Solo travel for women is massively rewarding for a multitude of reasons. It can be transformative to your confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping you push beyond your comfort zone. The opportunity to meet new friends and locals brings with it the chance to adventure together. And, the independence of planning a solo trip opens up so much more opportunity.
There’s nothing more liberating than venturing to a new country or city alone and navigating your way around. The lessons are endless and the opportunities are, too. People often feel nervous to travel alone for fear they will be lonely, isolated or even scared. Yet those fears fall by the wayside as soon as you take the plunge.
Outside of the familiarity of your friends and family, you’re more open to meeting others, making new friends and creating new connections. Experiencing new adventures as a solo traveler is exhilarating, and also brings with it a huge sense of achievement.
Joining a group trip or activity is a great way to dip your toe into female solo travel. Not only do you have the chance to meet other like-minded people but you also get to share extraordinary experiences, like learning to salsa with locals in Cuba or wildlife-spotting in the Amazon from a remote Peruvian jungle lodge.
Here’s all you need to know for traveling solo as a woman.
Why are so many women embracing solo travel?
Solo travel for women is on the rise, with tour operators reporting huge increases in interest from solo female travelers. In the last few years, the search rate for the term ‘female solo travel’ has increased by a staggering 62%. In a recent US YouGov survey, 66% of Americans said they would travel solo. Just over 41% of Millennial women and 39% of Gen X women said that traveling alone bolstered a sense of independence and self-confidence. People travel solo for a multitude of reasons, including wanting to meet new friends, embracing a new part of their life or following a big life event.
When Amrita Langbour ventured to Colombia on a Flash Pack group solo trip, she was amazed at how quickly she made friends. She says “I met a group of six other travelers who’ve ended up as firm fixtures in my life. I didn’t go into the holiday with the intention of building friendships. I just wanted some fun people to share a few laughs with as we explored a new country together. We’ve since been to Amsterdam, Croatia and London together.”
Karen Crowe also traveled alone on a solo group adventure to Argentina. She says, “I booked a the trip on a bit of a whim and had no idea what to expect. But it opened up a whole new world to me. Everyone’s in the same boat, and from day one, everyone in our group bonded.”
As a stay-at-home mum, Pooja Gupta found it hugely fulfilling. But as her children got older she started to feel a bit lost. She says, “As I approached my 40th birthday, I decided I would give solo travel a go in an attempt to pull myself out of this low point. I started small with a four-day hiking trip close to home. It was so liberating to do something just for myself. It was out of my comfort zone but I felt truly alive. Then, on impulse, I signed up for Flash Pack’s group trip to Cuba. There were tons of activities I’d never have considered doing alone.”
Tips for women looking to travel alone
Solo adventurer Phoebe Smith is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster. She’s spent the last 15 years traveling solo around the world, from touring Orkeny in an e-campervan to bedding down inside glaciers in Svalbard, the last stop before the North Pole.
She says “The first place I went as a solo traveler was Australia, which is very easy because everyone speaks English, it’s very familiar and a lot of people do it. Staying in a hostel was easy to meet people, and signing up for activities was, too.”
She continues, “I’ve been traveling solo for more than 15 years. I wanted to do certain things that other people didn’t and I got to a point where I thought just because I can’t go with anyone else, I should still have the chance to go. I’ve never felt unsafe or worried about solo travel. All I’ve ever seemed to experience is the joys of it.”
Phoebe shares her tips for female solo travel.
Use social media
Access to social media has changed the way we travel, enabling us to connect with people in locations, follow other people’s recommendations for places and find out about a location before we arrive.
“Social media is a massively useful tool for finding people who live in destinations to connect with before you go. There are communities you can ask questions to or people you can ask for help. I usually put a general shout out asking if anyone has been to a certain place, saying I’m looking for recommendations as I’m traveling on my own,” Phoebe says
“It just takes one recommendation to go to a place and meet other people who are there traveling. It’s a quicker word of mouth because you’ve got a bigger pool of people to get the word of mouth from,” she explains.
Planning ahead can give you that important first introduction to a place. Noting down emergency numbers, the details of where you are staying and knowing what the city looks like on a map are all useful tips for getting your bearings. It also means you can hit the ground running, making even more of the time you have somewhere.
Phoebe says, “Having a mission, having a plan, knowing what you want to do and not being distracted by others is a great way to travel. I’m not afraid to be completely impolite and ignore anyone trying to pull me away from doing my own thing.”
Research is also a great resource to familiarize yourself with a place before you get there. Phoebe suggests “Google is a great tool but the guidebooks are still very good, especially for off-the-beaten-track destinations. Places to stay and eat go out of date quickly but areas and safety issues tend to be consistent.”
