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How To Be A Solo Female Traveler

Published in the 'Portugal Letter' by Live and Invest Overseas

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Aeiferon, an eco-community in the mountains of Nemea in Greece

Are you a single woman learning how to make it ‘work’ so you can travel or live alone overseas?

You are going to want to keep reading… 

“All my single ladies! Put your hands up!”

Beyonce’s song of female empowerment might be a good tune to put on while you read this article about empowering yourself to travel, or even move overseas, alone…

Once upon a time, in a small town nestled amidst rolling hills, there lived a single woman named Sarah. Sarah had always possessed a deep wanderlust, a yearning to explore the far corners of the world. With her heart brimming with curiosity and her soul craving adventure, she made a bold decision to embark on a solo journey, leaving behind the familiar comforts of home.

As Sarah prepared for her grand adventure, she knew that caution and safety would be paramount. She spent countless hours researching each destination, delving into the intricacies of local customs, traditions, and laws. She familiarized herself with the local language, eager to communicate and connect with people on a deeper level. Sarah also made sure to stay updated on travel advisories, ensuring she was aware of any potential risks or precautions to take.

With her loved ones concerned about her safety, Sarah devised a meticulous plan to put their minds at ease. She shared her detailed travel itinerary with her family and close friends, promising to check in regularly. She armed herself with a portable safety whistle, a small but powerful tool that could attract attention in case of an emergency. The importance of carrying a copy of her important documents, such as her passport and insurance information, while keeping the originals secure, was not lost on her.

Sarah's excitement for solo travel was palpable, as she eagerly anticipated the countless wonders she would encounter along her journey. The thrill of exploring new cultures, meeting fascinating people, and discovering herself in the process was an allure she couldn't resist. She understood that solo travel would provide her with a unique opportunity to dive deep into her own thoughts, to reflect and grow in ways she had never before imagined.

As Sarah ventured further into her journey, she embraced the excitement of solo travel with open arms. She treasured every moment, savouring the taste of new cuisines, marvelling at breathtaking landscapes, and eagerly immersing herself in the vibrant tapestry of the world. She knew that her travels were not just a physical journey but a soulful exploration that would forever shape the woman she was becoming.

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Volcano Arenal, Costa Rica

And so, Sarah's story serves as a testament to the transformative power of solo travel. It is a reminder that, with careful preparation and a sense of adventure, women can traverse the globe with confidence, curiosity, and an unwavering spirit. It is a call to all women who yearn for exploration, encouraging them to spread their wings and embark on their own voyage of self-discovery. For within the depths of solo travel, they will find a world waiting to be explored, a spirit waiting to be ignited, and a journey that will forever change their lives.

I have a saying…

If not you, then who?

I’m Jacelyn, a single woman (age 38) who for the better part of the last 2 decades has travelled alone to over 40 countries (71 in total) and have some tips and tools you may just find useful. I also moved to Costa Rica and Greece three years ago, learning the ins and outs of living between two countries on opposite sides of the world, with very different cultural landscapes, now calling them both, home sweet home.

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Selfie on the streets of Skiathos, an island in Greece

Listen, there are ups and downs, but this is also how life works, generally speaking. I have learnt so much about healthy boundaries, taking leaps of faith and following my intuition and gut. Outside of logical thinking, and understanding what makes me feel safe, with a few dealbreakers tossed in the mix. 

What does safety mean and look like to you? This is something that I have often asked myself, and really, the other question is, how much is that going to cost me? Literally, and metaphorically speaking, there is a cost for safety and the feeling of peace of mind. This is something we usually have to take more seriously than our male counterparts. When I first started down this nomadic lifestyle path and was in my 20’s it looked very different than now, reaching my 40’s. I was trying to feel safe on a shoestring budget and often made many compromises and got myself into scary situations all to save a few bucks. Backpacker hostels where you sleep in bunkbeds in a co-ed environment doesn’t scream safety but it gave me more cash to spend on fun excursions, and partying. I also learned not to drink so much, to be fully clothed when sleeping and to lock my things up every single time. In my late 20’s I graduated to budget hotel rooms and airbnb’s and the biggest lesson I learnt was making sure that when I was in a ‘room’ that the door had a lock and key. To also make nice, but have very clear boundaries if I was a guest in someones home. In my 30’s I continued down the airbnb path and also upgraded my hotel game. I would say this is where I felt much safer. I had my own space, security systems were in place, and I also had the budget to spend on things like ubers/taxi’s back to my home base, instead of walking home (sometimes unaccompanied) late at night on foreign ground with a cell phone battery about to die… 

