7 empowering solo travel stories by women that will make you want to book your ticket today. See how to travel solo and overcome your fears.
Are you thinking about traveling but sick of waiting for your friends to commit to a travel date? Or maybe they are as motivated as you but your vacation days don’t align.
There is no need to miss out on a trip, just because you don’t have anyone to go with you. In fact, I started traveling solo after a friend changed her mind about coming to the United States with me. So I went anyway and that trip changed my life!
Since my first solo trip, it has become one of my preferred ways to travel and I Iove seeing others traveling alone for the first time.
So let these seven ladies inspire your next trip with their empowering experiences and practical tips on how to travel solo.
How to travel solo: Chantell Collins
I didn’t plan my first solo trip. It happened the best way possible – spontaneously.
It was January 2011 and I had just finished up a group tour of the United States, which had landed me in New York City. Despite having traveled for a month by bus, all the way from Los Angeles, I was completely energized and wanting more.
With less than 24 hours until my flight back to Brisbane, I changed my departure to a month later and then booked a bus to Boston, Massachusetts. I had never imagined that I would travel alone. It seemed too scary. Too risky. How would I manage it all on my own in a foreign country?
And now it was happening. Without a second thought, I threw my over-sized suitcase onto the bus and was transported to Boston. I couchsurfed with Chris, a photographer from LA, who also had a friend staying from San Francisco, Miguel. Both became dear friends of mine after we celebrated St Paddy’s Day in true Irish fashion.
After Boston, I then traveled to Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. I was never alone for more than twenty-four hours. Whether it was meeting people at the hostel, through Couchsurfing or just randomly on the street. Even when dining out alone, I would be invited to join a nearby group table.
The people I met along the way would often give me recommendations and contacts for the next city I was visiting. When I arrived in Seattle, I met up with another of Chris’ friends, Kristina, a lovely Russian girl who was living and working in Seattle as an Au Pair. Kristina and I hit it off instantly and hung out while I was in town. We are still friends, almost five years later, and see each other whenever possible.
Since that first solo trip to the U.S.A., I feel confident to travel to any place by myself because I know that I won’t be alone for long and that the world is full of incredibly kind and good people.
How to travel solo: Abigail Shiers
One Little Backpacker
For me, traveling solo changed my life. This might sound far-fetched, however, I’m telling the truth. Let me explain how…
When I was 15 I was involved in a major car crash, where I nearly lost my life. I was severely injured and suffered from mental illness, including most prominently PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This led me to be unable to leave my house, feeling overwhelmed and unable to be left alone. I was having flashbacks from the crash and felt in total despair. I can’t begin to explain how low this point was for me.
Not only did I suffer from PTSD, but I also became scared of a lot of other things. This included flying (hmm not so good for traveling then), small spaces, social anxiety and generally being scared of the world around me. I was a mess, but I have always loved to travel and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to overcome my fears and battle my demons head-on so that I could lead the life I wanted to live.
So… after university, I decided that I wanted to travel the world and use my compensation money to become the person I wanted to be. Seeing how others less privileged, live around the world, really starts to put into perspective your own problems and concerns.
I planned my trip and decided I would travel for 4 months, following the festival route, from Rio Carnival to Holi Festival in India, reaching Songkran in Thailand by April. However, the journey did not end there…I continued through South East Asia, lived in Australia, backpacked New Zealand and the list goes on. I didn’t return home for 2 years on this stint of my solo backpacking adventure.
Before leaving, I researched and planned everything to put my mind at ease, however as you can imagine my mind was racing, as I prepared to venture off into the unknown. This all changed the moment I touched down in Buenos Aires (my first stop), dumped my bag in my locker at Milhouse Hostel and made my way to the social area.
The moment I arrived, I was welcomed with big smiles and approached by multiple people staying in my dorm. The social area was full of other people traveling alone and looking to meet like-minded backpackers. I was instantly hooked. Since that day, I’m still in contact with the people I met in that hostel, in that city, plus a lot more people I have met along the way. I instantly had a group of people to travel and build lifelong friendships with.
My favorite thing about traveling solo is that I decide what I want to do and when and I can easily change my travel plans. I get to meet so many new people, all with their own story to tell. I feel completely independent, it’s liberating and like nothing else I have ever experienced, and gives me the highest level of freedom. Looking back I genuinely can’t believe I have traveled solo for 7 years!
Here are my top tips if you’re thinking of traveling solo; stay in a hostel, head straight to the social area and go up to people and introduce yourself (you have nothing to lose and lot to gain).
Happy travels everyone.
