7 tips for solo female travelers

woman in the desert looking at a map

If you are a free-spirited individual and you want to travel to a (not so) distant country on your own, you will surely hear a lot of cautionary tales about how precarious it is to do so, how you can get lost, bored, hungry, mugged, attacked, etc. Although there is an element of danger involved in traveling alone, especially during these turbulent pandemic times, we believe that the benefits significantly outweigh the risks. For this reason, we have noted down seven tips for solo female travelers which will equip you with the necessary knowledge about what it actually looks like to travel alone as a woman and, even more importantly, about what you really have to take into consideration in terms of accommodation, transportation, money, safety, local culture and the like.

Safety first!

Your personal safety should be at the top of your priority list every time you hit the road. Some women associate safety exclusively with potential attacks and muggings, so they make sure they take self-defense lessons before they go on a big journey to unknown regions. 

However, it is not only strangers that are potential sources of havoc. Depending on where you are traveling, you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Avid female travelers note that it is helpful to research the topographic characteristics of the terrain to decide on the amount and type of clothing and shoes that you may need. You should also know what you absolutely have to have in your backpack – water, knife, lighter, first-aid kit, maps, insect repellent, medication, etc.

Listen to your gut

As any woman who likes to travel alone will tell you, eventually you will develop a keen ‘sixth sense’ for detecting potentially dangerous places and people. We all have it in us; you just need to get on the road to finetune your decision-making. Being too fearful can make the journey tedious and less than enjoyable, whereas having no inhibitions can naturally put you in tricky situations. Since we do not live in an ideal world, solo female traveling comes with its set of difficulties, but in most cases, these bumps in the road will make your journey thrilling and unforgettable.

Be informed

Basically, it is essential to know where you are traveling to – weather changes, availability of potable water, food, healthcare, and medication in the given country or region are all important factors to consider. Another factor you have to take into consideration is the cellular coverage in the region. Although your phone and internet may work in the hostel you are staying at, that might not be the case once you leave urban areas.

woman pointing to a place on a map
Carefully planning your journey is more important than seems at first glance.

No woman is an island

Yes, traveling to a completely novel environment alone is a deeply gratifying experience, but it is a mistake to think that you have to be alone all the time. Be on the lookout for travel tours that offer assistance in the form of local guides. These types of offers provide you with the chance to seek help when you need it, but without forcing you into traveling in somebody else’s shoes, so to speak. For example, suppose you want to go on a photo safari. In that case, you have workshops led by wildlife photography experts who can brief you about the best timing and position from which you can take pictures of the savanna nature and wildlife. 

If you are looking to spend a longer period of time somewhere, it might be useful to join a traveling group. In this way, you can plan group journeys when you feel like it; you can meet like-minded travelers upon which you will be able to rely during your stay and still retain the sense of choosing your own itinerary for the day.

people jumping in the sunset
Solo female travelers are usually surprised to find that they have met so many amazing people on their journey. 

Meeting new people is part and parcel of traveling solo

From expats to locals, from flight attendants to hitch-hikers, be sure to delve deep into the melting pot of different faces and experiences that come your way. The journey to yourself is, for most people, actually the journey towards new friendships.

Talking to people has a practical side for solo women travelers as well. Especially if you do not speak the local language, you might miss out on important information of all sorts. People you meet will surely share their experiences with you, and you will most easily travel the country by knowing where to go and where you can go.

Meeting yourself is also part and parcel of traveling solo

If you are a sociable person, you might easily succumb to the urge to be surrounded by other people. It is understandable, and it may be tempting to form a group to travel together in unfamiliar surroundings. Although this is not necessarily wrong, at times, this approach to traveling might obscure the bigger picture – that you are traveling solo for a reason.

There are many things to learn about yourself that, perhaps, you cannot find out in your hometown. Learning to enjoy nature, silence, and your thought processes will be a life-long lesson that traveling solo will bestow upon you.

a woman standing between a gate made of rock
You might be more capable and adventurous than what you give yourself credit for

For instance, it may happen that you do not have any money left. You may find out that you can sell your photographs or artwork or earn money by doing land work. These kinds of revelations will reveal to you something you may not have known about yourself – that you are resilient, resourceful, and streetwise.

