I love traveling alone. As a woman, many of my friends and family have tried to press me on that. They would say things like “No, it’s too dangerous to travel alone” or “who’s going to protect you if something goes wrong?” Mind you, many of these comments were coming from friends and family who don’t travel often or have never traveled alone.
But I can say, many of the things my friends and family have tried to warn me about haven’t been my experience. Over the past 6 years, I’ve traveled to 20+ countries, and many of those trips have been solo. Every solo trip I’ve ever done, I’ve absolutely loved.
I think every woman should do a solo trip if she’s able.
I know there are a lot of cultural and financial reasons why women don’t travel. For example, in some Muslim countries, traveling alone as a woman is strictly forbidden. Or for some women who are financially-insecure or are caring for others, traveling alone or traveling in general, can feel like an impossible and economically daunting task.
But if you’re a woman, and you are financially and culturally able to travel, I think you should do a solo trip at least once. Here’s why.
1. Traveling alone gives you the freedom to do what you want to do
I don’t know about you but when I travel with others, I feel like I have to bend over backwards to meet their needs. If someone wants to go to a restaurant that I’m not interested in, there’s a lot of negotiation, and sometimes I lose out. If I want to wake up late but someone I’m traveling with doesn’t, it can feel like I’m sacrificing my precious beauty sleep. Heck, if I’m on a road trip with someone who wants to listen to Bluegrass the whole trip (ahem my boyfriend ahem), but I want to listen to trash pop music, someone’s gotta put on their headphones and suffer for 4 hours.
But, when I travel alone, I feel true freedom. I can wake up when I want, eat where I want, listen to the music I want, rest when I want, and so on. Traveling alone affords us the luxury to prioritize ourselves and our own interests. It cuts out the negotiation headaches that come with planning trips with others. Everything is on your time and you're truly living for you. You get to follow your nose to a nearby delicious restaurant or go dancing all night long and not have to ask a single soul for permission or approval.
Traveling alone is a freedom most women never get a chance to experience. From juggling children, flight itineraries, dietary needs and music choices, it’s a breath of fresh air to travel and be on your own time, not other people’s. Some call it selfish. I call it freedom.
2. Traveling alone builds confidence and independence
It’s amazing how dependent women are when it comes to the people they travel with. Who’s handling the itinerary? Who’s paying for dinner? Who’s keeping an eye on our stuff while we’re swimming? All of these questions cause anxiety and make some of us doubt how things will get handled while we’re on vacation. When we’re traveling alone, that totally flips on its head. We’re the ones responsible for what happens on the trip and that gives us an immense amount of clarity and independence.
With independence comes confidence. When you know that you’re responsible for your trip, paying for it, seeing that everything goes well, and planning your activities, you get to walk confidently into spaces. You’re the boss, the leader, the know-it-all, and that can change the game for how much enjoyable your trip becomes. You’re no longer looking for others to validate your plans or interests. They're all yours, babe.
When I’m alone, I feel my chest rise, my eyes light up, and my energy raise. I feel happier without the insecurities of others impacting my desires and interests on the trip. I feel more inspired to go to different places and do things I’ve never done before when there’s no one there to tell me it’s a bad idea or cast doubt. I walk confidently in the world when I travel solo. Whether it’s a big city or small podunk town, traveling alone builds independence from others, confidence in whatever the outcome will be, and self-esteem in my ability to manifest whatever the hell I want on my trip.
3. Traveling alone allows you to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t have
One of my favorite parts of traveling alone is opening myself up to making new connections. I’ve made tons of new friends and have had several romantic relationships while traveling solo.
Traveling with others and expecting to meet new people is like going to a dance club with a big group of friends - it’s intimidating. Many people don’t feel comfortable approaching you if you’re surrounded by a big group of people. Even if you seem like an interesting person or someone they may want to get to know romantically, having a bunch of people around you makes you seem inaccessible and intimidating to approach.
