A complete guide for women traveling solo with 10 tips and essentials to pack
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert, nothing compares to traveling solo for the first (or ninth!) time. There’s just something about making your own itinerary without having to answer to anyone else’s timeline or taste. Being on the road alone gives way to certain possibilities and chance encounters that might not happen if you were in the company of a friend, loved one or on a group tour.
That being said, traveling solo as a woman comes with its own set of challenges that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you’re going on an international trip or you’re just driving a few states over, staying safe and alert while on your own is key to ensuring your trip goes over well without any dangerous bumps in the road along the way.
It’s not impossible — or all that difficult — to plan and execute a safe and fun-filled solo female trip as long as you take the time to understand what to expect and make sure you’re properly equipped for what’s to come.
We spoke with a handful of solo female travelers who’ve each banked countless hours traveling for both business and pleasure around the globe. Here’s what they suggest doing and packing in order to ensure your next solo female trip goes off without a hitch.
When talking about traveling alone as a woman, it’s important to go on any trip knowing you have the right equipment. For that reason, you might want to consider boosting your tech gear. Oftentimes, the latest from the likes of Apple and beyond have beneficial technological advancements as part of their newest devices.
“I travel alone fairly often and often hike when on trips, but I have a poor sense of direction and once lost the trail and was in the middle of a forest in an area known for bear sightings,” says Karen Kwan, travel writer and blogger at Health & Swellness. For that reason, she recommends bringing higher-tech gadgets along on more adventurous travels to ensure you’re within reach of help if needed.
If you foresee an adventure trip in your future as a solo female traveler, your travel gear is of the utmost importance to leave you feeling comfortable ahead of your journey. “My safety picks for solo travel include the Apple Watch Ultra, which has an 86-decibel siren if you need to send out a distress signal,” Kwan says. “It can be heard up to 600 feet away.”
While the Apple Watch Ultra can be a great smartwatch for attracting others, it also comes with the ability to call emergency services in your region, provided cellular services are available. And, in the event you do become lost on a hike or other outdoor adventure, the Apple Watch Ultra’s Compass Backtrack capability means that you can retrace your steps and end up back on the right track — or trail.
Having a phone with the right safety features can also go a long way to giving you peace of mind if you’re heading off on an adventurous solo trip. “I love that the iPhone 14 [and iPhone 14 Pro] features Emergency SOS via satellite,” Kwan says. “This means you can text emergency services even if you’re in a remote area with no cellular or Wi-Fi service.”
As a solo female traveler, it’s a great idea to take extra precautions when it comes to where you’re staying. Whether you’ve booked budget-friendly accommodation or you’ve treated yourself to a stay at a five-star resort, it’s worth it to bring a bit of extra security to your room.
Though there is a slew of products on the market that go a long way to making your stay more secure, two of the most popular come in the form of travel door locks and door alarms.
“As a female traveler, one thing I never travel without is an additional room lock that I can add to the door wherever I’m staying,” says Taylor Beal of Traverse With Taylor.
The Addalock travel door lock is both portable and lightweight, and it installs in seconds the moment you shut your hotel door behind you. “The lock just slips on over the inside of the door jamb and then locks to add additional security. The lock is so small and comes in a packable drawstring bag. I was surprised at how much force it added for such a small device,” Beal says.
In addition to a door lock for added security, you might also want to consider adding a door alarm to your travel wardrobe.
“I put furniture against any sliding doors but I also have a door alarm for the main hotel room door,” says Marlynn Schotland, cookbook author and travel writer behind Urban Bliss Life. “It’s inexpensive, small, easy to pack, easy to use and makes a very loud noise if the door is opened when the alarm is in place. Luckily, it’s never gone off during my travels but it’s nice to have that peace of mind.”
Consider the style of handbag or wallet you pack
If you like to travel with all of your essentials close to you, you’ll want to make sure you have the right bag for carrying everything. The ideal handbag has enough room for the travel gear you’ll need — think portable power banks, cords, credit cards, space for your phone and more — in addition to the security you’ll want for peace of mind.
Many travel experts recommend using a crossbody bag as a purse option on your travels. Not only can they be secured across your chest, which makes it harder for thieves to snatch when you’re walking, but they often feature anti-theft pockets galore. And the best ones are cute enough that you’ll want to wear them anyway!
“I’ve had this crossbody for years, and it’s made specifically for travel,” says Karen Delgado, travel vlogger at Karen Alexandra. “It has a spot for my passport, Kindle, a leash for my keys and several zipper compartments to keep things safe and secure. When traveling solo, I try to only use crossbody bags and make sure they have either multiple compartments or some sort of ‘lock’ to keep my personal belongings safe as I explore. This one from Lo & Sons fits the bill perfectly.”
These days, staying connected is considered essential for most solo female travelers. Whether you’re looking to follow directions, stay connected with friends and family back home or trying to make a dinner reservation, you might want to consider getting a SIM card to ensure you never lose touch.
“When I first started traveling, I never purchased a local SIM card to get on the internet,” says Cali O’Connor, host of the Travel Possibilities podcast. “If I were out and about, I would have to go find a cafe with Wi-Fi, ask for the password, hope the signal was strong and go about my business.”
However, that’s changed for O’Connor. “A SIM card is imperative for safety so you can easily look up directions plus you can easily contact someone for help if needed. Being able to access the internet in the moment it is needed is imperative for the safety of a solo female traveler.”
Google Fi is a favorite SIM card among frequent travelers. There are no contracts or activation fees involved, and if you plan to travel internationally, you’ll want the Unlimited Plus option, which gives you unlimited data, calls and texts in more than 200 countries. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to activate the SIM card before you leave home in the US.
