Like it or not, we all have an idea in our head about who a solo woman travelling alone is. Maybe she doesn’t look like you. She probably has a luxury budget. The solo female traveller is young. She speaks multiple languages and is extroverted. She’s somehow always in danger, but always having the time of her life. Here’s the truth. All those preconceived notions don’t match reality. Don’t believe me? Here are 15 myths debunked! You can be a solo traveler too.
1) Travel isn’t meant to be solo
Have you ever hesitated to go see a movie alone? We put all this pressure on ourselves to always be in someone else’s company when we want to do something, but really doing things alone is not a bad thing. It’s not bad if you prefer to travel in a group, but travelling alone can be worth a shot to switch things up. Travelling solo is a different experience than going in a group of friends or family, for sure, and it might just be the experience you’re looking for.
Since when did we put travel into a box? Travel is meant to be freeing and relaxing! If travelling solo helps you achieve your travel goals, then go for it!
2) Travelling alone is lonely
Does loneliness come from simply being alone? If that’s the case, why don’t we feel lonely when we’re studying in our room, waiting in a queue, or any other situation? Loneliness, in my experience, comes from feeling uncomfortable in my own skin when all I can focus on is being alone and seeing that as a negative thing. Once you become comfortable with yourself and enjoy your own company, being alone does not equal loneliness.
Besides, you meet tons of people as a solo traveller when you chat to locals in the pub, meet travellers in the hostel, or make new friends in travel groups online. The world is so big and ready to explore, don’t let fear hold you back from seeing it!
3) Only single women travel solo
The expectation being that if you’re a couple then you’d bring your partner along too. Here’s the thing, though. You don’t have to do everything together as a couple. Couples who have their own things to do and hobbies tend to work well together, don’t you think? Besides, thanks to video calls, long distance is easier than ever. You might miss your partner for a bit, but you’ll have tons of stories to tell when you get back.
5) Solo travel is not authentic
The important thing is that you’re enjoying the journey. Still, solo travel can offer an authentic experience of your travel destination. By travelling alone, you’ll naturally be interacting with the local culture around you even more. Solo travel trips align naturally with sustainable ways of travelling, like slow travel. We’ve heard some debating the authenticity of solo travel, but it really comes down to what you do on the journey. You could travel alone hitting up all the major tourist attractions or you could spend your time seeking out hidden gems. Solo travel can be authentic so long as you plan it!
6) Solo travel is too expensive
Budget travel going solo is actually very easy to manage since you only have to worry about your own budget, preferences, and places to go. 29% of solo travellers choose to stay in hostels primarily because they are cheaper. If you’re going as a group – what happens when your best friend forgets their purse at the hotel? What happens when your friends outvote you and choose a more expensive place to stay? Travel can be whatever you want it to be and going solo gives you full control over the budget.
7) Only young women travel alone
Let’s be real. When you imagine a female solo traveller, who do you see? Before I dug into solo travel, I didn’t see myself. I saw a young, rich, lady standing atop a rocky cliff face overlooking a mountain range in a country on the other side of the world. I saw a young, rich, white woman strutting the streets of Paris in pricey sunglasses and carrying a top of the range camera around her neck. That’s not reality. That’s marketing.
Female solo travellers can be of any age, race, income, etc. I’ve met retired women, working class students on a gap year, and pregnant women all on the road. You can be a solo traveller too, if you want to!
8) Fluency in another language is required
You might not have the time to get a grasp on the native language of your next travel destination. Of course, if you can pick up a few phrases you’ll have an easier time of it. But you don’t need to be fluent in another language to get around when you’re solo travelling. You can start your travel journey on easy mode in countries who also speak your first language, then branch out as you go. If your dream destination speaks a totally different language, then bring along a translation app. You’d be surprised at how far you can get with gestures, an app, and the right body language. At the very least, locals can point you in the right direction to someone who knows your language.
9) Introverted women don’t solo travel
Again, we have this mythological image of the female solo traveller as some kind of magical extrovert who never tires of talking to strangers and making new friends. If that’s your type of travel, then go for it! But introverts can be solo travellers too. If you recharge alone, you won’t have any issues chilling in the hotel room before heading out for the day. Whatever your personality type, you can make solo travel work for you.
10) Women shouldn’t talk to strangers
Stranger danger is age old wisdom for a reason. Of course, travelling alone comes with some extra things to consider. And, as always, if you’re getting creepy vibes from someone then you’re best off not talking to them. Still, the world is not as scary as you think. Caution is good, but fear should never hold you back. Chat to some locals and you’ll soon pick up more about the culture than you ever would from a distance.
11) Solo travel is too dangerous
Every woman has drilled safety tips into her head. Don’t flaunt any valuable items, don’t walk at night alone, and trust your instincts. All of that age old advice is still true for solo travel. There’s a couple of extra precautions to take like travel insurance and reading up on your destination, but you should be doing that for group travel as well.
12) It’s fun 100% of the time
No way of travelling is fun all of the time. However you travel, you still need to somehow fit all your things in your suitcase, plan how to spend your time, and get directions to your next destination. Those moments of stress and tedious planning never really go away, but they are minimized when you only have to do those things for you. As much as I’d love to bang the drum of solo travel, I’m here to be honest. Solo travel has its moments of dullness like anything else.
13) Solo female travellers have no friends
Not true! You love all your friends, but do you want them with you for every single moment? No. Travelling is great to experience alone too! Besides, it’s not like all friends can make it all the time or even live in the same place. Some solo travellers make their way to other countries to meet up with friends, travel together, then go their separate ways for the next part of their journey. Whatever works for you.
14) The distance is too hard on relationships
Just like the myth that only single women solo travel, this myth is based on stereotypes. While it varies from couple to couple and how long you plan to be away, a bit of travel can actually be good for a relationship. And thanks to technology, it’s easier to stay connected now than ever.
15) Solo travel is a white girl thing
Let’s address the elephant in the room. There are solo female travellers all over the world, of all shapes, sizes, and race. Social media is not reality and sadly many amazing solo female travellers fall short of the algorithm for various reasons. The truth is that solo travelers are in every community.
Kelsie Colclough is the Content Writer for travel tech startup Live the World. She writes all about how to travel across Europe sustainably without breaking the bank. When she’s not travelling, she’s relaxing with a cup of tea.