Coming up with a loose plan of things you want to do is a great way of acquainting yourself with what’s on offer. Phoebe says “If I get somewhere and get some better local knowledge, I’m happy to veer from my original itinerary. I always feel empowered walking too. That’s probably the biggest research you can do. And, for safety, search in advance for areas that are safe, where crime against women is high, and spots that are safe in the day but not after dark.”
Trust your gut
Trusting your gut instinct is no different when traveling as to when you are at home. It’s the best guide to whether you feel happy and comfortable in a place or situation. It’s also the most reliable gauge of whether you are doing what’s right for you.
Phoebe says, “A lesson I learned quite quickly traveling solo as a woman is that if you’re in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, get yourself out of that situation. Don’t feel you have to be polite or make an excuse to leave. Just go. That’s never seen me wrong.”
Confidence is probably the greatest tool for women traveling solo, from eating alone to joining group activities to feeling safe wherever you are.
“Some people can be uncomfortable with the idea of people traveling or dining alone and project that onto you, trying to solve a situation that doesn’t need solving,” she says. “At dinner, I love to people watch, read a book or have a notepad to record my thoughts. I always suggest to people going traveling alone for the first time to try eating out alone at home first – and don’t take your phone.”
She continues, “I also like to take something that can be put down so people feel they can come and speak to me. Otherwise, you miss out on those impromptu conversations which can be chances to find out about cool things to do or meet someone with an interesting story. When you travel with either a partner, friend or family member, you’re in a bubble. People rarely approach you. And equally, you don’t really approach them. When you’re on your own, you just appear so much more open.”
Let people know where you are
Even when you’re traveling alone, it’s a good idea to tell people where you are going, whether that’s a parent, friend or the hotel concierge. That way, you always have someone checking in with you.
Phoebe says “Leave your itinerary with someone. Tell them when you’ll be back and have someone to check in with. That’s always a good thing to do. If you’re staying in a hotel and you decide to go out for an evening, it’s useful to mention it to the front desk so they know to expect you back.”
Try group travel
For anyone nervous to travel alone, solo group tours are a gentle and enjoyable way to dip your toe in. Not only do you have the chance to meet a group of like-minded people, but you also have the opportunity to share life-affirming adventures and experiences with others.
Phoebe suggests, “Group trips are a really good way of traveling solo. We talk solo travel and everyone thinks that means going off independently on your own, but if you sign up for a group trip as a solo traveller, you invariably always end up making friends. The other people could be feeling the same as you, or be in a relationship or have family but they’ve just chosen to go and do a certain activity or trip without anyone they know. It’s a great first route into solo travel.”
Exploring the best locations for female solo travel
Exploring solo is joyous whatever location you’re in, so long as the things you require to make your adventure rewarding are present. For some, it’s the ability to meet other like-minded travelers or to be in a thriving social scene or simply to have outstanding scenery in which to completely switch off.
In a recent index report from The Institute for Economics and Peace, which ranks the safest countries around the world based on a number of factors, including conflict and political unrest, Iceland was listed first for the 14th year in a row. A relatively small population, it has low levels of crime and good societal equality.
Japan continues to be included in many of the best destination lists for solo women travelers based on a solid infrastructure and personal safety. It’s also easily navigable, with an excellent public transport system and restaurants that cater for the solo eater.
Phoebe says,” Book somewhere you can be connected with people doing the same thing. Connect with others on social media before you travel and find locally run tours to get your bearings and learn where to go.”
As a small island nation and Europe’s westernmost country, Iceland is an ideal destination for female solo travel. The capital, Reykjavik, is one of Europe’s safest cities thanks to being small and walkable, with crime rates that are continually some of the lowest.
There’s plenty to explore, too. Reykjavik is a hotspot for experimental restaurants, geothermal baths and impressive sights. Beyond the city, Iceland’s beguiling landscapes are linked by the country’s main ring road. Many visitors stick to the three main sites on the Golden Circle route – the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, the Great Geysir hot spring and Þingvellir national park.
But beyond these impressive spots, there’s a multitude of spectacular landscapes to bear witness to. There’s lava fields weaved with glacial rivers, the volcanic terrain of Thingvellir, and the volcanic peak that overlooks Snæfellsjökull National Park. And, of course, there’s an opportunity to catch sight of the Northern Lights. Hire a car and take it all in at your leisure, or join one of the many group tours, such as Flash Pack’s 5-day Unknown Iceland.