That’s why traveling alone is so powerful when you’re looking to connect with others. Especially for us women. We’re beautiful, and we know it. So, when we travel alone, assuming we’re single, we’re more likely to be approached by strangers interested in getting to know us. I’ve had some fantastic dates and long-term boyfriends from traveling alone and allowing myself to be open to new connections.
Again, if your cultural background allows you to travel alone and talk to people of the opposite sex (or even the same sex), you’d be surprised at how interesting people are. Many people who also enjoy traveling alone have interesting stories and experiences that add color and depth to your connection.
These people may inspire you to visit other places you’d never thought of or consider going even more outside of your comfort zone. There’s a growth opportunity when you meet new people and with a bunch of people traveling with you, it’s that much more difficult to connect with others who quite frankly, could change your life in real and meaningful ways.
3 countries I recommend for female solo travelers
Now that you know why you should travel alone, the next question is where? I’ve been to 20+ countries and have felt varying degrees of safety and lack of safety in all of them. There are three countries that I felt the most comfortable in as a solo traveler for the following reasons:
Respect from the opposite gender
Lively social activities
Accommodating and kind locals
Exceptional places to meet other solo travelers
It’s no secret that Costa Rica is in my top 3 favorite countries. In fact, I wrote a whole article about why Costa Rica is probably better than your home country. I love Costa Rica because I felt extremely accommodated by the locals. Many Costa Ricans are kind to strangers, and female solo travelers are nothing new. Costa Rica is full of life with activities ranging from hiking in nature to hitting up dance clubs. Whether you’re looking to be surrounded by nature for a week or dance on the beach all night, Costa Rica is really comfortable for solo female travelers who wish to pave their own way and do what they want to do. As far as respect for the opposite gender goes, many Costa Rican guys love a beautiful international woman and they may try to approach you. But in my experience, if you aren’t interested or tell someone to go away, they will. That hasn’t been my experience in other countries like Colombia where I literally felt stalked by some people. So, that’s why Costa Rica makes my list as a great place for female travelers to do a solo trip.
The Netherlands is one of the most slept on, undervalued countries in Europe. Most people talk about France, Germany, Italy, and Spain as top destinations for solo travelers; and don’t get me wrong, those places are great, too. But, I felt the most at-home and comfortable when I was in the Netherlands versus other places in Europe. Mostly because the Netherlands (which is more than just Amsterdam by the way) is extremely progressive in their social rules and culture. Many women in the Netherlands live independent lives with or without children. They go party at nightclubs solo and eat lunch in a local cafe solo. In other words, the larger society is comfortable with women being independent and the country is fairly progressive about women’s freedoms and rights. With that, you can go to most places in the Netherlands alone as a woman and no one blinks an eye. Also, most Dutch people in bigger cities speak very good English as a second language. So, if you’re coming from an English speaking country like the US, Australia, or England, going to the Netherlands is extremely comfortable and you can get around just fine in most places with English.
Mexico is such a beautiful country for solo female travelers. Not only is the landscape absolutely stunning, many cities are rich in culture and activities that can keep you occupied for days. I like Mexico because it’s a hub for international travelers. It’s a great place to meet other solo travelers and make new connections. Restaurants, bars, and hotels are lively and are often full of other people who are hungry for connection. Also, I find that many places in the Yucatan Peninsula like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, have very accommodating locals that speak fairly good English and are happy to help you. Even better, if you’re coming from the US, Mexico is just close enough to have a good short solo trip without having to travel half-way across the world. A weekend trip in Mexico can be lovely, then a quick flight (5 hours or less) back home can be super convenient.
All this to say, traveling solo as a woman has a lot of perks. Freedom, independence, and the ability to connect with others. For me, it’s opened up so many growth opportunities. I’ve met lifelong friends, had unbelievable experiences, and felt more free than I ever have in my life while traveling solo. Going on your own is a great way to get to know yourself and pursue your interests in a fairly safe container. If you’ve never done a solo trip before, it’s worth a try. Just do your research and pick your countries carefully. When you do, I’m sure your first solo trip will be an unforgettable experience.