Solo Travel Stories From Women On The Road

Some years ago (this website is more than a dozen years old) I opened it up to personal stories from traveling women around the world.

Then I switched platforms and had to archive most of them. But I’ve kept them all and am putting them together for you here.

Some are funny, some are inspiring, and for once I kept my blue pencil to myself and didn’t do any editing. What you have below are stories in women’s own voices about their own experiences with solo travel. If you have comments, please add them via Facebook at the end of the page!

Traveling Solo: Why Women Should Travel Alone More Often

by Joan “Jones” Kissler (New Jersey)

Traveling the world is probably the one thing that’s on every person’s bucket list. But for some people, traveling isn’t just about going on vacation, taking a business trip, or spending loads of money on an international shopping spree.

For people with genuine wanderlust, it’s simply a way of life. These people travel based on their desire not only to unwind and relax but also to explore new and fascinating places, to meet new people, to experience different cultures, and most of all, to learn more about themselves.

The draw of unbridled adventure and self-discovery is particularly strong for the younger generation, which is why more and more millennials are opting to travel alone. 

But for some women, it is still a scary and foreign concept. There are still some legitimate fears and concerns related to traveling alone, particularly when you are a woman. We’ve all seen “Taken,” right? 

But then again, when you’re a woman, the danger is never too far away. We all have to worry about our safety wherever we go, whether it’s at home, at work, at a party, or in a foreign country. So why should we let those fears stop us from seizing an opportunity for adventure?

Women are becoming increasingly empowered to step out of their comfort zones every day. What better way to step out of your comfort zone than to set off into the world on your own?

Why Travel Solo?

There are quite a few benefits to traveling alone. It’s an empowering feeling that all women should experience at least once in their lives. In some ways, it can actually be a more desirable (and more practical) alternative to traveling with friends. You get to choose where you want to go. You can choose to eat where you want to eat. You get to enjoy the sights and experience the culture at your own pace.

Essentially, you can do whatever you want and no one can say or do anything about it. But there’s more…

You will learn more about yourself.
When you travel alone, you become forced to let go of your fears, insecurities, and weaknesses. Traveling with a group of friends or family members is like having a security blanket—and when you shed that sense of security, it can bring out a version of you that you never knew existed. It will force you to be independent, resourceful, and fearless. 

You will become more confident.
Every time you overcome a challenge or face your fears, you will naturally feel more confident about yourself. Lacking confidence usually stems from a multitude of insecurities. It stems from not believing in yourself enough. If you didn’t already know that you were a strong, capable, and confident woman before going off on your solo adventure, you will certainly know it once you find yourself surviving and thriving despite having no one around to help you.

You will learn to enjoy being alone.
It’s rare for a person, even someone who falls more on the introvert side of the spectrum, to relish being alone for extended periods. To some people, being alone is such a terrifying concept that they wouldn’t even allow themselves to be caught eating lunch alone at a restaurant. This fear of being alone stems from being judged by others for not having any friends, or from the assumption that you simply can’t be happy when you’re by yourself. 

Traveling alone is the first step in conquering this fear. And once you’ve placed yourself in a situation where you have absolutely no choice but to be alone, you will realize that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely—and you will inevitably learn to enjoy your own company.

You will meet friends from all over the world.
When you’re alone, you become more open to talking and socializing with strangers. Oftentimes, you may even end up meeting other solo travelers. You can even make friends with locals!

Meeting people from different parts of the world is a truly enriching experience, and if you happen to meet fellow travelers who share your passion for adventure, it can very well lead to lifelong friendships.

Traveling solo means there will be no distractions. 
You won’t have to please anyone. You won’t have to be considerate of anyone’s time or preferences. Every place you visit, every experience you try, and pretty much everything you do will be decided by you—and you alone.

When you travel alone, you get to decide your own adventure.

