Woman jumping at Las Coloradas pink lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico | first time solo travel destinations

Is it Weird to Travel Alone? 5 Solo Travel Myths Debunked


Fun fact: About 150 people per month google “is it weird to travel alone” 🤯

As a long time solo female traveler, it shocked me to discover that so many people google Is it weird to travel alone because for me, it feels so normal.

However, these 150 people got me thinking… I realized that if you’ve never traveled alone, but you want to, of course you want to know if it’s weird. In fact, before starting anything new, we always wonder what it’s going to be like; though it’s often never how we pictured it would be.

Happy young woman with with her head sticking out the window of a blue train

If we were meant to stay in one place we would have roots instead of feet.

— quote by Rachel Wolchin, 111 Solo Travel Quotes That Will Inspire You

This is very true of solo female travel; it’s just that my first solo trip was so long ago, that traveling alone now feels very normal and natural. I have been a solo traveler in Mexico since April 2018 — but before embarking on that journey, I too probably wondered if it was weird.

So now, after having traveled solo throughout Mexico to half the states (and starting this entire blog about it), I promise you that it’s not weird to travel alone as a woman! More so than just “not weird,” it’s an empowering, amazing and life-changing experience I believe all women should have at least once. 

In this article, you’ll get answers to the Top 5 most asked solo female travel questions. For those considering solo travel in Mexico, there will be some resources at the end of the article to help with Mexico solo travel planning.

Ready to dispel some solo female travel misinformation?! Let’s get to it — starting with the original question, Is it weird to travel alone as a woman?

Is it Weird to go on vacation alone

1. Is it weird to travel alone as a woman?

After years of solo travel, I want to scream HELL NO IT’S NOT to this question. However, I now realize that everything seems weird before you’ve actually done it. After you’ve done anything a few times, you gain confidence and it becomes second nature.

💁‍♂️ Is it weird for a guy to travel alone? Also NO, but head here to see what solo male traveler, Ryo, has to say.

Recall for a moment learning how to drive your car, ride a bike, or even tie your shoes.

Each of those now-easy things were weird, awkward and even difficult at first. However, after doing them a few times, they became second nature. Now, after decades of tying your shoes,  your muscle memory kicks in so much that you do it with your eyes closed.

Learning go trust your intuition: A solo travel lesson

The majority of my solo travel has taken place in Mexico. The mainstream media would lead you to believe Mexico is the most dangerous country on Earth. However, I have stayed totally safe. In fact, I felt safer traveling Mexico than I did where I was previously in South Florida. 

How is this possible? Easy: I avoided unsafe situations — and I do this by listening to my intuition. For tips on just how to do this, check out Episode 24, “Trusting your intuition while solo traveling” below ⤵

Wondering, What is intuition? This word gets thrown around a lot, so to clear this up once and for all, intuition is basically your inner voice. It’s also called your conscience, guardian angel or your higher self. Whatever you choose to call it, know your intuition only has one job: Keeping you safe.

How many times have you heard this story? …and How many times has this been your story?

“I had a bad feeling about doing it, but I did it anyway, then [insert bad thing] happened… just like I knew it would. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to myself.” 💁‍♀️ That right there, is your intuition.

yellow shoes standing with happy and sad faces drawn on the ground
Practice risk mitigation during solo travel, which means avoiding unnecessary risks that don’t really need to take anyway.

Through solo travel, I was able to quiet the conversations with other people by not having a travel buddy, and hone in on my own inner voice. This is how I learned my intuition was there to guide me and keep me safe. Now, I trust it above all.

For me, when my intuition said No, it was a Hard No. A No from my intuition meant “No further questions, Your Honor,” and not “No…. but maybe let’s just see if I’m right.”

In many cases, “seeing if you’re right” really only means you’re verifying that you’re about to walk into a bad or dangerous situation. Proving yourself right, in this case, means you’re now in an unsafe situation, or stuck hanging out with a person you had a bad feeling about.

Is it worth being right? Or should you just listen to your intuition, and assume it to be right?

The Gift of Fear

In his best-selling book, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence, author Gavin de Becker says we humans are the only animals to question our fear (AKA intuition or inner voice).

In the book he says, “Intuition is always right in at least two important ways; It is always in response to something… and it always has your best interest at heart.”

