Lone Lioness: Women’s Guide to Solo Travel

Traveling alone as a woman can be intimidating BUT is not impossible! I’m an avid traveler and a lot of my trips have been done solo. There are definitely pros and cons to traveling alone, but I believe that the pros outweigh the cons.

I’ve been asked countless times, how I find the courage to travel alone as a woman, so I figured why not make a “guide” to help other women out, who want to travel and venture out alone but are hesitant.

RESEARCH

After you decide on a location, research as much as you can. If it is considered a dangerous destination (still don’t let this deter you from visiting), what areas to avoid and where in general are the best locations to stay. Research is vital in traveling. You should familiarize yourself with the customs and traditions to be sure that the way you are dressed and behave are not offensive to the people of the country you are visiting. Find out if the time you are visiting coincides with any religious holidays, bank holidays, parades, etc. because those could be dead periods for travel or the opposite. It could be something that you want to experience and attend but also keep in mind that it could affect prices of flights and accommodation.

As a side story to a destination being dangerous, I traveled to Belgium literally the week after the airport was bombed. I refuse to let anyone instill fear in me and prevent me from visiting countries I have yet to see! So don’t be scared, if anything security is beefed up after an attack. I’ve also been in Paris at the Louvre and there was a bomb scare even with all of the security and policemen and was evacuated from the Louvre within seconds.

BE AWARE 

This seems like something that would be quite obvious, but a lot of times people are just unaware. Be aware of your surroundings. Be sure you aren’t being followed by someone and if you are go to any area close by that is crowded, you want to be around people. I haven’t experienced this while traveling but it’s something to keep in mind because you just never know. Are people around you acting suspicious? As a woman, you have this amazing thing called woman’s intuition AKA that “gut feeling”. If you feel something, like things are off, trust that feeling. Take note of wherever you are staying and jot down landmarks or anything that will help you remember where you are staying.

CHOOSING ACCOMODATION

Choosing where you will stay when traveling can be tricky. When traveling, I tend to research the city and then stay close to “the center”. When you are in the center, it usually means that a lot of things like restaurants, landmarks, bars, etc will be within walking distance. In the center you also usually have modes of transportation that are easy to access, mainly being the metro or a bus. I have stayed in hostels as well as staying in apartments via Airbnb. Both are great options and I recommend both! If you are a younger traveler (18-24) I recommend staying in a hostel. Hostels are NOT like the movie at all. They are extremely safe and can be extremely nice. You have a few different options when staying in a hostel. You can stay in a dorm room or a private room with a shared or private bathroom. The dorm rooms are either mixed (female/male) or single sex rooms. Every time I have traveled and stayed in a hostel, I stayed in a mixed dorm and never had any problems. It wasn’t sketchy, it wasn’t creepy sharing a room with other girls and boys. The hostel is good for traveling alone because you will definitely meet people. On the other hand, you have AirBnb. With AirBnb you have the option to stay in a private room or to have the entire property. I have used this option as well and it works out perfectly. You select a property and request to stay, the owner (“host”) then will either accept your request or deny and then they send you the exact address. It’s very rare to be denied unless you have used AirBnb before and completely trashed someone’s home. If you do plan on using AirBnb use my code and receive $40 off your first adventure!

LANGUAGE BARRIERS

A big concern that a lot of women I have spoken with is not speaking the language of the country you are visiting. I promise the language barrier isn’t as big a deal as you would think. I went to Morocco by myself arrived at night and somehow still made it to my hostel and got a taxi driver. Pretty much in every country besides America, people speak multiple languages. You will ALWAYS find at least one person who can speak some English and if not there’s an amazing app Google Translate! With Google Translate, you can even have a person speak into your phone and the app will translate what is being said to you. You can also take pictures of text and it will translate it, so no need to worry about not being able to read a menu! Also, most countries I’ve been to have an English menu or have the English translation on the menu. Another great app is DuoLingo. With this app you can learn key phrases in different languages. It’s also always a great idea to learn basic phrases such as “Do you speak English?”,  “How much is this?”, “Where is…..?” “Please/Thank you”. So don’t fret about not speaking Arabic, French, German, Greek, etc. Chances are they speak English.

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We stayed in the same room in a hostel, they BARELY spoke English and I don’t speak Italian but we made it work!

