By Terry Repak

An unforeseen event made me realize that I could join the ranks of travelling solo women. Solo travel could actually be fun and good for me. My partner needed to work on the day we’d planned to go hiking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains outside of Santa Fe, so I went on my own and had a hell of a good time anyway. 

After meeting people on the trail who told me they’d seen a bear munching on berries near the path, I pulled out my bear bells and sang every song that came to mind to alert the bear that I was coming. I had stellar views along the way and felt a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

travelling solo women

It’s good for your brain to have to navigate new cities and sites on your own, much like doing balance exercises or playing solitaire or Sudoku. Stepping outside your comfort zone is always powerful. It does wonders for my mindset too. I complain less when there’s no one to vent to, and I tend to look for positive aspects in most situations instead of focusing on the negative. 

I still need to be hyper-alert when traveling solo, and more aware of my environs to stay safe. Solo female travelers have always had to be more careful than men, and most of us were raised on stories about bad things that can happen to girls and women on their own. I had a few creepy encounters with flashers when I used to run in city parks at dawn and I was robbed at gunpoint while crossing a carpark alone. 

But I kept my head and bargained with my assailant, convincing him to let me give him the money without handing over my wallet or credit cards. Such incidents made me more cautious about where I went on my own. But they didn’t stop me from walking or traveling alone.

I learned that in some situations, making a fuss is the best strategy. While staying in Casablanca for a few days, my husband and I ventured outside our hotel to walk with our children one day. I was holding my son’s hand and my husband was pushing our daughter’s stroller when two men came up on either side of him and started jabbering at him in French. 

He kept walking while trying to respond to the men, and I carefully regarded them. When I saw one of the men reach for my husband’s wallet in his back pocket, I yanked on the guy’s sleeve and started yelling for help in French, “Au secours, Au secours!” 

The men ran away without getting the wallet, and my husband and I stood there staring at each other in shock. Then we started laughing, both of us amazed by my outburst in French, which was far from fluent. Our little son found it so funny that he kept chirping in his high-pitched voice, “Au secours! Au secours!” 

Thwarting a petty crime turned out to be serendipitous for me. I’d had the wits to foil two pickpockets, and it saved us from having to deal with the police in a foreign country. The incident showed me that I could be brave when I had to be, and that I didn’t need to be afraid every time I ventured into crowded markets on my own. I returned to Ivory Coast—which is where we were living at the time—with new confidence, knowing that I could trust myself to get out of sticky situations. 

I found yoga retreats to be a great way for women who want to see more of the world on their own and make new friends. While on retreats in Nicaragua, Cuba and Mexico, I reaped the benefits of longer yoga and meditation classes and also got to visit intriguing sites and cities. Excursions are usually part of any package, and retreat organizers have local contacts with insider’s views. 

In Cuba, for example, the owner of Lotus Retreats arranged for us to travel by coach to a mountain town in the interior. We spent the night in Vinales and hiked up the side of a volcano early the next day to do sun salutations on a mesa in the morning. After yoga practice, we rode horses to a tobacco ranch where the owner showed us how he rolled cigars for export.

An added bonus of such retreats is the chance to meet other like-minded people who are just as keen to see new places and people. On a week-long retreat in Nicaragua, a group of us hiked up another volcano to gaze down at the turquoise lake nestled in its crater. We also had the option of doing volunteer work in a local town. 

Some of us helped chop veggies and fruits at a soup kitchen one day, and another day we did crafts with school kids in the village by our retreat center. At the end of the week, we spent a night in Granada—a charming town that borders the country’s largest lake.

Yet I’m also content to be on my own at times. When traveling alone, I’m more open to meeting people who can offer perspectives and tips on what to see and do. I’m also more attuned to the outside world, and my senses are more acute as I tune into my surroundings; to the sounds of birds or rushing water or deep silence, and to the array of colors in the landscapes around me.

When I know that an area is safe, hiking in the mountains or on a deserted beach on my own is the closest I come to feeling like I’m part of nature and a larger essence that takes me out of myself. Sometimes it’s the best way for me to work things out if I’m in a funk or something has disturbed me. I love a solo adventure. 

Walking alone also allows my subconscious to surprise me. I find myself composing thoughts and sentences when no one’s talking to me, which is particularly helpful when I’m trying to write something, and certain thoughts or phrases elude me. 

It’s fun to share insights and experiences with a travel companion of course. Yet at the end of a solo journey, it boosts my confidence and I feel a greater sense of accomplishment when I manage to reach my destination safely.

Travelling solo women – tips to remember

Embarking on your first solo trip can be an exhilarating journey that promises life-changing experiences. As you venture into new places and immerse yourself in local cultures, here are some top tips to ensure a safe and memorable solo adventure:

  1. Make use of social media and online communities to connect with fellow travelers and gain valuable insights into your destination.  Solo in Style: Women over 50 travelling solo and loving it, is a great Facebook group for connecting with other solo women travelers in midlife 
  2. Consider joining group tours or travel companies like Wild Women Expeditions, tailored for female solo travelers, providing safety in numbers and opportunities to meet like-minded individuals. Consult a travel agent for ideas.
  3. Arrange for a driver to pick you up at the airport – this will make arriving at a new destination alone less daunting.
  4. Choose accommodations in well-populated areas such as city centers or major cities, and opt for a private room for added security.
  5. Familiarize yourself with local customs and cultural norms at any new place, to navigate unfamiliar territories safely and respectfully. 
  6. Install Google translate on your phone so you can communicate without assuming understanding of English.
  7. Trust your instincts and exercise common sense to avoid unwanted attention and stay vigilant in specific areas.
  8. Try not to be the obvious tourist. Consider going into a shop to consult your map and keep your phone out of sight. 
  9. Consider getting a local Sim card on arrival to avoid expensive data roaming charges while enabling you to stay connected online.
  10. Invest in comprehensive travel insurance to cover unforeseen emergencies and medical expenses.
  11. Keep loved ones informed about your whereabouts and itinerary, providing peace of mind for both you and your family.
  12. Maintain an open mind and be receptive to new experiences, allowing yourself to grow and adapt along the journey.
  13. Document your travels in a journal or blog post, capturing memorable moments and reflections on your solo adventure. Make a printed book of your photos and travel experiences when you get home. 
  14. Stay connected with real-time navigation tools like Google Maps to navigate safely in unfamiliar surroundings.

Traveling solo can be a fantastic new adventure. We don’t always need to have a travel companion to visit the places we want. You may even find you prefer your own company and doing travel your own way! With careful planning, common sense, and an open mind, you can embark on your solo journey with confidence, discovering the best places, meeting amazing like-minded travelers, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy!

Terry Repak is a travel writer who has lived in Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Switzerland and the UK. Now based in Seattle, her recent book, Circling Home: What I Learned By Living Elsewhere describes the fifteen years she spent overseas. She has a travel blog at her website,

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Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Editorial Staff

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