1685526285 My 5 Least Favorite Things About Solo Female Travel | phillipspacc

My 5 Least Favorite Things About Solo Female Travel

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Pioneering solo traveler and author Elizabeth Gilbert once said, « Travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. »

After 5 years of traveling on my own, I completely agree… but I’m also concerned that the era of empowering solo female travelers has overlooked some of the challenges in its dignified push to encourage women to see the world for themselves.

I will continue to jump up and down waving pom poms for every woman who chooses to travel solo. But I also promise to be completely honest about the challenges and costs that come with this wonderful choice.

Here are my five least favorite things about solo female travel:

upset woman on the road who is a traveler

Caution from the armchair experts

« You’re going where? Only?! »

It is a strange phenomenon. When a young woman travels alone, especially to an off-road or non-Western destination, everyone suddenly becomes a globally-savvy security expert.

Without our prompting, they warn us about the dangers of cities that they cannot pronounce with the authority of a State Department official or international correspondent.

In my experience, the well-meaning peanut gallery has likely not traveled to said destination recently or traveled alone as a female. But what these warning bearers lack in qualifications and shared experiences, they make up for in fear-mongering enthusiasm.

While the intentions can be healthy, these cautionary talks leave a sour taste in my mouth and drain my patience.

young travelers friends talking

So how can we deal with the peanut gallery?

While it may seem frustrating, condescending, and redundant, I try to remember that most of these armchair experts speak from a place of genuine concern for my safety. As wrong as it may be, most are trying to be helpful and caring.

I suggest finding the sweet spot between polite and firm. Here’s a tried and true 3 point answer:

  1. Thank them for caring so much about you, if it is clear that they have good intentions.
  2. Mention some reliable resources you used to plan your triplike US State Department country profiles, embassy websites, experiences from experienced solo female travelers who recently visited, the international community living there, and locals.
  3. Politely close the door to further comments.. « I’ll be sure to get back to you later if I need any advice on this trip » works wonders for me.
woman eating italian food alone

Reactions to fancy solo dinner

My inner foodie has long silenced any insecurity or discomfort some people feel when dining alone. I have really enjoyed eating alone in some of the best restaurants in the world.

But the better the dining experience, the more servers and customers in some cities seem In fact You have a problem with that.

I’ll never forget my lackluster experience at a makeshift table in the basement next to the bathroom at a Michelin-starred trattoria in Bologna, Italy. [ADD LINK TO TOR’S NEW STORY ABOUT BOLOGNA TODAY].

The maitre d’ seemed very concerned when I arrived with such culinary excitement and an empty stomach, but without a partner or friends, despite having booked one in advance.

chef preparing food for a fancy restaurant

As many times before, I was repeatedly asked if I was waiting for someone, made to wait while my reserved table was handed over to a couple walking in, and looked at with pity and confusion by a group of whispering waiters.

A middle-aged couple sitting nearby, unaware that I spoke Italian, entertained themselves with a torrent of conjectural gossip to explain my solo dinner. Was my family’s flight delayed? I left my cheating boyfriend?

Curiously, the American businessman sitting alone by the window seemed to escape everyone’s concern.

So how can a solo traveler foster their inner foodie?

Women who consider gastronomy an important part of their solo trip should try solo diner countries like Japan, Portugal, Thailand, Denmark, Mexico and Australia. On the other hand, you may want to be prepared for some challenges in countries like Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Morocco, or Korea.

Lastly, try a reverse order: fine dining for lunch, casual for dinner. Daytime reservations will almost always be more solo-friendly than busy nighttime seats.

1685526280 334 My 5 Least Favorite Things About Solo Female Travel | phillipspacc

The Pink Tax: Travel Edition

There’s no way to avoid it. Solo female travelers simply pay more.

Travelers of all genders will generally pay more just to be alone. We often have to pay a 2 person rate for everything from luxury hotel rooms to excursions. Airport transfers are usually a flat rate for groups of 2-4, so we end up paying for ghost seats.

Sometimes the tax paid is lost on the experience itself, as many tours and activities don’t work for one person.

However, for women who travel alone, the safety factor also has its part. I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed up a crazy flight deal, instead paying 2-5 times as much for the safety of not landing in an unfamiliar city at 2am.

Women traveling on a budget often really feel the pressure. While backpacking Latin America with some friends, I noticed that I was spending much more on overnight rideshares or taxis, while they felt safe walking back to the hostel or taking public transportation to their Airbnb on their own. darkness.

Hostels also often have a very obvious pink tax, charging more for female dorms than male or mixed dorms. On a recent trip to Istanbul, the female dorm was $5 more than the mixed dorm and $2 more than the male dorm. For a week’s stay, I would have paid $14-35 more than a man on the same trip alone. When taking a longer trip or gap year, the pink hostel tax could add up to a difference of several hundred dollars.

Young woman holding her head looking anguished in an international airport trip break

decision fatigue

The beauty of traveling alone can be a double-edged sword: you are in charge. Of everything. All the time.

Over a week or a weekend this can be incredibly empowering and centering. But after five years of full-time solo travel, I can promise you it gets exhausting.

Decision fatigue is a real thing for any solo traveler, regardless of gender. This is especially true for many digital nomads who run their own businesses or are freelancers, as they are also the primary decision makers at work.

For women venturing out alone, there’s the added pressure of being your own 24/7 head of security. The judgment of whether to trust a flirtatious taxi driver, whether you can walk for a few minutes after dark, whether you need to tell a white lie about a boyfriend or family member joining you… all add up to a substantial mental load.

So how can we prevent decision fatigue?

I suggest taking a one-day break for every week of travel and a one-week break for every two months of travel. Take advantage of this time to relax in a safe place without having to plan excursions. You can also join a woman traveling alone group travelor gather your friends for a free decision cruise.

girls travel four women with suitcases

Never go back to bad group tours

Falling in love with solo travel forced me to break away from bad group travel.

Once you’ve tasted the full power of decision on a trip, it’s very hard to give it up.

With a group, getting out the door takes forever. Decisions also last forever, and the resulting compromises leave everyone disappointed about something. Even taking the journey out of the group chat can seem like a monumental feat!

Wouldn’t it be so much faster to just book an amazing ticket when it’s on sale and spend the next night planning it all in your sweatpants with a bottle of wine without asking anyone for their approval? So go where you want, when you want and spend what you want?

So how can we travel with friends after we have gotten used to traveling alone?

A mid-’50s French fashionista gave me this advice in a Florence cafe with a cigarette in one hand and an espresso in the other: Don’t go anywhere new with other people.

Repeat destinations you’ve been to before. There is always something new to explore, try or learn, but you won’t feel the pressure of having to « travel » properly.

backpacker woman in tropical location

No two women are the same; No two travelers are the same.

While my experience may not be the same as the solo female traveler next to me, I hope that the female adventurer reading this article can learn from my experiences to better plan her next solo trip.

I promise: the challenges are worth it.

traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com