30 Solo Travel Tips From JourneyWoman Readers (January 2024)

by | Mar 2, 2024

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Last updated on April 15th, 2024

Featured image: Packing is always an adventure in itself, as JourneyWoman readers know | Photo by Rawpixel on Envato

Solo travel tips from women

Curated from our Facebook Group and Email Tips 

This month’s reader tips are all about safety, packing light and being practical when we travel  — no doubt to avoid hefty checked bag fees.  Culled from inbound emails and our private Solo Travel Wisdom Facebook group, we love to share these first-hand solo travel tips with everyone to help you travel safely and well. If you a solo travel tip share please do so!  (You can do that here!) 

Tip: You can download these tips as a PDF or print them using the icons above!

30 Solo Travel Tips to help you travel safely and well 

1. The middle seat on planes has the most leg room and underseat storage. Before takeoff, discuss with your seatmates who gets the front and who the back of the arm rests.  And if you are cold on planes (or hotel rooms) an inexpensive solar blanket from a dollar store is great. Keeps you warm and weighs almost nothing. – Evelyn L, Ottawa, Canada

2. When travelling avoid large meals, important to partake of just two meals each day and you will stay fit and healthy and not succumb to strokes or heart attacks. I am now 90, travelled much of the world. – Isha W., Wairarapa, New Zealand

3. When you leave a seat, always check as you depart that you haven’t left anything. — Carol D.

4. Use disposable shower caps to cover shoes in the luggage. ­­­— Diana K.

5. I take magic magnets to keep scarves in place, warm socks to sleep in, depending on time of year. Have my eye on a breathable rain jacket that folds into a little bag. Great colours. A pocket charger for the phone.  When separated this is what they look like- think of a magnetic name tag – same principle. The single ring goes underneath – drape scarf how you want it and secure with the other part. They are very magnetic and save using a pin to hold your scarf in a nice drape. — Joy F.

6.  Carabiners and key rings, various sizes, alone or in combination; don’t misplace shawls, scarves, hats, small bags, your travel mug. Attach to your day bag. Old lanyards can also be handy tools for securing items. — Marti S.

woman holding shawl and maggies magnets packing tips

Founded by Margaret Sinclair, these magnetic fasteners are alternatives to safety pins and keep clothes in place. Learn more here. 

7. Four months in Mexico lugging around three suitcases of clothes and stuff… rookie mistake. Pack your bag then take half back out. — Charlyne Mac.

8. Tooth care & other news. Well, here’s something you may not think of (or want to think of), but it can save you pain, money and a lot of hassle. Travel with back-up toothpaste, floss and even a brush. It may depend on how long you are away, but oral care is everything! I always carry a tongue scraper, which is part of a Kriya Yoga practice. I learned this at ashrams over 20 years ago during some of my first teacher training courses. It should be part of your ‘self-care’ kit in taking care of yourself while on the road. — Heather M.

9. I love my US power strip with a European plug. I can plug all my electronics into one strip. — Beth H.

10. I always carry one complete spare outfit in my carry on backpack. You never know when there will be an ‘accident’ like spilled drink or barfing etc. — Annie F.

11. If you wear glasses, always take a second pair with you when you travel. When I first read this in a travel book, I wondered “Now, why would you need to do that?”. My first night away I found out. My first day travelling was a long one. I went to bed with my glasses on as I planned to read. And I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up in the morning, I found my glasses all caught up in the bedding. And they were badly bent. Luckily I had taken my second pair of glasses as a back up.  — Jackie H.

12.  Never pack more than you can carry! — Susanne K.

13. When I travel, I now use the vacuum pack bags. Shrinks everything down and gives more space. I now only take hand luggage or a rucksack   Travel light. I always take wet wipes, 3 pairs of glasses and 2 toothbrushes. I also always take my kindle, it has everything on it, books to read, email, Waze (same as Google maps). Use free internet anywhere I can and it fits in my handbag   I also take a second mobile (switched off) and in a safe place, it has a top up SIM card, £10 for emergencies. I have never needed to use it. I have been travelling for 50 years and stayed safe. It’s also fun solo travelling as you meet so many people. — Deborah P.

