Travelling alone as a woman can be a great adventure. Aside from the usual clichés about self-discovery, venturing out into the world on your own allows you to discover places at your own leisure. Many women may be hesitant to travel solo at first, but once you've tried it, you'll never want anything else.
In recent years, women’s solo travel has become increasingly prevalent. That was to be expected, given the many Instagram feeds we see these days with photos of women who travel and discover the most beautiful corners of the world. Backpacking and road trips are particularly popular among women. For International Women’s Day 2023, here are the stories of seven women who work for Booking.com and who love to travel solo.
Taking on Colombia without a lick of Spanish
Colombia. Image credit: Primarita
Before travelling to Colombia on a scholarship, Primarita admits “I didn't speak a word of Spanish”. After living in the small, charming town of Bucaramanga and travelling all around the country for four months, she came home not just with a new skill, but also a new family, a ton of friends, and the numerous opportunities that come with speaking a third language. Travelling somewhere alone is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture and learn more about the world around you.
A romantic dream trip on the Orient Express, solo
In honour of her late husband, Eric, Debora Davis DeWitt took their long awaited 60th birthday celebration trip. Their trip, from Paris, France to Venice Italy on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, had been planned prior to her husband’s illness and passing and was a trip they’d always dreamed of doing together. As a way to honour him and their relationship, she decided to go on the trip anyway. “Amazing….emotional, but amazing,” she describes, adding “I’m glad I did it.” Everywhere she goes she lights a candle for him, taking him with her.
A one-way ticket to Thailand
Thailand solo-travel. Image credit: Bethany Hewitt
Bethany Hewitt's father used to tell her, “It's a big world out there, make sure you see it.” His life had been filled with adventure and after he passed, Bethany decided to honour his words of wisdom. At the age of 25, she bought herself a backpack and a one-way ticket to Thailand. There, she met a fabulous community of solo female travellers who shared incredible stories over food and drinks. Different cultures, backgrounds and languages converged under the one thing they all had in common: solo travel. The empowering feeling of female camaraderie lingered even after they had parted ways. The experience revealed how – when travelling alone – you encounter people and get to know them in a way that you wouldn’t if travelling in a group or a pair.
Morning chai in Mumbai, evening treats in Tbilisi
Even after visiting 27 countries, Majda Rafii finds that it's the casual interactions that make a trip memorable. After getting used to getting out of her comfort zone, she found herself much more open to new experiences. This helped change her attitude in her daily life at home – with the added bonus of being able to discover beautiful places. Her favourite country to visit is India, where she has been six times. She found the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Taj Mahal fascinating. During her morning chai routine in Mumbai, she always got a friendly smile from the shopkeeper. On the other side of the world, in Tbilisi, she had similarly heartwarming encounters, including with an old lady who treated her to local sweets while they had an entire conversation with only hand gestures.
Special encounters in Patagonia
Patagonia, Chile. Image credit: Chelsea Hobbis
The snow-capped peaks of Patagonia have always been popular among mountain-loving adventure travellers. The amazing grandeur of nature makes you feel small, but serene. Chelsea Hobbis came to appreciate this feeling when she enjoyed the sunrise solo, imagining the vastness of Antarctica on the other side of the horizon.
She was used to walking the mountainous trails of Torres del Paine alone, but on her last night, as she gazed at the sky, a man sat down next to her and asked if she wanted to know more about the stars. He had a reassuring presence, and so Chelsea agreed. He could pinpoint the spiral arms of the Milky Way and explain what was in the sky above them – he turned out to be a professor of astronomy at the University of Chile in Santiago.
A serene underwater world in the Philippines
Travelling solo as a woman often puts you in situations where you have to face your fears in order to overcome them. Alexia Brink managed to overcome her fear of the open sea while island-hopping in the Philippines. During her journey crossing the northern mountains of Luzon to the southern beaches of Mindanao, she obtained her first scuba certification and learned to free-dive. She learned how to stay calm in the deep blue sea she once feared – and took some great photos in the process.
Adventure and mindfulness in Taghazout, Morocco
The rustic fishing village of Taghazout in Agadir, Morocco is a top destination for surfers and yogis alike. It's this combination of adrenaline-packed adventure and spiritual mindfulness that defined Sarah Templeton's journey. During her trip, she faced challenges: first her credit card was declined and then she was forgotten by her yoga surf camp pick-up service. Fortunately, while waiting at the airport, she bumped into others from her camp, after which her holiday could begin. A holiday spent waking up early in the morning when the fishermen go out, taking surfing and yoga lessons every day and enjoying sunsets in the Atlantic Ocean. Her favourite memory is a small moment when a boy served her tea on the beach. She accidentally overpaid him, so he kept pouring her mint tea with absinthe all day long.
There's no single “solo woman travel experience", but rather a diversity of experiences that are possible for women. While safety is paramount for solo female travellers, so often concerns overshadow the adventures and benefits. Travelling alone can allow women to truly experience the world as they travel through it.