The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner Solo Female Traveler

February 27, 2014
The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner Solo Female Traveler

Your wanderlust is bigger than life. You find yourself daydreaming about the Inca trail, the Amazon forest, the European monuments and the tropical beaches of Southeast Asia… but you’re scared to make the first step on your own… I totally get it. I was 18 when I left my parents’ house for the first time.

I was seriously scared of conquering the world alone as a female traveler, but I was also excited to explore new culture and new realities, so I had to be creative and find out ways to travel and feel super safe at the same time. That’s why I started my journey as an au-pair.

The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner Solo Female Traveler

Becoming an Au-pair

Au-pair means “equal to.” Usually a young female, (although more males are being requested by families) who moves abroad and lives with a local host family in exchange for a few hours of childcare and babysitting. Au-pairs are always integrated into the family sharing both responsibilities and privileges. You’ll have all of your expenses covered, including a private bedroom, meals and pocket money. Oftentimes, host families offer other perks, like airplane tickets and language courses, or a public transportation pass.

Although these perks should be taken into account, make sure you set your priorities right and choose the family who you can relate to. Remember that you’ll be living with these people 24/7, so a healthy and happy relationship is vital for your experience.

You can choose basically any European destination, as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No cultural exchange program offers such a wonderful opportunity to explore the world, while having all of your expenses covered and a safe home. You’ll be placed in areas near other au-pairs from all over the world and will make friendships that will last a lifetime. I traveled extensively with my au-pair friends both in the UK and USA. Those are memories I will never forget and my friendship with my host family is still strong.

Summer Camps USA

Every year, thousands of American children spend their summer vacations at one of the many summer camps spread all over the USA. Some of these summer camps have cultural exchange programs for young people to come over, become a monitor and experience the American lifestyle for a summer.

Monitors form great friendship bonds with each other and at the end of their stay, they still have a valid visa, which allows them to travel around the USA and explore all of the wonderful things this amazing country has to offer: from the tropical beaches of Florida, to the deserts of Arizona to the forests of Oregon. You’ll receive a pocket money and have a safe stay.

Volunteer Programs

Have you ever heard of Workaway, Helpx or Wwoofing? These are cultural work exchange programs in which you can literally choose between hundreds of projects in different fields in basically every country around the world. You can either work with children, animals, teach English, work at hostels or B&Bs or on sailing boats, etc…

You’ll live with a local host family that will help you understand the culture and language of your chosen country. You’ll have a room and three meals a day in exchange for 25-30 hours of help in any given project. You can literally travel the world doing this, reducing your expenses and having a caring host family that will be there for you. I’ve tried one of these programs in Thailand and gained a unique perspective of the culture.

Choose Safe Destinations

Or… you can just take a leap of faith and choose a safe destination. Check out blogs like mine, specialized in solo female traveling to give you an idea of what to expect in any given country. Talk to people in travel forums. Ask questions. Connect with other solo travelers. You’ll realize the world is not a scary place and actually there are so many solo female travelers out there. Start with very safe destinations, especially within Europe, Canada, Oceania and Southeast Asia.

Female-Only Hostels

If you’re a solo female who doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of mixed gender bedrooms, then check in at female-only hostels. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea because males are 100% excluded from the premises. I certainly love to meet and interact with all sort of travelers independent of gender, but I know some females might enjoy the female-only hostel concept.

There’s no reason to be scared or nervous to go out and about on your own. Now that you have the top tips for a safe and enjoyable first solo travel experience, don’t waste time–book your flight! The world is waiting for you!


About Yara Coelho

Yara Coelho, passionate for vegetarian food and creator of the travel blog, Heart of a Vagabond. She exchanged the comforts of home 16 years ago for a life on the road. She has been traveling the world mixing a love for alternative living, and low-impact traveling. Join her on Facebook for daily updates.

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