You don’t need to be a badass to be a solo female traveler. Just have a positive attitude! (Photo: Jessie Festa)
By Jessie Festa
As a woman who loves solo travel, one of my main goals in life is to inspire other women to do the same. Traveling alone is a great way to get to know yourself and to see yourself in ways you might not otherwise. And so, to help instill travel inspiration in all women, I’ve created the “Unofficial Official Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto.” It’s a list of 12 things I promise myself I’ll do while I’m traveling alone, plus a brief explanation of why each task is important. Following my manifesto has definitely enriched my travel experience, simply because it helps me get the most out of every possible moment, and I hope it does the same for you.
1. I will eliminate doubt from my mind.
It’s all about being calm, cool, and capable. (Photo: Simone Becchetti/Stocksy)
Don’t doubt your abilities to navigate your way in a foreign country, order food off of a non-English menu, take unfamiliar transportation, and make friends with strangers. Have confidence in your social and problem-solving skills, and you will conquer any challenge that comes your way.
2. I will revel in my complete freedom.
Solo travel means that you call the shots. So do what you want, where you want to, and when you want to, and do not be afraid of this complete freedom. Rather, understand the opportunity you’ve made for yourself, and take advantage of it by creating a travel experience that meets your desires and goals — and your desires and goals alone. It’s OK to be selfish in this case.
3. I will walk and talk with confidence.
Don’t make it obvious that you’re an unsure tourist by burying yourself in a map or walking with your head turned down. Walk tall and proud, as if you’re a woman on a mission, and people might even think you’re a local.
4. I will give myself the opportunity to grow.
Traveling by yourself as a female means that you’ll be presented with challenges and new experiences that you’ll need to navigate. Every time you conquer an obstacle or try something new you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn and grow. So when something difficult comes your way, don’t hide. Remember that it’s all part of the bigger picture, and listen to whatever new thoughts come into your head as a result.
You don’t need anyone else to enjoy a destination, like Israel, pictured above. (Photo: Jessie Festa)
5. I will use solo travel as a way to strengthen my relationship with myself.
You’ll be spending a lot of time alone, reflecting on what you’ve learned and how you’re feeling, and that alone time allows you to get to know yourself without distraction. Take advantage of this time, and treat it like a priceless gift.
6. I will replace fear with curiosity.
Instead of being afraid of the unknown, turn on your curiosity and make a list of goals for your trip. What do you want to learn? What kinds of experiences do you want to have? Set a goal to try at least one new thing each day, whether it’s taking a class, trying a new sport, going for a scenic hike, sampling a new food, or wandering through an interesting museum. Bonus points if you do something that completely freaks you out, like skydiving or bungee jumping.
7. I will be aggressive in my pursuit of cultural knowledge.
Learning how to do ancient crafts with this Cambodian artisan? Yes! (Photo: Eduard Bonnin/Stocksy)
Don’t look at the culture you’re visiting as if you’re an outsider. Instead, dive in headfirst by interacting with locals, taking cultural classes, sampling typical dishes, attending community events, and partaking in local life as much as possible. One benefit of solo travel is that you’re forced to interact with the community, since you don’t have travel companions to distract you. While the thought of this might make you feel nervous, it is actually a blessing.
8. I will take the necessary steps to keep myself safe.
While your solo female travel adventure should be about having unique experiences, make sure your first priority is your own safety. Invest in pickpocket-proof clothing; don’t carry valuables; know which areas are safe and which aren’t; carry a safety whistle; and always have your hotel or hostel’s business card in your pocket so that you can hop in a cab and quickly hand it to the driver to get away from situations where you feel unsafe.
9. I will trust my instincts, no matter what social graces dictate.
If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, get out. Don’t worry about being rude or appearing brusque. Your safety should come first … always, and in all ways.
10. I will taste exotic dishes without worrying about calories.
Eating mystery meat on a stick is all part of the experience. (Photo: Srdjan Kirtic/Stocksy)
Women have a tendency to worry about their weight. While you shouldn’t be gorging on an entire cake, don’t deprive yourself when it comes to sampling the local cuisine. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to get to know a local culture, and it would be a shame to pass up that opportunity just so you don’t gain a pound here and there. Plus, chances are, you’ll come out even anyway, because all the walking and exploring you do will cancel out those extra bites.
11. I will talk to strangers.
Remember how your parents told you to never talk to strangers? Don’t listen. That doesn’t mean that you should go back to a stranger’s house all by yourself, though. It means that you should interact with locals in public places and meet other travelers in hostels and on tours for a social and well-rounded travel experience.
12. I will say “yes” to adventure, without doing anything completely stupid.
Whether your destination is Austin, Asia, or Australia, solo female travel is an adventure. Say “yes” to new and exciting experiences and you’ll go home with unforgettable memories and stories you can cherish for the rest of your life. That said, use your common sense, and make sure your adventures aren’t jeopardizing your safety.