SAFETY

I’m sure you have seen the movies “Hostel” and “Taken” and I’m here to tell you that if you are traveling alone, you WILL NOT get kidnapped and made into a sex slave nor will you get kidnapped and tortured and killed. I took a trip to Romania by myself for a weekend and had an INCREDIBLE time! I was weary of going to Eastern Europe by myself just because I have heard it’s “dangerous” and that Eastern Europeans aren’t so civilized and sketchy BUT I had to see for my own eyes to form my own opinion. This is also why it’s so important to travel and to just get over the fear of traveling alone. You learn so much, get to see things with your own eyes and form your own opinions. Being safe while traveling is pretty easy. As I said previously, be aware of your surroundings and trust your gut! One thing that may frighten some people traveling, more specifically Americans, is seeing policemen with their huge army type guns. They’re in the airports, train stations, in the streets and it’s completely normally. I actually feel A MILLION TIMES safer in Europe than I ever did in America. Citizens in Europe don’t own guns, of course some do but it’s very rare and also Europeans seem to have a different mindset. They are much more friendly and will invite you to their homes to have a meal and it’s completely normally! I’ve had New Year’s Eve dinner with a complete stranger in Barcelona and had end of Ramadan celebration dinner in Morocco with strangers, who are now lifelong friends! I’m not advising to go to any and everybody’s homes, but just be smart about it. It might seem odd because that would never happen in America but it’s not a plot to secretly kill you. On trains and busses, be EXTREMELY careful, especially if it’s crowded. Americans tend to stand out and you can almost ALWAYS point out an American traveler. Pickpocketing is definitely something that happens while traveling so just be conscious of your bags, purse, wallet, etc.  ABSOLUTELY DO NOT, keep all of your money and credit cards in the same places. If you keep everything in the same place and fall victim to being pickpocketted, you’ll be assed out basically, so separate things! If you have a small backpack that you’re using as a bag, wear it on your chest, keep your wallet in a safe place preferably somewhere with zippers.

GETTING AROUND 

Getting around isn’t as difficult as you may think! The public transportation in Europe is honestly AMAZING! Very easy to use and very easy to figure out. If ever in doubt, ask somebody! Just tell someone where you are trying to go and they’ll tell which bus/train to take and where you get off or if you have change lines, exactly where to change and which train to take. There are a few apps that you can use to help get around, I personally always use Google Maps. Google maps is extremely easy to use. You enter in where you would like to go and it uses your location to give you directions. It also gives you the route if you decide you want to walk. Also, if you stay in an AirBnb or Hostel, you’ll get a map of the city and they will mark where you are staying and major landmarks near by. Honestly, I have the worst sense of direction and get lost often, but I always find my way back. Also, getting lost makes for great stories! I actually got EXTREMELY lost, taking the train from Austria to Switzerland and my 7-8 hour journey turned more into twelve and half hours. I can guarantee that you will get lost at least once while traveling. It’s not as scary as you would imagine it to be.

BEING BLACK

For some this will obviously not apply to you, but with the racial tensions on overdrive in America, it’s easy to see how a black woman would have some concerns traveling alone. Well, I’m here to tell you that traveling as a black woman in Europe, you’ll basically be the equivalent of Beyonce. European men LOVE black women! They will celebrate and praise you and tell you that you are so beautiful! Of course, racism is still very real and also an issue in Europe but it’s not as bad as one might assume. I’ve gone to plenty of places and have been the only black person at the establishment and I’ve also been to places where I’m pretty sure I was the first black person they had ever seen in their life, in the flesh. I can honestly and whole heartedly say that living in Europe was the first time I felt that I truly enjoyed my blackness. In America, I was always told, “you don’t count” and it was as if I always had to prove that I’m black and trying to earn a “black card”. In Europe, I’m just a black woman and nobody tries to discredit that, I don’t have anything to prove and I feel more beautiful than I ever have. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people adore the dark skinned women in Europe. I don’t think it’s a fetish thing either. Bottomline is in general people are not outright racist and going to tell you to go back to where you came from, call you a n*gger or any other offensive slurs. If you experience racism it will be very subtle for example somebody not making eye contact with you. I haven’t personally experienced any of this but I have heard few people say that some vendors refused to make eye contact with them while they were in their stores. So no worries, being a black woman traveling alone is not a death sentence, if anything I really think it will be a boost of self confidence! Also, if you’re not sure where to start, go to Italy! Italian men LOVE black women like no other, so do Germans and well all of the Europeans!

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Italians I met while on a solo trip to Romania. Met them while I was walking back to my hostel and now they’re lifelong friends and I can visit the southern Italian coast when I please!

I think I touched on everything! If you still have unanswered questions or concerns that weren’t addressed, either leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can or email me via the Contact page!

Hope this helps the lioness reading this article and inspires you to travel!

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