Out of My Comfort Zone… (from a first time solo traveler)

by Janette Freeman (Fresno, CA USA)

I’ve been traveling now for 3.5 months as a first-time solo female traveler. Up until now, I’d lived in the same place for thirty years, was married, raised three kids, and my career as a minister. To run off and do something as extreme as selling my house, my car, most of my stuff, and quitting my job to travel internationally was no easy decision. 

Of course, most people thought I needed to have my hormones checked. I was either going to follow my heart and take care of my soul or lose it by satisfying the endless needs of others. 

I chose myself. 

I’ve learned that I actually really like my own company, and have allowed my travels to be what they are, to take the color of ‘me’ whatever that turned out to be. This is my journey and provides the opportunity to discover another layer of my own authentic expression. 

I’ve always loved traveling, which normally consisted of going to some tourist destination, taking a taxi to the hotel/resort, and asking the concierge for suggestions on outings and enjoying nice restaurants, pools, and cocktails, or going on a cruise. It was always with my husband or family or friends. This would prove to be a very different kind of traveling.

I’ve noticed my comfort level being stretched and every time I realized that I get braver. I’ve discovered I’m always frightened when I move to a new place and have also noticed that within a couple of days of figuring things out, i.e., transportation, lay of the land, etc., I feel confident and successful. So far I’ve been to the Dominican Republic, then off to Guatemala and now I’m in Thailand. 

I knew it was now time to start to take more risks and venture out beyond my comfort zone even more. I needed to do a Visa Run to Penang, Malaysia. I booked my flight and another female solo traveler that I met wanted to go with me. 

I had booked a guest house (another first) which had a visa service, and after landing we decided on the bus rather than a taxi in order to see more. After finally figuring out which bus to take, we got on and enjoyed the local experience. We got off not knowing where we were or where we were going, but of course, managed to figure it out. We ventured out in the very “local, colorful neighborhood” after dark, filled with budget hotels, hostels, and guest houses, and street food vendors until we found our place and checked into the very simple room. 

By now, we are feeling very confident, like a couple of young backpackers, not afraid of anything. We found the “Little India” section of town and had the most amazing Indian food at what appeared at first glance, the sleaziest, dirtiest of places. Was I wrong – it was awesome! 

The next day, we took buses, traveled to temples, did sightseeing, ate in street markets, and had the time of our lives. We walked comfortably through the crazy neighborhoods after dark, eating street food and enjoying ourselves immensely. We kept commenting to each other how much braver we felt with two of us, as it helped us move through the comfort zone a little more smoothly. 

I really learned something from that experience and that was that I could travel differently, I could have a great time staying in guesthouses/hostels and the little villages that I would find in would be filled with travelers like me. It was a turning point, I believe and an important one, as I begin the next leg of my journey, traveling up by trains from Bangkok to Chang Mai, and Northern Thailand.

Traveling for the first time as a female solo traveler is a growth experience on many levels, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this “adventure of a lifetime.” I’m so glad I said “Yes” to the calling of my heart. 

First time solo travel – Backpacking through Eastern Europe

by Juanita (New Zealand)

After years of admiring tales of women traveling solo to interesting places, I finally took the plunge and embarked on a 6-week adventure from Prague to Istanbul via Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. 

I planned the trip meticulously, mostly because I love the planning, but also to ensure I’d make it home safely to my daughter, and so that I would have less stress and more time to explore each destination. I prepared for the worst but expected the best. 

I had the time of my life, traveling to out-of-the-way places only by public transport, and staying in a mix of hostels and hotels (from 2 to 4 star). I laugh now remembering some of the crazy moments, but they will stay with me forever. I never spoke any of the local languages but met lots of people along the way, both locals and fellow travelers.

Everyone who met me commented on how brave I was traveling through the region alone, but to me, it seemed natural, and I never felt unsafe at any stage. It was an adventure in every sense of the word. 

My itinerary took me Prague > Cesky Krumlov > Vienna > Budapest > Maramures > Bucovina > Cluj Napoca > Sighisoara > Sibiu > Brasov > Bucharest > Veliko Tarnovo > Sofia > Melnik > Bansko > Plovdiv > Nessebur > Istanbul.