Book a bed in a hostel or private accommodation 

Immersing yourself in local culture by staying in a shabby hostel or renting a room from a local will widen your horizons and give you a more accurate picture of the local environment. There is a chance that you will meet someone who speaks the same language as you do – both literally and figuratively.

Furthermore, you will always have someone to ask for help or advice, even if you are not that into the idea of making friends. It is usually challenging to get through to hotel staff in such a way. Also, hostels are generally well prepared for solo female travelers, and they probably already have the answer to any of your questions.

Essential tips for essential travel

Airplane seats waiting and ready for boarding

Not everyone is ready to get back in the air, but many people still have trips they need to take. Travel is slowly increasing with essential travel leading the way. If you’re in that boat (or plane, actually) there are some things you should know before you go, i.e. essential tips for essential travel.

Most importantly, you should know that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has instituted several measures to ensure your security screening experience is as safe and secure as possible.

Wear A Face Covering

People travelling by plane from and within Canada need to bring their face covering. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth, be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton or linen) and secured to the head. (Check out Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines, including instructions on how to make your mask.)

Use Hand Sanitizer When Out and About

At major airports, hand sanitizing units have been placed by the checkpoints to be used by the public. You can also have one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 355 mL in your carry-on – that is in addition to the 100 mL bottles that fall under the usual liquids’ restrictions. Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.

Screening Checkpoint at Security

Temperature screening at an airport in Canada

If you’re flying out of one of Canada’s 15 busiest airports, you’ll have your temperature checked when you arrive at the screening checkpoint. You will not be permitted to proceed through screening if your temperature, after two separate tests, is at or above 38⁰C. Note that if you exhibit symptoms of illness such as a cough or difficulty breathing, you will be required to leave the checkpoint.

While in the queue and the screening checkpoint, you must keep two metres between yourself and other passengers. Hold on to your own electronic or printed boarding pass or other documents of entitlement while they are scanned.

Travel Safely

Travel myths abound but the facts are the facts. Aviation is an essential service, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go, and CATSA has taken every step possible to ensure this happens safely. You can go to their website for more information, or you can download their app for Android or iOS.

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Is it the right time to travel again?

A man looking at the sky, wondering if it's the right time to travel
Photo by Chei ki on Pexels.com

COVID-19 has sure left us with consequences. The virus has had a serious impact on the world economy and the travel industry. However, after being stuck in their homes for months, more and more people are eager to travel somewhere. But, is it the right time to travel again? Let’s try to answer that question here and now.

A plane flying
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

Preparation is crucial

Whenever you need to travel, you know that it’s important to get everything ready including your vehicle. But in these times, it’s even more important to be truly prepared, since the consequences could be more serious than before. For starters, your car needs to be ready for the whole trip. Next, you need to have masks, disinfectants, and gloves with you at all times. Also, carry some soap with you, so that you can wash your hands every once in a while. Remember that it’s better to follow the safety measures than to have your travel ruined by COVID-19 symptoms.

Choosing Travel Insurance

Now that Covid-19 is a part of our everyday lives, ConsumersAdvocate.org wanted to better comprehend how travel insurance works with this new “normal”. Their in-depth guide on the best travel insurance features a side by side comparison of multiple companies voted “best for” in different categories. The insurances were researched based on types of coverage, financial strength, pricing, reputation, and extra benefits like support lines and mobile apps (a must for future adventures!).

It’s important to highlight that with Covid-19 the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) add-on is considered a must for cancellation coverage. As the name itself suggests, it functions as one of the extra add on’s that allows you to cancel for any reason. It is always important to consider your travel insurance alternatives so you can travel worry-free and focus on the fun.

Is it wiser to travel to a domestic location?

