I recently took a trip to Morocco with Gutsy Women Travel. Morocco was a destination that I had been wanting to visit for a long time, but I was already prepared for the number of questions I would receive traveling as a woman in an Islamic country. It’s definitely not the first time I’ve received warning from others about traveling as a young woman and traveling alone, and I know it won’t be my last. For me, these warnings and horror stories have never been enough to discourage me. In fact, I think it’s incredibly important for women to go for it, anyway. Here are some tips I’ve found when on my own and how you can make it happen.
Know where you are going.
Inarguably, there are some locations that are safer for women than others. There’s a difference between being daring and asking for trouble, and one of the major parts of traveling safely is knowing which destinations are okay. Many might have discouraged me from heading to Morocco, but after reading numerous accounts of young women heading there, I felt safe and that it would be fine. Of course, something bad can happen anywhere, but it’s less likely if you know the political environment of a location and how women are perceived in that culture.
Use female dorms in hostels.
Not only is it a great way to meet some fellow female travelers, but it’s also a much safer option overall—especially in big cities where dorms tend to be bigger. Some of the best friends I’ve made traveling have been in dorms housing women, and we all shared a love of travel and experiencing new cultures. When you are traveling alone, this can one way to meet some people to hang out with and can take away some worries you might have about staying in a co-ed dorm.
Trust your gut.
I was walking alone through Florence one night to a friend’s home when a man on a vespa pulled up next to me. He asked me to hop on and that he would take me to dinner with his parents. He told me there was nothing to worry about and that I would be fine, but, of course, I had a weird feeling about it and refused. He kept pushing it, which made me even more skeeved about the situation. Even though he might have actually had the intention of taking me to meet his parents (little soon, in my opinion), I wasn’t about to risk it just for an adventure. My gut said no so I said no.
Tell people where you are.
When I took a backpacking trip through the Balkans solo, I made sure that my parents and my boyfriend both knew where I was going and when. They knew my route and what days I was in each city. Looking back, I should have also given them my hostel info and bus info, just in case. In case something happens, you don’t want to entirely disappear. Have a time limit, as well. If your contacts don’t hear from you within 48 (or 24 or 60 or whatever) hours, they should be worried.
My first trip alone was incredibly nerve-wracking. My second? Less so. Now, I love traveling on my own and I’m not worried when I go. Once you have the basics down, you can enjoy your trip the way you should—like a champ.
Any other tips for traveling solo as a woman? Any good or bad experiences?