You want to be on the move. You want to see the unparalleled beauty, defining cultures, and crests of opportunity this world has to offer. But, you might also be a little anxious about the logistics of traveling alone. So, we’ve crafted a how-to guide, complete with questions to ask yourself, online resources, and testimonies to the gift of solo travel.  

Why travel alone?

The time is yours. You don’t have to wake up early, share a bed, go clubbing, drink--everything is at your pace and catered to your interests. If you want to strictly visit museums or backpack in backcountry wilderness, then you might want to consider solo travel. Plus, it’s liberating to know you’re capable of navigating through unfamiliar terrain. It’s a testament to your womanhood: your ethical tourism, your empathy, your curiosity, your skill.

Where should you start?

Think about what you might struggle with--you know yourself.

For those of us that might struggle with directions/orienting ourselves in unfamiliar environments, we might suggest purchasing a watch with GPS software, like a Garmin or another smart watch. These watches don’t rely on wifi or cellular service; you choose maps to download to the watch itself prior to travel. This is especially useful for outdoorsy and urban solo travelers alike.

For those of us that might be tempted to stay within our comfort zones, we recommend conducting extensive research on the place(s) you’re headed. When equipped with information, we are often able to better quell anxieties about traveling to new places. You should have a basic comprehension of the language, a decent understanding of the cultural norms (like whether or not you might need a scarf in churches or places of worship), and a loose itinerary (where you know you really want to go, like a certain landmark, installation, or restaurant).  

For those of us that feel entirely opposed to solo traveling, there are guided trips you can take with other solo travelers. These trips are meant to encourage the freedom of solo travel, but ensure the safety and successful navigation of a new place, whether domestic or international. Usually, room and board, restaurants, attractions, and destinations are already planned on a guided trip. So, if you’re interested in completely immersing yourself in a new place, choosing your own itinerary, and seeing where the day’s adventures might take you, we’d recommend against a guided trip.

For all travelers, we recommend having multiple emergency contacts and/or mediums of connection. For instance, you might want to memorize your families’ and a few friends’ phone numbers, just in case. You might also want to turn on your live location services or even bring an extra device that can connect to Internet and cellular data.

You should have physical copies of credit/debit cards, passport, insurance card(s), and identification cards. You should also have extra charging cables, some snacks-on-the-go, and multiple access points of currency. For example, some places only accept cash or certain kinds of credit cards. If possible, always have cash on your person. We also recommend multiple kinds of cards, like a Visa and a Discover card, or a Mastercard and a Visa card. This is to ensure that you’re able to navigate yourself and pay for items, regardless of payment method.

If you plan on solo traveling internationally, we recommend downloading DuoLingo or another app to practice the language of the place(s) you’re visiting. Having a basic lexicon for things like “ticket,” “travel,” “directions,” or “coffee” will prove to be useful.

What should you know prior to traveling?

In some places, being a female-presenting traveler poses some risks. While it’s important to keep this in mind as a precaution, it’s more important to travel anyway.

Websites like Reddit, Quora, Instagram, and personal blogs provide exceptional insight about solo traveling. Oftentimes, local residents of tourist destinations will explain the dynamics of the place: which sect of town is too crowded, what’s overrated, what’s underrated, which restaurants are and aren’t worth the hype. You have access to local imagination and local frustration, so you can act accordingly.

What are some examples of solo travel itineraries?

With this format, you can track your spending (especially if you’re traveling on a budget), the activities you’re interested in doing each day, and the more logistical aspects of traveling (like when your flights arrive/depart, where you’re storing your identification cards, etc.). Importantly, this is only one style of itinerary organization. If you’re more spur-of-the-moment, the accessibility of your Notes App might be useful. Or, if you appreciate the more tangible feeling of a physical itinerary, there are notebooks and planners you can fill out and take with you.

We recommend at least a loose itinerary for solo travel because you can let family and friends know of your general whereabouts, especially for backpacking and camping trips.

Get out there and explore!

You’ve been empowered and emboldened. You have taken the correct precautions and are optimistic. You are ready to be transformed by the power of solo travel!

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