Celebrating Solo Female Travel

International Women's Day

Women are travelling more than ever, breaking barriers and exploring the world. In fact solo female travel is one of the fastest developing trends the travel industry has seen in years! Solo female travel is empowering, exciting and opens you up to a world of possibilities. With so many beautiful destinations plastered across Instagram, it’s no wonder we are taking off to far flung and exotic destinations. See what you want, eat where you want and no need to compromise for anyone, the world is YOUR oyster! In celebration of International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March, we would like to introduce you to some of the amazing women behind Tucan Travel!

Magda Matczak – Central America Tour Leader

Magda on the Dubrovnik City Walls in Croatia

 

Where was your first solo travel destination?

When I was 18 I went to London by myself and stayed for almost 6 months. I loved it and from that moment I knew the only thing I wanted to do is travel! After that I started travelling in Europe, especially exploring Spain. When I think about my first “real adventure”- it’s when I travelled to Indonesia for the first time. The culture shock was amazing and made it so much more memorable!

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

It’s a really difficult question as I’m always finding some amazing things in each country.  Also the people you meet on the road who help you have a great travel experience! However until now my favourite country is Costa Rica. Why? Because it’s a beautiful eco country with a huge amount of wildlife. Rich Cost is the Spanish/English translation- it’s not only the name but also the reality. It’s a country of happiness with some of the best beaches in the world! They rejected the military and invested money in education and development! Simply Pura Vida! If I didn’t have this constant desire to see more in the world I would probably stay in Costa Rica!

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

Do It! Because with this plane ticket you are getting an unforgettable life experience and future better version of yourself! Other important things are good health insurance, take 2 debit/credit cards in case you lose one and take half the clothes you think you need! Don’t forget your favourite hoodie and warm socks – travelling means hours on buses, flights or trains – often cold!

Remember travelling is very addictive- and you will never be the same person because after travelling you will have a different and better understanding of the world!

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

Yes, I’ve been to some of the countries that are portrayed as dangerous like Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia or Albania and trust me if you are travelling with sense and don’t look for “dangerous” situations, you will be fine. Respect the culture, respect the locals and keep your belongings safe, and don’t wear expensive things!  

I think sometimes people have a fear of a new place and different mentality – people find it scary but for me it’s just undiscovered!  

Where is your next travel destination and why?

My next destinations will be India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia because I haven’t been there – and that’s the best reason to go! I also love yoga and I would like to practice more, learn more about Asian culture and cuisine – I will eat a lot of Nasi Goreng (happy)!

Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan! – Magda Matzcak

Lara McMahon – Australia Based Adventure Specialist

Lara relaxing in the Moroccan desert

Where was your first solo travel destination?

My first trip by myself was with a group tour that did Spain extensively. Going on a group tour was a great way to ease myself in and get comfortable travelling. Knowing that I could do my own thing where I wanted but had a group of like minded people to fall back on. It gave me a really good taste of what it was like to travel solo and whether or not it was something I could really enjoy doing. I loved it so much I went back to Europe and did 6 months completely solo. Travelling solo is such a great way to meet people – not only other travellers, but meeting the locals. It’s just such a great way to completely immerse yourself in the culture.

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

Europe is such a great place to start solo – it’s so easy to get around, it has such an accommodating atmosphere and everyone is so incredibly welcoming. My top solo destinations would probably be Lisbon and Seville in Europe, or New York for those more interested in the US. They’re the kind of places that are just buzzing constantly – there is so much to do and see there that I never really felt like I was by myself.

I’ll never forget chatting with a barista in NY – we had such a great conversation and she was just absolutely stoked I was here to see her city that she came back with a 2 page list of all her favourite places to eat/drink/see/do in New York. I spent the next few days just going through her list and absolutely loving it, I really got to experience New York like a new yorker would. I’ll never forget that.

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

My two biggest tips would be chat to the locals and learn the basics of the language.  Don’t be afraid about getting a table for 1 – the best moments I’ve had travelling have come from eating out by myself. Go and sit up at the bar and talk to the waiter or the bartender. Learning the basics of the language is also so handy. Even if you’re just learning how to say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ or ‘what does this mean’ it’s enough to know you’re actually trying, and they love that. Also…don’t be afraid to say yes! Say yes to things you wouldn’t normally, say yes to the things that interest you even though you’re worried you’re by yourself. You’re gonna meet some amazing people in the process (and probably people who felt the exact same way!)

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

I travelled to Morocco after my six months solo in Europe. I chose to do Morocco with a group tour since it was a country I was unfamiliar with and it is portrayed as being unsafe for women travelling solo there. I’m really glad I did it in a group, because I wouldn’t really have known where to go or how to get around by myself.

Once there I did not feel like Morocco was as dangerous as it’s portrayed, I think it’s just very misunderstood. Sure there are parts of it that are no go zones, and you want to be smart when travelling there but I think the whole “it’s dangerous for women” is not as extreme as everyone thinks. My first day in Marrakech was alone and I thought I would be overwhelmed, but I was actually blown away by how welcoming these people were.  Morocco is an amazing place, and I’m so glad I got to visit an incredible (and misunderstood) country.

Where is your next travel destination and why?

I haven’t had a lot of experience with Latin America yet, so I would absolutely love to check out somewhere like Mexico or Colombia. They would be great places to really immerse myself in the culture there. Latin America looks like it would be something I’ve never experienced before, a completely different and new experience which is super exciting!!

 

Rosanna Neophytou – Marketing Manager

Rosanna enjoying the Sydney opera house in Australia

 

Where was your first solo travel destination?

I did a portion of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos. Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia ) independently when I left university.

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

This is a tough one! Probably Laos. The people are some of the loveliest I have ever met and made you feel very welcome.

