Challenges Faced by Solo Women Travellers & How to Deal with them

by - February 29, 2020


A student approached me one day on Instagram and asked what are some problems and challenges faced by solo women travellers. I replied that there's a long list that I won't be able to discuss over Instagram. I asked her to wait and read about it on my blog because, in order to write the challenges (and not just help a student with her project but also be as open and explanative to help fellow females who are planning to venture out on their own), I must sit down and make a note of all the possible obstacles.

So before I begin with the main part of the post, I must tell you that it's not tough, it's not risky, and you must read articles about whether India is safe for solo women travellers and then perhaps get an idea of what it is like travelling solo as a female. 

So here are some challenges –



1. TRAVELLING ALONE AT NIGHTS
We all agree to it that the darkest hours are not the best to walk on the street alone. And it has nothing to do with gender (although most of the times, the women are at higher risk), which is why travelling alone at nights is one of the challenges faced by solo women travellers. The night time is when the streets are lonely and people are back at their houses, asleep. So during nights, a woman usually feels scared to travel all by herself. 

You can still be safe and sound even if you travel alone at nights by following certain guidelines such as dressing modestly (meaning, covering up your body), being cautious about your surrounding, and mentally preparing a survival plan. You can either avoid the dark hours by staying indoors or plan your trip in such a way that you'll be in the transit during the night time and reach the destination early morning. 



2. HOTEL STAYS
When I planned my 40-day solo trip around India, my biggest concern was the hotel stays. When you're pre-booking your hotels, you are not sure whether the hotel is indeed safe and not a creepy lodge. Mostly on travels, you're on a budget, so you can't even spend a lot of money on stays. You wonder about your safety and immediately lock the door as soon as you enter your room because you're worried someone might enter it. 

So the best way to ensure safety on solo travels is by staying in traveller/backpacker hostels. They're the safest stay option for solo women travellers. You can either book a private room in a hostel if you want privacy or go for all-female dorms. If you're okay with men, then go for mixed dorms. 


If you wish for hospitality, then the hostel is not the right place for you. That's when you have to book a hotel room. I suggest staying in family hotels that have a nice website and are popular in that area. Avoid OYO and Fabhotels as most of the times they're shady. Go for a room that fares between Rs 1200 to Rs 1600 in a nice, family-friendly hotel. It might go beyond your budget, but trust me, you'll thank me later!

3. PARTYING
If your idea of a Saturday night is to booze then you might worry the aftermath of boozing as a solo female traveller and also consider it as one of the challenges faced by solo women travellers. You might worry if you drink a lot and get exploited by someone or that someone might mix something in your alcohol.

I personally don't drink so cannot understand the urge behind partying and drinking when you're travelling, but if you can, avoid partying unless you have some company. Staying in hostels will help you make friends; you can go out with them. Or, you can just have mocktails in the club and then go to your room and drink the heavy stuff alone. 





4. CLOTHING 
As a solo female traveller, especially if you're travelling to conservative countries, clothing might be an issue. Whether you can wear sleeveless, whether you can wear shorts and a list of other questions related to clothing. 

Carry a shawl/cover-up when you're out sightseeing so that if you feel the need of covering yourself, you can do immediately. Read up questions online of whether there's any dress code in a particular city/country and pack accordingly. During the day time, wearing shorts is mostly okay, especially if you have planned yourself a luxurious stay and a private cab from the hotel. 

I suggest go for maxi dresses and long skirts as they look chic yet avoid any awkwardness. 

5. GAWKING
Ugh, the stares. One thing anyone doesn't like is the stares. And when you're travelling in an unknown location alone as a female traveller, it can definitely lower your morale at some point. And you start thinking it's one of the challenges faced by solo women travellers.

You cannot control the gapes of men so to avoid getting affected by them, you must first let it go by listening to empowering music, straightening your chest, and giving yourself a pep talk. Next is throwing on a shawl or a cover-up if that makes you feel better. Honestly, there's nothing you can do. And if you stand out in a crowd, people are going to look at you! And if you're vlogging or doing anything bizarre, they're going to look at you. 



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6. HIKING/TREKKING
Every holiday involves some adventure activity like a trail or a hike but you can't go on one because you're alone and a female. The trails can be lonely sans people. And you might fear crazy things happening to you, plus there's no network on the mountains mostly, making things worse. 

The best way to still go on treks alone is by making new friends at the hostel and asking them to accompany you or joining trekking groups. Or if there's no other way, opt for weekends to have many people around you and go for popular treks!

7. VULNERABILITY
I'm not very confident whether all females are sensitive but I sure am. At least life experiences have made me quite vulnerable so a little inconvenience on the trip when alone can lead to a breakdown. On my 40-day solo trip, there was a countless number of incidences when I was sad. 

To beat sadness, you can listen to music, talk to people on the phone, watch something, go out on a stroll or order your favourite food. 


Another vulnerability could be physical. To ensure you're safe, carry a pocket knife or a pepper spray. 

8. TRUSTING PEOPLE
Trusting people such as drivers, especially at nights, can be quite a risk. So it may be one of the challenges faced by solo women travellers. 

To ensure you're safe, send the live location to the people back at home, talk to the driver about his family and personal life, tell him how famous you are (maybe a YouTuber, blogger) or how your uncle is in the police. And lastly, do not let your guard down and be confident throughout. 

That sums up my list about challenges faced by solo women travellers. Do you know any more? Add in the comments below. 

Let me tell you, it's not very risky to venture out alone and people are not very bad. People often scare you a bit, but you're not going to learn swimming unless you jump in the well correct?

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