This week on the Girls Go Abroad podcast we’re going to be debunking some of the biggest solo female travel myths, from the idea that women traveling on their own isn’t safe to the fear that people will look at you weird. So let’s dive right in!
In this episode we discuss…
- Solo female travel myths surrounding safety-and why they’re not true
- How to keep yourself from feeling lonely on the road
- Why you don’t have to be sad, single, and extroverted to travel solo
Be sure to click play to listen to the full episode!
The 8 Biggest Solo Female Travel Myths
Myth #1: Solo female travel isn’t safe
One of the biggest solo female travel myths out there is that it isn’t safe. From fear-mongering news stories about women traveling on their own who get murdered or sexually assaulted or both, to the concerned questions of relatives and friends when you tell them you’re going to travel somewhere solo, the idea that solo female travel isn’t safe isn’t only common, but it’s almost ubiquitous.
Here’s the problem with that–and don’t mind me while I go on a feminist rant over here: the idea that solo female travel isn’t safe isn’t just untrue, but it’s blatantly sexist.
You NEVER see stories about solo male travelers getting murdered, and men who travel solo never get concerned questions from their friends and family. Because it’s just seen as natural that men travel on their own if they want. There’s nothing dangerous about that.
But a woman traveling on her own? Oh dear god, stop the presses, the world is going to turn upside down and the second she steps off the plane she’s going to be kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered.
No, no she’s not.
Look, the stories of solo female travelers who have been sexually assaulted or murdered are absolutely tragic. I feel sick to my stomach every time I see one come up on my newsfeed.
But the stories of women who are assaulted or murdered IN THEIR OWN HOMES are so much more numerous.
So why is it seen as dangerous to travel on your own, but not dangerous to hang out with your husband or significant other alone?
The world wants to stop women from experiencing and gaining freedom, and traveling solo is one of the most freedom-enforcing experiences out there. So of course we don’t want women to travel on their own.
The fact of the matter is, though, that traveling solo as a woman is no more dangerous than spending the night at home curled up in bed watching Netflix or spending a night out with friends at a bar.
If you use the same common sense safety precautions that you use in everyday life, you are going to be absolutely fine.
Yes, something bad could happen. But the chances of something bad happening are exactly the same–if not less–than if you just stay home. So don’t let fear for your safety be the thing that stops you from traveling on your own, because it’s a complete myth.
Myth #2: Only sad, single girls travel solo
Another popular myth surrounding solo female travel is that it’s only sad, single girls who travel solo. Whether you’re taking a trip around the world a la Eat Pray Love or launching off into the wilderness without any real experience like Cheryl Strayed in Wild, there has to be some sad experience or loss of a boyfriend that drives a woman to travel on her own, right?
Yes, traveling solo after a breakup, loss of a loved one, or other tough experience can be incredibly healing, and so many women have been able to experience this.
But sad, single women do NOT make up the entirety of the solo female traveler demographic.
Plenty of happy women-single or not-travel solo. And you definitely don’t need to have to hope for some life-changing experience in order to travel on your own.
Take me, for example.
I started my solo travel journey after I had been dating my boyfriend Daniel for a year and a half. Me going off on my own for two weeks didn’t break us up, and three years later I still regularly set off on solo trips.
I don’t do this because I can’t stand him and don’t want to spend time with him, but simply because he doesn’t like to travel nearly as often as I do, and I’m not about to let him not wanting to come with me stop me from having all of the amazing experiences that I want to have.
Our relationship is still incredibly strong, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. And when I travel solo, I’ll text him at the end of the day about the cool things I’ve done. So I’m definitely not a sad, single girl who’s traveling on my own because I don’t have anyone to go with or need a spiritual cleansing–not that there’s anything wrong with that, again, but don’t let yourself think that that’s the only reason a person can travel solo.
Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, no matter what your emotional state is like at this moment, you can travel solo.
Myth #3: Traveling solo is more expensive
If you stay in hotel rooms on your own you won’t have anyone to split the costs with. If you want to rent a car, again, you’ll have no one to split the costs withs.
So it follows logically that traveling on your own is going to be more expensive, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Yes, if you choose to travel in the exact same way as you would if you did have a companion, chances are that you’re going to burn a lot of money on hotel rooms and car rentals and all that sort of stuff.
But if you switch your mindset and seek out solutions that are perfect for solo travelers, then you’ll find that solo travel isn’t as prohibitively expensive as you might have thought. In fact, it might even be less expensive than traveling with someone else.
For example, if you choose to get a bed in a hostel dorm instead of a hotel room, or even just go for a single room instead of a double, you’ll cut off a serious chunk of change. And if you travel by public transport instead of renting a car, you’ll again be saving plenty of money.
If you’re worried about your safety or the dirtiness of hostels, then I highly recommend checking out episode 10 all about how to choose the best hostel for you as a solo female traveler. I cover how to find hostels that aren’t dirty, dangerous, and disgusting, but clean, beautiful, and fun-loving, as well as being places that are great for making friends–and, of course, saving money.
So no, traveling solo doesn’t have to be more expensive than traveling with someone else. In fact, I’ve often found that my solo trips are less expensive than ones with other people, because, for example, hostel beds are even less than half of a hotel or Airbnb’s price per night.
