Should Women Travel Solo?

solo female travel pic

As someone who’s been travelling solo since I was 17, you could probably guess what side of the field I’m on in this argument. Women can travel solo, women do travel solo, and it is just as safe as any other form of travel. After reading this ridiculous scare mongering article today I just felt like I had to say something. I should also add my opinions are based on several years of travelling solo personally -not just what I think or imagine travel is like. I feel a lot of the negative opinions on solo female travel tend to come from people who do this… They imagine what it’s like to travel solo and have opinions that are based on the worst things they can imagine up in their heads. Their opinions are not based on first hand experience like mine are or the many other lady travellers who have also stuck up for travelling solo as a female.

Just like life is not 100% safe, neither is travel. This is the same no matter what style of travel you decide to take. It is the same no matter what life you lead too. You are never 100% safe anywhere, anytime. Even in your own home…

Most horror stories I read in the media fail to tell the full story. Once you delve a little deeper you often find the that person has not followed some basic safety rules. They’ve been walking alone at night, been in a bad area, got too drunk, not took notice of local customs in more conservative parts of the world etc. They may also just have been very unlucky. Tragic things that happen at home can also happen abroad. Thankfully they are usually quite rare, but they do happen sometimes.

Even in my own travels I have had one particularly scary moment, but this was during one time when I didn’t follow my usual safety rules. I’d drank far too much alcohol and tried to make my way home alone at night and intoxicated. This was just plain stupid and something I don’t usually do. Needless to say I got my handbag nicked. That was around 3 years ago now and I’ve since travelled a lot more and not had any major problems. I was lucky that my stupidity only resulted in my handbag being stolen. The reality is it could have been much worse, and occasionally when you make these mistakes much worse does happen. They key is not to make the silly mistakes. The problems mostly arise when you give them the opportunity to do so, and just because you’re abroad doesn’t mean you can stop following all those usual safety rules you would apply on say a regular night out back home.

Another factor that I don’t think gets reported enough on is how many guys versus girls get into trouble abroad. Certainly in my own experiences, I’ve come across many more guys who’ve been robbed or injured abroad than I have girls. Most of the injuries have been the result of guys who have got into drunken fights, done something stupid that resulted in serious injury, or been pick pocketed/robbed. Even then, this is a minority of people. Most guys AND girls I know who travel have not had anything major happen to them at all on the road. Most people are sensible.

I have heard comments lately that the scare mongering around solo female travel is partly due to the fact there are people who call themselves “solo female travellers”. Some people think that by labelling us or it as different that we are making it seem more scary somehow. I think this is bullshit. The reason we identify ourselves as solo female travellers is because a) we’re trying to show that it is entirely possible (and to break down those stupid pre-concieved ideas that it’s not), and b) because we’re proud of who we are and passionate about what we do. When you’re passionate about something you generally feel the want and need to share that passion. It’s just human nature.

There are also some people in this world (even in this day and age) who still have very outdated ideas of how women should be, act, and live their lives. In fact, I know some of these people personally. By making solo travel a part of my life it’s like sticking a middle finger up to those people and those outdated perceptions, but it’s also just how I enjoy myself. I enjoy travelling solo and I remember how scared I was before I started travelling solo because of what other people said to me. Friends of mine who were guys never got the same problem (or certainly not to the same extent), but other girls I know have voiced similar situations such as I experienced before going away on that first trip.

Equally, when people are giving out “female travel safety tips” the truth is that most of these could also be used by guys as well as girls. I think girls just generally worry about safety more, and therefore more content is aimed at them in this regard to help them more with peace of mind than anything else. The reality is also that girls do generally have a smaller body size and weight than a guy. We are generally not as strong. However, if we follow the basic common sense rules that we’ve always known and follow back home then there is no reason why we can’t be as safe as anyone while travelling, be it guy, girl, or monster!  You also don’t need to wear a wedding ring or carry a weapon to be as safe as you can be when you’re travelling. I know a lot of people advertise this as something they do, but I have personally never felt the need as a female travelling alone. You just need to be sensible.