The USA has many great locations that you could visit, from the best beaches in America, to amazing and awe-inspiring national parks. But, since the cases of the coronavirus have been reported in every state, you should know that even domestic travel increases the chances of spreading the virus. While experts agree that traveling close to home to a less-crowded place poses a lower risk, keep in mind that even state-mandated travel restrictions vary, so you should check the official state travel website for more information. Here’s some of the latest information:

  • Hawaii is opening up for tourists with COVID-19 testing
  • In Florida, a two-week-long quarantine is necessary for visitors from certain states
  • In Maine, visitors with a negative COVID-19 test aren’t required to self-isolate

Different sets of rules

Every country has its own set of rules right now. So, you have to know exactly the country you’re traveling to and follow the most current guidelines. Here aresome of the rules that are in force at the moment:

  • Some European countries that are major travel destinations are still off-limits to U.S. tourists, so it’s not the right time to travel to Greece, France or Italy
  • Visitors to the UK are required to self-isolate for two weeks
  • Iceland is extending the restrictions for the US tourists until at least July 1
  • Non-essential travelers are banned from entering Canada, but permanent residents or citizens of Canada are allowed entry with  a two-week-long quarantine
  • The Bahamas reopened July 1, and it appears that they won’t require testing

Hotels in the U.S.

Hotels have been deemed essential businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. However, in some states, there were certain restrictions for hotels. For example, they weren’t permitted to welcome regular guests, but only pandemic-related guests, like medical staff, or non-critical patients. Now that hotels are returning back to normal, even with enhanced cleaning practices, it’s important to protect yourself as much as possible. Be sure to clean the surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and light switches.

Renting a car

Renting a car is a low-risk way to travel, compared to using public transport that puts the passengers at risk. However, while person-to-person contact poses a greater risk, you should remember that the virus can remain on certain surfaces for days. Also, research also shows that it can remain in the air for an hour or so. For this reason, while car rental companies are carefully cleaning vehicles, you should also remember to wipe down all surfaces and increase ventilation, just in case.

What about flying?

The CDC and other health authorities are saying that flying is a good option, as there is no high risk of infection on airplanes. With the drop in air travel, it’s much easier to keep the suggested six feet between passengers, or in other words, maintain social distancing. Additionally, almost all international planes have HEPA filters that clean the air. Of course, you should still clean your hands and the surfaces that you touch frequently, and wear a mask.

Woman putting on a face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Is wearing a mask mandatory?

Most airports and airlines require people to wear a mask. You might have noticed that there has been a debate on whether wearing a mask truly provides the protections against infection or not. However, the CDC advises everyone to wear masks and to keep the proper distance. While masks might not provide full protection, wearing masks can significantly help reduce transmission of the virus. Research shows that wearing a mask prevents the infection from spreading person to person. Regardless of whether this is the right time to travel, the right way to do it is with a mask.

Should you avoid cruises?

There were many reported and confirmed cases among passengers on cruise ships. For that reason, the CDC has issued a warning that advises travelers to avoid cruises for a period of time, especially for high-risk groups. Besides, most cruise lines seem to be waiting until the middle of September to start with their voyages again.

Is it the right time to travel if you want to avoid any inconvenience?

During the pandemic, some people were stuck in foreign countries unable to get back home, cruise ships were unable to dock, flights were canceled by the hundreds, etc. After all, these are peculiar andchallenging times, and no one knows what to expect in the near future. So, if you want to avoid any potential inconvenience, it might be smart to avoid any traveling for now if you can.

Suggestion

If you don’t have to travel, but still want to, choose a safer alternative. You can go visit a national park with people you’re already in contact with, such as your family members. As long as you stay out of contact with other people and frequently-touched surfaces, your trip should be characterized as lower-risk.

Conclusion

So is it the right time to travel again? Well, it’s not the best time to travel, that’s for sure. But in case your trip is urgent or you’ve decided to return home after living abroad, it’s still doable. Just try to follow all the safety measures, as their purpose is to protect you as well as other people.