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When it comes to traveling, there are three types of people. The first group consists of people that don’t enjoy traveling. I have only met a few of them as they’re a rare species. The second group enjoys traveling for the purpose of relaxation. These people usually travel once or twice a year to get away from their usual surroundings and to relax. The third group absolutely loves to travel and always yearns for new travel experiences. The question of solo travel for women usually concerns the last group.
In my childhood and youth, I didn’t travel a lot as we didn’t have that kind of money. While my schoolmates spent entire summers in Spain, I would go to Denmark for two weeks (a 2-4 hour drive from my hometown). I can’t blame my mother; she was trying her best to travel with us.
As I got older and started earning my own money, I traveled more – and fell completely in love with it. All those new impressions helped me learn more about myself and what I wanted out of life. At first, it was easy, because I had friends and family to travel with. But when I hit my late 20s, everyone around me was in a relationship and traveling with their significant other. Meanwhile, I was single and didn’t want to give up traveling for a lack of a travel companion. My first solo trip was a five-day trip to Barcelona. All my subsequent solo trips have been to major European cities.
Before I went to Barcelona I got in touch with another female traveler who was there. We met up the day I arrived and walked around the city for a bit and then went for dinner. She actually left the next day, but meeting up with her helped me feel comfortable as a female solo traveler. It also made me realize that I wasn’t the only woman to travel solo and that you can always meet people on solo trips.
The biggest advantage of solo travel for women is that you get to do what you want when you want. Nobody will slow you down, nobody will try to convince you to do something else. You get to look at a painting in a museum for as long as you wish. Or, you can sleep in as long as you need to. Solo travel for women means complete independence, and that’s something we all deserve! Yet, many women are afraid to travel alone. Some people have never learned to be alone, or, they worry about what people may think. Others don’t feel confident enough to handle being in a new place all alone. But, for women, safety is a major concern when traveling solo.
I would definitely recommend cities as the best destinations for solo travel, as there is so much to do for which you don’t need another person. Spending a week alone on a beach can seem overwhelming, especially having to deal with unwanted male attention. In a city, however, you blend in with millions of other people on their way to work or home.
As far as accommodation is concerned, many people prefer to stay in hostels. It’s an easy way to meet new people that you can share part of your travel experience with. Personally, I have always chosen to stay in a room by myself. Partly because I value my privacy too much, and partly because I am slightly paranoid when it comes to my belongings. There are positive and negative things to say for any type of accommodation. It might take you a few attempts to figure out which one you prefer.
Travel websites (especially Couchsurfing) are extremely helpful for meeting people who will be in the same place at the same time as you. When I traveled to the French Riviera I met fellow travelers to go on day trips with, and when I was in Lisbon I found a great Street Art Tour. Events like that are great for meeting people who love the same things as you. That way, you are not completely alone during your trip and get to spend some of your time exploring new places with new people. Temporary travel buddies create a perfect mix of independence and social interaction. After all, traveling solo doesn’t mean you don’t wish to spend any time with other people. As solo travel for women is growing in popularity, you will definitely meet other female solo travelers on your trip.
One big issue for people who travel solo is eating alone. It took me quite a while to get used to that as well. But now I don’t think at all about what people might think. I would recommend smaller, quiet places. If you see people inside studying, reading a book, or working on their laptops that’s usually a good place to go, because nobody will take notice of you eating alone, as they are also alone.
Throughout the day, it can be easier to just get a small snack and sit on a bench with a nice view. Try to overcome the fear that people will think you are lonely; on the contrary, many will admire you for doing something they would be too afraid to do themselves. The same is true for the entire experience of traveling alone. Don’t look at it as something you are doing because nobody is joining you. In fact, isn’t there a bit of selfishness in the idea of traveling solo? There is no need for compromise. No need to skip an activity because your travel partner doesn’t enjoy it and wants to do something else.
Traveling solo means taking time for yourself and confronting yourself with your insecurities about being alone. In the beginning, it might be difficult to resist the urge to turn to your smartphone to stay socially connected. Once you get over it and open yourself up to the possibilities of meeting people you would have otherwise never met you will never regret it. And you will keep coming back to it.
What do you think about solo travel for women or even for men? Do you think there’s a stigma attached to it?