, all the Korean people I’ve met outside Korea are a hell of a lot of fun!

Mar Pages
Co-Founder, Solo Female Travelers, Singapore

Image courtesy: Mar Pages

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

I took my first solo trip when I was 21 and decided that I would spend the summer in London to learn English, and have never stopped since. To date, I have been on dozens of solo trips to more than 40 countries on almost all continents, and treasure a wealth of unforgettable memories. In terms of the most memorable trips, the most inspiring was the nine days I spent in Bhutan at a time in my life when I needed a break and I decided to finally make it to the magical Kingdom in the Sky. Bhutan is a very special place for anyone, but if you are visiting solo, you just have a better opportunity to spend time with yourself and fully take it all in without any distractions, fully living in the moment.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

I am a very flexible traveller and can adapt to the destination or the trip style; I can go from a luxury resort to a really offbeat destination without any tourism infrastructure, hot water or even roads and be equally happy. Because my travel style mixes luxury and out- of- the- ordinary trips to unknown places, I stay at a range of accommodations. However, I do have a long list of luxury hotels and resorts I want to stay at and I design some trips exclusively to visit them. I favour eco-friendly hotels that are extraordinary and have a sustainability and social impact component over international chains, which often miss that. I often prefer one-off hotels or resorts that are doing good or which are unique and special, particularly if they have a purpose that goes beyond the mere hospitality element.

How do you go about meeting other like-minded travellers?

Communities like ours are the perfect place to connect with locals. We set up a specific subgroup exclusively for meet-ups among solo female travellers. You can simply join and share your travel plans to find a buddy, a hangout partner or even to swap your house with. Besides that, hostel bars are the perfect place to meet other travellers and are usually great places to make friends. My go-to way to meet people is on day tours or activities. I also like to connect with locals at the destination ahead of time via our group because I feel that this is the best way to understand a place – and who doesn’t want a local guide?

Tips for solo travellers:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t be distracted on your phone or with a headset on, and don’t let your guard down.
  • Buy an anti-theft bag that will prevent pick-pocketers from stealing your belongings.
  • Keep an emergency stash of cash and a secondary credit card somewhere safe.
  • Let someone know your itinerary and download a safety app.
  • Always keep your friends and family updated on your whereabouts.
  • Use taxi-hailing apps instead of flagging a cab in the street
  • Carry a powerful battery pack and a backup phone in case your main one gets stolen or broken.

Where to next?

Once the borders open and I am able to travel again, I will go back home to Barcelona to see my friends and family. In terms of solo trips, I will most likely visit West Africa, which is the region I was planning to visit next before COVID, Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, or do a road trip around Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries.

Jemimah James Wei
Writer/Host, Singapore

Image courtesy: Jemimah James Wei

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

I’ve travelled solo to Seoul, Rome, Wroclaw, London, and New York, amongst others. I really enjoy travelling alone and find that it opens you up to new experiences and people that you may not have encountered if you’re traveling in a group. There’s also more freedom to exploring a new place in your own time. There’ve been many memorable moments over the years, but the simple pleasure of just getting to know a new place by wandering around on foot is a recurring favourite. I once walked 16 km down the length of Manhattan, just checking out the different neighbourhoods and admiring how the city morphs with every block.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

I like to gather as much information as possible before getting on that plane, but once I’m actually at my destination, I let the day unfold whichever way it wants, quite naturally. My top priority as a solo female traveller is safety, so I make sure I’m sufficiently familiar with the directions, transport, and neighbourhood I’m staying in, do research and read reviews on accommodation options, paying special attention to reviews by other solo female travellers, and call or email ahead so my host knows what time to expect me. Other than that, I’m pretty free and easy. I’d ideally pick somewhere that’s well connected by public transportation options to save on costs once I’m there, and if I can stay in somewhere unique to the destination, that’d be perfect!

