Tour companies report that 68% of female travelers are going solo. And who can blame them? Solo travel offers the freedom to explore and meet people like never before!
The most popular locations for solo travel are Costa Rica, New Zealand, and South East Asia. Amazing! But you can’t exactly pop home if you forget something, can you?
And you want to arrive in an exciting new country ready to explore don’t you? Not frustrated that you left behind your travel must-haves.
And if you know exactly what to bring you can avoid carrying more than you need in your backpack.
So we’ve put together this awesome female solo traveler guide. Here are the nine travel must-haves to make sure you don’t leave anything behind!
Whether you’re going walking in the Alps or swimming in Samoa’s Sua Trench, read on to get travel-ready today!
1. Get Your Documents Organized
Ok, so this is an obvious one. You’re not exactly going to try and leave the country without your passport, are you?
But taking the time to have your documents in order before you go will save you time and stress when traveling. You don’t want to find yourself rummaging in your bag for holiday travel insurance papers while getting through the airport. Or worse, unable to find your passport when you’re about to move hostels.
So what do you need?
A passport is a given for anyone traveling. And taking another form of ID, like a driving license can be helpful too.
Also, keep a written record of any emergency contact details. That way if you lose your phone you can contact people for help.
And don’t forget the travel insurance! Lots of people leave this until the last minute. They end up spending ridiculous amounts of money to get covered.
We know that when you’re traveling on a budget it’s tempting to skip on the travel insurance. But trust us, if you ever need to use it it will be worth having. And you’ll be kicking yourself if you get caught out.
And travel insurance doesn’t have to cost the earth. Check out Insurdinary for great travel insurance rates!
Keep your documents in a sturdy folder that stays in a safe space. And always have them in your hand luggage when traveling.
If you know that everything is in that folder then you only need to keep track of one key item rather than three. And a plastic folder will protect paper documents.
A list of your essential travel items might be useful to have in this folder too. That way you know you won’t leave behind any essentials along your way.
2. Plastic Bags Are Essential
From the obvious to the… less obvious?
Plastic bags might not seem like the most essential for travel but trust us. At some point on your trip, you’ll have to carry something that you don’t want the rest of your things touching.
Hopefully, this will just be muddy sneakers. Or dirty laundry.
Or you might be carrying something that you want to protect from the elements. Backpacks are great for cramming things into but they don’t do brilliantly in wind and rain.
Dry bags can be good for this too. But they don’t fold up as small and you might not want to leave your dirty pants in them for too long!
Having a couple of plastic bags to hand will save you when you least expect it.
3. Always Carry a Scarf
And we’re talking about a big one.
Having a blanket-sized scarf on you can double up as a throw if you find yourself having long stopovers. An inflatable neck pillow can also be your best friend in this situation.
Or it can provide extra warmth if you’re in a dorm with the aircon turned right up.
A scarf is so light-weight and doesn’t take up bags of room, so you won’t regret having it along for the ride.
A scarf or sarong can also be helpful if you’re planning to visit any temples or religious sites on your journey.
For example, Hindu temples will only let women in if they are appropriately covered. Just wrap it around your waist and you’re away!
4. Padlocks Are Travel Must-Haves
You know what these are for already.
And backpacking throws up so many opportunities to use them. Use them to secure your luggage in transit.
Then take them off and use them on your hostel lockers. Most hostels charge you to rent a padlock so you’ll save yourself money in the long run.
Even if you’re carrying your valuables on you, a padlock will give you the peace of mind that all your things are safe. So you can enjoy your trip free of stress.
A padlock doesn’t have to cost the earth. As long as it doesn’t look cheap or flimsy you’ll be fine. So go for a metal padlock over a plastic one.
And go for a code-combination rather than a key-lock. The last thing you want is to misplace your keys and find yourself locked out!
But what about the valuables that you want to keep on you?
5. Every Female Solo Traveler Should Have a Money Belt
These protect your valuables while on the go.
