Solo travel is soaring, especially for women, which is why we asked the hottest adventure girls on social media for their travel tips
Solo female travel is a hot topic. Anyone with even a passing interest in Instagram culture will have noticed the growing popularity of gorgeous landscapes with a striking commonality: mountaintops, forests, deserted buildings, white sandy beaches… all featuring a solo female figure. A lone adventurer.
In fact, last night Healthista helped launch an incredible new resource for female travellers. SheTravel is a members only portal that brings users exclusive services and advice to make travel safer, more fun and more empowering. It includes a closed community, inside information from the world’s most trusted security firms, and country-by-country safety resources compiled by women who travel on the frontline everyday.
According to Hostel World, between 2015 and 2017 the number of women making bookings for a solo trip had increased by roughly 45 per cent. In comparison, men had also increased solo bookings by 40%. While this doesn’t seem like such a huge difference, it does beg the question: Why are women suddenly more interested in travelling solo?
The act of travel can offer a sense of escape from our everyday lives, along with a celebration of life and culture. It can however come with some pitfalls. Many of us can likely remember many a time when we have felt as though we’ve missed out on what a country has to offer, because the company we kept did not share interest in certain aspects of it.
When travelling solo we not only get a sense of independence and adventure, we also get the complete freedom of choice to decide how we want to spend our precious time in this exciting new land. And with the rise of services such as Airbnb, solo travel has become a more viable option for the average girl on the go.
To take your destiny and personal responsibility into your own hands can be an empowering yet daunting experience. But these women prove that there is so much more to be gained than feared. Here are their tips:
Vicky Flipflop ‘If you’re worried about your safety, don’t be.’
Vicky Flipflop aims to use her blog, Vicky Flipflop Travels, to educate and inspire fellow travellers, whether they’re life-long destination junkies or just looking to make the most of their summer holidays. Vicky began her travels during her time at university and combines her passion for travel with her love of writing to bring her readers confidence, knowledge and down-to-earth travel advice.
Invest in yourself
I spent my first university summer working in an office. I blew everything I earned on driving lessons and a week in Ibiza at the end of it. I vowed that the year after I’d do something special with my money, and so signed up to work as a camp counsellor at camp in America. That summer changed my life. I met so many interesting people, from all over the world – from countries I’d never even heard of. I loved it. From then I’ve always enjoyed experiencing different cultures, seeing new places and talking to people who grew up differently to me. That’s what keeps me going.
Be open to meeting people
Day tours are a great way to meet people, or just in the foyer or common space in your hotel. I’ve met people in many different ways, and of course there’s also now all the apps too. People are so much more open and sociable when they’re travelling – make the most of it.
Avoid any cultural mishaps
Read as much as possible about the culture you’re visiting, but if you do make a mistake, just own it, laugh, and smile. Usually you’re forgiven as a tourist, although maybe not in the likes of North Korea…
Go wherever you can
Obviously, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere not advised by the Foreign Office. I think apart from that; I’d rather be accompanied by a tour group in Iran (really want to go there). By law I wouldn’t be able to go to North Korea alone. Anywhere else I want to go; I’d be perfectly happy travelling solo.
I’ve been to Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Malawi and 30-ish other countries alone and I’ve been fine.
Travelling solo can be scary – but worth it:
That first summer when I went to the US, I was nervous to be going alone. I remember questioning what on earth I was doing – boarding my first long haul flight to the US, solo. That worked out fabulously though, so seems a long time ago now.
I definitely need to plan an adventure for next year, to somewhere I’m a little intimidated by, to flex my solo travel skills. Solo travel definitely takes practise and continuous upkeep.
To any women who are afraid to travel alone
Take baby steps. Try a day out alone first, then a weekend, and work your way up. Also, choose somewhere well documented and mapped out.
You’ll feel all the more confident if there’s good infrastructure and it’s easy to get around. Go easy for your first trip. If you’re worried about your safety, don’t be. To be blunt, you’ve got more chance of coming to harm in your hometown, by someone you know, rather than by travelling solo.
Alice Teacake: ‘Don’t touch the head in Thailand’
Alice Nettleingham has been a solo female travel blogger for over seven years. Her blog, Teacake Travels, is a haven for any women looking to be empowered. Alice is a strong believer in pushing personal confines and achieving the impossible. More recently, she’s been putting her energy towards giving back to the communities she’s been exploring and through an organisation called Hands on Journeys, which aims to lift up local communities around the world.
Stay social while travelling solo
I think hostels are just so crucial. And even if you want to travel by yourself, if you want to connect with people that option is right there for you. It’s a really good place to kind of check in, reboot and recharge. I love hostels, I think they’re great. There are also some really brilliant apps that I use, which really help to connect with other travellers. Bumble BFF is definitely one. There’s another app that I use called Tourlina – it’s like Tinder for girls that are travelling.
Don’t touch the head in Thailand!
As soon as you check in, ask questions. I’ll never forget, I was with a mate in Thailand and she patted this guy on on the head. You do not touch the head in Thailand! It’s a no go. The guy was so lovely about it, but the minute she did it I was like ‘Noooooo!’
I would recommend as a woman to pack a long skirt, a scarf and top that’s going to cover your shoulders. In some places in Asia, showing your head or shoulders can be a big faux pas.
Travelling can teach you about your own beauty
I love this lipstick by Barry M, it’s called Genie. It’s green when you put it on, but it reacts to the alkaline in your lips and changes to the perfect red. If I’m travelling light, I can also use it as blusher. Embrace your beauty while you’re travelling. I didn’t wear any makeup in Pakistan, and when I came back people kept telling me ‘you’re glowing!’’. You have to moisturise. If you’re going to be an adventure girl, you have to look after your skin. Sunscreen! There’s a sunscreen that I lov e- it’s Korean: Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/ PA+++
Learn self-defence. Make sure that you have the address of your accommodation in two places. If you phone runs out, you need it on paper as well. Research how you should dress. And to be honest, just believe in yourself. If you’re walking down the street looking like you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easier for people to scam you.
