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Debunking The Myths About Solo Female Travel
The Debrief: Thinking of travelling solo? Read this first.
While travelling has always been a big hit with millennials, solo travelling is now seeing a steady increase in popularity, especially amongst young women. According to travel company Contiki, there has been a 'strong and steady increase in the number of females who are travelling solo - so far this year 71% of [their] solo traveller customers were female.'
Travelling alone as a woman can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn't always have to be. And to prove it, we've set out to debunk the myths about solo female travel, with the help of some ladies who have experienced it themselves.
You have to be single to solo travel
Although there is a stigma that most people who solo travel are single, this isn't necessarily true. Plenty of women who are in relationships embark on solo holidays for a number of different reasons, like wanting to enjoy some 'me time', make new friends or learning something new. It can often be tricky to organise holidays with a significant other or a group of friends, especially if you can't agree on the same destination or itinerary. Solo travelling, on the other hand, gives you total freedom to do what you want, when you want, all of the time. Dreamy.
Solo travelling is unsafe
There will always be some risks involved when you travel, but if you prepare well enough, then solo travelling can be just as safe as going in a group. And by preparing, we mean pre-booking your taxis and accommodation; carrying emergency numbers on you at all times; not venturing off the beaten track; leaving a copy of your itinerary with a family member at home; and dressing to blend in with the crowd. Social media is also a great tool to utilise if you want to keep your friends and family in the loop about where you are. If you're with Three mobile, you can use your data abroad for no extra cost in 60 destinations, meaning that you can share travel pics and even your location with your loved ones all day long.
Surfer and model Laura Crane, 22, often travels alone, and told The Debrief: 'the main thing you have to be to travel alone is street wise. Try and read a situation before it happens and know where and what is safe, and what is not.' If you happen to get yourself in a bit of a pickle by running out of money or getting lost, Laura advises to adopt 'the frame of mind that "it will all figure itself out in the end". Things don't always go to plan, especially when you are in a third world country or a place with different cultures to what you are used to. But that's all part of travelling and experiencing new things. Embrace it all and take all of the little bumps as part of the adventure.'
The solo travelling experience is lonely
As the saying goes: 'being alone doesn't make you lonely'. And that's the great thing about solo travelling - you get to experience time by yourself and learn to enjoy your own company. And if that's too daunting, then rest assured that there are easy ways to make friends, by opting for things such as guided tours or cruise holidays. You'll be mingling with the same people day in, day out, so it'll be easier for you to build new relationships. And remember: the great thing about solo travelling is that you're not the only person doing it, so you'll be in the same boat with like-minded individuals.
Travel blogger Mollie Bylett, 22, just finished a 5 month round-the-world solo trip, and she told The Debrief: 'I'd be lying if I said I never once felt lonely when solo travelling. Travelling on the whole is challenging. At the same time, I don't want you to fear the feeling of loneliness or let it put you off going. I see it as a totally positive thing. Through loneliness and difficulty there is scope for growth, and through these motions you'll always learn something new about yourself and what you need. You'll come back a stronger, wiser person. You'll get to know YOU and there is no more valuable lesson in life to be learnt. Anyway, should it become too much, there are always ways to overcome loneliness, like checking into a hostel with shared rooms, FaceTiming loved ones, or even flying home. With technology now, you're never really travelling solo.'
You have to be brave and confident to travel alone
Yes, travelling alone can be scary, but you don't need to be the world's bravest, most outgoing person to do it. In fact, travelling alone may even help to boost your self-confidence and communication skills, as you'll be placed in situations where you'll need to interact with people and venture outside of your comfort zone.
The Debrief's Culture Writer Jazmin Kopotsha, 24, experienced this herself: 'it's a bit of a weird one because I'm not exactly a wall flower, but neither the most outgoing person in the world, so I wasn't too sure how I'd take to being somewhere new on my own. I love having time to myself, but it's always different when you're on the other side of the world (I was in Hong Kong). In short, I ended up having the best time and even started to weirdly enjoy eating on my own which was once a big irrational fear of mine. Plus, I didn't have to share my dim sum with anyone, which was a bonus.'
It's hard to start or maintain a relationship while travelling
Yes, this can be true, but as The Debrief's very own Social Media Editor can attest, you may fall in love while exploring the world. 'Everyone thinks you need to fly solo when travelling or living abroad, but I’m going to call bullshit. When I was 21, I met my current boyfriend a week into travelling to Italy, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. At the time, he lived in Rome, so I got to meet tons of Italians, saw parts of the city I probably wouldn’t have even known about without him, and learned about the country's real culture – and food, of course. Plus, it meant I got to travel to his hometown and ride on a Vespa – it was all very Lizzy McGuire. And guess what? Fast forward five years and we're still together, sharing a flat in London!', says Alyss Bowen, 26.
Leaving a job to solo travel could jeopardize your career
In some cases, quitting your job to travel could set you back on the career ladder, depending on what industry you work in. But, that shouldn't stop you from solo travelling if that's what you really want to do. If you can get sabbatical leave then great, but if not, there will be plenty of other jobs waiting for you once you return home. Some employers may even be impressed by the experience you've learnt from solo travelling. After all, it does show that you're confident, organised, independent and resourceful. Plus, you never know what opportunities may present themselves while you're abroad.
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