Money belts are thin wallets that sit under your clothes against the skin. They’re difficult to spot and even more difficult to get at.
Some designs hang around your neck while others can clip around your waist. Go for whichever design you feel comfortable with.
And don’t overload them. Most of them are big enough to hold your phone, some keys, money and maybe a few important pieces of paper.
The great thing about them is you never have to take them off. They’re super comfortable. So you can’t accidentally leave your valuables somewhere on your travels!
While fanny-packs have made a come back in recent years, the money belt is a safer option. Thieves or pick-pockets won’t target you if your valuables aren’t on display.
6. The Only Two Pairs of Shoes You’ll Need
You’re backpacking not ballroom dancing. So don’t weigh yourself down with shoes that you aren’t going to use.
And believe us, you won’t use them.
We’ve all packed a bag with the ‘but what if this happens?’ mentality. This leads us to make excuses to bring things that we don’t need. And we always unpack unused items at the end of those holidays.
And shoes take up a hell of a lot of room in a backpack.
So stick with a comfy, sturdy pair of sneakers. Here comfort wins over style. If you’re going to be exploring a new place you need comfy shoes.
But luckily you don’t have to choose. Find your favorite pair and take them on adventures with you.
Obviously, if you’re going on a walking holiday you might take another pair of walking boots with you. But this is the only exception.
The only other thing you need is flip flops. And these are essential. Small and easy-to-pack, this is what to pack for international travel.
Going for a shower in a hostel? Wear your flip flops.
Going to the beach? Wear your flips flops.
They might not be perfect for long walks or cold weather but that’s fine. You’ve got your sneakers with you!
The question you have to ask yourself is ‘is it an activity I can’t do in either sneakers or flip flops?’ More often than not the answer will be no.
7. Let’s Talk Toiletries
Does the phrase ‘I’ll just grab it in Duty-Free’ spring to mind?
Silence it. If you plan ahead you won’t need to buy any overpriced toiletries at the airport. And you won’t have to panic buy shampoo that’s actually foot scrub in a country where you don’t speak the language.
So what do you absolutely need? Well, what are the things you use on a daily basis?
- Soap (we hope!)
- Shampoo or conditioner – better still get a combined one!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A towel
- Moisturizer and lip salve
That’s your essential travel stuff. Now we’re not saying you have to leave your other comforts at home. This is a holiday, not prison after all!
But think realistically about how much you’ll use them. When packing, honesty is the key to a light bag. And that’s what you want if you’re going to be carrying it around for long periods of time!
Also consider getting bars of soap, rather than shower gel. This prevents leakage. (Although if it’s wrapped in a trusty plastic bag you’re sorted!)
To really save on space, consider getting a microfibre towel.
And don’t forget the wet wipes. Having a small pack of these will never be a bad thing, so make the room for them in your bag.
8. Portable Chargers and Adapters
This should be a no-brainer.
If you’re going to a new country it’s likely that they have different plug sockets. So do some research and get the right adapter.
Universal adapters are more expensive but might save you money in the long run. And don’t wait to buy these at the airport. They’re overpriced and it’s just as easy to get them online.
Having a portable charger is also a good idea. Again these can be cheap. And you’ll be grateful to have it if your phone is about to die and you’re on your way from the airport to your hostel.
Just don’t forget to charge up your portable charger before you set out on your adventures!
9. Pick a Bag with Padded Straps
Like shoes, the backpack you use needs to be comfortable rather than stylish.
That funky-looking one in the shop might seem like a great idea at the time. Once you’ve carried it for hours without proper support you might think differently.
Find a bag that distributes the weight. A waist-height clip lets your legs take the weight so you won’t end up with achy shoulders.
This might be one purchase that it’d be better to do in person. Certain bags will suit some people better than others. So try them out or order one with a good returns policy.
So Get Packing!
There are our nine travel must-haves for female solo travelers! Getting these basics packed will send you off ready for a brilliant trip – just don’t forget to pack clothes too!
And check out our other travel blogs for more tips!