Tips for solo travellers:

Don’t be afraid to get lost. The best moments for me were never about seeing the Eiffel Tower, checking off that famous landmark. It was the unquantifiable delight of the moments in-between.

Where to next?

Is anyone traveling right now? The next time I know I’ll be on a plane is August, when I move back to New York to continue my MFA at Columbia, but other than that, it’s going to be lots of traveling via imagination for me – through literature, movies, art.

Shalini Passi, Artist

Image courtesy: Shalini Passi

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

My most recent solo trip was to the beautiful city of Jodhpur in. Some of my most memorable moments was walking around the majestic Mehrangarh Fort as well as visiting the serene Bal Samand Lake Palace, which is a beautiful Lake Palace property.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

I start by planning out the itinerary and looking up the places that I’m planning to visit. I do the research, look at the timing if there are any requirements to book a ticket or if there are any special exhibitions that I need to see, the duration that would take me to reach from one destination to another. I note them all down. I prefer staying at some of the best properties in the cities I visit like Heritage properties or Design Hotels, depending upon their availability.

Tips for solo travellers:

  • Be self-sufficient.
  • Have your credit card and cash handy.
  • Do your research. Google maps are very helpful. Get to know the destination really well before travelling. Watch videos on YouTube and other websites to get a general idea about different destinations.

Where to next?

The next solo destination that I plan to travel to is Bikaner, which has so much to offer. Heritage places and palaces like Narendra Bhawan, Lal Bagh, Junagarh are really amazing destinations for a solo traveller.

Tay Kewei, Singer-Songwriter

Image Courtesy: Tay Kewei

Where have you travelled solo? How was the experience and what were some of your most memorable moments?

To be honest, I’ve never relished the prospect of travelling alone, so it was never on my bucket list. I get nervous about what might happen to me. But I travelled alone to the Grand Canyon for a media trip, and London for a fashion campaign, and I definitely could not pass up on extending my trip for a couple more days to explore. For my Grand Canyon trip, we’d spent a good three days exploring the Canyon already, so I extended my trip to cover Las Vegas and Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon was really out of the way, it took at least six hours there and back from Vegas, so I decided it was now or never. For London, I didn’t decide on my itinerary earlier, I only knew I wanted to extend my trip to check out museums and watch a West End musical.

What kind of planning and preparation do you undertake before embarking on a solo journey? How do you choose where to stay?

I researched extensively on how to travel from the Grand Canyon to Vegas, and it turns out I should have taken a domestic flight instead of taking the Greyhound. It was not much cheaper and in hindsight, it might not have been very safe. It was a rough and far ride to Antelope Canyon, and super touristy, as we could only follow guided tours by the Navajo tribe. We were herded through the canyon quickly like sheep, and had minimal time to take photos. Since I was alone, I wasn’t particular about where I stayed, and opted for convenience and value for money. I ended up with a rather dingy and old room, unfortunately. In London, I stayed right in the city near the underground station, so it was very convenient to travel. Each night I would research online and decide which museum I wanted to check out, and I bought last-minute tickets to Hamilton musical (best decision ever!).

How to meet other like-minded travellers?

I met a fellow solo traveller at Antelope Canyon, and we ended up taking photos for each other. There was time to hang around after, and we really hit it off chatting – we even ended up having dinner together in Vegas. I also engaged a local photographer to shoot me in Vegas because selfies just can’t cut it. In London, I didn’t get to meet anyone, so I spent most of the day plugged into my earphones, blasting the Hamilton soundtrack and relishing my musical experience.

Where to next?

With two kids – a three-year-old and a seven-month-old – my next trip will likely be child-friendly. We used to travel at least a couple of times each year and, like the rest of the world, we really miss travelling. I’m so glad my previous two trips with Luxury Escapes were so perfect – one was a relaxing family trip to Margaret River and Perth, the other was a Turkey tour with just my husband, that highlighted the country’s rich history, geographical wonders and amazing cuisine.


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