Backpacking alone, or really any sort of travel alone, is a life changing experience that I believe everyone should experience. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, take this as your sign to book that solo adventure now! To avoid any confusion right off the bat, this guide will cover backpacking in the “wear a big backpack and hop from country to country, most likely from hostel to hostel” sense. If you’re looking for tips on backpacking or hiking solo, I’ve compiled a guide here.
Backpacking through Europe or Southeast Asia, or even South America, is the quintessential youth budget trip. However, solo travel can be an adventure at any age. I took my first year long trip at the age of 18, but my first backpacking trip wasn’t until I was 21. I know many travelers who didn’t take their first trip until well into their 30s or 40s.
Interestingly enough, there are far more women who travel alone than men. Probably because females are way more badass, but hey, that’s just a guess! However, this also means that there are usually tons of other solo female travelers to meet when backpacking alone. And don’t worry, I have a guide to smart solo female traveler safety tips to make sure you feel safe.
Making Travel Friends while Backpacking Alone
The biggest misconception about traveling solo is that it is super lonely. I get it, you hear solo travel and immediately picture yourself eating endless meals alone, visiting the world’s top exhibits with only your camera to keep you company. However, solo travel is actually an incredible way to make new, like-minded friends. I have met so many people over the years who have become lifelong friends. I even met my current boyfriend of almost three years while I was backpacking alone in South Korea. I’ve shared my tips on how to make friends while solo traveling here.
If you’re looking to make friends while backpacking alone, then I recommend staying at a hostel. Hostels have gotten a bad reputation over the years, especially among US travelers, but they are amazing for solo travelers. Of course, not all hostels are the same. I recommend doing your research beforehand to make sure that you are finding a place that meets your travel lifestyle. You can read my full guide on how to pick the best backpackers hostel for your travel needs here. I typically book my accomodations through Hostelworld.com or Booking.com. Both of these platforms do a great job of compiling user reviews, so you can get an idea of what to expect.
This next point is going to sound a bit cheesy, but hear me out. Backpacking alone is one of the best ways to engage in self-reflection and self-discovery. Often when we’re stuck in a routine, whether that’s a city you don’t love, a job that isn’t fulfilling, or even a relationship that has turned toxic, it can be difficult to see the situation clearly. Taking a solo trip is an awesome way to take a step back from your routine and see everything from a more removed perspective.
Backpacking alone also helps you to learn so much more about yourself. When you’re traveling solo you call all the shots. There is no one telling you which restaurant to eat at or which museum you have to visit. You may find that you enjoy a slower or faster travel pace, or that there are some attractions that you’d rather skip now that you’re backpacking alone.
Elaborating on my previous section on getting to know yourself, backpacking alone gives you so much freedom. You create your own schedule, in a way that you wouldn’t be able to if you were traveling with others. For me, this has meant booking a last minute flight (literally hours before) to Taiwan, a country that wasn’t even on my travel itinerary. It has meant rising for sunrise every day of the week and eating at the same gelato stand three times in one day. Backpacking alone offers a freedom that few other experiences in life do.
Of course, if you’re not quite ready to head off on a solo adventure on your own, there are baby steps that you can take. Spend the day in your own city, tourist-style. Explore the attractions that you always pass by but never actually visit, enjoy a dinner for one, or take yourself out for a fancy rooftop cocktail.
One of the most stressful parts of travel, especially group travel, is spending money. You know that moment when you’re traveling with a friend, or group of friends, and they recommend a hotel that is above your budget? Or when they choose a restaurant and you cringe at the zeros behind a dish? That is something that never has to happen when traveling solo! You make all of the travel decisions, so you can choose just how much (or how little) you want to spend.
Boost Your Ego
Backpacking alone on a solo trip is an incredible way to boost your ego and gain confidence. No matter how much you plan, something will always go wrong when you travel. Those are just the rules of travel! Being able to navigate those mishaps on your own is such a great way to challenge yourself and gain confidence. Of course, you want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. I’ve put together a list of smart solo female traveler safety travel tips that you’ll want to check out.
Planning Your Solo Trip
Now that I’ve convinced you that you need to experience backpacking alone, here are some thought-starters for planning your next trip:
What is your budget?
Knowing your travel budget is going to play a huge role in the type of trip you’ll be taking. It will also help you to narrow down which countries/cities make the most sense, and how long you are able to travel for.
How much time do you have?
For some people, their budget will play a role in determining how long a trip can be. However, for others, they may only have a handful of PTO days to accomplish their solo adventure. Knowing how much time you have for your trip will help you to narrow down your bucket list from the list of best places for solo female travelers.
What are you looking for out of the trip?
Are you dreaming of an island hopping vacation in Southeast Asia or a trip hiking solo to one of the world’s many peaks? Perhaps your solo trip looks a bit more like a city escape with rooftop drinks and tons of dining. You have the freedom to make all of these choices yourself when you are backpacking alone, so really listen to your heart!