Highlights were some of the hostels I stayed at, a river rafting pub crawl, the painted monasteries, the open-top sightseeing buses, Dracula’s Castle, Peles Castle, a tour organized by a hostel in Bulgaria, various hikes, the Rila 7 lakes, the Black Sea Coast, and Aya Sofia (to name a fraction of them).

Even before this trip, I knew that I was capable of anything, independent, and enjoy my own company, but what I underestimated was the kindness of perfect strangers. That’s the last memory I will have. 

Perhaps my greatest achievement was keeping my blog, which people seemed to love as much as I did. It enabled me to reflect at the end of each day, visitors could post comments, and to this day I can (and do) often re-read the story of my adventure, which takes me straight back there and inspires me to plan my next one. 

Advice for Women on the Art of Travelling Alone

by Mikaya Heart (I travel constantly.)

When I was much younger I realized that waiting for other people was wasting a lot of time. And so, being an adventurous person, I have chosen to do many things on my own. In recent years, that means traveling alone—and I must say that the few occasions when I have traveled with someone else have left me feeling that traveling alone is a wonderful pastime. It’s not just that I do exactly what I want when I want and perhaps change my mind ten times a day. It’s also that I actually make better decisions when I’m on my own. I set my own timing and don’t have to think or worry about anyone but myself. 

It’s much easier to connect with other travelers and locals. My judgment isn’t clouded by the presence of another person requiring explanations from me. A woman alone constantly has to make snap decisions about who to trust, who to avoid, what to believe, where to turn. When I am alone, I make those decisions much more immediately and without wavering. They can’t be explained because they arise from that wonderful female trait we call intuition. They have very little to do with thinking something through logically; although that is also at times a very useful ability, it’s more fallible than intuition.

I believe this is a very safe world, and that belief is based on my history. On my own, I have walked to the edge of volcanoes, camped for weeks in the wilderness, wandered in the Egyptian desert, had my car stall in the middle of a (supposedly) crocodile-infested river, been face to face with a mother bear, and cubs, kayaked across Prince William Sound, driven a tiny 2wd drive car on ridiculously muddy back roads in the middle of nowhere in Brazil, been stung by stingrays and by a Portuguese man of war, swum through a flash flood to rescue my kayak, stood on a rattlesnake, got swept out from the shore on a windsurfer and only just managed to get back. I survived all those without any serious problem. My most unpleasant encounters have been with men. I’ve been attacked and held up at gunpoint a number of times—always by men (the jellyfish and the stingrays can claim they were acting in self-defense, which the men cannot). Men are far more likely to be problematic than any other animal on the planet; and since there are more of them in the cities, those are the most dangerous places. 

So what tips do I have for dealing with men? Avoid cities. Dye your hair grey if it’s not already, cultivate wrinkles, wear shapeless pieces of clothing, and on no account use make-up or style your hair. It’s also a very good idea to get some visible tattoos since they give off a tough vibe. Develop a disarming smile, and be very ready to say please, thank you, and I’m sorry, in a tone that is absolutely genuine but carries not the slightest sign of deference. Really, that is just about learning to treat everyone with respect. You will be astounded at how you are treated with respect in turn. And just for those very few occasions when someone unpleasant accosts you, learn to fill yourself up with steel and say “no!” or “go away!” in a very fierce tone, leaning in towards the person as you snarl in his face. It is perhaps this ability that makes everything else work because even when you are not using it, the fact that you know you have that power up your sleeve enables you to walk with confidence in every situation.

One other word of advice: never be in a hurry. Relax. Allow things to unfold in their own time. When things don’t go the way you planned, it is always an opportunity to experience something new, different, and delightful. Enjoy it.

