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Solo traveling as a woman: more specifically, as a woman of color.

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

I recently conducted a poll on Instagram: I was not surprised to see that women, specifically women of color, wanted to know the secret to traveling solo. I am here to tell you there is no real “secret” to traveling alone, but I can provide you with some tips on how to get started.

The pursuit of freedom was partly the reason I began traveling solo. As a Black woman living in the United States, I understand what it is like to operate and live in fear. I hope that by sharing my experience, it will change your perception of how women, especially Black women, travel.

What to expect when planning your first solo trip? Well, for one you can expect your family and friends to talk fear into your plans. Prepare yourself to hear all the myths about women traveling alone. The most common one is that the rest of the world is not safe, when in fact many other countries are much safer than the United States. You will be tempted to doubt yourself; but remember you cannot grow in an environment you have already outgrown. The best way to invest in yourself is to travel and meet people whom you sometimes have nothing in common with.

The second concern most first time solo travelers have is safety and security. I can tell you now, as a woman and also a woman of color I have never had any issues with traveling on my own and only once did I experience veiled racism abroad and that was in Spain (that’s a story for another time).

First rule of thumb when traveling solo is to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and act accordingly.

Second, leave all valuables at home. Although, the first few times I traveled alone I was out in public in my crossbody designer bag. It depends on the location, but when in doubt leave your designer items at home, unless you are going on a luxury holiday. Other solo travelers may advise you to wear a fake wedding band for your safety. Personally, I never had to pretend that I was married on any of my solo trips, but if this helps you feel less vulnerable when going out, then by all means go for it.

Finally, always have enough money on hand to catch a cab. Leave your debit card in the hotel safe and take your credit card in the event that you run out of money. Your bank card is to be used for emergencies only. It is less of a hassle to lose your credit card abroad than it is to lose your bank card. Essentially, doing your research about the place and exercising common sense when traveling goes a long way.

Remember no two people will have the same solo travel experience. Each solo traveler’s experience is defined by his or her willingness to take risks and step outside of his or her comfort zone. If you’re going to invest the time and money into traveling, make the most of the experience(s).

Let’s talk about finances. Unlike group trips, traveling alone is quite expensive. Make sure to budget for at least three meals a day, activities, and transportation. You will be surprised how quickly these things add up when you are traveling alone. Make a mental note of how much you would like to spend per day and stick to your budget (if you have one). You can also cut down on cost by searching for cheap flights on Google Flights or Skyscanner. I also sometimes book my flights via Expedia.

I know many of you will read to the end of this post and still think to yourself “I am scared.” Feel the fear and do it anyway. There are plenty of things that scare us such as: going on a date with a stranger from Tinder, moving out of your parents’ house, or taking swimming lessons after years of being crippled by timidity. If there is one thing you take away from this post, let it be a reminder that if you do not face your fears, they become your limits. Forward this post to someone who would benefit from it. Stay tune for part 2 for my top three places to travel alone that are female-friendly.

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