Solo travel can be a scary concept, no matter who you are. Add in being a woman — and a black woman, at that — and suddenly traveling alone can seem downright daunting.
Traveling solo as a woman can seem to be an intimidating way to explore the world for many people. But, the reality is that thousands of women travel solo and are more independent and confident because of it.
It isn’t always possible to find friends or relatives who are able to travel with you and this certainly shouldn’t stop you from going where you want and exploring the parts of the world that you’ve dreamt of.
Here are eleven tips that will prepare you for solo female travel !
- TIP #1
Naturally, before you embark on a trip you need to have an idea of your destination spot. Luckily, there’s a wealth of resources online that can help you pick a cool spot within your budget that works best for your personality. Don’t forget to check if you need a visa.
You also have to make sure that the country/city you chose is safe. You need to choose wisely your destination. Because you are traveling alone, as a black woman, you need to be extra careful. For example, I can travel alone to Paris or London, but I will never go alone in Colombia or Cuba.
How to be safe ?
As soon as you have made the decision to travel alone, tell your closest family members and friends about the trip. It’s possible that your friends who have traveled to your next destination already can give some advice or connect you with someone staying there. It’s important that these people know where you are from time to time. You may get also lonely on the road so keeping in touch with them is good for that too. Though you will probably face some objections, people will most often be excited or complimentary about your braveness to go alone.
MoyoTip: Keep with you the emergency numbers of the country in which you are, a document on your phone with the numbers and addresses of the hotels where you reside. Don’t forget to bring a powerbank with you !
- TIP #2
Book your flights & accomodations: Whether you plan to take a plane, or automobile to your destination, plan your departure and arrival times carefully. Try to arrive at your destination during the day, leaving plenty of time to get to your accommodation in the daytime, even if you get delayed along the way. Arriving in a new place after dark is much more nerve-wracking, whereas in the day you will feel safer and more relaxed.
MoyoTip: Expedia is the real deal when it comes to flights. For accomodations, try Booking for hostels or Airbnb if you want to feel at home. Try booking your flights and accomodations at night, prices are cheaper around 2am / 3am !
- TIP #3
Use Your Phone: If you know that you are no good with directions, it may bring a sense of comfort and safety for you to use Google Maps. Wandering and being lost are two completely different things. Looking lost will make you a target. With Google Maps, you can download the offline version of maps for whatever city you’re visiting to use without data/wifi.
MoyoTip: You can also search for restaurants, bars or shops next to you with Maps.
- TIP #4
Meet other women travelers. You can build friendships with women around the world. My favorite way is by staying at hostels. Many hostels offer private rooms, so you can benefit from the social aspects of hosteling while having a space all to yourself that’s cheaper than a conventional hotel room.
- TIP #5
Dress Appropriately: I mean this in the most respectful way. Not every country is the place for short shorts and low cut tops. If you are heading to the beach then sure, wear the bikini and enjoy yourself. If you are going to visit one of the world’s famous mosques then you might want to cover up. There are a lot of countries that are very conservative. There are also a lot of countries where women are culturally expected to cover up. It really isn’t appropriate to dress in provocative ways.
MoyoTip: Our suggestion would be to follow the guidelines set by local women.
- TIP #6
Protective Styles Are Your Friend: Stick to hairstyles that require little to no maintenance while away: styles like wigs, hats, cornrows and ponytails are clutch when you’re traveling. After all, who wants to spend time fussing with their ‘do when they could be out exploring ?
MoyoTip: Braids are my go to when I am traveling. No need to explain why !
- TIP #7
Read reviews: Never book a place that has no reviews. Be sure to read reviews when staying at someone’s home(couch surfing), in hostels, Airbnb, and even hotels. Look for mentions of safety & reviews that are written by women specifically.
MoyoTip: Be careful with the location of your accomodation. You need to know exactly how to get there from the airport. Set an itinerary on your phone.
- TIP #8
Pack light or pack efficiently: Only bring what you need…or really really want. Lugging around several bags gets old quick and like many of the other things on this list will make you a prime target for thieves. Will you be able to run while carrying your bags if you need to? Overpacking will only slow you down. Only bring the number of valuables you need or truly see yourself using.
MoyoTip: When I am packing, I usually do one outfit/day. It is an effective way to have choice and not be overloaded. What I also do is take one big luggage and an handbag for documents and money.
- TIP #9
Learn a few key phrases: Practice commonly-spoken words and phrases in the local language. Not only will it make you feel more familiar with your surroundings, but it will help you to engage with people in the area. Learn standard greetings and manners such as “please” and “thank you”, as well as phrases that will raise awareness to those around you, including “go away” and “help”.
- TIP #10
Learn to take solo photos: There’s always the selfie stick, but if you don’t want to be that person, there are a lot of other tips and tricks that you can use to get a great shot, even when you don’t have anyone else to hold the camera. Try practising at home to figure out the best ways that work for you, whether that’s a certain angle, or just buying a tripod and using a timer.
MoyoTip: You can ask other people to take photos for you, although it’s obviously important to be careful about who you ask. Be kind and polite when asking, make sure you have the right shot before going to another place.
My preference when asking people for pictures goes to people who clearly have some time or other tourists.
- TIP #11
Buy local, meet locals. By planning well you will have a better understanding of how to be supportive of the local economy. Buy local crafts, eat local food, stay in locally-owned accommodation so that the profits don’t leave the country. And as you do all of this, connect with locals !
Most importantly, traveling solo is not scary. The world is full of amazing and wonderful people so don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the world.
If you are well prepared, traveling solo will be an amazing experience.
Do you have any other travel tips for solo female travellers ?
Please leave your comments below and feel free to ask us if you have questions !
* special thanks to our beautiful Andrea for her pictures (@andreakouaho_ on Instagram).