Japan frequently tops the lists of safest countries in the world, thanks to impressive security, order and safety. Public transport runs like clockwork and is considered so safe even children travel on it alone.
The capital Tokyo is a heady mix of high rises, tranquil temples and shrines, quaint tea ceremony spots, bustling street-food stalls and busy nightclub areas. It’s a vast metropolis that seamlessly blends its imperial heritage with modern innovations.
Beyond Tokyo, you’ll discover hot springs in Hakone, art on the island of Naoshima and a plethora of outdoor activities around the lakes and parks at the foothills of Mount Fuji. There’s also plenty of opportunity to experience life through the eyes of locals, whether that’s at a soba noodle-making class, take part in a tea ceremony workshop or meeting a sumo wrestler.
Thailand is a fantastic first foray into solo travel for women. Having made its name as a backpacker destination, the country’s reputation has now far evolved from that, with boutique hotels, fine dining and private beach clubs. It’s a great spot to travel alone as it’s popular and super easy to manouvre around.
The capital Bangkok is a vibrant fusion of chaotic street markets, smart accommodation and serene spas. There’s an energetic nightlife from rooftop bars to open terraces that pour onto the street. And the shops are open late for some post-dinner mooching.
Elsewhere, the islands are alluring, from small spots like Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta to bigger sprawls, such as Koh Samui and Phuket. All are easily reachable by frequent ferries or internal flights. There’s lots beyond Bangkok too, from forest kayaking in Krabi to meeting hill tribes in Chang Rai.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are popular choices for a first foray into solo female travel. And for good reason. Although both require a long journey to reach, they are worth it, not least for the ease of travelling around when you get there.
There’s often rivalry between cosmopolitan Sydney and bohemian Melbourne but both have lots to offer solo female travelers: great public transport options, lots of fellow adventurers and plenty of safe sightseeing options. From Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Blue Mountains, to Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens to the penguins at Phillip Island, there’s plenty to ingratiate you into the joys of exploring solo. And, for those wanting to explore further afield, the East Coast is easily accessible by bus or plane.
Just a short hop across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand offers epic scenery across both the North and South islands, as well as friendly locals, adrenaline sports and plenty to immerse yourself in nature.
The Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway regularly rank highly in terms of spots that are good for solo female travel. Finland has also been named the happiest country in the world, thanks to equality in the workplace, social freedoms and low rates of crime.
The capital Helsinki is small and manageable on foot. Most visitors start in Senate Square which is overlooked by the likes of the impressive Neoclassical cathedral and the Government Palace. Right on the water’s edge, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore the shoreline on foot, bike or on a trip to the sea fortress at Suomenlinna, which offers staggering skyline city views. And with over two million saunas, it’s also easy to indulge in the local’s most popular pastime.
The northern tip of the country is situated in the Arctic Circle. For those wanting to venture into the wilderness alone, there are lots of tours that operate. You can book as a solo traveller but other people will need to book the second seat for many of them to operate. Head to Rovaniemi for the Northern Lights or to a private island for some cold water therapy and husky rides.
For lovers of nature and wildlife, Costa Rica is the perfect solo escape. From its two coastlines, the Caribbean and Pacific, to the national parks and cloud forests of the interior, to the extraordinary wildlife spotting opportunities, it’s a place full of vibrancy and welcome.
The local’s mantra of pura vida (pure life) runs throughout the country, with friendly locals happy to help visitors where they can. Most people travel around the country, so the chances of meeting other travellers is always high, too.
Female Flashpackers’ experiences of solo travel
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean traveling alone. In fact, group trips for solo travelers are an excellent way to meet others and share your adventure. And, at Flash Pack, 83% of females and 17% of males chose to do so. But don’t take our word for it. Here, Flashpackers share their experiences of what it means to travel solo.
Nolina Bergman travelled to Morocco with Flash Pack, noting that her highlight of the trip was the group dynamic. “It felt like our pack was special. We all just hit it off immediately. It helped that we were all professionals at a similar age and phase of life. We could have great conversations, and we were all interested in exploring the culture and magic of the places we visited, rather than partying. I found best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life.
After booking her trip to Argentina on a whim, Flashpacker Karen Crowe was nervous about the prospect of traveling with strangers. She says “Group solo travel opened up a whole new world to me. I was really struck by the amount of strong women in our group who were making bold decisions and living life on their own terms. Everyone had their own story and we were all happy to share our experiences and journey with the group. The more I travel in this way, the more I want to do. It has definitely ignited my passion for travel.”