I love to be fashionable, but usually find that dressing down and minimizing how much jewelry you wear to not ‘stand out’ too much is a good idea. Of course, only bringing a little cash with me was the way to go, cash for emergencies and the card for everything else so people didn’t think I was a target to steal from. Carry a copy (photocopy of your id with you in your purse, not the real thing). Also, be careful what you say about who you are and your life, you never know who is listening and what they are planning to do- you can also just be used, never mind feeling unsafe, there are so many people who we can mistake their kindness for something we didn’t expect to come with it once we let them into our world. Discernment is key, and never believe everything anyone says, watch their actions…and body language. The ultimate barometer is your own five senses and intuition or gut feeling- trust these things, do not challenge your own instincts. You will thank yourself later.

For the most part, with some preparation and critical thinking, along with staying in the present moment, so you can be aware of what is going on around you, is all you need to do to have a safe and happy trip, just like Sarah! But its more details than you think, and although all my suggestions in this article are highly recommended, I am sure there are several more out there that I will miss mentioning, so please feel free to add your comments in the comment section or write to me personally. You really need to listen to yourself and your own standards of what feeling safe, looks and feels like to you. If all else fails, turn on your location through find your phone - and send your location to a loved one, so they have it the entire time, for some its a literal life saver.

Consider the pro’s I have gathered and maybe they will help you remain positive in your mindset, as this is THE most important thing. You allow fear, anxiety and negative thoughts or visualizations to hang around too long, they end up materializing in your world simply because its the law of attraction, so get your mind figured out first and visualize a safe and happy trip!

small town, costa rica, rental unit, outside, female, jungles
Cabuya, Costa Rica at the rental unit in a small sleepy jungle town

As I ventured out into the world alone, I discovered the top five best advantages of traveling solo, each one leaving an indelible mark on my soul:

1. Self-Discovery: Solo travel allows you to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery. Away from the familiar, finding yourself navigating uncharted territories, both externally and internally. Facing challenges head-on, building resilience and independence with each step. Through self-reflection and introspection, your unearthed hidden passions and strengths, returning home with a profound sense of self-awareness.

2. Freedom and Flexibility: The freedom to create your own itinerary is a gift you will cherish. As a solo traveler, you have the flexibility to change plans on a whim, to wander off the beaten path, and to explore hidden gems that only locals know. You’ll revel in the freedom to indulge in your personal interests, to immerse yourself in the local culture, and to fully embrace the spontaneity that solo travel offers.

3. Empowerment: Solo travel empowers you in ways you never thought possible. It allows you to shed societal expectations and embrace your own strength and capabilities. With each obstacle overcome and each new experience conquered, your confidence grows. You will learn to trust your instincts, making decisions that are solely yours, and in doing so, you discover a newfound sense of empowerment that permeates every aspect of your life.

4. Connection and Camaraderie: Surrounded by unfamiliar faces, you find yourself opening up to the world, forging connections that transcended language and cultural barriers. You will  meet incredible people from diverse backgrounds, each with their own unique stories to share. In these fleeting encounters, you discover the beauty of human connection, the warmth of a stranger's smile, and the joy of shared experiences. You will form deep bonds with fellow travellers, creating a global network of friends who would forever hold a special place in your heart.

5. Expanded Perspectives: Through solo travel, your worldview expands exponentially. As you immerse yourself in different cultures, you will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world's vast diversity. You challenge preconceived notions and stereotypes, dismantling barriers that had once confined your thinking. Your travels nurture empathy and open-mindedness, fostering a greater sense of compassion and understanding for the shared human experience.

solo travel, females, greece, athens, dinner
Athens, Greece having a reunion with all the people I have met over the years of solo travel!

I believe that women should consider solo travel not only for the adventure and personal growth it offers but also to challenge societal norms and stereotypes. It allows women to prove their independence, resilience, and resourcefulness, shattering the notion that they are confined to the boundaries of their gender. Solo travel empowers women to embrace their innate strength and to defy the limitations that society often imposes upon them.

What are you waiting for? Get safe and get out there. BE the Female Solo Traveler!

Now if you want to move, apply all the same from travelling (do this first before deciding to move somewhere alone, otherwise I think it will be a big shock to your entire world…but hey, that could be a fun adventure of sink or swim too) Stock up on a reliable team: get a really really good lawyer, and a translator, along with a local friend who is willing to help you adjust to your new home and surroundings…or send me an email/message for consulting and detailed questions, I am happy to help. 

Article written by Jacelyn Holmes Founder of Our Song Retreats

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