Written by Jennifer Hahn Masterson, Lifestyle Blogger & Senior Content Strategist
If you’re embarking on your first trip as a solo female traveler for the first time, rest assured that it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever take on. You’ll push yourself outside of your comfort zone while having the freedom to steer your journey in any direction you choose. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to the cultural adjustments you’ll have to make so you know what to expect!
Traveling as a fiercely independent woman offers opportunities of gaining new experiences and insights into the world. Yet, you’ll need to be ready to explore and embrace the foreign languages, lifestyles, and cultures of different countries in order to make the most of every moment and have a truly memorable trip if you travel solo!
Not sure how to prepare yourself for what awaits you on the other side of the plane trip of your solo travel experience? Here are a few tips that can help you ease into your first solo trip!
Before You Leave
Decide What Kind of Experience You Want to Have as a Solo Traveler
Before you book that solo travel adventure, you need to figure out what you want to gain from the experience. Is it a new culture you want to submerge yourself in? Do you want to challenge yourself with learning a new skill? Is it a new language you want to learn?
Make sure you do your homework and consider your options before committing to the trip. Research the local culture so you can avoid making any faux pas or getting yourself into uncomfortable situations. Make sure the accommodation you’re eyeing is suitable for solo female travelers. It’s essential to cover all your bases on basic safety precautions if you want to travel alone as a woman.
Get Ready to Deal with Differences
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for cultural adjustments is to accept that your lifestyle and the lives of the local people of the destinations you visit vary drastically in terms of culture, history, beliefs, and traditions.
In the United States, for example, it’s considered rude not to tip the waiter at a restaurant, but in China, it’s the norm. In Argentina, people at the party will think you’re weird for arriving on time, and in Taiwan, you’d be insulting the chef if you cleared your dinner plate at a restaurant.
Learn about the Culture and Language You’ll Encounter on Your Solo Trip
It’s essential to have a look into the culture of the destination you plan on visiting so you know what’s acceptable and what’s taboo. You can do your research by reading blogs and watching videos about the destination and its people and then making notes about the important stuff you need to remember. You can also chat with friends and other females who have traveled to the destination solo and learn from their experiences.
Learning about the local language is also essential because it’ll make your trip that much smoother. And it’s much more beneficial to go beyond the basics of tourism interpretation like hellos, thank you, and goodbyes. You can try learning a few phrases that’ll help you communicate with local women and men if and when the need calls for it, but if all else fails, there are modern tech solutions that can save the day for solo travelers. We recommend that you download an interpreting app for free to help you bridge the language barrier when you just can’t seem to express yourself.
On the Trip
Soak Up the Differences
By the time you arrive at your destination, you will have done heaps of research on the culture and traditions of the local people. You might have even picked up some good tips from other women that have been there before.
However, you still need to be humble as soon as you step foot on foreign soil. Stay open-minded and be ready to embrace all those differences you learned about. Reading or hearing about them and experiencing them first-hand can be worlds apart.
Include Yourself in the Social Scene
It can be daunting to eat out on a solo trip, but with the right approach, you won’t be left feeling self-conscious. Plan ahead and pick restaurants that aren’t off the beaten track (the busy ones are often the best) or opt for counter seating options when it’s available. This is a fantastic way to get to talk to new people and learn a little more about new cultures. Who knows: you might just make some new friends and perhaps even score some hidden insights from your friends into the best spots to visit.
Any seasoned traveler will tell you that you need to get involved with the locals on your next adventure to really learn more about their culture and make it a part of your experience. Small pep talks with local people are the best way to get your foot in the proverbial door of engaging with them. And when you engage with the locals, you’ll make friends and gain experiences you’ll get to cherish forever.
Do Something Out of the Ordinary
It can be scary as heck to decide to travel alone, so it just makes sense to make the most of this brave decision and push yourself even further outside of your comfort zone? By the time you arrive at your destination, you’d have already built up your confidence on the road. After this, you should aim to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do back home.
If you’re visiting a corner of the world where it’s snowing, try your hand (or legs) at snowboarding. And those azure blue waters you’re lounging next to on a tropical island? They’re ideal for a scuba-diving adventure or learn surfing on a Surf & Yoga Retreat. Trying something new isn’t only good for your confidence levels. It’ll also help you bridge the cultural barrier and make it easier for you to submerge yourself in the local way of life.
If you feel passionate about something, find the places where people that share the same passion gather. For instance, if you find yourself in Barcelona and you are a true fashion aficionado, paying a visit to IED is a great idea. You can exchange experiences with the students of their BA in fashion design and learn how to employ innovation and creativity to develop an aesthetic style relevant to the international fashion industry.
Ditch the Screen
It’s much easier said than done but try to avoid picking up your phone too often during your trip. Set some limits for yourself and turn on those out-of-office replies. Not being glued to your phone or laptop will allow for a more subversive experience as it opens up opportunities for you to chat with the local people and take in your new surroundings. Plus, you’ll have a clearer mind too! And isn’t that something all of us women could use more of in these hectic times?
You need to make the most of the opportunity, so keep observing the cultural patterns in the world around you to gain more insights. The experiences will help you deal with culture shock while enhancing your knowledge at the same time. And if you’re constantly hiding behind a screen, you’ll miss out on all the benefits of solo travel.
We’ve dished up our top tips to help you make the cultural adjustments necessary to make the most of your solo female travel adventures. But staying unprejudiced and vigilant is perhaps one of the best ways to embrace a new culture, make new friends, and make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Solo female travel can be an epic journey, as long as you’re prepared for the cultural differences that the road less traveled is known for. But with these basic travel tips, you should be able to turn your next trip into one of the most memorable alone time outings ever. Whatever you do, do it with an open mind, a proper helping of common sense, and a willingness to experience the wonder of cultural diversity.
About the Author
Jennifer Hahn Masterson is a lifestyle blogger and senior content strategist at Spread the Word Solutions, having a keen interest in a wide array of topics related health, design, fashion and travels. In her leisure time, she likes to immerse herself in a good book and try to satisfy her perpetual wanderlust. You can check her out on LinkedIn and Twitter.