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

Take the plunge! It’s an empowering feeling travelling solo and its a great way to visit places that are purely on your list only (no compromising!) Exercise the same caution you would at home – don’t go to dodgy areas at dark, don’t get too drunk or leave your drink alone. Oh and pack a few good books!

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

Colombia has such an undeserved reputation. It’s a melting pot of colours and cultures and the locals are super friendly. Going solo but on a group tour is a great way to explore somewhere you may be nervous about travelling to on your own.

Where is your next travel destination and why?

Japan! It’s always fascinated me and I can’t wait to see where modern meets tradition. I think it will be a bit of a culture shock which I love and I can’t wait to eat my body weight in sushi obviously.

Anna Franke – London Based Adventure Specialist 

Exploring the temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Where was your first solo travel destination?

My first solo trip was to Manchester – very exotic, I know! I was 15, still living in Germany and hadn’t left the country much as my parents were never big on travelling. I think I was a bit nervous about it back then (especially because I grew up in the country side) but when I got there I realised there was nothing to be afraid of and it has inspired me to travel solo across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas since.

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

Malaysia, it’s by far the most welcoming country I have travelled to so far. Locals are incredibly friendly and will help you if you need anything. I’ve had some of the most incredible hotel/B&B hosts in Malaysia, they would make sure I try their local specialities, teach me local songs and even drop me off/pick me up from local events – without asking for extra payment!

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

If you’re travelling solo for the first time and you’re feeling a bit anxious about it, start small! Don’t go on a long 4 week trip to the other side of the globe, you will likely be overwhelmed and not travel solo again. Start with a 5-7 day trip to somewhere fairly close and see how you enjoy it!

Generally speaking, just be mindful and aware of your surroundings, don’t go out after dark by yourself, respect the local culture etc. If you list things it sounds like you constantly need to be on guard but really, these are all things you would look out for in any city, whether it’s in your home country or 3000 miles from home.

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

There is quite a lot of media around Morocco being “uncomfortable” for female solo travellers and if you search any underdeveloped country online you will always find a post which says “not recommended for female solo travellers”. I don’t like to research these things online and rely on more reliable sources such as the FCO or Lonely Planet. I’ve not encountered any “dangerous” or “uncomfortable” situations in underdeveloped countries, quite the opposite, people have always been very helpful, welcoming and I have always felt safe.

Where is your next travel destination and why?

My next travel destination is Peru in two weeks’ time! Peru has been on my list for a very long time, mainly because of Machu Picchu but also because Lima is meant to be the food capital of South America, yummy!

Anneka Potter – Tailor-made Specialist 

Enjoying the wildlife in Botswana

Where was your first solo travel destination?

My first solo trip was volunteering in Uganda on a gorilla conservation project when I was in my mid 20’s. The aim of the project was to bridge the gap between indigenous communities and the gorillas who share their vulnerable rain-forest homes. It was a true privilege to see the gorillas roaming freely in their natural habitat and the people were amazingly friendly. Did you know gorillas can be identified by their nose prints? Like fingerprints in humans, nose prints are unique for each gorilla!

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

My favourite solo destination is Kerala in South India. If you need some relaxation and rejuvenation, it is the perfect place to unwind, after the hustle and bustle of the North! There are quiet beaches and tranquil backwaters, plus some fantastic wellness retreats for yoga and meditation.

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

I recommend joining a group tour for your first solo adventure. While you are still on a personal quest, it gives you the reassurance of travelling with an experienced, knowledgeable guide and meeting new, like-minded people with a passion for travel.

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

I think India can be a daunting destination for a solo female traveller as some parts are going to be loud and chaotic. Women can also receive quite a lot of attention and asked to have their photo taken. It can be a safe destination though and with the right precautions, it is one of the most rewarding countries you can visit.

Where is your next travel destination and why?

I would like to explore more of South East Asia, so perhaps Vietnam for this year! 🙂

Emma Campbell – Africa, Middle East and Europe Destination Manager

Stunning views of the Treasury in Petra, Jordan

Where was your first solo travel destination?

My first ever solo trip was to South East Asia travelling through Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore, then onto China & India.

Where has been your favourite solo travel destination?

Tough call…I have visited many different places and love them all for different reasons. For me Africa is an amazing continent to explore but Latin America is equally as incredible in a different way!

What tips do you have for first time solo female travellers?

My advice to any first traveller, female or otherwise is that you should never hold back because other people do not want to travel with you. If you want to explore the world then do it!
Always keep an open mind, have a sense of humour, don’t overthink things and embrace the opportunities that present themselves.

Is there anywhere you have travelled that the media says is “dangerous” for solo women and how was it?

Colombia is often branded as being an unsafe destination to travel to but as a solo female who speaks very little Spanish I found it absolutely fine. There are of course challenges, especially when you are not fluent in the language but people there are extremely friendly and accommodating. Colombia sadly has a lingering reputation from it’s turbulent history back in the 1980’s, but the country is now transformed and far safer than ever before.

Where is your next travel destination and why?

I would love to explore more of the Middle East and Central Asia and visit places like Lebanon, Iran or the Stans.

So there you have it – get out and see the world! Whether solo, with friends, or on a group, we guarantee the memories will last a lifetime. Tucan Travel run adventure group tours in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 60% of our travellers are solo! Joining a group tour is a fantastic way to explore a new region and make friends along the way. Check out www.tucantravel.com for plenty of inspiration and ideas! (Psst, we even won an award for Best Small Holiday Holiday Company for Singles in the British Travel Awards!)

Emma is the Marketing Executive at Tucan Travel. She has travelled both solo and on group tours through Europe, Scandinavia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. You can view her Linkedin here.   

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