Solo travel. Some hate it, and others thrive on it. But throw in the dimension of gender, and you have a whole other problem at your hands. Mae West once said, ‘Good girls go to heaven—bad girls go everywhere.’

Apparently, solo female travellers fall within the latter. It’s the talk of the town – solo travel, as a woman no less, is the hottest travel trend. I am far from a connoisseur, but with a fair number of trips under my belt, I consider myself a seasoned traveller. Most recently, I’ve been bitten by the solo travel bug.

“Don’t go!”. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” ignorant, stubborn, and a hundred more adjectives. I’ve heard them all. But, with the world of information at our fingertips, naive should probably be the last thing you’d use to describe us. 

Sometimes it won’t be perfect, but that’s okay

The best travel experiences are often born out of vexing moments that become remarkable stories in the future

The big jump I had taken from never having taken a flight alone to suddenly flying cross country day in day out over six months was scary; it was not always a bed of roses.

There were times when I felt uncertain, frustrated, and fearful even. But what is travel without those emotions? Nothing in life comes free, and the best travel experiences are often born out of vexing moments that become remarkable stories in the future.

The first time I missed a flight alone, I ended up having to sleep overnight in the Paris airport. Sleeping consisted of alternating having one eye open, keeping an eye on my belongings, and deflecting leers from rowdy homeless men. But I made it.  

You’ll always have a support system

I found myself turning to the familiar before embarking on solo trips to feel less alone. Social media was my shining beacon of hope, with like-minded women around the world sharing their journeys as a source of inspiration.

Through it, we can build connections strong enough to defy the constraints of the virtual void we are in.

Just one quick search would introduce me to scores of women breaking travel boundaries and forging ahead despite the backlash. I chanced upon Rosie Gabrielle on Youtube and was fascinated by her documentation of her solo motorcycle journey around Pakistan.

Facebook groups like Conde Nast Traveler’s Women Who Travel and Host A Sister are great resources too. They offer a safe space for solo female travellers to discuss what it means to travel as a woman today and to share homes for cultural exchange. 

Sometimes you don’t have all the right answers, and you may make bad judgement calls, but that’s okay.

But, it’s alright to take baby steps. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping into a solo trip for months on end, maybe start with somewhere closer to home. Even a weekend alone can be chicken soup for the soul.

Trust me when I say your confidence skyrockets after a solo adventure. Fresh off my six months abroad, it was as if I was blossoming into another persona. 

Along the way, I had to face many hard truths starting from shedding the veil of shame I felt when having to ask for help. I’ve had to learn not to confuse independence and foolishness.

Sometimes you don’t have all the right answers, and you may make bad judgement calls, but that’s okay. 

Be smart, always

That’s not to say we should be wholly clueless and let down our guard when we travel. Beware of pickpockets. They can target anyone. If there is a dark alley, as much as possible, try and avoid it. 

Just because you’re careful doesn’t mean you’re acknowledging that you are more likely to be a victim of violence or harassment abroad. This is a distinction that needs to be made. Regardless of gender, this is what it means to be street smart. 

For first-time solo travellers, carrying a pen-knife or a can of pepper spray might ease your nerves. Fair warning to check the legalities of such items in each country to avoid your holiday starting at ending in the TSA line.

Why do we even need those? I ask myself that every day, but alas, that’s a conversation for another day, not something that a five-minute read could answer.

So when will we stop telling women not to travel solo? I, for one, know I’m not waiting for that day to come. I already have my next trip booked. See you on the other side of the Atlantic.