Travelling solo offers a level of independence and adventure that can be hard to find on group trips. It puts me in situations – normally hilarious, sometimes precarious – that I wouldn’t otherwise enter. I’ve made friends despite language barriers with the Penan tribe of Borneo. I’ve explored cities with strangers, and had a surreal experience of Finnish saunas.
If I wasn’t alone, I probably would have stayed inside my comfort zone, maintained my energy levels, and let my friends choose the route of exploration. I have enjoyed excellent group trips, including kayaking through archipelagos in Sweden and Finland. But when alone, adrenaline runs through me like caffeine. My eyes widen with every new piece of information I learn, every cultural lesson, every multinational dorm in a hostel, and every chance to wander new and unique streets and forests. I’m awake, recharged, and on an adventure.
I’m also a woman living in a society in which many people still think it’s ‘brave,’ ‘confident,’ ‘independent,’ or ‘boring’ to travel alone. But I’ve never liked stereotypes.
That first response seems to be given out more frequently because I’m a woman. But times are changing, and I’m starting to meet other solo travellers around the world. And I’d question whether it’s brave. These days social media means researching potential adventures is easier than before. For those who don’t want to travel alone, there are travel groups that invite women on guided tours. There are pages of advice to download from popular resources, and there are Facebook groups in which we can benefit from seeking other people’s experiences.
Here’s a list of my top seven useful resources for solo female travellers to learn from, socialise in, or join. Because we’re not necessarily brave, and we’re not boring. We’re part of this massive, adventurous community. And as Caitlin Moran writes in How to Be a Woman, we’re really just some of ‘The Guys’, just humans, ‘in this together.’ We shouldn’t need gender-specific travel advice – but until society dispels the fears we’re told to have, and until all cultures treat women equally, it helps to have a few tips and tricks from the other guys.
Full disclosure: I’m not endorsed by any of the above. These have been recommended from my own research, or because I refer to them regularly.