When I first started traveling solo, I'm sure many people thought I was crazy.
But over 50 countries later, I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I've traveled solo to almost every country in Latin America, and most of Europe too.
After years of traveling alone and having a safe and fun time everywhere I've gone, these are my top tips for other solo female travelers.
1. Start Off Small
If you've never taken a solo trip before, start off small.
My first true solo trip was a weekend in Copenhagen (ranked as one of the safest cities in the world for solo female travelers) while I was studying abroad in college.
An “easy” destination like this is a great way to test the waters of solo female travel.
Destinations like the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia are perfect for first-time solo female travelers because they're extremely safe, easy to travel in, and almost everyone speaks English.
2. Always Pack Light
Packing light is key! I've spent months at a time living out of a carry-on suitcase on my long-term travels. You can also get a backpack (ideally 50 liters or smaller) if that's more your style.
Regardless, packing light makes things so much easier and less stressful as a solo traveler.
You don't have to worry about lugging a giant suitcase through new and unfamiliar destinations on your own, and it also makes you less conspicuous and helps you blend in more.
3. Stay In Hostels
If you're worried about getting lonely when traveling on your own, stay in hostels!
Hostels aren't just for backpackers in their early twenties anymore either. You'll find travelers of all ages staying at hostels, and there are many nice hostels that feel more like a boutique hotel.
If staying in a shared dorm room with other travelers isn't for you, you can pay a bit more and stay in a private room (this is what I do!) You can still enjoy the social benefits of the hostel, and it's a great way to make friends while traveling alone, especially with other solo travelers.
4. Join Group Activities
Another one of my favorite ways to make friends while traveling solo is by joining group activities.
Walking tours, cooking classes, group hikes, day tours, fitness classes, and bar crawls are just some examples of group activities you can join while traveling where you have a high chance of meeting other people.
If you're nervous about traveling solo to a particular destination, you can even join an extended group tour instead of traveling completely on your own. This is a guaranteed way to meet other travelers, and you don't have to worry about logistics yourself.
5. Do Your Own Research
Now let's get into some safety tips for solo female travelers.
When planning a solo trip, you might hear from concerned, well-meaning family and friends that what you're doing isn't safe. In these cases, it's important to do your own research and consider the source.
Do your family and friends have first-hand experience traveling solo in the destination you're going to? Probably not. But can you find examples of women who actually have traveled solo there? Definitely!
The Internet offers a wealth of information for aspiring solo travelers. I've used solo female travel blogs to help me research and plan trips for years.
I also do extensive online research and planning before a trip, because the more prepared I am, the safer I feel arriving in a new and unfamiliar destination.
6. Trust Your Instincts
I'll skip the most obvious safety advice like watching what you drink and avoiding walking alone at night.
But one of the biggest safety tips I can give you is to trust your instincts.
They're rarely wrong. If something feels off about a place, situation, or person, remove yourself immediately, and don't worry about being rude (see tip #7 below.)
I've been lucky enough not to have any major mishaps while traveling solo, but I have been in a few weird or sketchy situations. And when those alarm bells started going off, I listened and got out of there!
7. Unleash Your Inner New Yorker
As a New Yorker, I'm used to all the stereotypes about us. We're rude, we're always in a hurry, we're blunt, and so on.
But you know what? There's a little bit of truth to all of that, and letting your inner New Yorker out can actually help you as a solo female traveler.
If someone is hassling you, aggressively trying to sell you something, or otherwise making you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to simply ignore them and keep walking.
Always walk with a purpose and stay alert. Looking lost or confused makes you a target for pickpockets and scammers. If you are lost, wait until you can duck in somewhere more private (like a store or a hotel lobby) to regroup and get your bearings.
A little bit of street smarts goes a long way in keeping you safe when traveling solo!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.