Planning a solo adventure? Here are some other articles you should check out:
- 7 Smart Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips
- Backpackers Hostel: How to Choose the Best Hostel
- Solo Hiking: 9 Hiking Tips for Female Travelers
- How to Make Friends when Traveling Solo
Like what you read about why you need to experience backpacking alone? Make sure to pin it for later!
Are you ready to head out to travel solo but are nervous about your safety? That is totally normal and is something that you should take into account before you set out. Today, I will share my top seven smart solo female traveler safety tips with you so that you can get prepared and kick your fears to the curb!
Research in Advance
Each and every place in the world is unique with its own history, culture, cuisine, customs, and so much more. It is what makes traveling incredibly enticing and memorable because every location is a new adventure. Before you embark on your trip, be sure to research the location in advance.
Of course, you should learn about all the fantastic parts of the destination, but you should also inquire as to the darker sides as a smart solo female traveler. Investigate what you should/shouldn’t wear, locations to avoid, common methods for thievery, attitudes toward women, statistics on crime, and anything else that could affect your safety as you travel.
Being aware of these facts could help you to avoid conflict, not offend the locals, and keep yourself safe no matter where you go.
Book the First Night
I know that it can be fun to embrace the spur of the moment attitude that comes with solo female travel, yet no one wants to be wandering around a foreign city in the middle of the night because they arrived later than they planned. No matter where you go, you should always book the first night’s accommodation. This way, you can arrive safe and sound, even if you have travel complications.
Know Where You Are Going
Walking around with your head buried in a map, your face pressed against your phone, or with a lost look paints a “victim” sign on your back. Looking lost makes you an easy target, and we certainly don’t want that! You should always know where you are going. Make sure to research a destination before you leave. Have a mental image of where you need to go or easy to follow notes.
If you do end up getting lost, try not to show it. Walk confidently, as though you were just another local knowing exactly where you are going. Then, I recommend popping into a local shop or café to gather your bearings and look at your map. Shopkeepers won’t mind, and it will keep you out of public view.
P.S. If you are taking a taxi/Uber/etc. anywhere at night, make sure to order the ride while you are still inside, and only exit the building once they have arrived. This will prevent you from standing on a street corner for 10 minutes with nowhere to go.
Have a Back-Up Plan
Any experienced traveler will be the first to admit that something will always go wrong on a trip; it is just the severity of the issue that differs. When that happens, we don’t want to panic! Whether we missed a flight, our backpack got stolen, or we ended up completely lost, it is crucial to have a back-up plan.
Take a moment (actually, take a few) to think of ALL the things that could go wrong on your trip. For whatever pops into your head, make a back-up plan. That way, if it happens, you know exactly what to do. It is better to be over-prepared than underprepared when being a smart solo female traveler.
Keep Your Private Info Private
As we travel, we meet a variety of new people, which is fantastic! While most people are kind and honest, you will eventually encounter a bad apple. Sadly, those bad apples don’t come with a warning label. As a smart solo female traveler, you need to be cautious at all times, especially when it comes to your private information.
Think of the creepiest person you ever met. What wouldn’t you want to tell them about yourself? Your full name, hometown, hotel address, weekend plans, and more are probably all on that list! The same should apply to new people. You don’t know their intentions, so don’t give a possible “bad guy” an invitation to take advantage of your personal information.
Understand Your Limits
As a smart solo female traveler, it is vital to understand your limits. Understanding your limitations can be both physical and emotional. Physically, it would be best if you understood how far you can walk in a day or what level of exertion your body can withstand so that you don’t physically strain yourself during activities. If you participate in alcohol or drug use, you should understand your tolerance levels and when it is time to stop. Overindulging in any kind of substance can lead to disastrous consequences that are nightmare fuel for any woman.
Emotionally, it would help if you understood your travel limits. How frequently can you switch destinations or interact with others before you feel drained? You need to make sure to schedule “me time” or rest days so that you don’t become stressed or overwhelmed.
Find a Buddy
Finding a buddy is an excellent choice for keeping yourself safe, especially if they are other smart solo female travelers. It is a known fact that people who travel in pairs or groups are safer from attackers. Plus, when someone is watching your back, they can point out things you have yet to notice or advise you against a reckless action. Not only will finding a buddy keep you safer, but it could also lead to you making a lifelong friend and creating valuable memories.
I first met one of my favorite travel buddies on a sailing trip in Mallorca, and since then we have spent 3 days in Porto and traveled through Bali on a budget, among other trips.
Do you have other concerns about being a solo female traveler? Hit me up in the comments or shoot me a message, and I will be happy to chat with you about your concerns. You deserve to be safe wherever you are, and I want to help you do that.