Solo travel can feel weird — And you can also still do it anyway

Though it would be much more convenient if the world was black and white, it’s not. Meaning, you can both feel awkward once in a while during solo travel, and still be a great solo female traveler. Having moments of awkwardness won’t make you a failure at solo travel!

At the end of the day, yes, if you’ve never traveled alone, there’s a good chance it will feel weird at first. Hopefully you now see feeling awkward when trying something new, is totally normal! In fact, it’s even more weird to try something totally new and not feel weird, anxious and/or scared at first.

To go or not to go: That is the traveling alone question

Traveling solo for the first time really comes down to this: Will you go though it’s a bit scary — or will you stay home and miss out? (Think of the FOMO!) Most new experiences start out with us being scared, but doing them anyway. If you think about it, this is how nearly all stories begin.

Solo Travel as The Hero’s Journey

Ever heard of Joseph Campbell?

If not, have you ever heard of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars? Of course you have!

Well, all of these stories follow Campbell’s concept of the monomyth, which means one myth. ▶︎ Check out this vid for a better understanding of the Hero’s Journey.

You are the hero of your own story. —Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell black & white head shot

He said our collective idea of a hero or heroine follows the same narrative cycle. In Step 1, The Call to Action, there’s a “mere mortal” (or normal person) who’s called to a journey, but is never super excited to answer the call; and that’s because starting something new is scary!

However, they go anyway because being courageous or heroic isn’t about never feeling scared. Rather, it’s about feeling the fear, but acting anyway. While you might not label yourself a hero, you are, and that’s because all hero(ines) start out as normal people.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. —Joseph Campbell

Woman in a red dress twirling in the street
How to travel alone as a woman — Step 1: Book the trip; Step 2: Go enjoy your adventure!
Is it Weird to Travel Alone as a woman

2. Will I feel lonely during solo female travel?

In all honesty, yes, you might. However, this is a totally normal human emotion that can creep in at any time. In fact, you can even feel lonely while in a group, some spouses even say they’ve felt lonely in their marriage — meaning being alone and being lonely aren’t mutually exclusive.

Imagine being someone’s plus one to their high school reunion where everyone knows everyone else; except you. In this scenario, you’re surrounded by 200 people, but there’s a good chance you’d feel lonely in that very crowded room.

To use a travel example, just because you have a travel partner, doesn’t mean you won’t feel lonely on a trip with them.

For those who’d rather travel with someone (anyone!) versus traveling solo, imagine traveling with someone you’re not very close to. Just as you’d feel lonely in the room of strangers at the high school reunion, so too would you feel lonely with a travel buddy you have no connection to.

Solo travel podcast

For more tips, check out Episode 41 of the Dream To Destination podcast, “Sue’s 11 Tips to Combat Loneliness in Solo Travel.” For a complete list of episodes, head here.

Feeling alone vs feeling lonely

There is a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Whereas “alone” is a physical state or a state of body, “lonely” is a state of mind. This is how you can feel lonely in a crowded room, and how even someone in a relationship can feel lonely with a partner.

Someone can be alone but not lonely; and someone can feel lonely even when surrounded by people.Eglantine Julle-Daniere, Psychology Today

In short, being in the presence of another person isn’t a guarantee you won’t feel lonely. If this is the thing holding you back from solo travel, don’t let it because as a normal human emotion, loneliness can strike at any time. 

What to do if you feel lonely during solo travel

Loneliness is normal, and the sooner you truly accept that, the sooner you’ll take that first solo trip! The key isn’t being afraid or anxious about feeling this totally normal feeling. Rather, it’s having strategies in place that allow you to feel it, and then go back to enjoying your solo trip.

Here are a few suggestions you can use on a first trip alone:

1. Be Kind to Yourself

First and foremost, don’t spiral from loneliness to feeling angry, frustrated and hopeless about feeling lonely. For this, some people journal out their thoughts and feelings, meditate to find peace, put on a fun playlist — whatever works.

2. Join a Group Tour

The quickest way to feel less lonely is to get out of your own head!

For that, the quickest fix when traveling is to go to a new place, surround yourself with new stimuli, and have a new experience.

▶︎ While traveling, check out Viator and Get Your Guide to see the group tours available in the city or country you’re visiting.

