Travelling alone is one of the best ways to travel. You have the freedom to do what you want when you want, eat wherever you choose and meet some amazing people along the way. But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges and there can be times when you just need an extra helping hand. Here are some solo travel tips that every solo woman traveller should know before they travel…
N.b. If you're ready to plan your solo trip but are unsure how to do it, read my how to plan a solo trip article.
Solo Travel Tips
Before You Travel
- Subscribe to cheap fare alerts to get the best flight prices.
- Sign up for self defence lessons.
- When planning your itinerary visit the most expensive countries first then you’ll have enough money left for the cheaper ones.
- Book your first night’s accommodation and airport transfer before you go or find out the best way to get from the airport to reduce transfer costs.
- Research the countries before you travel for any areas that you should avoid.
- Read the local customs and etiquette (check out our country pages).
- Check the laws for the countries you are travelling to. Some countries such as Singapore and Dubai have very strict guidelines and some medication is illegal in their countries.
- Let your friends and family know where you’re going to be even if it’s just a sketchy itinerary.
- Apply for a hostel card if you‘re planning to stay in lots of hostels. Cards like YHA will save you money on accommodation and give you other discounts.
- Leave a copy of your passport with family and carry another copy with you but keep it separate from your actual passport.
- If travelling with a tour check out the demographics of the group beforehand; are they mainly couples or a younger crowd? This is also worth doing on the areas you are planning to travel to.
- Travel in low seasons – it’s cheaper, you avoid the crowds and it doesn’t rain all the time!
Solo Travel Packing Tips
- You only need enough clothes for a week then you can wash them.
- Mini toiletries are great – a small hotel size shampoo will last for about 3 washes.
- Roll everything up as tightly as you can to make extra packing space.
- Always pack some earplugs!!
- Take vitamins and supplements with you as fruit may not be easy to come across.
- Carry breakfast bars for when you get peckish.
- Only take what you really need – if travelling in a hot climate you don’t need a hair dryer.
- Take a carrier bag or shoe bag to keep your dirty washing separate.
- Jogging bottoms are great to wear in bed as pyjamas in cold weather.
- Use your clothes inside a sleeping bag cover as an extra pillow.
- Take a shampoo bar (less heavy) or a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.
- Take old clothes or hand wash your nice ones – you can’t guarantee that they will come back in the same state you handed them in.
- Buy cheap underwear (Peacocks, Primark, Quality Seconds) and throw it away as you go.
Practical Solo Travel Tips
- One of the big solo travel tips is to remember to build rest days into your itinerary. You may think you can do three overnight train journeys in a row but your body may think otherwise. You’ll be thankful of a day to recover.
- When crossing the roads, cross when the locals do.
- If there are lots of locals eating in a restaurant then it’s going to be good.
- Some hotels may keep your luggage if you are going away on a small trip – you can always book back into the hotel afterwards. Make sure you lock your bags and get a baggage receipt. Some train stations also have a luggage facility (especially in Europe).
- Need to communicate but can’t speak the local language? Make sure your phone has a translation app or use Google Translate so you can say what you really want to say (great for tricky situations in a bank).
- Ask your accommodation to write the name of where you are staying in the local lingo (or take a card of the hotel), so you can show someone if you get lost.
- When changing money, get as small dominations as possible and make sure you have local currency on you incase there are no ATMs around.
- Ask at your accommodation for recommendations on where to eat and what to do or visit the Tourist Information office for ideas.
- An easy way to explore is by going for a jog. It’s a great way to get your bearings in a new town (go in a straight line at first until you find your way around).
- Leave your expensive jewellery and valuables at home so you’re not a target for crime.
- Always keep pocket tissues or a toilet roll with you.
- Keep backups of your computer files or photos in case it gets lost or stolen.
- Take a light rain jacket with you that can roll up into your backpack. If you're travelling through many countries you may be crossing through seasons (or take an umbrella instead).
Those Girly Things
If your hair needs washing or you're going camping, just use a bandana.
A sarong has many uses; as a sheet for sleeping, a towel to dry yourself with, a cover up for the beach and a mat to sit on.
Use leave-in conditioner when you’re away and come back with luscious locks.
Dye your hair darker so it will cover any roots if away for a long time.
Can’t survive without your mascara but don’t want to go without? Dying your eyelashes before you go can last up to six weeks.
If you’re on the pill consider continuing it without a break for a month.
Cover up and dress modestly in the main areas. Swimwear and shorts are fine for the beach.
Girls have great intuition so listen to your gut feeling and go with it.
Money Travel Tips
Eat from outside street sellers instead of nice restaurants or cook your own meals in a hostel kitchen and take breakfast bars with you.
Drink the house wine or local beer as it is cheaper than the imported brands.
Take local buses or the metro instead of taxis or find others to share car hire.
See if there is a tourist pass which includes numerous attractions instead of paying for them all separately (buy a two day pass if you don’t think you can get around it in a day).
Most cities now have free walking tours where you can tip at the end according to how much you enjoyed the tour.
Accommodation can be one of the biggest costs. Choose the largest dorm for the cheapest price or try Couchsurfing, staying with locals for even cheaper.
Buy a sim card from the country you’re staying in for cheaper phone bills or use an international phone card. Don't forget to input emergency numbers.
If you’re in a country where you can barter – try it! If you manage to get a third off, you’ve got a good deal.
Make the most of any freebies such as tea and coffee or free breakfast where you’re staying.
Make use of any skills you have e.g if you’re a hairdresser offer your services to other travellers or teach English to the locals.
If you’re going on more than one trip a year look at annual insurance instead.