Keeping in touch with your friends and loved ones at home can go a long way toward providing peace of mind to you — and them — that your travels are going smoothly. While AirTags are a solid choice for sharing your location with someone back home, creator of Veggies Abroad Rebecca Gade-Sawicki suggests creating an itinerary of what you plan to do, see, where you’re going to eat and when and share it with someone you trust. “I will also make changes to my Google Doc as I go along so my partner can see that my route for the day has changed,” she explains.
Gade-Sawicki also suggests sharing your rideshare location with family and friends. In some apps, for example, you can choose to have someone notified when you request a car, are picked up, dropped off or if there is a problem. “When I was in Miami, the directions were wrong for the driver [and] he went off course, my partner was notified and immediately texted me to ask if I was okay (the app also sent me a notification asking that, too),” says Sawicki.
Not sure how to carry around an AirTag while you’re on the go? Consider these intuitive cases that are shaped like credit cards and can hold an AirTag in place while keeping it largely unexposed and unknown. Pop one of the card cases into a card slot in your travel wallet for hands-free tracking.
While this might sound like a strange idea, one solo female traveler recommends it as a good security fallback in case things turn sticky.
“My one and only security gadget is an expired debit card,” explains Phyllis Stoller, founder of The Women’s Travel Group, an award-winning small group tour company for women. “If I were hit on and forced to an ATM, I carry the card that the machine would then ‘eat.’”
A travel wallet has spots for all of your favorite travel credit cards. If you elect to go the route of bringing a phony, expired card with you, keep it organized in a dedicated slot like in this wallet from FurArt. It comes in 25 colors and designs and also comes with RFID-blocking technology for added peace of mind.
Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools on you to make you feel most safe. Founder of Go Wanderly Jenny Ly suggests a smart pepper spray that connects to an auto-alert app. “This pepper spray’s maximum power trigger activates a built-in siren and instantly notifies everyone on your predetermined list of contacts of your location through GPS with just one push,” explains Ly.
That said, pepper spray is illegal in many countries and not allowed in carry-on baggage on airplanes — but hairspray can go everywhere. “Anyone who has gotten hairspray in their eyes can tell you it’s painful and slows them down — it can help if you’re in trouble,” shares Gade-Sawicki.
In addition to bringing something to keep you safe, experts also recommend a personal safety alarm. When activated, the Birdie sounds a 130-decibel siren and a flashing strobe light to deter attackers. For just $30, this is a sound investment for any female traveler, whether you’re headed somewhere familiar or into new territory because, unfortunately, bad things can happen anywhere.
Not only is a portable, TSA-approved power bank essential for any kind of trip, but it’s doubly as important for solo female travelers. While you’ll be prepared for your adventure with your high-tech phone, local SIM card and more, those devices need to be charged enough to make them serve their purpose.
“Something I always have with me when I travel alone is a high-speed power bank,” says Allie Albanese of Parched Around the World. “This may seem like a no-brainer for travelers in general, but I’m talking about having one strictly dedicated to emergencies, especially when road-tripping solo.”
This option from Anker took the title of best overall portable charger in our testing. It can charge up to two devices at once and on a single charge, it can charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times.
“While we all like to have fully charged phone batteries for Googling, texting, calling and scrolling our socials, when you’re on your own you have to be extra prepared because you have nobody to depend on but yourself,” Albanese says. “And there would be nothing worse than to find yourself with a dead phone battery and in need of making an emergency phone call only to discover that you wasted your precious power bank supply to check your IG!”
This option is incredibly portable, and it took the title as such in our testing. It’s got a lightning port and a USB Type A port, meaning you can use the same cord to charge your phone as well as recharge the portable battery. In other words, fewer cords to take along — we consider that a win-win.
Consider wearing a fake wedding band
“I believe that one of the most effective ways for women to stay safe while traveling alone is to prevent risky situations before they can even happen,” explains Jessica Corson of The Belle Voyage. “Whether you’re married or not, one way to avoid unwanted attention while traveling solo is by wearing a fake wedding band.”
While not a surefire way to keep unwanted advances away, this kind of ring sends the signal that you’re not interested in new suitors. A fake wedding band also suggests that you have a travel companion close by. If you get stuck in a situation that makes you feel uneasy, you can always use the excuse that your partner will be joining you soon.
These thin, stackable silicone rings start at just $10 and could be the perfect small investment for solo female travelers. Choose from seven different colors, or opt for a multi-ring, multi-colored pack to pair a ring with every outfit you’ve got planned for your trip.
Want more color options? Enso offers nearly 20 different shades in these stackable silicone rings, perfect for travelers. They’re easy to transport — though you might want to grab a travel jewelry case! — and reviewers rave about how comfortable they are to wear.
Ultimately, many of the same rules that apply to all kinds of travel also apply to solo female travelers. Whether it’s not walking on poorly lit streets late at night or having one too many drinks on your vineyard tour, some common sense rules for travel also apply to solo female trips.
“Among the advice to stay safe while traveling solo as a female, most revolve around how you manage yourself,” explains Hege Jacobsen, a Norwegian female travel blogger currently living in Havana, Cuba. “Things like taking advice from locals (they know best), getting registered taxis or similar, minding your cocktails (especially in Cuba, where they are strong!), having common sense and doing a little research goes a long way.”
Brush up on your solo travel ideas and strategies with this insightful read from Kristin Addis. Offering tips ranging from safety to budgeting, this book will also reassure you that while it can be hard to ultimately make the decision to travel solo, it’s worth it. Some of the best adventures that you can have are those where you can dictate exactly what you want to do and when. And really, what type of vacation is better than that?
Ultimately, remember all of the good that can come out of a solo travel adventure. You’ll have the time and space to explore a new destination on your own, seeing the sights you want and making time for yourself. With these tips in mind, you can ensure your first — or thirteenth! — solo female travel adventure is a success.
Looking for a credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards.