Check out these interesting short stories and tips from more than 34 solo female travelers who travelled alone through South America.
The women who wrote their stories below are from various nationalities and were between 19 and 45 years old when they travelled through Latin America.
1- K. a Canadian traveler who’s deaf
Travelling solo was an opportunity for me to see and do the things I wanted at my own pace, without having to compromise. Even though I left home solo, I often met other travellers who were going to the same cities and wanted to do the same things so we would become short-term travel buddies. Because of this, I rarely felt lonely. When a fellow traveller and I eventually wanted to go different ways, there was no pressure to compromise, we simply split up.
I would recommend other women to do the same because it’s really empowering to go solo and realize there’s a whole world of super cool people out there to meet! During the times you are alone, you learn to hang out with yourself and realize there’s nothing wrong with that.
The thing is if you wait around for someone from home to go with you, it may never happen and there’s a risk of becoming resentful later on.
The first trip I ever did to Latin America was to a Mexican surf town to visit a friend in January 2013. I was 21 and fresh out of college. I stuck around for a while to learn Spanish, and within 2 years I decided I would go all by myself to Peru. When I first arrived to Cusco, I saw not a single tourist or other fellow travellers or any other English-speakers around, and for those of you who have been to this city, you probably know all about those super narrow sidewalks. Anyway, I panicked and thought I was gonna get kidnapped or mugged or something. A friend calmed me down and suggested I find a coffee shop or something in the morning and go for a walk to get my bearings. Sure enough, I felt much better and was able to think rational thoughts.
That day I switched to a different hostel that was a bit closer to the centre of the city and was full of other solo travellers like myself. Lesson of the story: when it’s your first time going somewhere by yourself, I recommend checking the reviews of the hostel and finding one popular with other travellers, even it means spending a little bit more on a hostel at the beginning of your trip. As you get more comfortable with Latin American travel and culture, it won’t be so scary to travel a bit more off the beaten path.
As part of the culture in Latin America, men are often very bold and have absolutely no problem with making their desires and intentions known. Caucasian women will often find that the “exotic” factor makes them very appealing to these men. A bad experience that comes to mind is being followed down the street because he said he found me beautiful. While it’s often sufficient to be very stern and say ‘I’m absolutely, definitely, 100% not interested’, sometimes you’ll just have to get stealthy and lose them in crowds, or take a couple of quick corners. In these situations, don’t panic!! Just remain in public areas and avoid finding yourself alone in strange alleyways.
2- N. from the USA
My favorite part about traveling alone was that I was aware I was breaking well past my comfort zone every minute of every day. For me personally, I´m not a super outgoing person who enjoys talking to a lot of strangers- but I had to do it because I needed help, all the time. And I needed to make friends. And I made so many amazing friendships because it forced me to open myself up to strangers from all over the world and because I did that, they were able to know me and love me and we are still friends to this day.
When I say I needed help- I mean that I was clueless about traveling. I spoke no spanish. I was always lost. It was rough, but in the end, I survived, nothing really bad happened, and now I´m a much more capable person when it comes to being on my own.
I also really liked that I got to do whatever I wanted. There was no one else.s opinion influencing me. It was all about doing what I wanted and having to force myself to make decisions- something else I was really bad at. Basically, it was a gigantic learning experience. I would absolutely recommend this to other women. I´d recommend it to every women. It teaches you how to be smart, effective with your time, decisive, capable of being alone, at times survival mechanisms, when to be cautious… it´s the reason I am where I am today.
It was also super healing. If you´ve gone through a hard time in your life, traveling alone is the most wonderful thing you could do to heal. If you stay where you are, everyone in your life already knows you and quite frankly they hardly ever know how to help you. When you travel you meet people that more often than not, have been through something to. It´s a whole big world of people that are like you, and you never knew existed. It´s also really empowering to be able to tell people- yeah I traveled alone for x weeks, no, nothing bad happened, and yes my life has changed forever for the better.
2 bad experiences- well if I´m being honest, the worst thing far and away that happened was that I was sexually harassed by someone who claimed to be a Shaman. It´s embarrassing and awful because I felt like I totally set myself up for it and should have known… but it happened, and I have to remind myself that it wasn´t my fault, that there are a lot of creepy, terrible people out there, and that in the future I should always trust my intuition and not put myself in circumstances that could be tricky.
The next worst thing would be the amount of times I got lost. I had never used public transportation before, I didn´t speak Spanish, I wasn´t using any kind of technology- so it was bound to happen when I was so far out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it was scary. But because of this, I now am an expert at looking for signs and keeping track of the names of where I had been and where I am going.
My 2 recommendations would be…. 1. To meet as many people as possible, make as many connections as possible, and put those connections to fruition by visiting them in their home countries and getting to know more of the world that way. That´s what I´ve done and it´s led me to live a really fulfilling life thus far. It can be hard to travel alone, while I highly recommend it, the best parts can be sharing experiences with others- so while yes you are alone, no it doesn´t mean you need to actually be alone the whole time.
2. Use your intuition. A woman´s intuition is a powerful thing. Use it to know who to trust and who not to. And never, ever, leave your bag alone, or fall asleep without holding it tightly on the bus.
3- K. from Peru
Traveling should be a MUST for women, for me it is a matter of tribe. I´ve always traveled since I was a child and for 18 years I worked in many hotels of my country. That was an advantage, choosing destinies, places to check benefits in the cost-product travel options.
Traveling “alone”, I discovered skills that I did not know inside of me.
All countries have pros and cons but it should be mandatory that women traveled alone, only then women learn to live with less fear and more confidence. The same person that go outs is not the same that returns home. That´s the beginning and you never stop visiting other places.
2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone:
Sometimes you can sin of audacity, once I did not hire the shuttle service to be picked me up at the airport. So I went out of the airport to take a taxi, I saw myself in the middle of many taxi drivers pulling my luggage to take me to the hotel and I was panicked because I thought they were going to steal me.
Previously on the plane, an older lady asked me to help her by reading and writing a form because she did not bring her glasses. In the middle of the situation, the old lady; I do not know where she came from, she took my hand and said: Let my granddaughter release that I take her home.
It was a great lesson 1. If you do not know the country so well, better hire safe services 2. You never know where an angel comes from.
2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone Social media and the internet, today give you a great advantage; You can have a lot of information about the destination you will visit. Always look for places where you have at least one police station or at least the heart of the city. Give clear instructions at home how you are going to move; Leave a list of the places you are going to visit. Google maps has a location sharing application, someone at home or a friend; in case of any situation can locate your cell in case of emergency, even if they turn it off. Always keep a card in any emergency.
Do not share too much information with strangers.
4- A. from the U.K. (working in Peru)
I’m not sure I’m the best person to help with the travel questions as I think living and working in Peru, integrated into communities is very different to travelling. Hers my thoughts but please don’t name me in your article. I’m afraid the only positives of travelling alone is that you’re more likely to talk to new people and you get to decide your own itinerary.
Bad experiences: 1.being shouted at or approached with the assumption that you’re sexually interested in any man. 2. Being groped on public transport.
Recommendations: 1. When booking into a coach in Peru you can request to be sat next to a woman – the booking system notes gender. Also in VIP sections there are single seats which are useful.
2. Be cautious about assumptions of why you might be friendly with men, it is possible to be friends with men but be clear if you are not interested – if they say ‘you’re beautiful’ etc inappropriately and you find it uncomfortable- tell them directly you’re not interested and that they are making you feel uncomfortable, most likely they will apologise and stop. Don’t feel rude for doing this, local women may well take the same approach.
3. Local women also get hassled, it’s not just you, so don’t take it too personally most people male and female are kind and welcoming.
5- E. from the Germany
I was only travelling 5 weeks in Peru, but I would be glad to help you with your project
About travelling alone, I liked:
Being independent. I could travel the way I wanted without making too many compromises.
Getting in touch with locals. When I am travelling alone, I am more likely to talk to locals and other travellers, because I have to if I don’t want to be alone. On the same time I think also more people are talking to me when I am travelling alone.
Growing from experiences I made. After I did this journey, I felt more relaxed about many things, because I had made the experience, that I was able to get along on my own and things went well.
I definitely recommend other women to try out travelling alone, if they don’t have the right travel buddy or want to travel independently. It can be a unique experience and maybe you are more open-minded if you are not focussed on another person. However, travelling alone also means, that you can be lonely sometimes and there may be times when you wish to talk to someone you know for a longer time.
Two bad experiences I made as a woman travelling alone:
I didn’t make any really bad experiences. Sometimes I got a bit too much attention by locals and it was impossible to just sit somewhere in the city and read without people talking to me but I wouldn’t call any situation I had a bad experience.
One situation when I got a bit scared was when I was drinking beer at the beach of Lima with a man I had just met that day. At some point I suddenly realized that I didn’t know this guy and a lonely (or almost lonely) beach in the evening would be the perfect scenery for a crime. But nothing happened and we soon went back to Miraflores where I felt safer.
Learn Spanish . I didn’t spend enough time on it before my travel. It was enough to get along (and you will somehow find a way to communicate) but I probably missed out on some good conversations because of my poor language skills.
Look after your safety, but don’t be afraid
6- A. P. from Argentina/ Netherlands
Ok, I go to your questions: Can you write down shortly what you liked about travelling alone; if you would recommend other women to do the same and why?
N*1 It’s just me time, me time and me time! I think this reason is an unbeatable one! Lots of time for thinking, doing exclusively what you want and nice opportunities to meet nice diverse people!
2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; Hmmmmm I think the most I can recall is being in an uncomfortable situation (as cold and waiting a bus in the night, or carrying a heavy backpack many mts uphill) … alone (in those moments you would like the company of a friend to share your misery with… and swear together, right?). I also missed having my boyfriend or a friend next to me in the most extreme beautiful moments, I would have loved to share that with a beloved one.
2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone. Just do it! And enjoy it at maximum! (when you get older you tend to stop doing it and… I would love to be 10 years younger just for that! I think it’s what I miss the most from my 20s!).
7- A. from the U.K.
– freedom, travelling alone allows you to explore the environment and also yourself. Your interests and dislikes. It’s your opportunity to Be selfish. to do exactly what you want and how you want. You develop self confidence and learn how to handle a variety of situations. You can discover yourself. Spending time alone is healthy. You can connect with others without the limitations of feeling you have to stay in a couple. Travelling alone opens you to meeting More people (if you want). More open to the explore opportunities. If you have the opportunity to spend time in one place for an extended period of time, embrace it. Go off the “beaten track”, go to where locals go and just enjoy your own rythem and routines of living in an unfamiliar place.
if you would recommend other women to do the same and why? – reasons as above
2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; – Men – unfortunately, don’t take no sh*t. Latino men are very vocal and can be full on, it’s part of the culture but also they can take it too far. People trying to take advantage – market people/ taxis ie gringo prices, but that is relevant for men and women and again don’t be afraid to say no (as long as you don’t put yourself in danger).
2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone. – stay safe. Personally and your belongings. Dress respectfully, try not to bring attention to yourself/ blend in – you will always be a gingo but there’s a difference to a gringo who is wearing hot pants and bellybutton on show. Try to not arrive to unknown places at night – if you do, have a hostel reservation, make sure you go with a register taxi or ask the hostel to book one for you. Have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to see – objectives for your trip, personally and physically (seeing).
Don’t waste your opportunity to learn about yourself, maybe thing won’t be so obvious but you can take time to reflect. Be open (as long as they are safe) to the adventure. Who knows what you will discover and could take you too in the future. Eat as much as possible, experience and enjoy! The world is more than an incredible place. I would also like to add – stay away from lonely planet unless you want the same experience as everyone else! (But I understand why people do it/use it)
8- M. from Croatia/ Germany
I decided to travel alone because none of my friends could join me on this long trip I planned back then. Some of women who I knew encouraged me to do this because they have done it too. I think that’s when I felt even more confortable in going on my own. Turned out to have been the best experience ever. I traveled alone but I was never alone . I have met amazing people from all over the world who have the same interests as me and shared their experiences and gave me great tips. I would recommend any woman to travel on her own because there is nothing to fear about if you use common sense and prepare yourself for the countries you want to visit. What I mean by that is researching ahead online about each country’s mentality, safety tips, what you must not do and what is allowed.. Etc…. And then nothing can go wrong . I also recommend it to travel solo because you are forced to approach and meet people. You learn so much about other cultures and you bring the good examples home. You completely change your way of thinking and what you once thought that was important (money, material stuff, and working like crazy for that until you get the burn out) doesn’t matter at all anymore. Because you see people who have so little or nothing and they are happy. That’s why I cannot function so well in this German system because it’s all about work.
So you learn how the most beautiful moments are to spend with people, help each other and celebrate life. I don’t celebrate life in this German system
I think every woman who is open enough should go ahead and travel solo. You broaden your horizon!!
Luckily I never had any problem traveling alone. Maybe because of my guardian and because I prepared my self for every country (I mentioned that above). Getting used to live in simplicity!
9- I. from the Germany
Traveling through SA for 8 months as a blonde white girl was easier than I thought. I can’t recall a bad experience but I got mugged at gun point in a night bus which can happen to either men or women. But as a woman you have to be aware that SA is not like SE Asia. Men are a bit more “aggressive” which actually just means the opposite of shy. I remember one situation when a drunk man was chasing me through a bus stop in El Salvador. He kept repeating that I am a hot girl and where my husband is. I remained cool and kept walking towards a group of people. As soon as I was not standing by myself anymore the man eventually got bored and left; also because I ignored him. When traveling alone always keep your head up high and don’t act as a victim. Get used to the fact that when walking alone you will more often hear something like “hola chica”, “mamasita” or hear questions like: “Can I be your boyfriend?”. If that happens to me I mostly smile, depending on the situation of course, and say “no gracias”. Try to solve every uncomfortable situation not with ignoring but with self esteem and joke about it. Then the situation gets immediately smoother. I experienced much more positive vibes around me, most locals are willing to help in every situation especially when you are a female Traveller. But what you should avoid is common sense such as don’t couchsurf with someone you haven’t met before, don’t hitch hike or walk empty streets in strange areas or drink beers alone at a beach at night. It will make your life easier if you skip those experiences when you are all alone.
10- C. from Germany
I am not sure if I am the typical South America travelor. Came here for work and of course to travel. I never had any bad experience concerning my gender or you are asking in general? Once on the beach they stole my wallet when I went swimming. I didn’t see anyone ever. I actually thought I was alone. Maybe they were hiding in the bushes. The staring of men (whistling, calling) is kind of normal. First it really upset me but now I see that it is part of their culture. As a woman travelling alone men like to ask were your husband is. In the beginning I told the truth until I had marriage offerings from taxisdrivers. It is much more tranquilo if you are married. It’s a lie but worth the peace. Although you are an experienced traveler there are some good rules that work: Don’t go out alone after darkness or don’t pick a taxi from the street. I did the two things and was lucky. But many collegues and friends had less luck. All the time something can happen and somehow you have to be prepared for it. #norisknofun doesn’t work here, it is much wiser to really take care and protect yourself. Things can get pretty serious quickly.
Yes I can recommand travelling alone even in South America but some travel experience would be helpful to be more respectful with the people and its culture. I have been on the bus every weekend for more than three years and they are save. From MY experience. The busses are small so a man could sit right next to you and might stare at you but that’s it.
11- L. from the USA
Voy a responderte en español : 1) Me encanta viajando sola porque es un buen manera para conocerme. Puedes desarrollar tu propio idea de quien estas. Tienes libertad en todo. Y algo veces es dificil para decidir o elegir algo pero creo que es la mejor manera para conectar con ti misma. Especialmente porque nuestro soceidad rara vez las pregunta mujeres que quieren.
2) Nunca tenia experiencias muy mala cuando viajé sola pero especialmente en America Latino necesitas cuidarte con los hombres en la calle. Puede estar muy diferente que tu pais y algo veces es dificil para aceptar o responder y quedar segura. Por ejemplo, despues algunas semanas en Nicaragua no queria quedar alla porque no sentia segura o bien cuando caminando en las calles. Y esta es un experiencia totalmente unico por las mujeres.
Recomendacion uno, no tienes miedo. Cosas peligrosas occuren en todos lados del mundo. En todos paises. Entonces, si tu quieres ir, vaya. Y dos, siempre intentar a conocer donde vas cuando caminando sola en las calles. Y si no conoces, finges como tu sabes.
12- A. from Germany
Bueno voy a escribir en espanol porque mi inglés no es tan bueno me ecantaba que en los hostales siempre se puede conocer a otros “backpakers” que están viajando solos o en grupos y entonces nunca viajas verdaderamente sola. Además, me parece que si tomas los buses que son un poco más caro como Cruz del sur te sientes muy segura en viajando sola. Lo que no me gustó tanto fue que siempre hay peruanos que te miren o que hacen comentarios sexistas y tontos porque eres blanca y a ellos les parece gustar tu calor/cuerpo (no lo sé;)). Entonces no es tan agreable si andas por las calles y a cada rato escuchas gente siflando o encuentras gente que te habla solamente para finalmente poder irse contigo Pero eso no significa que no lo recomendería a otras mujeres de viajar sola. Si una se da cuenta que hay que tener cuidado en todo lo que hace creo y puedo confirmar que el viaje será genial !!
13- L. from Canada
Travelling alone is my favorite thing to do. I am a person who doesnt like to plan and just show up and see how that takes me-Even if i end up sleeping on a hostel couch. Going by this i realized how everything really does always work out and usually always for the better.
Bad experiences as a women travelling alone… To be honest i never really had a terrible experience. I once had a scuba instructor who wouldn’t stop asking me out and touching my leg while scuba diving and while 30 feet under water. I set him straight once we got to the surface. But besides that, i think thats my only bad one.
Reccomendations for women Traveling alone: Dont walk alone at night, but same goes for men too. That is really it. My first trip alone was with a travel company/group and it really was perfect for teaching me and getting me ready to backpack and travel by my lonesome. It taught me how easy it is. Sure people do not speak your native language(get a language tutor, or pre study key words), but everywhere you go, you can find a hostel with a bed and other people just like you trying to plan their trip and enjoy the country/culture you are in. Just using common sense, asking lots of questions and going with the flow, every trip has gone incredibly well. If an airline looses your bags for two weeks you will realize you can live out of your Carry-on-purse(wash your 1 pair of shorts in the shower every night)and still have a trip of a life time. Always look on the bright side of inconveniences. Always.
14- R. from the U.K.
Hey, so I wrote what I could, having never actually had any bad experiences from traveling as a woman alone I can’t really answer that bit! Its probably not exactly the usual advice that people give, but, well that’s me I’m Afraid! You are welcome to it if it’s any use! I guess women get anxious about traveling alone. I don’t know about that, in my opinion, if you are going traveling, and you really want to immerse yourself in a different life, then alone is the only way to go. Alone forces you to meet people, to chat, both to other travellers and to the locals, if you want company then you have to get out there and find it and that to me is where the adventure begins!
My philosophy is that 90% of the humans on this planet are good decent people, like you and me and your friends and family, unfortunately it is the 10% that are not so good that get all the news and attention, but remember, the odds of meeting them are so very low. When you are alone, and people see you confused or lost, maybe trying to figure out a map or which direction to go in they will stop, they will smile and ask if you need help, especially as a female. I don’t think that it is in anyway harder to travel alone as a female than it is as a male, if anthing it is easier, people want to stop and help, you are not intimidating or threatening and so help they will, or invite you in for tea or offer a bed for the night… I’m not sure men get offered quite the same generosity… I have travelled the world alone and never once had any problems that specifically came from being female. But then I guess I do have thick skin and I understand that things are different in different cultures. For example, dress appropriately and accept cultural differences, like, it is ok here in South America, no, more than ok, it is actually seen as a compliment for men to ‘wolf whistle’ at you when you walk down the street, so smile and nod a thanks, don’t get disgruntled and feminist about it, accept you are in a different culture and that’s just the way it is here. Never once have I had this turn into something unpleasant.
I’ve been told that Quito is quite the dangerous place to be, but I have entirely the opposite experience there. I had of course been advised not to be out alone after dark and not to take valuables etc etc all the usual warnings, but yet having accidentally stayed out until well after 3am with all my belongings one night, I found myself wandering the empty streets god knows where in the city looking for a hostel. A taxi pulled up beside me and insisted I get in even though I said I had no money on me, he then proceeded to drive me to three hostels until we found one open and with a bed to spare, with no payment asked for. As I say, most people on this planet are good and want to help. Believe in them, stop worrying about what could happen and get out there and enjoy what does, I’ll wager you’ll only meet the good!
15- H. from Germany
I didn‘t want to travel alone, but my friend got pregnant and the flights were already booked so I decided to do the trip anyway. Its already 5 years ago. When I look back, it definitely was an experience I would never want to miss! The first time I had to fight homesickness. But then I was able to live for the moment, decide spontaneous where or where not to go and just do whatever I want.
As a woman you always will have to rebuff some men. But that is not a matter of the location you travel, or if you are alone or not thats always.
Just one tipp to every single traveller, male or female: find persons or groups and share a part of your journey with them. Joy gets bigger when it shared and laughing together opens hearts. So I am sorry, I can not talk as a woman traveling alone, but as a human traveling alone. In am not into those gender debates… So for every human: if you have the opportunity to go on a trip take it! Nobody can steal those memories out of your heart.
16- S. from Singapore
Why I like travelling alone: I went on a 7 month trip with no fixed itinerary and it was nice to just move along as I pleased and stay or not stay in a place as long as I wanted (funds permitting). I also found people curious about my travels and in most cases, more willing to help out a single female travellers, especially in many of my experiences, the families and couples were very kind (both local as well as fellow extranjeros). Once they knew I was alone, many made an effort to include me and chat with me and the locals gave me tips on what to do in the place I was visiting.
So yes, I would recommend it but I think one needs a certain temperament to travel alone. It is a mix of being ok to be alone a lot of the time, and at the same time, being very open to talking with people you don’t know.
2 bad experiences as a woman – I can’t quite say I had bad experiences because I was a woman. I was bitten by a dog in Ecuador but that could have happened to a male traveller as well. It was hard getting the necessary rabies shots over 2 months but in the end it worked out. I was also robbed both in Ecuador and Buenos Aires but again that could have happened to anyone and I was lucky these were pickpocketing incidents and not violent.
2 recommendations: (1) Learn the language (at least basic speaking and reading). It really helps in many ways – first, being able to speak to the locals was a great joy. It is also important for safety reasons – you can be more assertive and find your way around. I doubt I would have managed to find the rabies vaccines if i could not call around hospitals etc and speak to the doctors/nurses/pharmacists etc.
(2) practical stuff – try not to arrive too late at a new place and I always had the first night’s accommodation booked/secured. I always had phone numbers of the hotel and friends at easy access. On the rare occasions I was taking a long cab ride etc and I did not have a good feeling about the driver, I would intentionally call someone (or pretend to call someone) to say I was arriving in say, 10 minutes and was in a cab, so that he knew someone was waiting for me. In one case, I felt the driver was really a bit suspicious, I called the hotel on the pretext of asking directions and made the cab driver talk to the hotel people to get the directions. Only after that did the cab driver call in on his radio to report my journey to his operator.
(3) Despite warnings to be alert and on guard, don’t err on the side of paranoia. It will ruin your trip, mess up you sanity and show disrespect to people in the country you are travelling in. There are more good eggs than bad ones.
17- A. from Canada
1. I would recommend travelling alone to women in general, but even more so in South America. The culture is very warm and inclusive, you literally get adopted and absorbed into groups. I found it difficult to have time to myself!
I travelled through Patagonia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. I encountered tons of female sola travellers here, many more than on other continents, definitely far more than male solo travellers.
2. People are incredibly warm and loving and show it. This becomes a problem with men however as it’s difficult to tell when someone is being kind or trying to take you home. Generally, I found as a “gringa” most of the time it was the later unfortunately.
The other bad experience I had was the amount of shock and fear I faced when explaining I was travelling sola. Everyday people had to explain to me all the ways I was going to die and how brave/crazy/stupid/naive I was for travelling alone (Thanks people). Also, because the culture is very centred on relationships (family and romantic), it’s very odd to encounter someone sola who’s not actively trying to find a partner. Eventually though, this made me more proud and self-confident as I had to stop caring what others thought and also became very clear on my stand on travelling sola (since I explained it thousands of times).
3. I’d recommend WorkAway and Couchsurfing and Facebook Groups as a way to really connect with people and places as you travel. You don’t even have to stay at someone’s house, you can connect with travellers and locals just to meet up or go hiking.
Street smarts are useful for any traveller, especially one travelling alone. Figure out where you’re going before you leave, don’t walk around looking lost with Google Maps open spinning in circles. If you are lost, step inside a store or grab a coffee to check your map or ask for directions from the owners. NEVER LOOK LOST. Walk in straight lines like you know where you’re going, like you have somewhere to be.
Also, know when NOT to tell people you’re travelling alone. You’re always “meeting someone somewhere,” even when you’re not. Once you get to know people then you’ll know whether or not to tell them. When in doubt, “you’re travelling with friends” which is true anyway, you’ll make so many along the way.
18- A. from Germany
The only bad thing that happened to me in south america was that people tried to steal from me in the bus, but this surely is not a female travellers problem. One thing that happend to me years ago in asia (I’m not sure if it was Laos oder Vietnam) was, that a boy touched my boob while I was walking through the countryside. But that was before the time I really took care about how I dress while travelling. I experienced sexual harassment travelling in turkey with a female friend. But in general I would really say that I had 99% good experiences travelling alone as a women if you take care and be a conscious traveller. I really had much worse experiences with sexual harassment in Hamburg! And this is also my recommendation: Be conscious and aware of your surrounding, dress appropriate to the culture and get out of situations as soon as you feel awkward. But I would recommend this to travellers in general!
19- M. from Swisterland
I liked to travel alone because then i can do only thinks what i like.
But to be honest the first week i was feeling not so well. It was special to be alone 24hours and in a city where i was never be before. I started in buenos aires with only a few spanish words.
My first good experiens was 2 hours after landing in argentina. I took a taxi to the City and gave the address of my hostel to the taxi driver and we started my trip.
When we arrived in the street where the hostel was supposed to be, the driver told me”lo siento señorita but i can’t find the hostel”
With my bad spanish i tried to find out what was happening. He told me that we could ask somebody in the garage where it was. So we left the taxi with all my stuff
The man from the garage told me something in spanish which i couldn’t understand. After some minutes he giva me his phone and i called the hostel. We got the right address. Back in the taxi i was so happy and lucky. I passed a horror moment but with two really nice persons talking a different language, but still helped me.
Really bad experiences i didn’t have. Only one time i was feeling not so well next to a man in the bus. So i was told him i wanted to sleep and not talking with him.
For me was the best time to travelling along. You find out where you are and what you like. Normal you never well be along because everybody start to talk with you. You learn to too everything by yourself and you will get to know a lot people from all the word. I can recommend that you take time and maybe to do volunteer work. So you learn the local people and you can see how is the life there. For me it was a really a nice time.
20- K. from the USA
I think traveling alone as a woman is one of the most powerful experiences a woman can have. You are forced to think for yourself, become adaptable, become aware of both your surroundings and your place in them, and to become comfortable with looking out for yourself. As far as two experiences that were bad: a lot of backpacker dudes forced themselves on me and sexually assaulted me in ways that I had never experienced before. One guy held me down and pulled my pants off as I struggled to pull them back up and push him off. When I realized that I couldn’t do both, I finally shoved him as hard as I could and yelled out for him to stop. He became really angry but I didn’t care and ran away, back into the hostel. Another time, while I was sleeping on a bus, a German guy I had met earlier that day slipped his hand into my pants and began rubbing my genitals. I woke up to that and had to get myself out of that situation in a way that didn’t cause a scene. Another time, when I was working at a bar, a local got super drunk and stayed until only he and the owner were left, and then he cornered me in the storage room and pushed himself up against me. I tried to push him away and called out for the owner, who laughed and said “he’s just drunk”. A backpacker who was playing pool heard me and came over to help, then sat at the bar with me until the owner and local left so that I could get back to my room safely.
While I’m not angry about these events, they’re very real things that happen to every woman at some point. For me, I appreciate them because it showed me what dangers I can face even around ‘trusted’ people and that I’m totally capable of getting myself out of them. I don’t have to submit in fear. I can defend myself and call out for help when needed.
As far as positive experiences, it really just comes down to the open hearts and unconditional love of all the people I met along the way. The way that families struggling with poverty opened their homes to me and took care of me was incredibly healing. They showed me more love and forgiveness than even my own family. I also loved the way that I learned how to go with the flow. While traveling alone, things go wrong every single day and it sort of chipped away all of my western impatience and taught me how to be super adaptable, super agreeable, and generally happy no matter the outcome. I owe my entire perspective and happiness to my experience traveling solo as a woman.
Even the difficult stuff that I experienced seems essential to the outcome.
as far as recommendations: become hypervigilant no matter where you are. The more mindful you are about your surroundings, your emotions, the emotions of others… the more easily and safely you can maneuver through the situations. I’d also recommend packing light. A 36L pack is all you need and it’s a pain in the ass to carry anything larger than that!!
21- M. L. from the U.K.
Can you write down shortly what you liked about travelling alone; Independence, freedom and having the space and time to learn more about yourself and understand what makes you happy and what you should do with your life without anyone else’s influence, having a true connection with your needs. Being able to truly connect with your own reflections and interpretations through an unbiased lens.
I would definitely recommend solo traveling to other women because as a young woman it gives you a sense of power and autonomy, you can decide what you do and there is no pressure to do anything. When you want to be alone you can be alone.
2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; There were a couple of times when I felt uncomfortable walking in the street in certain towns/cities alone due to cat calling/unwanted attention but I learnt how to ignore it and escape their attention. Obviously this shouldn’t be a necessity and I hope in the long term women won’t have to develop these skills to feel safe but in the mean time having confidence, a sense of inner power and exterior strategies are helpful (e.g walking with a man or calling someone while you walk).
2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone. Go with your gut. You know more than you think you know. Trust yourself. And if you make mistakes try and learn from them. Even the worst situations end up being extremely valuable lessons in the long term. And in reality nothing is ever really that bad. Everything is manageable.
Breath, think, act. Afterwards you’ll be laughing about it.
22- A. from Spain
Travelling alone gives you a great feeling of independence. Its just you and the unpredictable, which makes you have to figure out what you want and who you are, which we don’t actually have many chances of thinking about on our day to day in our home city’s. That’s because the routine and what’s expected from us traps us. When you’re on your own in an unknown city or country you’re exposed and have to depend on yourself, solely, which in the end gives a great sense of freedom and achievement.
If you would recommend other women to do the same and why YES! It is an experience everyone should live, and maybe women even more because of the misconceptions we listen to and read in the newspapers about women walking around on their own (not just travelling). We can’t stop hearing how “unsafe” it is for women to travel alone, but it’s not! It can be just as unsafe as being in your hometown, if you’re being unconscious. Please, don’t let anybody scare you, travelling alone is amazing! Having to take so many decisions everyday on your own, you find out what you like and what you want and discover how capable you are of doing things you never thought you could. Being on your own also makes people approach you much more and allows you to meet all kinds of amazing people, which is also one of the greatest parts of travelling (so all of that nonsense about feeling and being alone is completely false!).
2 bad experiences you had as a woman travelling alone I have been harassed many times in my travels. Never something serious, but as a female tourist walking around on your own, you’re going to pick up attention from men in some societies and male-centred cultures. The looks and commentaries can discomfort you at times, but if you look confident and ignore them these tend to lessen and never get further than that. It’s true also that walking around alone at night can get scary, and more so as a woman. Some years ago I was in Sri Lanka and I had to wait for a night bus at a station which was literally a dead end alley with nothing around. I was the only woman and the only tourist. I was 17 years old. This drunk guy came up to me and started talking in singalese, quite aggressively. Suddenly, two more men showed up. Luckily, these last men shooed him away and told me to come sit with them while I waited for the bus. They had come to save and protect me. The lesson here is that there will always be good people to help you wherever you go, and that most things you can avoid with common sense.
2 recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone My first recommendation would be to not worry about feeling all alone, because that is one of the biggest reasons I think women end up ditching solo travelling. I can’t stress enough the incredible amount of people you will meet along the way and how easy it is. Just in the most random places, mostly, and I’m being serious: supermarkets, pharmacies, the beach, in the middle of nowhere in the mountain… Just open up and talk to the person sitting next to you! Start with a “where are you from?”, “Where are you going to?”, “What are you reading?”… Just anything will work! And if you’re still unconfident, a good place to start is finding a nice social hostel. That is where meeting people will be the easiest. Another recommendation is to stop worrying so much and think about YOURSELF. What you feel like at the moment, every time. Do the things you like and you will, without doubt, find people along the way that have similar interests, although if they don’t you can always learn something from them. But most of all, take the trip as a treat for yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions or expectations change that (and that goes for everything in life!). Don’t let that make you miss opportunities. Let your prejudices aside, try new things, new food, new activities, talk to people you wouldn’t usually have talked to, ask LOTS of questions…
Open your mind. But most of all, open your heart and be kind, because everything will come back to you in the end. Travel is the best university, the university of life
23- B. from Germany
I like travelling alone because I can do whatever I want. If you travel with friends, you build a unit, you are in a “bubble” and it’s difficult to be that open minded like travelling by yourself. For me it is the best way to get to know other countries, to become acquainted with other culturs, to meet people with great stories and sometimes to make real friends. You have a different view to other people, you ask much more if you travel alone. You learn how to get easy in a conversation with others. You walk some time the same way with persons you like. And if you are anywhere you don’t like to stay, you are free to leave.
I met so many wonderfull people, I learned so much about the way of life in other countries and I heared a lot of amazing stories. And all together changed my view, my priorities, my way of life in a good way.
The worst experience I had, was loosing my credit cards, maybe were stolen. I had to wait 4 month till my sister came to visit me with a new credit card. The same time, I had one of my best experiences. I met a lot of people, who helped me with their money. Well it was easy for me give it back, I transfered per Onlinebanking. But I met a lot of people who trusted me. Who trusted, that the lost cards not only were a “story”. That’s one of the things, I’ll never forget. But that’s not especially a bad experience as a woman.
The only thing I didn’t like, is, that some men thought, it would be easy to “get me” and the way they flirted. Some of the guys thought I woudl pay whole. I went out with some guys who thought, we would get into a relationship or we are a couple. So that was sometimes difficult to explain, that I am not searching for a boyfriend. And some thought going out, means that the evening will end in sex.
Now, what can I recomend? Say, what you want and what you don’t want. There are rules everywhere, so I recomend to inform about the mentality, specially the men’s one. If you say STOP in a clear way, normally this will be accepted. If you go out with a man like only you two, be sure that he won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Maybe there are people around you, you can call in case of emergency.
If you go out alone, to the disco, club or bar, take a taxi to go there and home. Take an official taxi and if possible remeber the taxi number. Don’t walk alone in the streets at night.
Well, I never had a dangerous situation or was afraid. But I never did risk too much.
24- I. from the Netherlands
I liked traveling by myself, because I could stay and / or leave whenever I was ready to do so. It’s super easy to meet new people and there are no expectations. You could hang out for an evening or end up traveling together for a couple of weeks. Traveling alone gives a lot of freedom and I think it makes you more mature very quickly (I was pretty young when I started traveling by myself)
I would for sure recommend other women to do the same, because it strengthens your character and self confidence.
I only had one bad experience during a couple of years of traveling. We were about to catch a private boat with a guy but every time he had an excuse for which he needed either more money from us or more time to leave. We (me and a girlfriend) didn’t have good feelings about it all and decided to leave asap and take an alternative route to get to our destination
Recommendations: Follow your instinct…. If things don’t feel correct, don’t keep going. Think twice before you go on a hike or any other trip by yourself. Traveling by yourself didn’t mean you will do many things alone. Try to form a group to discover solely destinations. Take precautions but don’t panic!
25- C. from the USA
Yes I would absolutely recommend women, and men, to travel alone. Traveling alone gives you an option to be alone or not. You can be forever alone if you want to, but you can also travel with other people when you feel like it. It’s much more flexible than traveling with your friends or family. No unnecessary arguments and it’s also nice to make new friends in new countries, no? I never imagined that I could make “good friends” during my trip but I was wrong. Totally wrong. I actually made at least 3 life-long friends and I know for a fact that this wouldn’t have happened if I was traveling with my friends. I actually met them again in Europe after my trip in South America last year and will be seeing them again this Christmas
• 2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; (1) I got everything (basically everything that I needed to live…) stolen in Ecuador. I was on a bus from Baños to Quito and I put my little backpack between my legs… yep you know where this is going… but I did wrap the straps around my ankles so that I would theoretically know if someone grabs my backpack. I had my credit cards, debit cards, passport and $500 cash in my backpack, not to mention all the little gifts I bought for my boyfriend and friends. I fell asleep for like 15 minutes, woke up and saw my backpack still peacefully placed between my feet. When I reached my destination, I got off of the bus, took a cab to get to my hostel just to realize that I didn’t have anything in my backpack. I didn’t notice this entire time and when it was time for me to pay for the cab, I realized that everything in my backpack was gone… stupid me. Thankfully and very fortunately I was with my friend who I met back in Guatemala who was more than willing to help me out. She paid for the cab, we ended up volunteering at a hotel in Mompiche while my passport (and everything else) was getting sorted. Long story short, my dear travel friends helped me get new credit/debit cards and brought them to me to Peru all the way from Seoul. I don’t know whether this happened particularly because I was a woman but this definitely was one of the worst experiences during my trip so I wanted to share
(2) A lot of guys, especially in Santa Marta, Buenos Aires, approached me for coffee, dinner, etc. You can imagine what they really wanted. Sometimes they are nice, but more often than not, they are more vulgar and not very pleasant to encounter with. This kind of assault is very common when you are a solo female traveler, not only in South America but really anywhere in the world. And the worst for me was in Paris. I was walking along the street listening to music, and this guy kept following me saying some racist stuff like “I love asian women, you guys are beautiful, etc” Of course I completely ignored him and kept walking away and he all of a sudden snatched my headphones off my ears and grabbed my hand. I literally had to run away from him and guess what – this happened at 3 in the afternoon. 2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone.
(1) I don’t know whether I have any specific recommendations just for women, but in general, it’s nice to have a fanny pack or some small purse that you could always wear close to your body. As soon as I got my stuff stolen in Ecuador, that was the first thing I bought. Some German people have this awesome small flat pouch that could be worn under your shirt (I have no idea what it’s called or where to get it) but that seems pretty handy especially when you move to a different city, go on a day trip, etc.
(2) Ok I actually do have an advice for women, because women tend to pack more than men Don’t overpack, ever. You can always buy things you need along the way (except maybe contact lens solution in Central America) and it’s much cooler to buy clothes in different countries no? I definitely overpacked and I was also terrible at getting rid of unnecessary things, so I was always carrying at least 15kg… and that was really painful. My major purchases during my trip include a pair of nice hiking boots in Peru, handmade alpaca jacket (who doesn’t need it?) in Bolivia and a jar of dulce de leche in Argentina
26- C. from Germany
for bullet points: I would always recommend women travelling alone. Why? The question is rather why not? and for me has little to do with gender…some people are not good in travelling alone or maybe they think so at least…but you should have definitly tried it once in your life about being in contact: I mean most women are afraid that men might molest them while travelling alone…from my experience that is not more the case than it is anywhere else in the world. Yes there might be people molesting you. But most are really nice and even more protective. so what I rather experiencend on all my trips travelling alone were people trying to help me – with carrying stuff, giving directions, making phone calls (cause they were afraid for m security) makeing sure I know someone in the next city I travel to so do I recommed it? – hell yes! the positive eperiences by far outweight the negative one. about 2: ngetaive experiences: yes of course they exist. But I also get molested in berlin or at work. what makes it a little bit more dangerous while travelling is that people can spot you as a tpurist and you clearly are abroad without your own “social security system”. With this I mean you usuaully have no friends looking out for you, wondering why you did not phone, you are not familiar to th eplaces, the culture, the habits…so this makes you an easier target – yet I guess the same holds true for men (and usually as a tourist you have more valuables with you or are pereceived as richer)
I once had a guy in mexico following me for 1,5 weeks. no matter where I went he ent to, even till the airport…yet I talked with people about it – at home (not people that got too much scared about it but people that should know about the potential danger), but i also talked with people in hostels to have an eye on me. I sat next to the bus driver I approached other travellers, and it worked out. He followed me I could not get rid of him, but nothing bad happend. and well in Colombia men where often very eager to dance and kiss. Well guess in this situation you just really have to make clear where your limits are. Was sometimes a little bit discussion (but also because I am often too nice and maybe not clear enough in this – but same holds true for Germany) but it never came to a bad situation. I think arriving somewhere in a big city I am not familir with during the night always scared me a little…but then on the other hand…I had this happening cause refused to plan ahead. Then i still tried to talk to locals (women!!!) tried to share a cab with them – worst case ask them that you would pay their ride if they first drive with you in the cab till your hostel and then continue (never had to do this – most women did not wnat any money and where just happy to share the costs equally still making sure, I arrive safely). but yes….cab drives, arriving somewhere alone during night, hiking alone…it bears a certain risk. But in my case it all wnet well. general recommendations: speak the language!!!! carry money close to your body (bra), have a fake purse/bag with you with some cash and cards you do not need, make contacts with locals but alos other travellers (people remebeber you not so easy that you vanish then), be clear about your boundaries (self confident and clear, no means no no but this also mean that one should not use it as a flirt thing) have all valuables in a small bag in the bus not below where it might get stolen. tie the small bagback to our legs and close it with a lock. as stupid as it sounds I have a pepper spray with me…yet not so much against humans but more against dogs. (and it gives you kind of a security feeling). I try to wear decent clothes (this should be unnecessary) but….well if my goal is not to appear sexy then long trousers and a long sleeve, maybe even a cap are a good thing…ja sometimes a short dress is more comfortalbe during hot temperature…but it depends on the occasion and the crowd I am with if I wear it ( also depends on the cultural context – SA is really relaxed about that, arabic countries not at all and e.g Sri Lanka I also always tried to cover as much as possible). in some countries: sit next to a women, sit next to the aisle (not the window) leaves you possibility to escape (some unpleasant stuff happend in Sri Lanka ;)) do not use drugs or alcohol – if you are alone!!! I mean if you are in a hostel, or with a big crwod, if you know the city…all fine but don’t go to a bar and get invited on drinks. get familiar with your destination before: I arrive in a city and ask locals but i also studie a little bit how the city works…is there a centre? where is a bus terminal? harbour? police stations? are there recommendations on the www where one should not go. and the last thing…I think you never really have to be alone and I think this is the big big big advantage of a female solo traveller….in a hostel you are usualy not the only guest – you will find one other female, a guy whatever…or you go to a free walking tour …some girls I met use tinder – I have no experience n that but from what I get I would not use that – you usually meet with a gu alone and the app is designed in a way that a sexual interest can be assumed – this is fine in yor natural environment, but would not use it while travelling cause I think it can bring you in unpleasant situations.
27- N. from the Netherlands
I most of the time travel alone because i go on holiday quite often and my friends are not always available to go on holiday in the same time. I like to travel alone because i meet more people. Thank God I am not scared and trust my gut feeling to protect me in my travels. I have bad experiences: 1. I woke up in the middle of the night when a guy had entered the room through the badroom window. He grapped my wrists and at the point i thought he would really hurt me, he left. I would recommend other women to stay at safe places with other tourists around.
28- B. from Germany
I can recommend to travel alone as a woman. I found it a great adventure and i was growing a lot. I learnt to trust myself, making decisions that are good for me. To plan, and organize. To go outside of my confort zone. To learn a new language and culture. I didn`t have any bad experience so far but i traveled with a few girls that had really bad experiences. Like getting robed, everything was stolen. so it scared me to that this can happened every time … But i was so far a really lucky girl. Im really thankful for that. I can only recommend to trust your gut if you feel something is not right turn around an go an other way. I spent a lot of time with local families so they told me about the culture and how to behave in some moments. They also protected me. And have been solo lovely. I also traveled really slow to get more from the culture and the people to learn and grow. And i had great experiences to make new fiends. Travel together with otter girls and support each other. We all have different talents and together we are much better. And i would recommend not to overplan just go with the flow and let live surprise you where you will go
29- A. from the USA
One thing I like about traveling alone is the freedom to adjust how much time you take for various activities. This could be on a micro scale & include pausing for as long as you like to rest and admire the vista on a hike, for example. It also relates to a macro scale, in terms of how long to stay in a town or region. I also really like how often you will meet interesting people and make new friends from all over the world, both locals and other travelers. This depends on where you are and people’s attitudes of course. There is no guarantee it will happen, so you are always on your own to begin with, and it might or might not work out to make friends. At times, however, solitude is what you want anyway, and it is generally good to be flexible and comfortable with your own company. Overall, I would recommend that other women who are interested in trying a solo trip-go for it. Do it carefully, but do it. Select a reasonable location, get some good advice, take precautions, but do it.
At times, I have been asked about my romantic status (ie, single, with a partner/ boyfriend, married) and I don’t like that–in my opinion it’s nothing public that a new acquaintance has any right or need to know. It’s hard to know how to handle it, since cultures vary, especially if it’s asked in a nosy, negative, or teasing way. I try to be polite and move on to the next topic as soon as possible. Sometimes strangers may flirt with you even if your boyfriend is right by your side, which is awful and off-putting as well, although at least it’s less dangerous. There is also of course the fear that almost any woman (perhaps a 6 foot tall Amazon who has a black belt in karate and carries a gun would feel differently–that must be nice!) has of male strangers who may pose a danger. If I have to walk around by myself and am not sure of the surroundings yet, I try to find some women or families, even if I don’t know them, and just stay close by them. If it feels natural to say hello & interact, I may do that but even just standing near them, crossing the street when they do, can often make me feel safer in an area I don’t know. Another great strategy for a woman who wants to travel alone but may not know how to start or doesn’t want to be actually flying solo all the time is to find places or activities that could create a “bridge” to connect with others. For example, choose a hostel known for its friendly atmosphere and for hosting/ organizing activities. Try a homestay with a local family. Go on a walking tour and chat with the other people. Take an organized tour to a place you think you’ll like and maybe you’ll make some friends on the tour and you can plan your own, unguided trip together to another place of interest next.
30– K. from Poland
I would recommend travelling alone in Latin America to women in general. Obviously, as anywhere else in the world including Europe or the US, women travelling alone need to be cautious. I think that this is very important not to maintain your safety habits during the entire trip because after a couple of weeks of being on the road you get used to the new, and you start feeling like nothing can happen to you. There’s no need to be paranoid just healthily keeping those habits, like keeping your valuables in lockers etc.
My bad experiences: most of them involve cat-calling and some form of harassment from men. Unfortunately, in my experience it’s almost a daily occurrence that men catcall female travellers (and local women too actually). It might be even more frequent especially in hot climate where I would wear shorts for example, and where local women dress more conservatively (long trousers or skirts even in very hot weather), but it’s also not a rule, as I’ve bean catcalled wearing sweatpants and and an old jumper. I have no recommendation on how to avoid catcalling, because it’s basically up to men to stop catcalling, but in case a female traveller is whistled at etc, I definitely recommend completely ignoring it, not responding or trying to argue with the man, as it might escalate and lead to violence. I’ve also been robbed once (and heard of stories from many many other travellers, both male and female being robbed). Best advice I can give is to put valuables in your pockets, not in your bag, and only carry a small amount of cash on you. Make a copy of your passport and carry that with you. Whereas your cards, original passport and other valuables leave in a locker at a hostel. I also want to point out that, even though I have been harassed and robbed during my travels, I have been helped by local men and women in all the countries I travelled in Latin America, many more times than I’ve had bad experiences. I’ve been given a lift free of charge when I missed the last bus on the border between Honduras and Salvador by a Salvadorian couple. I’ve been given up a seat by a man on a crowded bus on the way to Machu Picchu. I’ve been given bananas on a hike that took longer than I calculated and I ran out of food in Estelí in Nicaragua. I cannot count times people pointed out the way to places I wanted or needed to visit but I couldn’t find.
31- R.M. from the USA
I LOVED solo traveling. I called all the shots, made all the decisions and where there were days of exhaustion both mentally and physically due to that, it was extremely empowering and rewarding.
I realized that I was only alone when I really wanted to be, that making friends along the way was never a challenge. That said, the ability to move when I wanted to with who I wanted to was a type of freedom I’m not sure I could have experienced traveling with someone else.
Honestly, in my 8 years of solo traveling I had very few “bad” or scary experiences. I’ve been lucky, but more than that I’ve trusted my gut on people and learned that there are far more people what want to help you out there than want to hurt you. You have to have your whits about you when traveling but in my experience its been possible to stay safe and have fun for sure.
I recommend, small bags easily moved/carried, and fashionable clothes, you never know where you’ll end up.
*I had ten pairs of shoes in my backpack I had in Huanchaco
But also, I would say being okay with not sticking to a plan is key. Or just don’t plan at all if you can avoid it. It only sets you up for disappointment when it doesn’t pan out, cause stress and distractions.
32– G. from Peru
About travelling solo if you would recommend other women to do the same and why? For sure, to travel alone empowers you. You see the world different with your own eyes. It is totally different than travelling with family or a group of friends because they will always influence somehow what you think and decide during a group trip. By your own it really allows you to be yourself, to spend time alone, to meet new people, to choose what you want o do. 2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; Not really, I have only been stolen in my country hehe 2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone. Read a lot about where are you going before. You don`t have to discover the wheel, so many girls have already done trips and can give you plenty of suggestions. Mines are: Trust your instinct Trust people, no matter what you read or heard in the news.
33- A.M. from Australia
Can you write down shortly what you liked about travelling alone; The best thing about travelling alone is it gives you the freedom to go where you want and do what you want without having to negotiate with anyone else. It also forces you to meet other people, which you are less likely to do if you’re travelling with someone else and especially if you’re in a group. if you would recommend other women to do the same and why? Yes, for the reasons I just mentioned. There are plenty of women travelling on their own. We are not breaking any glass ceilings here. 2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone; Machoism is strong in Latin America and you will notice it if you are from a Western country. The constant cat calling is really annoying but they don’t usually go beyond that. Obviously you have to watch out for your safety and getting ripped off etc., but those aren’t specific to women or travelling alone. 2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone. Do it. You you’ll have an amazing, confidence building experience. Just be aware of your surroundings and trust your intuition to stay safe.
34- C. from the USA
I have probably lost count of how many solo trips I’ve taken at this point, both inside my country and abroad. This doesn’t mean I am 100% fearless or can’t get along with others. Many times solo trips have simply been born of necessity. My desire and curiosity to see new places and other people’s schedules conflicting pushed me first to Mexico many years back. I saved for a year sold most of my belongings in preparation. I only knew there was good surfing and I wanted to learn. Armed with limited Spanish, and timid of my speaking skills I set off in my truck with my dog and drove to the state of Nayarit to live where I knew not one person. I was single again after 8 years and wanting to break out of the confined life I “accidentally” built and chose to destroy. I am so glad I did. Looking back now it’s funny how smooth it went despite my ignorance of getting car permits, visas etc in order. I simply showed up and lived in my tent until I got a lay of the land and it was exhilarating. It is truly amazing how things unfold when you let go of perceived control. When things go wrong at least you have a good story for later no?
I am a staunch believer in challenging myself to overcome fear and get out of my comfort zone. While I have always been fiercely independent and not much of a “joiner” it was my desire to force myself to be more outgoing, lose my shy nature and actually meet local people on my journeys. Travelling alone often affords you many opportunities to break free of your own beliefs and your perceptions of the world around you and immerse yourself in new cultures, of course one can always travel and just stick with other backpackers like yourself but I encourage you not to when possible.
My next major trip alone was to Colombia and Ecuador for 3 months, I went to a tiny tiny pueblo with no foreigners expressly to study filigrana (a dying art in the world of silver smithing). I never felt so isolated and alone in my life. While I was quite busy for my month of studies I was also very much alone and didn’t really get to know anyone besides the family I rented a room from and the other artesanos I studied besides craftsmen and 1 woman who marveled at my slow pace and clumsy skills I presumed. It was very humbling for me. It was also very hard to blend in as a heavily tattooed gringa despite my efforts to dress as conservatively as possible in a very traditional Catholic town, where the nightlife revolved around sitting on the street in rocking chairs. After leaving I continued solo to explore and that was when the world opened up to me. I shed my self-consciousness and began to relax and open up. It is a great feeling to be able to move at your own pace and be completely selfish with your itinerary, resting or forging on.
Of course there are also the negative parts of solo travel but I like to think of them as character building. Some apply specifically to women unfortunately, and at times feel extremely exhausting and frustrating especially in Latin America which obviously has a reputation of being notorious for machismo. There are days where I have been worn down from relentless catcalls, stares, or men trying to touch or take advantage. On those days I take a break and focus inward to recuperate my energy.
It would be a lie to omit that as a woman in the world we are accustomed to always being aware of our surroundings and watching for perceived threats. These feelings can be amplified in new surroundings. I find it’s best to remain aware but not let fear consume me either. I am careful to not be walking around alone at night or under the influence, but these are the same precautions I take anywhere I am really. I have had confrontations with aggressive men but nothing more extraordinary than common sense has kept me safe. I believe generally most people overall are good and want to help, much more so than for instance in the US where we lock everything at all times and often don’t even speak to our neighbors or trust anyone. One of the things I love about Latin America is the shared sense of community support and importance of family. We help each other out without expectations because sadly the government isn’t going to.
As I write this I have been living in Mexico again the last 6 years where I now have made a life, started businesses, and proudly can say I am fluent in Spanish and have a diverse and amazing group of friends from around the world who have and continue to teach and challenge me. I am preparing for my first trip (also solo) to Asia and have that same nervous feeling going somewhere new and having no knowledge of the language and naïve to the customs. I think my biggest fear is myself, which means it’s the next logical direction of continued self-evolution. I encourage women to find their inner strength without relying on others, it can be scary to look in the mirror but an unexamined life hardly seems worth living.
35- A. From Germany
Can you write down shortly what you liked about travelling alone; if you would recommend other women to do the same and why?
Because you are free, you can do whatever you want and stay as long and where ever you want. when travelling alone, you are open to other people, situations and your surrounding in general. you are not beeing influenced by anybody else, you are independent.
2 Bad experiences you had a as a woman traveling alone;
– i wanted to take the bus to quito and therefor i had to be at the busstation quite early to get my ticket. then i had to wait there in the evening alone for a few hours. a man came and talked to me, since i’m a friendly and polite person a answered him..so the conversation got on, and he offered me alcohol that i didn’t drink. he told me that he works in hostels and is giving massages blabla and knows how to work with the energy..so he offered me a massage i said no. then he started to touch me. fortunately i could make him stop. but there were only a few other people at the station and really nobody cared.
– second i don’t have i guess. i got bit by a dog but nevermind. ah yes..i was at a busstation in guayaquil, i had to change the bus to go to the coast. it was at night, luckily i was with a friend because we couldn’t find the waiting area for our bus. nobody could tell us anything and we were tired with our backpacks and didn’t know where to go because nobody at the station could help us and give us information. yes, but as i said luckily i wasn’t alone, if i would have been alone i would have been sooooo desperate and feeling lost.
2 Recommendations you have for other women who want to travel alone.
– get to know the city/village/whatever you are staying in the moment. get informations about the situation. know how to get home save at anytime.
– listen to the people from your hostel. if they tell you don’t go outside after that time – just don’t go outside. don’t act naiv.
– tell your hostel where you go if you go alone so that someone know where you are.
36- R. from the UK
What I liked and why I would recommend: I like to travel solo because of the freedom it offers, nice just to be able to do your own thing, no plans, just following your heart, being at one with nature.
I would totally recommend going solo. I personally love slow travel, I feel it’s about the experiences you have in life and not about how many places you’ve been. It’s lovely just to live, live like a human being, not a robot.
The worst experience I had was actually with another English woman in Peru, bit of a long story, but she turned out to be a con artist, she was really quite scary and threatening.
Some Colombian men can be extremely childish; it’s essential to have a really good sense of humour. I would be cycling along and they would come up alongside me making sexual gestures and shouting at me. It could get a bit intimidating at times, especially if you’re tired and it’s an empty stretch, but most of the time I’d try not to laugh at just how sad they were. I found it best to just totally ignore them, don’t even look at them otherwise you’ll laugh and encourage them. Also while staying at a Casa de Ciclistas in Colombia, I thought everything was cool, although the owner kept trying to get me drunk, but didn’t think much of it at the time, thought ok, just another Latino and just laughed it all off, anyway I sold him some of my bike stuff for practically next to nothing, he took my things, but when I wanted to leave and asked him for my money he got nasty with me and told me to leave in the middle of the night – not so cool. And a few other incidents with Colombian men – like creeping around my tent at night.
But after saying all this, I’ve also met some lovely Latino’s who have been very kind and caring towards me, and I would say the majority of people in Latin America, male and female have been very protective of me, they admired me for my strength and loved the fact that I was cycling solo in Latin America. I wouldn’t change a thing about my time there, the good and the bad, just learning all the time.
I think there’s good and bad all over the world and Latin America is no exception. There will be people out there who will bend over backwards to help you and people who will do everything they can to break you. Having a positive outlook and listening to your instincts is the best advice I have for anything you do in this life. If you feel something isn’t right, don’t doubt yourself, move on, when you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up either, be gentle and trust yourself.
Enjoy and live your life.