Here’s What You Need to Know About Solo Travel as a Woman

When I first started this blog in 2015, it was with one clear purpose. I had quit my corporate job in payroll to travel and write and wanted to speak exclusively on this and related topics. During that time, I got married, before which, I told my husband to forget a relationship with me if he in any way intended to hinder me from travelling either alone or with my friends.

He promised he wouldn’t. To his credit, while he has broken his fair share of promises, this one he kept. In time, the rest of my family also learned to adjust to my tendency to hop on a plane alone to see new places where I knew not a single soul. People who read my blog were at first amused, but more and more, I get asked why I travel alone.

My question is why shouldn’t I? Men can hop on a plane to any corner of the world — married or unmarried, father or childless — and no one bats an eyelash. But a woman does it, and she spends hours fielding questions about why she went alone. So, if you’re thinking of walking that same path, here’s what you need to know.

Prepare for Intrusive Questions

I think it’s important for people to acknowledge their role in perpetuating double standards, as well as a feeling of entitlement to details about people’s personal lives when they do not volunteer it. When married women travel solo, there must be something wrong in their lives. When single women travel solo, there must be something wrong with the woman. I have experienced both sides of this coin.

That said, the first thing a woman should know about travelling solo is that people will ask questions — a lot of people will ask a lot of questions — and people will judge you. In my experience, these people are typically White and from the Boomer Generation. Considering all I have said in the past about White patriarchy, this is not surprising. African-Americans rarely bat an eyelash. Jamaicans never do.

Ironically, there are several romantic getaways and family trips I have taken where I do not mention a travel partner. You will not find pictures of my family on my blog or social media. In spite of this, I find that privacy is a myth for travelling women — even if you don’t have a popular lifestyle blog. So, prepare for the assault on your private life.

Planning Is a Lot Easier

The invasion of your privacy is the biggest hurdle you will overcome, but once you build up a strong resistance to this, there are perks to enjoy. When I talk to women about travelling, no matter how young or old they are, they tend to have one main concern:

My friends are never free for travel when I am. And then, when they are, they don’t have the money.

My response to this is always,  “So, why don’t you go by yourself?”

Sometimes the woman is taken aback and has no response. The idea that I would even suggest such a thing is preposterous. Other times, she stops to think about this for a moment and decides that it’s probably not a bad idea. Some women return an immediate and heartfelt no.

Wherever they fall on the spectrum, I always tell them that if you sit around and wait for your partner and/or friends to be available when you are, you might never go anywhere. If I was that kind of person, I would have cancelled my trip to the Maldives after my friend bailed on me just seven days before departure. And, I certainly would not have volunteered to be the guinea pig to check out rural-suburbian California by myself.

Planning is a lot easier when you don’t need to consider anyone’s schedule, availability and budget but your own. It may cost you a bit more money, but you get to travel the way you want with no compromises.

Consider the Solo Vs Group Economics

Despite the perk of easier planning, travelling solo can also be a little wasteful. In the Maldives, I had a 2-bedroom-1-bathroom suite. Simply put, I could have slept four adults. When I travelled to New Hampshire by myself, my hotel room had two beds as well. This is a fairly common setup.

When you actually get to the hotel room is when you realize that you could have saved a lot of money by just bringing someone along. However, you might end up saving on the entire trip by simply not going at all, if you sit around waiting for other people to be available at the same time you want to go somewhere.

While splitting accommodation costs could save you money, the price on your own is usually doable. I have never spent more than $500 on a hotel room to myself for two weeks. I have spent as little as around $280 for a week. It all boils down to where you go and whether or not you travel during the off season.

You Need to Enjoy Your Own Company

When I talk to women about travelling solo, another concern they often voice is that they might not have fun without their friends. As an only child, this confuses me. There isn’t a living soul whose company I prefer to my own — except, maybe the cat! My family has long come to accept this and know there are times when I should be left to my own devices.

It’s really hard for me to give advice on how to learn to enjoy your own company, but it is imperative that you do. Otherwise, you will spend your entire trip bored and lonely, or put yourself in danger by continuously looking for some stranger to spend time with.