Happy woman on a bike tour with male friends | Overcome Solo Travel Anxiety
3. Phone A Friend

Have 2-3 friends or family members on “standby” back home, letting them know that if you call them, it’s because you might be in a lonely place and need their support. You can also set up a designated time each day to speak with your people.

Woman on her phone
Is it Weird to Travel Alone as a woman

3. Is it safe to travel alone as a woman?

The thing with safety is this: Safety is a feeling not a fact. If safety is the probability that something bad or tragic isn’t about to happen to us, then no, we’re actually never safe. If you think about it, you’re not even 100% safe in your hometown, or even in your own home.

As mentioned, I’ve been all over Mexico by myself. To say it’s nothing like what I was led to believe is a huge understatement. In fact, I loved Mexico so much, I now live in the country full time.

However, when embarking on my initial trip to Mexico, I was definitely warned that it’s not one of the best countries to travel alone. For the most part, people meant well with their warnings… but that doesn’t mean their good intentions aren’t completely misinformed.

There’s no proof you’re safer at home than abroad

I search the internet, high and low, to find any study, statistic, anything saying travel is more dangerous than being at home. It seems to not exist — but that’s likely because you’re probably no more in danger at home than abroad.

Now, that’s not to say bad, horrible and tragic things don’t happen to solo female travelers… because they 100% do. However, bad, horrible and tragic things happen in your hometown as well, because quite simply, things just happen.

During solo travel, you’re likely to be safe if you engage in the same “safe” behaviors you do at home. Just as you wouldn’t do “unsafe” things like wander off with a complete stranger or walk around an unfamiliar neighborhood alone after dark, so too should you not while traveling alone.

Woman happy pulling her yellow suitcase through town
When determining the best places to travel alone, female travelers should remember you can be safe almost anywhere — as long as you keep your own safety as your top priority.

Most violence against women comes from someone they know

A sad but true fact I discovered started me wondering about how “safe” we are when at home. According to the CDC’s Preventing Sexual Violence Report stats, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be sexually assulted in their lifetime. What’s worse, the report goes on to say this:

The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone the victim knows, such as a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, or family member. (source: CDC)

For most who will be issuing you solo travel safety warnings, they’re referring to physical, sexual fatal violence. However, why is no one issuing these same warnings in day to day life, where especially with sexual violence, there’s a bigger threat at home than abroad?

Happy woman on a beach tree swing | Overcome Solo Travel Anxiety
Gaining confidence is just one of the ways how solo travel changes you.
Is it Weird to Travel Alone as a woman?

4. How will I meet people while traveling solo?

My response to this question of how I meet people while traveling solo typically throws people off. You see, I’m an introvert (INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Test), but I’m here to tell you it’s soooo easy to meet people as a solo traveler — almost too easy.

When you’re solo, you’re less intimidating to approach, meaning more people will approach you. After my first trip alone, I realized I wanted to meet less people and have more alone time on my next trip.

Want some actionable How to Make Friends While Traveling Solo tips? Here are three suggestions: 

Be and look approachable

If you want to meet people and make friends, you have to look like someone who wants to meet people and make friends.

If you don’t, no one will know that’s what you want, and they will assume you don’t want to meet people and make friends.

The easiest way to do this is by smiling and making eye contact, which lets people you know may want to chat.

If you’re comfortable saying Hello, or Nice shirt, or I love your haircut, or asking Where are you from? — Even better. If you break the ice, there’s no guessing game any longer, and the other person knows that you do want to chat.

Woman sitting on a bench under purple and white flowers

Reverse the roles for a second, and determine who you’d approach here. Person 1 has their nose in a book and headphones on, while Person 2 just made eye contact with you, smiled and even said hi. The choice is obvious, because we approach people who seem like they want us to.

Solo female travel podcast

For more tips, check out Episode 35 of the Dream To Destination podcast, “Heather’s 11 Tips for Making Friend During Solo Travel.” For a complete list of episodes, head here.

Sit at the bar or communal table

If you haven’t ever done this, go out to eat alone and sit at the bar. You don’t have to drink for this if you don’t want to, but do sit at the bar or communal table to eat your meal. There’s almost no chance the other people sitting at the bar or shared table won’t talk to you.

