We exist in a world where women are forced to live cautiously on a daily basis. From street-side cat-callers and everyday creeps to the epidemics of date rape and men’s violence, patriarchy has given women plenty of reasons to lock our doors, hang up our keys, and throw out our road maps. But in a world where women’s lives are directly affected by the deplorable actions of men, it is more important than ever to travel without the restrictions of fear, and to go forth in search of adventure and freedom. So this won’t be your average list of mistakes solo female travelers make. You know, the ones where women are repeatedly told not to walk alone at night, not to have drivers take her directly to her hotel or campsite, not to accept drinks from strangers, and not to dress scantily. Because 1.) that list could go on forever, and 2.) women have heard those things enough.
So if you’re a single female hoping to travel the world, there are going to be risks and the dangers are real (your mother will probably tell you all about them once you inform her of your impending solo quest). But the biggest mistake you can possibly make is not going at all!
Mistake #1 - Traveling In Fear Of Making Mistakes
Numero uno on our list of mistakes is traveling in fear of making them. For most male travelers, making a mistake leads to a minor mishap which most often results in one of the most memorable stories of their whole trip. But for solo female travelers, the stakes of these misadventures are a little higher. This heightened sense of victimhood can cause women to obsess about making ‘mistakes’ rather than enjoying the experience of being in a new place surrounded by new people. We’re not suggesting that you throw all caution to the wind. We are simply saying that you are not accountable for the actions of others, so don’t compromise your own enjoyment out of fear of what could happen if you don’t ‘protect yourself’ according to the standards that society puts on women. You will make mistakes, you will learn from them, and you will move forward as a stronger woman because of them.
Mistake # 2 - Not Being Ahead Of The Pack
A lot of mistakes can be made before your adventure even begins, starting with how you pack for your travels. It can be tempting to want to bring along half your wardrobe, but remember that when space is limited, functionality should always come before fashion. In addition to the proper attire, you’ll also want to pack along some basic must-have travel items. Make sure you have enough money and that it’s in the proper currency. Make extra copies of your passport and keep a picture of it in your camera roll. And if you’re traveling somewhere exotic, you might also want to pick up a broad-spectrum antibiotic to avoid the dreaded traveler's tummy. And ladies, don’t forget to pack your confidence too!
Mistake #3 - Only Traveling Within Her Comfort Zone
In a world that crams women inside of safety bubbles, it can be a life-altering experience to venture outside of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Don’t let fear lead the way. Follow your wanderlust and embrace the terror of exploring new territories. You can learn a lot about who you are by challenging yourself in unexpected and intimidating ways. Don’t let yourself set boundaries on your destinations for fear of language barriers or cultural uncertainties. Risks exist everywhere, and nobody knows this better than women, so why limit yourself? Boldly explore every corner of the earth and when your travels are over you will have a comfort zone as wide as the globe itself!
Mistake #4: Thinking She Can’t Hack It On Her Own
If you’ve made the decision to become a solo female traveler, then you’re already well aware that having a man by your side is an overrated accessory. While companionship might be great, independence is glorious and self-reliance is one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself. That’s why mistake number four on our list is doubting your ability to successfully travel on your own. Sure, you might have plenty of gumption at the start of your trip, but mid-way through you might have moments where you question the sanity of your decision to go it alone. While doubts may arise, do your best to silence them. I can promise you that by the end of your adventure you will feel empowered enough to tackle absolutely anything all by yourself!
Mistake #5: Resisting Impulse Behavior
As you’re gearing up for your solo expedition, you will probably be told how important it is to make sure that somebody knows where you are at all times. While this is great advice, don’t let it stifle your ability to be spontaneous. One of the biggest benefits of traveling alone is that you can change plans on a whim without having to consult anyone else about it. So travel at your own pace and create your own schedule. Being flexible with your itinerary can make room for fun, impromptu adventures, or at the very least it can give you the luxury of napping whenever you please!
Mistake #6: Being Too Polite
One of the many tricky dichotomies that women are forced to deal with is the struggle between being protective of themselves and being polite to others. When turning down a date or a drink, there is this unspoken balance between making your denial friendly enough not to upset the offerer (possibly out of fear of their retaliation), and being assertive enough to get across the point that you’re not interested (possibly out of fear of your own safety). Remember that it’s not rude to be cautious and you can’t be blamed for being skeptical. Don’t hesitate to firmly say no for fear of being perceived as insulting. You don’t need to smile all the time, and you don’t need to be polite to every person you meet while traveling.
Solo female travelers are rare to find, so if you decide to hit the road as a single lady, more power to you! While you will probably make mistakes somewhere along your journey, the only real mistake you can make is to not go at all. So embrace the mishaps, love yourself in spite of them, and enjoy the experience of exploring this great, big terrifying and beautiful world all by yourself.
Are you a solo female traveler? Give your fellow lady vagabonds some advice on traveling alone by leaving a comment! And be sure to stay tuned for our post on mistakes solo male travelers make (warning: don’t hold your breath!)