If loving alone time is not your default setting, I recommend starting small with the following solo activities:

  • Stay in one Friday night and read a book or work on a solo hobby, such as painting.
  • Go for a run or hike along a trail with plenty of foot traffic.
  • Watch a movie you’ve been dying to see at the cinema.
  • Take yourself out to dinner.

In my opinion, online gaming and binge-watching Netflix doesn’t count. The list I provided are things you may end up doing alone on vacation when you travel. If you plan to stay in your hotel room and watch TV or play video games, you’re better off saving money with a staycation.

Safety: The Concern Vs Issue Mindset

Travelling alone as a woman has greater risks than travelling alone as a man. There is no denying that. If you plan to go adventuring, as I do, then the risk increases. I have gone snorkelling and hiking by myself, both of which can be dangerous, especially in unknown territory. I have walked past signs blatantly telling me, I might die.

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People often ask me why I do this if I know the risks. I do make plans for my safety. I will probably write a whole article at some point on some safety tips for solo-travelling women, but this article is not specifically about that. The important thing here is to treat safety as a concern and not an insurmountable issue. Put plans in place, be responsible, and live your life.

The second you start viewing safety as an issue instead of a concern, the fun gets sucked right out of your trip. I would not have gone to a Muslim country by myself. I would have been terrified of the woods in New Hampshire. And, I would not have discovered my favourite hiking spot of all time in California.

I’m sure there are tonnes of other things worth mentioning here, but these are the top concerns I usually come across as a solo traveller that you likely will too. Just know that while there are obstacles you need to overcome, the benefits are well worth it.

I know this firsthand. This year, I gave myself three weeks of paid vacation from Alexis Chateau PR. While not my original plan, I spent those three weeks of vacation travelling alone. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Especially as I move into a new decade of my life, it gave me time to think and realign myself and my values. I could reconsider my priorities, and finally, make some well-needed time for myself.

Is solo travel for everyone? It probably isn’t. Even guys are often intimidated by the prospect of travelling alone. However, if you do try it and enjoy it, you may uncover a love that lasts you a lifetime. I sure have.

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40 thoughts on “Here’s What You Need to Know About Solo Travel as a Woman

  1. I have been traveling alone or as I like to say with 3 people, me, myself and I , since I was in my 20’s . I 66 going on 67, God willing . I have travelled with girlfriends and have had a ball because we all pretty much like the same things, especially sporting events . If they don’t go with me , I go by myself because staying home is NOT an option . I’ve been asked in Las Vegas , “where your people at?” at a pool party and “where’s your husband , how could he let you travel by yourself ” by a shopkeeper in Kuala Lumpur and “are you traveling by yourself ? Where’s your husband and children?”, by a well meaning lady on a flight to Singapore . I just smile and don’t let it bother me, bless their hearts. After all these years , it’s not that important to me if other folks have an issue with me travelling by myself. As long as the good Lord allows it, I’m going to continue to travel solo.

    1. Oh my goodness! Being asked how he “let” me travel by myself will irk me until the day I die. Are we property??

      I’m glad it just rolls off you. I haven’t made it to that stage yet. It still gets on my very last nerve and may continue to do so for a long time. I just think it’s unfair that we get pressed about these things and they don’t. No one asks men how their wives “let” them travel alone.

      I’m also happy to see so many women reach out to share their experiences travelling solo. I think before I write that post on safety, I’ll be reaching out to each of you for advice to flesh the post out as more than just my opinion alone. I’ll be sure to give credit and a link to your website. 🙂

      1. I smiled because I knew I was in Asia and American women, especially black American women have always been independent . I was more upset with the shopkeeper because before she asked me about my husband, she was following me around and I walked out the store . It was my first time in Asia and I was like, “I can stay in Los Angeles to be followed around because I’m black” but the colleague that I was with said, “no, come back, she just wants to ask you something . ” the lady apologized, and then asked me about my husband. Her reaction was after I said no husband , “you must be American “

      2. Oh, wow! I do agree with you that Black American women are more independent. Same for Jamaicans. I mentioned in the article that Blacks rarely ever asked me any of those prying questions. We know better! I’ve heard that’s also why we don’t do well in marriage. 🤣😅

        In South Asia, I don’t think anyone really harassed me about being there on my own. Men were protective in a sense, I guess. But none of the women asked me about a husband. That’s considering the fact that I was in a Muslim country. Strange! They are close to Africa though.