Use your judgement when deciding where you want to go
I’m never going to blacklist any country. I don’t believe in media stereotypes. I’ve got my head on my shoulders, I’m not going to walk into a war zone, but I think that we should be open minded to all cultures and regions. With judgement and research if we think we should go there, we should go. A couple years ago I went to Bangladesh. Embrace what the world has to offer.
Don’t be afraid
You are capable of so much more than you currently think you are. Once you start the ball rolling, you’ll never look back. You will become the goddess and queen that you were destined to be.
Bangladesh makes for an incredible solo adventure
People said not to go, and I just had such an amazing time. It’s still relatively untouched country and has so much to offer. It has one of the longest beaches in the world. It has one of the largest man-grown forest in the world. It has beautiful tea and stunning waterfalls and hiking opportunities, and the locals were just so welcoming. They really want people to come to their country and see Bangladesh for what it is. It was a highly rewarding and insightful experience.
Eulanda Osagiede: ‘A government does not define the heart of a nation’
Eulanda Osagiede, originally raised in the US, moved to the UK in 2011 and began blogging in 2014 after her father suggested it. Eulanda travels the world solo and with her husband, Omo. The two run Hey Dip Your Toes In, an award winning travel, lifestyle and food culture blog, which has blossomed into a full time business for Eulanda.
Connect with other women abroad
Try to make connections with other female travellers. Trustworthy connections because not all connections are created equal. I’ve been burned before, but it doesn’t stop me from putting myself out there and trying to connect with other female travellers. There’s such a wealth of knowledge in this community and it’s so humbling.
Make sure you’re asking questions
It’s important to ask questions, especially local advice but from more than one person. The opinions of many can be weighed, but the opinions of one can be skewed. There was a well-known travel influencer who went to east Africa, and she ended up eating an endangered creature, a Pangolin. She didn’t know, but if she had asked the question ‘what exactly am I eating?’ maybe she would have had more information to make the decision.
Travel to lesser known cities, like Borgoluce
We went to this Prosecco tasting in Borgoluce, Italy and the lady who was serving, Linda, had to excuse herself because a call came in. Minutes later she comes back and she’s like, ‘Oh by the way the countess is going to stop by.’
Were like ‘What? The what?’.
Fast forward, and ‘the countess’ showed up and was so lovely and gracious and normal. We sat there for almost a half an hour talking about life and family and her family history. And I thought, ‘if we’d been lured by the intrigue of the bigger cities like Venice we would never have had such a personable experience like this.
Don’t let a bad story keep you from your adventure
I don’t feel like there is a place I wouldn’t go. It’s not a good practice to vilify a country because you might have heard certain things happen there because it’s very relative. People have said to me, ‘Oh don’t travel solo in India.’ But then I’ve had so many friends that have travelled solo in India, had an incredible time and have been completely safe. Western perceptions of a place don’t define the heartbeat of a nation.
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[Storytime–#longpostalert] While I was in Japan, I had the opportunity to check out a really interesting art installation by James Terrell [not pictured]. 🇯🇵 It was located in this unassuming, plain, black house in the middle of a small neighbourhood on the island of Naoshima. 🇯🇵 Our guide tells us that we can enter the space, but that it would go completely dark at some point. So we begin walking in single file, and I stepped into a box of blackness… 🇯🇵 It was completely pitch black. We were told: “put your left hand on the wall, and let it guide you. Walk slowly. Never stop walking. Feel free to put your right out in front of you…” 🇯🇵 These were all things we were told as we walked through the blackness. I’m thinking, “where in the world are we going?” I didn’t know if I was going to run into someone or trip on something. I just had to trust and keep walking forward. 🇯🇵 At some point we were told to stop walking and sit down. I then realised we hadn’t been told what to expect. Only to sit and experience…it. 🇯🇵 Honestly, I have no clue if I was moving my head or my eyes when I finally saw something. 🇯🇵 It was this reddish-orange light…I don’t know…it just seemed to move and flicker, and it was off floating in the distance. There were no other sounds in the room that I could pickup. Was it an apparition, or some weird trick of the eye? 🇯🇵 As I focused on that light, out of nowhere, the room begins to light up. It wasn’t this over assuming, boastful type of light. It was subtle. It was comforting…neither warm nor cold. It just…was. 🇯🇵 I’m thinking, wow, the light has finally turned on in the room! And it was if our guide could hear my very thoughts. He said, “nothing has changed in this room since you arrived. These lights have always been on. It was never that dark to begin with. Your eyes had to adjust to the light that was always there.” 🇯🇵 Life’s experiences can sometimes be dark or unclear, but sometimes it’s about our own vision adjusting to what has always been there. 🇯🇵 #teamcoco
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Sometimes, a foreign land can be more welcoming than home
My most fearful moments ‘travelling’ have been living in America. I’ve been shot at before. I’ve been followed by police and in stores. It’s the place that I’ve felt, sadly, the most unsafe as a person of colour.
You don’t need company to enjoy a new culture
Start small, challenge yourself. Don’t force yourself outside of your comfort zone. Travel with a group of friends and then, try things like eating a meal alone in a public place. See how it feels. And then ask yourself questions, like ‘how do I feel?’ ‘Why do I feel like I need company around all the time?’ I think it’s another way to empower and give us agency, it’s not so special. But it’s another way to assert our own agency. It’s not about being alone It’s about having a voice that is unfiltered through the presence of others.’
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