So in answer to the question should females travel solo? My answer yes they should. In fact, I highly recommend it!

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18 Responses to “Should Women Travel Solo?”

  1. Emma says:

    Great post Jane!! I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Brooke says:

    Too bloody right!! I travel alone and I’ve never thought twice about it!!

  3. Michelle says:

    I totally agree. I’m traveling on my own in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more excited about it. The only time I’ve run into any issue when I was on the road was when I wasn’t alone. I know even my mom can’t fathom that this is something I enjoy but, if I didn’t travel alone, I wouldn’t travel. Simple as that.

  4. Ali says:

    YES!! I’m so angry about the stuff going around about this story, that this woman got killed because she was a solo female traveling in a foreign country. Like you said, you have to be sensible and be aware of your surroundings and not do anything stupid, but traveling, solo or otherwise, is generally pretty safe. Crime is everywhere, whether you’re in your own home or halfway around the world. There are too many people pushing fear onto others, especially onto women, and people feed off of it and make it worse. I love solo travel, and I’ve had really great experiences traveling that way. I truly believe it’s something everyone should try once. It builds character, it shows you you’re stronger than you thought, and it breaks down that fear and shows you there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. Male or female.

  5. Vicky says:

    Totally agree. I live in Cappadocia, Turkey and I get fed up of having to reassure people that Turkey is not a scary Muslim country. Unfortunately nowhere is 100% safe but using your common sense does give you a lot more protection than wearing a wedding band…

  6. Colleen says:

    My biggest wonder is why the media is not talking to men about how they can support women and end violence perpetrated against women by their gender. Instead, the discussion veers to how we should practically lock women up and not let them leave the house. Wow. Thanks for your wise words here on the issue.

  7. Raquel Ritz says:

    Just a bit of common sense is what you need. I could not agree more with you.
    This has just reminded me about one of my clients moaning about arriving to scary Madrid airport at 21:30 and having to pick a taxi by herself!

  8. Interesting advice in that article :) Solo female travellers should start their travels with Netherlands… hmm. I would say that any country in Europe is like Netherlands. There are some bad neighbourhoods in Amsterdam as well, like in any other place, which any traveller should avoid. From my point of view Europe is quite a safe place if you know which neighbourhoods to avoid

  9. Jenna@Webjet says:

    We completely agree! Traveling solo shouldn’t stop anyone, including women. You’re right, bad things can happen to you whether you’re traveling or not so don’t let that hold you back from seeing the beauty of the world. As long as you are smart and follow basic safety rules there is no reason why a women can’t do it alone! I personally have traveled as a solo woman and thankfully never ran into problems! I definitely encourage other women to do the same.

  10. Rachel says:

    That news of the woman who got killed in Turkey have brought a lot of lessons for everyone. I’m not opposed to women traveling alone, I do admire women who are independent, brave enough to face the trials of their every adventures alone. But I do think that we should be more cautious when we’re in a different country. Be friendly but not in a way that you’re giving them wrong signals or something. Wear clothes appropriate for the country you’re visiting at, it must be normal with you to bear your skin and everything, but with them.

    Alone or not, we still are at risk of being eyed by danger.. accidents happen all the time, anywhere.. it could possibly happen at your home, we never know.

  11. Amy McMahon says:

    I’m going to buck the system a bit here and say out loud that as a woman who has been traveling for over 20 years I’ve determined that solo travel, regardless of gender, requires extra attentiveness and caution. And depending upon the destination you are traveling to gender does bring additional concerns. I’ve been living and traveling in the Middle East for over 17 years and can honestly say that I’ve had more good experiences than bad based on being a female traveler. But there have been experiences where my gender did require me to make decisions differently.

    I am in no way discouraging solo female travel, but I find it quite dangerous to pretend that it makes no difference whatsoever. If you research the community in advance and take practical precautions your experiences can be phenomenal. But extra awareness is definitely important.

  12. Dysfunctionalbarbie says:

    Great post! I myself will be travelling alone next year, and so many people look at me strangely when I say I’m going to go alone.

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