        You live in California?

      3. Oh wow! From one blue mecca to the next 😂 What made you decide to leave California?

      4. I actually moved from California to Las Vegas, stayed for 3 years then moved back to New York City where I hadn’t lived since 1985. I’ve lived in Boston for 13 years and still consider that home, Los Angeles for 10 years. I’ve been back in new York City for 8 years. If I had my way and didn’t have all this “senior stuff” going on, I’d leave New York and move back to either Boston or Las Vegas

      5. I see you’ve been brilliant and lived in all the blue meccas, haha. Those are the only places I feel safe, and even then, you never know who you might run into.

        I hope you do get to move soon. No fun feeling stuck in a place! What did you love about Boston? I’ve heard a lot of complaints about it. I only spent one night there before. Vegas is awesome.

      6. Boston in the 80 ‘ s had the reputation of being unfriendly towards black people due to busing and it’s just never left. Now so many immigrants have come to the city and made it so much better in my opinion . It has a European feel to it . Outside of Philadelphia , Washington DC and even Baltimore , this is the city to come to if you want to learn about US history . The city is quiet and peaceful as compared to New York . It’s my getaway place on the east coast and not that far from New York by car or plane

      7. Yes, it’s mostly Blacks I met who complained about the city. I didn’t have any bad experiences there are as far as how I was treated, but I was only there for about 12 hours.

        I do like New England on a whole though. People on New Hampshire were very nice. New England and Out West are the best there is of America.

      8. New England is very nice and depending where out west you go it is nice. Have you ever been to Nashville ? Even though its the South, people are SO friendly and you don’t feel out of place if you go to a country and Western place. It’s not called Music City just because of the Country and Western music , there’s all sorts of music going on in Nashville

      9. I really hate country music 😂 I’m also just not a fan of southern hospitality and the southeast culture overall.

        Some parts of out west are very southeastern in culture, as well. Like you said, it does depend on where you go. Grand Junction in southern Colorado was incredibly racist. People in southern Utah were surprisingly more friendly, but they were also probably mostly tourists like me!

      10. Not surprised Grand Junction was that way. Where you don’t see that many people of color,it’s going to be like that. Have you been to Denver? I think you would like it

      11. I visited Denver the year before that and loved it! People were nice all around. Grand Junction did have POC (mostly Hispanic). Most people were nice. It’s the Old White guys that would stare us down in the supermarket parking lot like they wanted to zap us with their KKK superpowers!

        California is often an exception to the small town with few POC = racist vibes. I’m moving to the Joshua Tree area and mostly ran into White hippies and millennial liberals. They’re pretty chill, laid-back people. Had a great time up there.

      12. Vegas , what can you say about it that hasn’t been said. I go clubbing there more than I do here in NY . The vibe is so different in Vegas . It’s new York City on steroids

      13. Haha, funny enough I didn’t do much clubbing there. I went one time to see what it was like. I spent the rest of my visit hiking. The food there is great!

  2. I’ve traveled by myself to visit the kids but never for fun… I’m going to have to do that one day! Recently after a lot of travel as a couple the spouse had a biz trip by himself (which I could’ve gone on) but I elected to stay home. Felt so damn good to just be my own company!!!

    1. Hahahahaha! It’s the best. Nothing funnier than them coming home and asking, “Did you miss me?” No, sir. Actually, I didn’t. 😂

      You definitely should try a solo trip. It’s ideal for relaxing, I find. Adventure is often better in groups.

  3. “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau

  4. This is well written. When I came to the last paragraph, I said to myself, “I have met this person on line. Hope you are well, and happy, busy with life, and congratulations on being married.

    1. Thank you, Rubie. However, the point of the post is that once women get married, people care less about their adventures and more about who they took with them. I was pleased to see at least two men so far address this specific problem, because they’ve seen it themselves.

