I love traveling alone. Like many women, the first time I embarked on a one-gal excursion was entirely by accident. I was holed up on study abroad in Cairo, restless after exhausting the extensive local museum scene, and sick of listening to the raucous city noise day after day. Cairo was starting to feel rather claustrophobic for such a big city. Yet for some reason, not a soul wanted to go on an eight-day, partially planned, half-baked potential adventure with me up the Nile. So I hopped a rickety overnight train to Luxor and set off solo. What followed was one of the best weeks of my life. I’ve gone on to repeat that act now in several countries, and my secret key to traveling alone is this: Carry your passion with you.
What does this mean? It means do not put the things you love on hold while you’re on the road—use them to find connections. It also means don’t hide yourself. If you have a passion for something, be open about it and see what happens. Traveling alone is a unique opportunity to be irrepressibly you.
On my most recent trip, I found myself chatting with a female distiller at her centuries-old company, taking a yoga class in Dutch (accidentally), and dangling on aerial silks in a park in Cologne, Germany. As I hung upside-down trying to remember the German words for “left” and “foot” whilst holding up an extremely flexible Russian girl I’d met two days prior, I realized I was having a truly amazing time. A laugh-actually-aloud amazing time. I was having an amazing time because I was sharing an activity I love with new and wonderful people, yet we never would have connected if I’d played it the unimaginative, cautious tourist. I love gin, yoga, and aerial silks so I partake in all those things and more when I hit the road. There is no reason you shouldn’t do the same and have amazing experiences, too.
Everyone parrots the well-known travel advice of “definitely go off the beaten path” and “have a local experience,” yet no one seems to know where to safely start or sometimes their recommendations just might be a bit off for you. I suggest solo female travelers begin by supplementing the obligatory tourist experiences with activities that you know bring you joy and ground you. Physical activities in particular lend themselves well to this strategy since non-verbal communication is a great way to dodge the language barrier, plus you can stay healthy. Every country has dance classes for example, whether on their cultural dances or international dance forms, like ballet and modern. Yoga, pole dancing, belly dancing, and cross fit are all international these days. It doesn’t have to be physical though: Art walks, little gallery openings, and street fairs are universal if you ask around a little. I even know of a travel vlogger who enjoys sewing and connected with a seamstress who makes traditional garments in Bavaria.
It can require more planning and research to find the things you like doing abroad, but the rewards are manifold. You meet new people, gain fresh perspective on something familiar to you, and renew your creativity. Sometimes it can even be as simple as happening to walk by a yoga studio near your hotel and grabbing a schedule. No matter how it comes about, when you do what you love doing and stay open, it positions you in your own skin and leads you to people who love the same thing.