Myth #4: You’re going to get lonely
Many people’s biggest fears when it comes to solo travel is that they’re going to get lonely. Because if you’re traveling on your own for a long period of time, it follows that you’re going to be on your own for that long period of time and therefore very likely get super lonely, right?
And while it is definitely possible to get lonely on your solo travels (just listen to the very first episode of this podcast to hear about just how lonely I got on my first solo trip), if you’re doing things right you definitely won’t get lonely if you don’t want to.
By staying in hostels and socializing with others, going on guided tours and other fun experiences like cooking classes, and even just striking up a conversation with your waiter, there are so many ways for you to talk to other people and make friends even though you’re traveling alone.
So trust me, if you just put yourself out there a little bit, I promise you you won’t be lonely.
Myth #5: You have to be brave to travel alone
“Oh, you’re traveling on your own? You must be soooo brave.”
I hear that all the time when I talk about how I’m going somewhere solo.
But do you really have to be brave to travel alone?
In fact, I’m probably one of the most anxious people I know. And I definitely didn’t feel very brave when I took my first solo trip. Or the next one. Or the next one.
Yes, it does take a certain level of bravery to decide to travel solo, but don’t think that just because you don’t think of yourself as a brave person that you can’t make that decision.
Traveling on your own is as much about building that braveness as it is about being brave to start out with.
For example, when I first set out on my solo travels, I was so worried that I would mess things up or get into a situation that I couldn’t fix. But as I learned over time, there was actually no situation that I couldn’t fix. I could get myself around the world all by myself, and that gave me so much more confidence than I ever knew it was possible to have.
So no, you don’t have to be brave to travel on your own, because you’ll gain that braveness as you go along. I promise.
Myth #6: People will look at you weird
Another big concern about solo travel? That people will look at you weird.
Because while it’s pretty normal to be on public transport or walking through a city on your own, it’s a lot less common to go to a museum or sit down at a restaurant by yourself.
And when you do, people will definitely look at you with pity or like you must be super weird to not have any friends to go with you.
In fact, my being scared of being judged was one of the biggest reasons behind my not eating out even once on my first solo trip (of course, the prohibitive cost of eating out in Switzerland was another big reason).
But as I got more confident with myself on later solo travels, I ate out quite a bit more and learned that, honestly, people don’t care if you’re eating on your own.
You might get a few looks, sure, but they’ll be more out of curiosity than anything else. No one is going to stare. And they might even admire you for going out on your own.
Literally the only place where I felt weird for eating on my own was this one time in Iceland where I asked for a table for one and they straight up took me to an entirely different, totally empty section of the restaurant, as if I had to be cordoned off from the rest of the diners because I was some weirdo without any friends who didn’t want to eat alone.
But I just pulled out my Kindle and read a book and it was totally fine.
In fact, the chance to read a good book is one of the best parts of eating on your own!
So will people look at you weird when you travel solo? Very, very rarely. And when they do, it honestly doesn’t matter.
Myth #7: You have to be an extrovert
I am 110% a complete and utter introvert. Like, when I took the Meyers-Brigg personality test, I answered 10/10 of the introvert/extrovert questions with the introvert answer.
And yet, I travel solo all the time and absolutely love it.
Well, while you might think that in order to travel solo and not be lonely, you have to be an extrovert so that you’ll have no problem going out of your way to make friends.
But as an introvert, I actually like solo travel specifically because I’m not an extrovert. Because yes, I can go out of my way to make friends when I want to, and although it’s a challenge it honestly isn’t too hard in hostel situations and the like, where everyone wants to make friends. But I can also stick to myself if I want to, which, as an introvert, is exactly what I need to recuperate from long days of exploring or talking to people.
And a lot of the times, when I take quick weekend trips on my own, I’ll specifically stick entirely to myself and it’s basically like a spa retreat for my soul.
So no, you definitely don’t need to be an extrovert to travel on your own. And in fact, traveling on your own might even be the best for introverts!
Myth #8: You’ll receive a lot of unwanted attention
Finally, time for another little feminist rant for the last myth of this episode: the idea that by traveling on your own, you’ll recieve more unwanted attention from men.
Think catcalls, men coming up to you at a bar and not leaving you alone, that sort of stuff.
But here’s the thing, and we’ll throw it back to the first myth we talked about.
Traveling on your own just DOESN’T get you more unwanted attention.
I’ve gotten more catcalls walking with friends or my boyfriend than I ever have alone, and in general when I have my nose stuck in a book no one comes up to talk to me.
Being on your own does not inherently increase your chances of receiving unwanted attention from men. And even if it does, it does so no more while you’re traveling than when you’re at home. Because again, the inherent act of moving to a different location does not make things 500x more dangerous if you’re a woman. That notion is just ridiculous.
As a woman, the chance that you’re going to get unwanted attention is basically the same everywhere in the world. Seriously depressing, I know. But don’t let that stop you from having an awesome solo trip. Take the same safety precautions against unwanted attention you would when you’re at home and you’re going to be just fine.
Final Thoughts on these Solo Female Travel Myths
So there you have it: 8 solo female travel myths that are just blatantly false.
I hope this episode has served as a reminder that the world is a beautiful place where women can absolutely be safe while traveling solo, that solo travel can be a rewarding experience no matter who you are, and that having a book on you is always a good idea. Until next time, happy travels!
Be sure to hit play to tune into the full episode!
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