Now, every single person sitting at a bar doesn’t necessarily want to talk. However, the unspoken language of a person in a bar is that they just may — or else they’d be sitting at a table for one. If no one’s around who wants to talk, you can always chat up the bartender.

While this may not be the fellow solo traveler you’re hoping to meet, it will give you a chance to chat up a local. In-the-know locals, as bartenders tend to be, usually have the best insider intel about the coolest things to see and do in their city.

Solo travel photo swaps

This is one of my secret weapons to naturally meet people while traveling! It can work anywhere, but is especially effective in museums, attractions and sites frequented by visitors and other travelers.

When you see another woman (or a guy if you’d like) taking a selfie, offer to take the photo for them. In turn they will likely return the favor, and not only do you get a non-selfie travel photo, but you can naturally strike up a conversation with them. Note: Only approach people who seem approachable!

RELATED ARTICLE ▶︎ 6 Solo Travel Photography Tips + 5 FREE Presets for Photo Editing

Is it Weird to Travel Alone as a woman?

5. How do I convince my family & friends to chill out?

Before traveling solo through Mexico (and also Guatemala during the same trip), I had been on a few other solo trips in the U.S. and abroad. As a result, I did get warnings about Mexico, thanks to the media’s unfair portrayal of the country, but I wasn’t bombarded with warnings.

With some solo travel experience like I had, no one tried to talk me out of going. I wouldn’t have listened, but still, no one even tried. Realistically, this won’t be everyone’s experience, especially for your first solo trip.

In short, expect people to warn you that it’s not safe to travel solo. Know that they mean well, but do consider the course. Ask yourself, Is this someone who’s ever traveled solo before? Most likely, the answer will be no. The reason I know is that no solo traveler would ever want to talk you out of going.

So what do you do to “prove” you’re perfectly capable of safe solo travel as a woman? Here are four suggestions:

One of the benefits of travelling alone is proving to yourself that you’re capable of anything!

Remind the person how amazing you are

  • Parents: Tell your well-meaning parent they did such a good job raising a capable, independent and intelligent woman, and that you’ll use those skills in solo travel.
  • Friends: With a friend, remind them that they wouldn’t be friends with someone who’s not awesome… and that you plan to be just as awesome, capable, independent and intelligent on your solo trip.

Have a real conversation with them

Take the time to pinpoint exactly what they are nervous about, and come up with a solution that works for you both.

For example, if they think you’ll get mugged on the metro, bus or public transportation, assure them you’ll only use Uber.

If they think a certain place is too dangerous or not a good place to travel alone, find a solo woman who’s traveled there and made a YouTube video or blogged about her safe experience there.

Woman standing in the street holding her phone waiting for an Uber

Let them help you plan something

Another common concern would be that you’re staying somewhere safe, so for example, let them be part of the process and help you pick your accommodation. Make sure to do some research into the best neighborhoods where you’re headed, then find a place in one of those areas with the help of your friend or family member.

Promise to check in regularly

Make a communication plan, which could mean checking in daily at a specific time, every other day, or whatever makes everyone comfortable. You might also consider starting a group chat text message or even a private Facebook group, so you can check in and share photos with everyone at once.

Woman in a cafe looking at her cell phone | Overcome Solo Travel Anxiety
Plan regular check-ins: This can be a text to mom when you get home each night, a good morning message to your group chat of a trip photo and your plans for that day, an email to co-workers, etc.
Is it Weird to Travel Alone as a woman?

Mexico solo travel planning

Picking the best solo travel destinations can be tricky. The articles you’ll find online feature the usual suspects, like New Zealand, Iceland and Japan, which all rank very high on any “Safest Places to Travel Alone” list.

Now, for U.S. travelers, you’ll lose at least 3-4 total days of your precious travel time to even get to New Zealand, so that might be out. Iceland, though a safe country to travel alone, is notoriously one of the most expensive places to visit. In Japan, the language barrier might throw your solo travel confidence right out the window. 

What I’m getting at here is that there are statistically safe places to travel alone found in internet articles, and then there’s where you actually want to go. In reality, most places that rely on tourism dollars are safe for tourists, whether or not that country makes any internet lists.

So where do you want to go?… and why the emphasis on you?