The Universe Provides to the Solo Traveler

by Gray Cargill of SoloFriendly (Vermont, USA)

As a solo traveler, I am used to spending considerable time alone during my travels. That’s fine with me, because I’m an introvert, and I need some alone time every day anyway. But during my travels, I have discovered something about myself: I love meeting new people. It doesn’t matter if I never see them again. I just love to talk to them and get to know them for however long I can. People fascinate me. Thankfully, the universe is pretty good about providing me with new friends and acquaintances just when I need them the most. 

Take, for instance, my recent trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I had no expectation of finding people to spend time with while I was there, but people kept coming in and out of my life anyway. During breakfast on my first day in town, I struck up a conversation with a couple sitting at the diner counter next to me. We commiserated about the restaurant’s lack of Mallorca, which we had all wanted for breakfast. It turned out we were staying at the same hotel. I later ran into them near Raices Fountain, as they were taking a segway tour and I was photographing Old San Juan. Later still, we were all at the Manager’s wine and cheese reception at the hotel. I invited them to join me at my table and we had a nice leisurely chat as the sun began to sink in the sky over Old San Juan. It was a lovely way to end the day.

Two days later, after a day on my own, I took a tour to El Yunque, the rainforest. While I was waiting for the shuttle bus to arrive, a woman sat on the bench next to me. She, too, was going on the tour. We introduced ourselves, and it turned out her brother lives in Stowe, Vermont (about half an hour from my home). She was in town alone, too, not for vacation but for a cancer research conference that was to start the next day. We got on famously and hung out together on the tour.

The next day, I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself. While rare for me, this does happen occasionally. I thought about my plans for the day, and they didn’t sound much fun when I thought of doing them alone. I lay in bed, feeling like a fraud. Here I am, a solo travel blogger and all I could think was “I don’t want to do anything alone today.” 

But I only had one more full day in San Juan, and I didn’t want to waste it, so I forced myself out of bed and proceeded with my itinerary anyway. I got directions from the hotel concierge on where to catch the bus into Old San Juan, where I planned to take the ferry to Catano and go on the Bacardi Rum Factory tour. By the time I sat on the ferry, camera in hand, and watched Old San Juan recede as Catano neared, I was in a much better mood. The breeze coming off the water felt good, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was feeling more like an explorer again. 

In Catano, I found a man who pointed out the taxi shuttle to the rum factory, paid him the $3, and got aboard. There was already a couple in the van, so I scooted into the seat behind them. The husband immediately struck up a conversation with me, and I learned they were from India. They were amused by my name. The husband was a bit of a jokester, and the wife brought him back down to earth. They had a fantastic verbal rapport. We found ourselves sharing a few laughs on the way to the factory. I am not the clingy type, so I was prepared to part company with them once we arrived at the factory, but they were having none of that. They took me under their wing and expected me to join them on the tour. I was incredibly touched by this. After the tour, we stopped at the hospitality tent for our free rum drinks (which come with the free admission to the factory tour) and had a stranger take our photo as a group. The three of us wound up spending the rest of the afternoon together and shared a late lunch back in Old San Juan, overlooking a cruise ship docked at the pier. 

On my way back to my hotel after lunch, I met a young woman who was part of the cancer conference at my hotel. Once we learned we were going the same way, we struck up a conversation. When we got off at the stop for our hotel and realized there was no crosswalk, we had to wait for a break and dash across three lanes of rush-hour traffic, laughing the whole way. It’s a brief adventure, but one that will be more memorable for me because I shared it with her. And I don’t even know her last name.

So yes, the universe provides. But you have to put yourself in a position to have things happen. Had I given in to my feelings of loneliness and lack of motivation, I might have spent that last day at my hotel doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. I would have missed out on one of the best days of my trip. Had I not taken the opportunities for casual conversation that presented themselves, I might not have met so many interesting people or spent so much enjoyable social time. The only ones I exchanged contact information with were the couple from the Bacardi tour, who invited me to come to visit them sometime in India. But whether or not I ever see the others again is beside the point. By coming into my life when they did, they made my trip more vivid by their presence. I will always be grateful for that.