      This is not a marital platform. What I want to be congratulated on is living my life to the fullest, even if/when I do so alone. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  5. When it comes to travel, I think there’s this big stereotype where you do all your travel when you’re single and ‘free’. Because when you’re in a relationship, it’s much harder to do, apparently you’re not supposed to travel on your own then. So of course, when a married lady wants to travel solo, people almost immediately seem to think something is wrong going on with them – it’s an outdated and rubbish view in my opinion. If you enjoy traveling solo, and understand the risks, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

    For me, some trips are better done solo, while others are better done with company. As for accommodation, I do like my luxury from time to time haha – but only if it’s a relaxing style vacation. If you’re doing lots of things and moving around, then basic accommodation is fine.

    1. That’s very true about the expectation that you should be “single and free” hence my serious sit-down before I got married. But even after that, I struggled with finding the nerve to keep it up, because there was this expectation that I should give this up now to “settle down” by general society.

      The truth is that many married women do travel to escape their husbands. My mom did that. I’ve written about it, particularly how she fled to the U.S. to get away from him for good. So, here’s the thing. Imagine a woman in this position, whether her leave is permanent or just a temporary reprieve. How do people think constantly asking questions affects her psyche? Those questions do not benefit her. They benefit the asker who needs to mind their own business and move along.

      I’m an only child, so going off on my own is just another day in the life of me. I think on a cruise ship, having someone else with you is important. I’m not sure I could do that one alone, as you are confined to the vessel for long periods of time with NO connection to the outside world (the WiFi sucks even when you purchase it). Outside of that, solo seems to be just fine. I’ve enjoyed all my group trips, but I find I have time for greater self-reflection, when I’m alone. 🙂

  6. But a woman does it, and she spends hours fielding questions about why she went alone.

    You seem to have a very European attitude to these things and I find it admirable more than anything else. Travelling alone is much more common here, for men and for women, and nobody finds it weird or scary.

    Keep on travelling. I love reading about the places you go!

    1. I certainly agree that it’s more common in Europe for women to travel alone. I’m not sure why some women accept the ball-and-chain approach to family/kids/marriage.

      It’s like you can’t go anywhere without being asked about your attachments when you have them. Makes them feel like a burden. Like, can I live my life? This is a part of my career. Why should my spouse be dragged into it??

      And, thank you! I don’t think I’ll be going many places before heading back out west in the spring, so looks like I’ll be living vicariously through you in the meantime. 🙂

  7. Alexis, I am a boomer…62. I moved from my beloved hometown where I had lived longer than I wanted. A job opp came up. Guess who said I’ll take it. Been away for 20 plus years. I’ve taken trips on my own and thoroughly enjoyed the autonomy. I grew up an only child too. I very much did and still do enjoy my company. There are risk in anything you do. So you prepare. I am sometimes flummoxed by the comment, “Aren’t you afraid. I could never go by myself”.Grates my nerves. Don’t particularly like hanging out with a group. So solo travel is fine for me. I laugh at them. “Oh you better be careful”. Like you’re just gonna loose your mind or senses. Budgeting for lodging is really important. Solo travel is a sense of adventure. I rolled my eyes the whole time I was reading this post.I’ll get off my soap box.

    1. Every woman who travels alone so far is sharing the same experience. What is it about people that makes them pry so much into the lives of women? My male friends say they rarely get asked this when travelling alone, if at all. People just want to know where they went and what they did. I wish that’s all I would get asked too. Maybe one day!

      Kudos to you for taking risks, going on adventures and living your life. Must be an only child thing, from what I’ve been seeing so far! 😂

  8. Love this post Alexis. I have traveled on my own for over thirty years. I just booked my flight to Peru in May going for a month. ( I wrote my own post called you travel alone? on my blog) and you nailed it. I get the same questions and responses that you explained her. Others always say they want to come with me, then they can’t for reasons, of no time, no money or relationship complications… and when I have traveled with others I seem to end up making all the plans and baby sitting which ruins my trip. Maybe I am selfish, but I love traveling alone too. Cheers

    1. Hi Kelly! I just unfollowed and re-followed your blog, so I could turn on your notifications. I love that new feature in the WordPress app.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your experience. I hate that either of us have to go through this, but it’s nice to know you keep at it anyway. That’s what I plan to do as well. I’m also happy to meet other women who love to travel solo.

      I checked your blog and couldn’t find that article. I don’t know why. Do you mind dropping me a link here?

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