As a teenager, I always saw myself chasing female solo travel. Growing up, I was entranced by my mum’s tales of solo travelling as a 20-year-old through Europe, America, and beyond. I would sit in awe, waiting to ask questions about how I could do the same one day. These adventures made me determined to travel in my own right.
But as I saved up while working multiple jobs out of school, I was surprised how many people were shocked at the idea of a female wanting to travel solo or could be safe doing so.
Indeed, solo travel is not for everyone. It can be scary to have only yourself to rely on as you face the challenges of new and unfamiliar places. But by starting small, you can test out female solo travel and build your confidence – after all, who wants to give up on their travel dreams just because their friends and loved ones can’t go where and when they want to?
My favourite place in the world and what I recommend is taking on solo travel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here are my main tips and things you need to know before heading off on your female solo travel adventure.
Travelling with tour companies is a great option when you’re after an opportunity to make new friends and explore the area hassle-free. Meeting people through a tour group is a great icebreaker and less intimidating than walking up to someone out of the blue.
In Edinburgh, I joined Haggis Adventures. It was just what I needed. Not only was I able to witness some of the most beautiful locations, but I was also lucky enough to have a fantastic tour guide and a chance to meet interesting travellers.
An enthusiastic tour guide who was super passionate about the area made all the difference, including making it easy for everybody to feel comfortable around each other.
Don’t be like me.
I can’t even begin to list the number of times I’ve started a trip unprepared. Planning your first night is the best way to avoid unnecessary stress and begin your adventure on a good note. There’s nothing worst than racing against the sun to try and find a spot to sleep for the night. It’s completely avoidable – simply book a room in a hostel or find a place you can park your car or van for the night. Make sure you factor in time to get to your destination early.
Constantly making decisions for yourself while solo travelling can get super exhausting. Sometimes, switching off and allowing someone else to do the work is nice. This was another reason I booked with Haggis Adventures so that every moment was filled; all I did was book the tour. It allowed me to see places without the hassle of organizing transport and worrying about time.
There were times during female solo travelling when I felt isolated. I’m sure anyone who’s travelled alone has been there at least once.
You’ll likely spend a lot of time on your own, and keeping yourself occupied with interests and hobbies is the best way to beat it. I’ll generally bring a book, pen, and paper or commit to an activity like hiking, slacklining, or skating to pass the time.
I remember one of the first hostels I booked in the Daintree Forest in Australia. Within 10 minutes of arriving, I was invited by another girl, a bit older than me, to go discover some local swimming holes the next day. It is still one of my favourite times.
Hostels are a great way to feel safe in an unknown environment, and you’ll find they attract many other like-minded solo travellers. More times than not, you’ll walk away with a new friend and/or even a travel buddy.
Find a hostel with a common area that is the heart of the place. I stayed with CoDE Pod Hostels and found their common area is the perfect set-up for female solo travellers. My hostel experience is what made me fall in love with solo travel in Edinburgh.
The idea of going up to strangers and starting conversations freaks me out. When travelling, I’d get stuck in my thoughts and convince myself not to do it. After completing several female solo trips, I have had some of my favourite experiences and met some of my closest friends doing exactly that. I just wish I’d stepped out of my comfort zone sooner.
I met a lot of these amazing people on tour with Haggis. One, in particular, had been there almost a month more than myself and had the opportunity to scope out some of the local’s secret spots. Through this one connection with a stranger, I got an insight into the most amazing destinations and best places for coffee or a bite to eat.
I’ve found travelling alone to be one of the most confronting yet empowering things I’ve done. It has taught me to be more resourceful and independent; after each trip, I feel incredibly empowered.
So many women are warned that it is unsafe to travel alone, but with the proper knowledge and building your experience, you’ll quickly work out that it isn’t unachievable.
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