10 Experiences of Solo Female Travelers

Looking for cats at the Taoist Jade Emperor Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. By Elle Winfield.
  1. Weird dudes will hit on you mercilessly. Often, they will be over any appropriate age, and sometimes they will follow you. Other times, you'll hear a down-to-earth intro, superseded by creepy compliments and requests minutes later. My preferred response in Asia is to speak Spanish. Faster and faster, until said weird dude leaves.
  2. An older woman will take you under her wing. It will likely be unclear why she wants you under her wing, but she will feel passionate about it. Maybe she is a female traveler too.
  3. You'll make a friend while on the move. I made friends on two ferries, one bus, and zero subways. Subways seldom promote friendliness. They are either clean and reserved, or stained by a neighbor's sweat. On a ferry to Lamma Island, Hong Kong, however, I sat beside a fellow traveler with messy brown hair, leaning back in a plastic seat. Later, we went to the beach. He bought the first round. It was a great experience, and I hope you have one like it.
  4. You'll miss home on week five. I don't know why, but it's nearly universal. Ask around a hostel, and everyone was homesick on week five. It may be as regular a phenomenon as spotting UFOs.
  5. You'll stop being so afraid of doing things alone. On a solo trip, you'll have to eat alone, see concerts alone, visit museums alone. And when you're done, none of that will appear as daunting as when you started.
  6. You'll do stupid things with foreign friends because you'll never see them again. Maybe you'll trespass, maybe you'll get wasted, maybe you'll make out with hostel employees. (If you do drugs though, you will check local laws first. In Japan, a joint can jail you for 5 years.)
  7. You'll find Ladies' Nights everywhere. I mean everywhere, and my favorite one is in Singapore at Attica. There, you'll receive entrance, six drinks and a makeover for free. I don't know how I feel about that makeover as a feminist. I don't know how I feel about Ladies' Nights as a feminist. I do know that Ladies' Nights are fun, and few things are simple.
  8. You'll learn how to handle with creepy dudes (Isn't it sad that is something we have to learn?). Sometimes you have to ignore them. Sometimes you have to embarrass them. All of the time, you have to forget them.
  9. You'll know when you're done traveling. It's when you think the Taj Mahal looks like a subpar chunk of white marble.
  10. You'll feel empowered. For the months leading up to solo traveling, everyone—and not just your mom, because it is reasonable for her—will try to dissuade you from solo travel. Solo traveling is just not something that women do—says your female friend. The only way to make it something that women do is to start doing it.