Gray Cargill writes the wonderful blog Solo Friendly, which focuses on solo travel.

Motorcycle Mama Goes Solo

by Charlotte Hansen (Longview, Tx. USA)

At the age of 54 I took a solo motorcycle trip from east Texas to New Mexico. I had been riding for a couple of years and was going to go to the big rally in Sturgis, South Dakota with a group. However, I wanted to go it alone for a week. So, I launched out with a trailer full of camping gear.

My big, red ride was parked in front of the house, trailer beside it. This would be a two-week trip, one week solo to Taos, New Mexico. Then I would meet friends for the ride on to the big rally in Sturgis. The motorcycle sat like a big cat ready to pounce on the road; now for the challenge of packing all the camping gear and hooking up the trailer. 

I’d begun to ride two years before at the age of 52. Then when friends decided to go to the big rally, I started thinking of riding off into the sunset alone to a place I’d always wanted to revisit, Taos. Most of my family and friends pointed out all the reasons I shouldn’t go off alone on a motorcycle. Thankfully, my two children just grinned and told me to go for it. So, even though I wasn’t a “hot” babe, I was a motorcycle mama, wearing my leathers with attitude, ready to conquer the roads.

Leaving that day felt like launching into a new world. There was no man in a group now to help me pick up the bike if it fell (which it already had) or to give that sense of protection and security. It was kind of like swimming across the pool for the first time, except there was no lifeguard.

August – hot as blazes in Texas. But, on the road, at last, I felt biker-babe cool. That is until I ran out of gas. No problem. I had roadside service. Called and waited. And waited. Seems they couldn’t find me. Then a kind young man stopped, assessed the problem, got the gas, and I was off again. The idea was to camp and not spend much money, but I began looking for a motel with a pool. The water inside and out was what I needed right now, and Amarillo was the place to go for it that first day out. 

Santa Fe was the first major stop, with the idea of spending the night there. Going into New Mexico, I discovered that the speed limit had jumped to 75, and the big rigs were really rolling. There are lots of discoveries for a fairly new motorcycle rider, and riding behind an 18 wheeler is one of them. The wind draft made the bike shake some, and being passed by one was like a sudden wind gust hitting broadside. It makes the heart jump in the throat at first, but then becomes part of being on the road. Up to this point, most of my highway riding had been with a group, with there always being some veteran to give advice and answer questions. Now, it was all mine to figure out.

I always wear a helmet and long sleeves in summer, and I’d already experienced people’s reactions to seeing a partially gray-haired woman take off a motorcycle helmet. Some smiled, some grimaced, some asked questions. It certainly kick-started a lot of conversations. Of course, they also looked around searching for the man with me. 

The second night I again opted for a motel as thunderclouds inched closer. I rolled into Santa Fe the next morning. There was a little swagger in my tired step as I dismounted. Lots to see there, so I would look for a campground later. History – more history – art museums. I strolled and looked, ate, and looked some more. Sometime in the afternoon, I realized that I’d seen all I wanted to see there and mounted up. Finding a good place to camp proved to be somewhat difficult – too much gravel for tent camping. Finally, I asked if there was something in Chimayo, a little town I’d read about in the brochures. I was told there was a campground there; just follow the signs when I turned off in that direction.

Now, a dilemma – go on down the main highway, knowing it was a good road, or take the unknown. I decided to at least checkout Chimayo. As I drove in, I felt like I was in a Mexican village – small adobe houses everywhere. Definitely off the beaten path. O.K., I could at least spend the night. I pulled into the store and asked if there was a place to camp. “Yep,” the clerk said, “just pick any place out back.” I left, scoping it out. A couple of trailers looked like they had put down roots. O.K., so much for a tourist spot. Then I spotted a big tree, the perfect place. Trailer unloaded – tent up – bed made. So far, so good.