On Flash Pack’s trip to Colombia, Amrita Langbour ended up meeting friends for life. “I met a group of six other travelers who’ve ended up as firm fixtures in my life. I met “the cartel”, as we call ourselves, on WhatsApp before the trip officially began. We then banded together to explore Bogota, and everything between us just flowed. What we have with our group of seven is quite unique. We found something easy and natural in one another and our love of travel and it’s all grown from there.”
How can I meet people as a solo female traveler?
Meeting people as a solo female traveler can be daunting but approach it with confidence and, armed with the below tips, you’ll find it hard to be alone unless you choose to be. From being approachable to joining solo tour groups, this guide will give you the gusto you need to find new people to share new experiences with.
Confidence is key when traveling solo. Let any fears you have about it fuel you rather than hold you back. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone will bolster your self-esteem and encourage you to be more social and more open to new experiences.
It’s also a great way to meet new people. If you’re in a coffee shop, restaurant or bar and your body language and demeanor are open (head up, arms unfolded, happy sat alone), it will naturally invite others to chat to you. It’s a great opener to forming new friendships, too.
Connect with other female social travelers online
Social media is a priceless tool in helping you meet others in the places you visit as a solo female traveler. From linking up with locals, getting tips from fellow travelers to meeting others venturing to the same spots alone, it can be one of the best icebreakers for travel.
Use apps like Instagram or TikTok to search by location hashtags or type in ‘solo travel’ to find other like-minded adventurers. Most people on social media are happy to respond so it shouldn’t be too hard to meet others.
It can be easy as a solo female traveler to isolate yourself to individual activities. But, despite traveling alone, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Open yourself up to meeting others by being approachable.
Don’t squirrel yourself away in the corner of a cafe or pick the table at the back of the restaurant. Don’t keep your head down on public transport and don’t avoid sparking up conversations with strangers. You never know who you’ll meet and what else that can bring.
Be open to spontaneity
Being spontaneous can bring some of the best experiences to your travels. From chance meetings with others who invite you on an adventure to choosing to visit somewhere on a whim can make your journey more enjoyable.
Try not to fill your diary with strict timings for things, unless it absolutely requires it. That way you’ll be free to say yes to exciting invitations, if and when they arise.
Join a group activity
Despite opting to travel solo, you don’t have to spend all your time alone. Joining a day trip or a group tour can really ignite some special moments and friendships along the way.
There are plenty of options too, from cooking classes with locals to adrenaline-filled sports like white-water rafting or hiking in the mountains. Or, you can opt to join a solo group trip for the duration of your holiday, sharing your whole experience with like-minded travelers.
Speak the local language
You don’t have to be fluent by any means but learning the basics of the local language could really help you with insider tips and meeting others. It can be a refreshing experience to be able to converse with others and shows a level of respect for the people in the place you are traveling.
Just start with simple openers like ‘Hello, how are you?’ or useful phrases like ‘How much?’ and ‘Can I have the bill please’. You’ll be surprised how much it opens up conversation, even if you can’t continue it in the local dialect.
Is it safe to travel alone as a woman?
Traveling solo as a woman is safe and can be hugely rewarding, so long as you apply the same safety measures you would at home. Use your awareness and instinct in everyday situations, such as not wandering alone after dark, using registered taxis and telling someone you know where you’re going.
If you still feel nervous to travel alone, you could join a Flash Pack solo group trip, which ensures you will travel with like-minded people in their 30s and 40s, have once-in-a-lifetime experiences and make new friends along the way.
Trip numbers are kept to a minimum, meaning you can really get to know your group and see the dynamic between you all blossom. Experiences focus on in-depth local experiences too, such as learning how plants are harvested at a spice plantation in Southern India, sailing an Indochina junk boat in Vietnam or dining with a Nubian family in their home in Egypt. For many who approach travel in this way, they never look back.
Book your next solo adventure with Flash Pack
Now you’re armed with all the tools you need for female solo travel, it’s time to think about your next adventure.
And there’s plenty of opportunity for some outstanding moments. Perhaps you want to glamp atop a converted Land Rover in the Serengeti in Tanzania. Or kayak in Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam. For something a little more sedate, go wine tasting in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
With Flash Pack, whatever trip you have in mind, you’ll meet a like-minded group of travelers, all in their 30s and 40s. And you’ll all have the opportunity to encounter local, epic and memorable experiences together.
Traveling solo doesn’t have to mean traveling alone. In fact, as well as having an incredible adventure on a solo group trip, you may make some wonderful and unexpected new friendships along the way.
Ready to have a solo travel adventure? Join Flash Pack for a group trip with other like-minded travelers in their 30s and 40s.
Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveler like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.
Images: Flash Pack