How to travel solo: Danielle Desir
For as long as I could remember, visiting Paris was at the top of my bucket list. I dreamed of the Eiffel Tower endlessly and so I saved all throughout college and graduate school to make my dreams come true. When the time came to book my first adult trip to Paris in 2014, I found myself traveling solo.
Solo travel wasn’t something that I envisioned doing early on as an adult, but I refused to postpone my trip for the sake of finding a companion. After reading inspiring travel blogs about how solo travel to Paris was safe and fun, I booked my flights and packed my bags.
The most surprising thing about solo travel is how many people notice that I’m traveling alone. People are always so curious about my story and they go out of their way to praise me for being bold and adventurous. My tip for other solo travelers would be to book group tours every other day. Group tours are informational and allow you to socialize without putting yourself out there too much.
How to travel solo: Toni Frazer
For as long as I could remember, I always traveled with someone when I went on holiday.
But, when my five-year relationship ended when I was 22; I knew I needed a massive change. I had always felt a huge pull towards visiting the United States, and now was the time to make it happen. It was my ultimate dream has never left the shores of Australia, and I had no reason not to make it a reality now.
So that’s exactly what I did.
At the time, I had already applied for a 1-year post-graduate diploma to use my Bachelor Of Arts Degree to become a teacher. But, when I didn’t initially get into the course, I applied to work at a US Summer Camp instead; which was a sign that this was where I needed to be, as I eventually did get accepted into my diploma course, and was able to defer it to the following year.
Funny how things happen like that right?
To me, this was a serendipitous moment that would be a turning point in my life; where travel became a major priority, and solo travel became a defining characteristic of who I would become over the remainder of my 20s.
Upon acceptance to the Summer Camp program for Summer 2008, I was hired by a camp outside Philadelphia called Julian Krinsky. It was a non-traditional camp that had us living on a university campus and our campers studying school-based subjects and sports like Golf and Tennis. It was exactly what I needed. Plus, now I was able to pretend that I was living in the US college life in a dorm room, so dreams were coming true every day.
I am a film and tv nut and New York had the main things: ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ to name a few locations; but it was the remaining places across the States that were the cherry on this sundae. I solo traveled to so many cities in my one month of travel and it was just amazing!
Whether it was tracking down Dawson Leery’s House in Wilmington, North Carolina from the tv series ‘Dawson’s Creek’ (I even scored a tour inside the real house!), the ‘Home Alone’ house in Winnetka, Illinois, Rydell High from the classic ‘Grease’ in Venice, California or the ‘Mrs Doubtfire’, ‘Full House’ or ‘Party Of Five’ Houses in San Francisco; the epitome of all of this was definitely staying at the Mountain Lake Resort in Pembroke, Virginia. The hotel that is famous for being the setting for the ultimate classic ‘Dirty Dancing’.
This trip was a real dream come true. It showed me I was independent, courageous and above all strong enough to make my own dreams come true without needing anyone else. It has led me here, to right now: an Australian ex-pat who has lived in London, traveled through most of Europe, the UK, New Zealand, Canada and most proudly, 43 states of the USA.
Since 2008, and this amazing trip, I have returned to the US 7 times, knocking off many more filming locations and dream destinations. I am still single, but I am so proud of myself for taking control of my life since then. If I want to experience a place or see a filming location, I know I can do it. That’s the best lesson I have learned from all of this: if you want something bad enough, you find a way to make it happen. It is possible.
How to travel solo: Stephanie Mayo
To say travel changed my life is an understatement, but solo travel shaped the person I am today. Through solo travel, I found a truer conviction of who I was, what I liked and didn’t like, and what made me happy.
I took my first solo trip for my birthday a few years ago to Charlotte, NC. I figured it was a safe place, there was no language barrier and it was only for 5 days, it would be a taste of solo travel and I could see if it was for me. Well, it was one of the best decisions I ever made!
Just a few short months later I was going on another solo trip to the US West Coast, this time for a month! And just this past summer I returned to Europe, but this time solo and for my longest trip ever – 3 months! The more I travel solo the more confident I am and I realize even in those times of uncertainty I can figure things out.
The biggest things that surprised me about traveling solo was just how heightened my senses became, colors were more vibrant, food taste richer and feel more magical. Another thing that surprised me was just how amazing people are, whether I was asking for directions or striking up a conversation about the city with a local, if you give your best to others it’s astounding how kind, welcoming and helpful people can be.
I think every female should try solo travel at least once in her life – it is amazingly rewarding!
My tips for solo female travelers – Be yourself and don’t worry about what others think! Not only will you probably never see them again, but do you really want to think back on your experience later and think ‘I wish I had’? Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Not everyone is bad or out to get you. There are tons of amazing people across this world and if you give them a chance your faith in humanity will be rewarded.