Most of my solo travels have been in Mexico. While not known as one of the best places for women to travel alone, I’ve personally enjoyed every state, city, and second of my travels!

If I listened to news reports, well-meaning (but misinformed) friends, co-workers and family members, I’d never have come to the country I now call home. Quite simply, there are more safe places for women to travel alone than the internet would lead you to believe, and I include Mexico as one of the safest countries to travel alone.

Just as you have determined in your mind that you want to travel alone, so too can you be the one to determine your best place to travel alone as a woman. For anyone considering Mexico solo travel, below you’ll find some great resources to help you plan.

Not sure where to travel alone? Mérida, located in the Yucatan Peninsula, is known as the safest city in Mexico. It also happens to be where I live! Check out my sister site, TravelToMerida.com, to discover one of the best places to travel alone as a woman.

Safest places for women to travel alone in Mexico

I have a few articles on good places to travel alone in Mexico. One is a more general 25 Safest Cities in Mexico to Visit & Safest Beaches in Mexico, and there’s also The Ultimate Mexico City Solo Travel Guide for Female Travelers — which I truly believe is the best city to travel alone in Mexico!

In the linked article below ⤵, you’ll find a compilation article featuring other solo female travelers who have been to Mexico. In it, they recommend the places they’ve visited alone and loved while doing solo travel in Mexico.

Mexico solo travel safety tips

Personally, I felt quite safe traveling all over Mexico by myself. However, I know that was because I made my own safety my #1 priority. In the article below ⤵ you’ll find all my best Mexico travel safety tips. 🧳 Need solo travel packing tips? Head here for Mexico travel safety items to bring with you.

Dream To Destination: A Mexico solo travel podcast

I have a podcast with several episodes that have information for solo female travelers in Mexico. There are both episodes with just me, and ones where I interview other solo female travelers in Mexico. For a complete episode list, head here.

Solo Mexico travel podcast

To plan your first trip alone in Mexico, check out Episode 34, “Planning Your First Mexico Solo Trip.” For a complete list of episodes, head here.

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Head to this article all about packing for Mexico, and download your FREE Printable Packing List below. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring to Mexico for both your beach trip and city trip — but more importantly — what not to bring to Mexico on vacation.

🧳 Mexico Travel Tip: Check out this list of Mexico travel safety items to bring with you.

Final Thoughts: Is it Weird to Travel Alone?

This article went in depth to debunk solo travel myths and answer the common first time solo travel questions. Hopefully you now see it’s only weird to travel alone if you’ve never done it before.

Now, just because I love it, and so many other women do as well, that’s no guarantee you will. In fact, you might do it once and never do it again… and that’s perfectly fine, as not everything is for everyone. If you’ve read this far, however, you owe it to yourself to find out first-hand.

Why I travel alone: To get out of my comfort zone 🎯

Is solo travel worth it?

In a word: YES! For those who’ve done it, we know traveling alone as a woman is one of the absolute most empowering things you can do. As mentioned above, there’s no guarantee you’ll love it — it will stretch you out of your comfort zone — but as they say, that’s where the magic happens!

Have questions about traveling alone?

For the real deal info about solo travel, remember to always ask someone who’s done it (like me!). If you have any solo female travel questions, please join the conversation and ask away in the comment down below.

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4 Comments

  1. Ok but this sounds amazing, definitely inspired to travel solo now. Maybe not in Mexico, but I definitely plan on taking a train somewhere in the US for a solo adventure next year 😍

    1. Samantha: HOW COOL!! I did a train trip in the Pacific Northwest once, and it was so amazing. I highly recommend the west coast of the U.S. for a train trip. Enjoy!!

  2. Hi, I really enjoyed reading your article, I have been travelling solo for many years on and off. I did spend 6 months in Mexico in 2018, and really loved it. I am now thinking of going again for a long stay, I am trying to decide where? I was thinking possibly Merida, is it difficult to find affordable rentals there?
    Many thanks and happy travels.
    Karen
    Canada

    1. Hi Karen: Thanks for commenting & I’m so thrilled you liked the blog. I live in Merida, and I’d consider it an affordable cost of living… though that depends on your budget, of course. Check out my Merida site for more info on Merida specifically, traveltomerida.com.