Well, this seemed to be alright. Now for dinner. There had to be some great Mexican food somewhere. So, I walked down to the general store and was given directions. Hoping I’d remember them and not drive around lost, I left. I arrived at what looked like a run-down old house in the middle of nowhere, but there were cars everywhere. On opening the door, I stepped into a delightful restaurant with open patios and waitresses in bright Mexican dresses. Off the beaten path was turning into pure joy as I lit the chips and salsa. 

The next morning, I got out the brochures to read again about a small chapel, built by the Spaniards a couple of hundred years ago, that was open to the public. Getting directions from the store again, I packed and set off. The small chapel was adobe and smelled of earth and candles as I entered. A few people were talking softly, walking toward a side room. I followed. Inside were more candles and pieces of paper tacked to the walls. I began to read them and discovered they were by people who had experienced miracles in this chapel. This was what kept people coming to visit. I went back to the main room and sat on a wooden bench. Time to leave, but which way to go? 

I could go back to the main highway and be assured of good traveling or take the road into the mountains. Both ended in Taos. The mountain roads were paved but less traveled. I sat and thought – and thought. Well, as Frost said, the road less traveled is much more interesting. I headed into the mountains. The serenity of an uncluttered highway told me my choice was right. The fried bread at the Indian reservation café clinched it.

Riding the tops of the mountain passes felt like being on top of the world. But then, I’d already done some of that solo.

Fiftyish and gray-haired, I was having but the first of many motorcycling adventures, but then I’ve always loved the road less traveled.

Ten Rules to Safe, Solo Travel

by Lisa McCallum (St. Paul, MN, USA)

Heading out for an RTW trip? That’s round-the-world, of course! For smart, sassy women traveling for more than the usual two weeks per year, here are ten credos to help keep you safe and sane out there.

1. Only bring what you can carry. That means spreading everything you want to take out on your bed a few days before you go and putting half of it back. You can buy things you need in other countries. That’s what those outdoor markets are for! Wouldn’t you rather have some photos of yourself in cool new t-shirts and unique skirts than in that outfit you’ve been wearing for the past three years at home? And as you’re packing, roll your clothes instead of piling them up. Rolling saves space and helps prevent wrinkles.

2. Although you’ll be gone for several months (or years), only pack travel-sized toiletries. Dragging around a regular-sized shampoo bottle and a gallon of suntan lotion is not going to be fun. You can refill your small bottles as your trip goes on and you run out of the soaps and creams you brought from home. A big plus of traveling is shopping in a new environment. You have to buy toiletries at some point, so explore what the local culture has to offer. You just might discover the perfect remedy for your skin that nothing at home could cure.

3. If you want to be the brunt of hostel jokes, drag out your hairdryer, makeup bag, stilettos, and miniskirt while moaning about how horrific your latest plane ride/train ride/bus ride/taxi ride was. Traveling solo on a budget doesn’t mean you have to look like crap all the time. In fact, more pictures will be taken of you on your trip than on a yearly basis at home. Keep your look, but tone it down. Leave the appliances at home and get an easy haircut. Use minimal makeup. Outdoor apparel for women gets better looking by the season, so invest in some Ripstop pants, fleece, hiking shoes, and sandals. You might have to trade the club-hopping for nights in the hostel kitchen, but swapping travel tips and stories with your hostel mates will be more memorable anyway.

4. Make sure your online bank accounts are glitch-free before you leave the country. Transfer a chunk of money ($1,000 or more, depending on your budget and location) about once a month from your savings to your checking account. When you use ATMs around the world, the cash will most likely come from your checking account without giving you a choice of checking or savings. Also, check the fee for international ATM withdrawals so you know what to expect, and don’t be surprised if the local bank charges you a fee as well. Each time you withdraw, take out the maximum amount allowed by your bank and keep it safe in your money belt. Keep a pocket calculator handy to convert the dollar amount you’re withdrawing to local currency. Better yet, figure out how much you’re going to withdraw before heading to the bank so you’re not fumbling at the ATM (a bad idea in any country!).