14.  I always bring a small insulated lunch type bag to keep food cold (or hot) while travelling. — Tracy T.

13. If you’re a light sleeper like me, you probably use ear plugs to cut out the external noise whether it’s on a plane or in a hotel room. I always seem to get the rooms in Indonesia that have noisy roosters right next door.  These Ohropex are the best I’ve ever tried and I’ve been using them for almost 9 years now. They are moldable wax and packed in fluffy cotton in a small metal case. I order mine from Amazon although a few drug stores or pharmacies carry them. There’s 6 sets per box. You can wear them for a few weeks before you need to change them out. So all you noisy roosters, I got you!!!  – Cathy G.

14. I’ve just started using an app called Airalo. It allows you to buy an eSIM for your existing phone (not all phones support them though) which gives you data in a country without buying a physical SIM card or (worrying about roaming fees). It’s a bit fiddly at first with turning off settings to make it your primary SIM but it does work! — Rachel A.

Airalo eSIM banner

15. On a recent trip through Spain, France, Switzerland, I purchased the “FlexMoves” cross-body bag before departing. I loved it and had several people comment on it. It lays close to the body and can easily fit under a coat, jacket or sweater, making it out of sight. You can always feel it against your body. The second reason I loved it is because it comes in a left-handed version, and I am left-handed. It has three zippered pockets – one big, and two smaller ones, the bottom one just the right size to fit a passport, and a slot for a phone. I walked all over Geneva with it under my jacket, carrying only the umbrella!  When in Barcelona, look for tour guide Ona; you can find her through “Tours By Locals”. — Lynne, Calgary, Canada (Find a Travelon bag here).

16. I like long-distance hiking as well as extended city visits. I pack Cool-Max shirts (short- and long-sleeve) from H&M because they are lightweight, dry quickly, easy to wash, and can be layered. — – Lisa, Vienna, Austria.

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17. My other must-have on any kind of trip is a travel clothesline. I like to travel light with as few items of clothing as possible, so I rinse or wash the items I bring. This one is my favorite because it has hooks at both ends (can be attached almost any place), stretches like a bungee cord, and is twisted so clothes can be pushed through and take up almost no space on the line. – Lisa, Vienna, Austria.

18. I like to always carry lavender oil. It helps you sleep especially after “jet lag.“ I also like to carry an extra phone Albeit a cheap one that has WiFi and is always fully charged and hidden besides my good phone that I carry outside. When I travel to cold weather, I like to use Uniqlo Ultra Heat Tech Thermal shirts as they dry quickly and if I have one in nude color I can use them under my silk blouses which I really like from Intimissimi. I also like to have a Scottish scarf as they are very warm and have a couple of wool berets ! One in red and one in pink! Hope my tips are useful and can’t wait to read everyone’s ! — Claudia S., Spain

19. Break your new shoes in before the trip. And take anti-blister rub. — Joan B.  (Find great walking shoes here)!

20. Here is a tip for ferry travel in Greece. The Flying Cat ferries are catamaran ferries with a low ceiling. When the Mediterranean is rough these ferries bounce around a great deal. My daughter felt nauseous the entire time and many people around us were throwing up. It was an unpleasant experience. This was after taking Bonnie and sucking on ginger drops. If you suffer from motion sickness I would avoid this type of ferry. — Kim C.

21.  I have terrible motion sickness but the Bonine pill works like a champ!! And no drowsy side effects.. For 40 yrs I’ve taken it every time I fly or when I have to take a boat/ship trip. — Sue W.

22. Tip 1: Dress well: Dress more like the locals and grab that long scarf or oversized shirt. No tanks, shorts, mini-skirts or showing too much skin. It may sound backward and oppressive, but you have to respect and understand the deep-rooted cultural differences even in seemingly more “westernized” areas of India. Trust me, they still have ‘funny’ ideas about women and their roles both in the home and within society.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money to elevate your appearance. I have advised other women not to take their Prada bag or Louis Vuitton. It’s not just worth drawing attention to yourself. I feel that by wearing more modest clothes, which still doesn’t have to be boring, you will save yourself from unwanted stares. You can have a fun outfit with bright scarves, baggy pants and blouses. Colour is key in India as you’ll see with all the beautiful blues, pinks and greens of the traditional Sari.