How to travel solo: Allie Feru
I had always wanted to travel by myself but had been too scared to do it. I followed many travel blogs and felt so inspired by those fearless people who would just book a ticket and hit the road.
Then last summer, I got an email from an Indian friend, who I met while living in New York, telling me his big day had come and invited me to his wedding in Mumbai.
There it was, my opportunity to take that leap. But in India??
My thoughts started tumbling: Would I be able to talk to people? Did anyone speak English there? How would I book my tickets and hostels? What would I eat? Isn’t the Indian cuisine really spicy? And I hate spicy. Isn’t it dangerous for a woman, alone, in India?? I had heard so many stories in the news. Fears popped up.
At that time I was working in Berlin. One cold autumn morning, while riding my bike to the office, I thought about my first day in that company. That same itinerary but such a different feeling! At that moment I was relaxed (for once I wasn’t late), was happy to meet my colleagues, and hopeful to encounter nice clients – all positive feelings.
Unlike my first day of work – that time it was pure panic! I had a lot of fears: Would I be able to understand the German they speak? Would I learn quickly enough? And what if the boss doesn’t like me? Living again through that first day’s thoughts and feelings made me realize how my fears were not about that particular job or the solo trip… it is about the unknown.
When we don’t know how it is, we fear it. That same day, on my lunch break, I booked my flight to India.
I decided to accept my fears and start thinking that something new is always scary but there is no reason to be afraid. If you believe it, everything is going to be alright. I convinced myself that people would help me, that they would understand English and that in the worst-case…. if it wasn’t for me, I could always hop on a flight home.
And guess what? It was the best time of my life. It was the best decision to book that flight! I got the chance to go to an amazing Indian wedding, to live with my friends’ family and visit all the southwest coast of India, exploring Goa and Kerala.
When you are on your own you are not distracted by talking with someone so you enjoy it ten times more. When you travel alone (which I became addicted to) people get in touch with you, you are open to them and they open to you. I am shy so I don’t walk to someone and start a conversation, but they do it with you! If you are in need, they help you! It warms up your heart.
I did struggle a bit with the spicy food but it is part of the game, right? Not everything can be perfect. India was my first big step out of my comfort zone and since then I just can’t stop traveling on my own. Do you have fear? Me too. Can you do it? Yes, you can too! And if you need any help or questions – you have me, Chantell (and the other solo female travelers in this post) who are more than happy to support you. Give it a try!
How to travel solo: Daniela Nastase
Throwback a few years, at the end of my first year of study abroad in England. That was the crucial moment when I decided I needed a hot break from rainy England. And as an addicted “travellete” continuously seeking new adventures, I thought it would be a good experience to travel to a new continent – America. It was my first solo trip and I spent my 20th birthday on a beach in Maryland, a few hours away from New York.
I had three goals for this trip:
- Escape cold weather – checked: temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius every day
- Visit New York – checked: at the end of the summer I went to a concert in MetLife Stadium and screamed my lungs out along to Eminem
- Escape my shyness – checked: studying journalism and being afraid to approach new people is a dead-end for a career; I worked as a hostess for a popular restaurant and by the end of the summer I was able to small talk with anyone: from ex-prisoners to typical American moms.
The best part of traveling solo is that you are not actually alone, it`s just a social perception. On my way to the United States, on each connection I had, I met at least one person to make jokes with and keep me entertained. I remember this boy who was taking the same flight as I was to cross the Atlantic. Ten hours seemed like nothing in his company. We talked about exes and why stars have 5 points. On top of that, I discovered he was from my hometown! What were the odds? We’re still in contact on Facebook.
It has taken me by surprise, the number of international people I have met. Everyone I know tells me how dangerous it is to travel and how I shouldn’t travel at all, not to mention alone. But on a Maryland beach on, the international life was rising and I realized how wrong this perception was. I know media plays a huge part in influencing this “dangerous” view of the world, but this is actually the outcome WE want. In 2014, a Russian news site brought positive news stories for a day as a social experiment. The result was that the website lost two-thirds of its normal readership.
I’m not saying bad things never happen, but that it could happen anytime – not just when you are traveling. A few weeks back there was an armed robbery in a small shop nearby, where I go often. I could have been in there that day. Or tomorrow a bus might hit me. The danger is all around us, but that doesn’t mean we should live our lives in fear. The fact that I travel and I return home unharmed every time, influences people from my circle to have second thoughts.
My tip to other solo female travelers would be to have a story! Now every time my Mom complains that I shouldn’t go alone, I tell her how I made it to the United States and back without a scratch.
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