Traveling by yourself as a woman isn’t always easy. Pictures on Instagram make it look perfect and fun, but real life isn’t always like that. There can be challenges that social media doesn’t show.
Society teaches us from an early age that it’s not safe for females to venture out on their own. Yet, I’ve found that traveling solo is one of the most rewarding and empowering things I’ve ever done.
Over the past few years, I’ve visited over 40 countries—all on my own. While those adventures were not without challenges, the lessons I learned were life-changing. Through navigating unfamiliar places alone, I gained confidence in myself, learned to trust my instincts, and discovered the joy of being fully present in each moment.
Trusting My Instincts
Traveling solo taught me to trust my instincts in a way I never had before. When you’re on your own in unfamiliar places, your gut is all you have to rely on.
The first time I went out after dark in Tbilisi, my senses were on high alert. I watched who was walking behind and towards me, stayed in well-lit areas, and kept a firm grip on my bag. After a few days exploring the city, I learned the spots where I felt comfortable and which areas gave me an uneasy vibe. My confidence grew with each day of navigating the bustling streets, and my instincts sharpened.
Traveling solo also taught me not to ignore warning signs when meeting new people. If someone gave me a bad feeling upon first interacting, I learned to keep interactions brief and move on.
Have you ever been around people and just kept yawning? Like you were tired or exhausted, or something inside was telling you that these people weren’t good for you and you needed to leave? That feeling of just wanting to get away – that’s what I’m talking about.
As a solo female, staying vigilant and listening to my gut instinct was key. My intuition was all I had to rely on, and traveling alone made me value and trust it like never before.
As a solo female traveler, I had to rely completely on myself. Everything from navigating foreign transit systems to budgeting funds fell on my shoulders alone. At first, this responsibility was terrifying. But with each challenge I overcame, my confidence grew.
I learned that I’m capable of handling difficult situations. When I missed a train in Hungary or a flight in Ukraine and had to figure out an alternative route, I stayed calm and solved the problem. After that, I felt ready to take on any travel mishap.
Travel has a way of teaching life lessons you can’t learn anywhere else. For me, discovering how strong, self-reliant, and courageous I could be was the greatest gift of my solo adventures.
Noticing Small Things
When you travel solo, regardless of your gender, it allows you to slow down and notice the little details. When you’re with others, you tend to move at the pace of the group and overlook some of the subtle intricacies around you. But on my own, I could linger as long as I wanted and really soak in my surroundings.
One of my favorite things was people-watching at cafes. I’d sit for hours, observing the locals go about their daily lives. The old man in Italy who came in every morning and greeted everyone by name, the young couple nervously on their first date in Prague, the busy mother in Spain juggling coffee and her two kids. These little vignettes gave me a glimpse into the culture and rhythms of each place.
I also paid closer attention to architecture and design. The colorful doors in Tallinn, the vintage signs in Bucharest, the intricate stonework in Budapest—all of these details enriched my experience. Traveling solo, you have the freedom to wander without a fixed agenda, stumbling upon hidden gems around each corner.
The sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and textures in each city were heightened without the distraction of companions. My senses were on overdrive, imprinting vivid memories that have stayed with me. The fragrance of spices in the markets of Istanbul, the taste of fresh baguettes in Nice, the smell of fresh nature in Madeira—all of these sensory experiences were intensified when exploring on my own.
Traveling solo taught me the joy of immersing myself fully in each destination. I learned that slowing down and noticing the particulars, especially the little, seemingly insignificant details, gave me a deeper understanding of each place I visited. These small things I might have otherwise overlooked turned out to be the most meaningful parts of my journey.
Being Alone Does Not Mean Lonely
One of the biggest lessons I learned was that being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. At first, the thought of dining, exploring, or even just sitting by myself made me anxious. I wondered if I would feel out of place without a companion and if the experience would be less enjoyable.
As I embarked on my journey, I quickly found that traveling solo has its perks. I could do whatever I wanted without having to accommodate someone else’s preferences or schedule. If I felt like sleeping in, staying out late, or changing plans on a whim, I could. I didn’t have to wait for anyone or ask for input before making a decision. The flexibility and freedom were incredibly liberating.
More importantly, I learned to feel comfortable in my own company. I struck up conversations with people I met in restaurants, museums, and public places. I journaled about my experiences and observations. I FaceTimed with friends and family to share where I was. At times, I was content just sitting, people-watching, and soaking in the atmosphere. The more I did things by myself, the more my confidence grew.
Traveling independently taught me that you can experience life fully while still maintaining connections with others from afar. While companionship is wonderful, your happiness and fulfillment do not have to depend on the presence of friends or loved ones by your side. I gained a deeper appreciation for myself and my own abilities to navigate the world. The solo journey made me fall in love with myself.
The World Is Small
After experiencing the highs and lows of solo travel as a woman, I can say with confidence that the rewards far outweigh any challenges. While there were certainly moments of discomfort and uncertainty, the lessons I learned about myself and the world are invaluable.
Pushing past my perceived limitations and embracing the unknown led to life-changing growth and transformation. Though the road ahead remains long, I now walk it as someone brave enough to wander alone.
More details of my travel experiences, recommendations, and thoughts on spirituality can be found on my website https://chi-nese.com/.