Tip 2: Look occupied: Avoiding eye contact with men especially if you feel or see them staring at you is important. Seek the safety or proximity of other women. I have travelled a lot by train and in some areas there are even “Women quarters”. Have a book, pad of paper or these days you can use your phone and “busy” yourself. In most cases, they get bored and move on.

If they speak with you and you sense it’s not worth engaging, you can either pretend you don’t understand or just keep it very short. There was a time in which even the government had to intervene with signs that read, “No pen.” It had to do with this really silly thing in which many school children used to literally attack any foreigner they saw by demanding a ‘pen’. After the government stepped in, I noticed less of this during subsequent trips to India.

Tip 3: Prayer and meditation:  It goes a long way to practice breathing exercises and the power of prayer before leaving your hotel room (or wherever you are staying). There are many cleansing exercises that are simply done as well to clear your aura and create a protective shield around you.

As a woman on her own, I truly believe in the power of this and the energy you give off as you venture here and there. It’s also a great way to purge unwanted or negative thoughts or feelings of insecurity and fear. And being in the land of spirituality, there will be no shortage of places where you could even learn such techniques and hone your practice. – Heather M., Baden, Germany

Find a women-friendly verified tour in our Women’s Travel Directory here.

23. If you are having your laundry done make sure you count the items and take a photo with your phone, so you can easily check if you get everything back. This is me in Laos now, minus one sock! I gave 14 items in and got 14 back but one was a tiny bikini bottom not belonging to me! One sock has gone…. Rachel A.

24.  Take a photo of your luggage before you hand it over at the check out counter. Airlines are responsible for damage and will compensate. Take photos of all your ID and important papers before travelling and share with a trusted friend or family member, as a back-up. Don’t forget to bring a copy of prescriptions, including for eye glasses/contacts! – Pia L.

25. Give a copy of your itinerary- booking numbers- confirmations to someone that could send them to you either in an email, text or have the numbers available. 2. pack extra plastic sealable bags– bags are always useful for packing or wrapping dirty shoes, clothes or even as a trash bag in places where plastic is no longer given out. 3. always have plenty of American $1– they can be great for tipping in almost any country. — April B.

26. I recently spent three weeks in Puglia and Sicily. However, my checked bag spent three weeks in London. 🙄 Somehow, the claim number for my bag got lost. From now on, I’m taking a picture of my bag AND the baggage tracking number. When I was finally able to communicate with Sean, my New Best Friend at Heathrow Baggage Claim, he said “Nancy, your bag is here with me.” I thought it was sweet. It sounded like they were having tea together. ♥️ — Nancy F.

27. Join a walking tour when you arrive. Some are “free”- pay (or tip) what you want. I also have done a walking tour Rick Steves recommended of Lisbon for which I paid in advance probably around $15. City bike tours are also fun. I did one of Paris. Years ago I’ve also connected with people through Couch Surfing to meet a local for a city walk or coffee. They get to practice their English and I meet a local. In Copenhagen I did stay with a woman for free. I thought she was local because she had a Danish sounding name but she actually was an American living there. I subsequently stayed with her a few more times as we became friends. — Michelle G.

Find a local walking tour here. 

28. I use the Happy Cow app to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants around the world.  —Nancy Thompson

29. Even if we are in positions to say ‘no’ and walk away, age does not reduce the chances of financial and sexual opportunism. It is a challenge if you are a friendly person and used to being able to look a man in the eyes when conversing. In many cultures that projects a specific interest in them. The fact you are traveling alone means you have money, and that you are of a certain age means you are too old to get pregnant, that looks don’t matter and you are ripe for the picking. It has happened to me in several countries and it took a while for me to catch on. I was lucky to finally figure it out and no, or a cold shoulder, was sufficient but I hate that ai have to try and change my behaviour to avoid these interactions. Maybe they just want more tips, but even today, I felt singled out by a kayak guide. Thankfully I was on a tour and could enlist some protection. But it doesn’t take much to be manipulated and taken advantage of. — Maria F.

30.  Pack by checklist. It is so easy to overpack. This will help cut down on the clutter. Also, consider what you need and divide by at least half. –  Ladonna I.

More Travel Tips From JourneyWoman Readers

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