5. Even though it feels bulky, wear your money belt under your shirt like a second skin. It’s your baby. It’s your life. If someone wants your cash, passport, and/or credit cards, that’s where those things are. Bring it with you in the hostel shower and hang it on the hook. Keep it locked in the hostel locker or hotel safe. If nothing lockable is available, keep it under your pillow while you sleep. The last thing you need to ruin your travels is an unexpected wait in a town you’ve already explored, biding time until your new passport and credit cards appear.

6. Pay attention to dates in guidebooks and on websites for ‘when to go/when not to go to your destinations. It may seem exciting and adventurous to travel on a whim without any planning, but you might get stuck wandering around a city in the midst of a city-wide festival, practically begging for an available room when there are truly none to be had. The Gods of Travel didn’t conspire against you; you just should have arrived before or after the big event. Head to a nearby town to find a room and hope all isn’t fully there too. In some parts of the world, like Europe, booking a hostel bed a few days in advance is a necessity. In other parts, like much of Asia, it’s completely unnecessary. Your guidebook and fellow travelers will help you out if you’re not sure how much to plan and how much to leave to chance.

7. Pack a page or two of quotes or poems that you know will inspire you when you need them. Keep them in your journal and read them at those times when you are wondering why you are where you are. When you are lonely or annoyed with everything that is foreign around you, go back to your room and take a breath. Read over your inspiring quotes. Write in your journal, not on your blog! Vent all your frustrations about how hard it can be to travel all alone in a foreign place when you don’t know what to expect from moment to moment. Then put your journal away and let it soak up your negative feelings. Treat yourself to a cup of tea or a dessert at a women-friendly restaurant. Even in areas of the world where the cafes are dominated by men, you can usually find a restaurant with couples and families where you’ll feel comfortable sitting and people watch.

8. Don’t beat yourself up if you forgo recording every detail of your trip in your journal or on your blog for a few days. It’s okay to just hang out with new friends or read a book and recharge. Writing down the places you visited each day in a day planner or pocket calendar is an easy way to keep caught up with what you’ve been doing. Refer to the planner when you have time to update your journal. Fill in all the juicy details before too much time has passed and you’ve forgotten the name of the bar where you spent New Year’s Eve in Vietnam or that incredible museum in Madrid you want to return to someday, not to mention the names of all the fascinating people, both locals, and travelers, that you met along the way.

9. Even though it isn’t fair, women have to watch themselves more than men do when they are traveling solo. Explore the nightlife of a new city if you have companions, but don’t head out to the bars or wander around the streets of a foreign city after dark alone. It may sound grandmotherly, but the most important part of seeing the world is to be able to come home unscathed, with yourself and your belongings intact. When I was traveling in countries near the equator, the sun rose at 6 and set at 6. That gave me twelve hours of daylight to explore, more if I was with friends. If I was alone, I made sure to be back at my hostel or hotel by sunset. Remember, you are a stranger in a foreign country. Accept that you will not have the same freedom as men when you travel and try not to resent the local cultures for this fact, as difficult as that may be at times.

10. Give yourself a break if you don’t fall in love with every place you visit. Concentrate on getting an impression, a feeling, and a taste, while maintaining a positive attitude towards the people and the culture. You are a visitor, after all. You don’t have to move there, and you also don’t have to disparage the place in front of people who do love it. Ask yourself if you would rather be home instead. If you are truly having a horrible time and can’t wait for your trip to end, I suggest you end it before you sour other people’s trips. But if you are simply stuck for a few days in a spot that is less spectacular than you had expected it to be, then wait it out. Change your situation. Get a few people together to play cards or board games, or tell yourself you are on a culinary tour and taste every local specialty you can find. Read your guidebook and plan the next leg of your trip. Don’t wallow. You may never return to this place, so try to enjoy it while you find yourself there!

— Originally published on 10 December 2017

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