Traveling solo is one of the best ways for a woman to learn more about herself, experience new things, and see the world. It might sound scary and like a daunting task at first, but with the right research and preparation it can be one of the best experiences of your life. Traveling solo usually goes hand-in-hand with traveling light. You might be hopping on and off buses, planes, and trains so it helps not to be slowed down by heavy luggage. But just because you’re traveling light or solo doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the important items. Here are the essentials that are a must-have on any woman’s solo travel packing list.
Long-haul flights or train rides can be made more bearable if you’re wearing comfortable clothes. That doesn’t mean you can only wear your old sweatpants! Comfortable clothes can be anything that’s soft, made of breathable material like cotton, and free of anything that can dig or poke into your skin. If you’re traveling to cold climates, don’t be afraid of packing light. You can always bring clothes that are easy to layer in case the temperature drops. If you’re traveling to warmer weather, then packing light shouldn’t be a problem. It helps to plan out your outfits for each day so you bring exactly what you need—nothing more, nothing less. Always put an extra change of clothes into your carry-on just in case your luggage gets lost or stolen. And yes, expect to reuse many clothes while traveling solo. That’s part of the fun!
Many airlines are strict with weighing carry-on items. If you want to make sure that your carry-on stays as a carry-on and the airline won’t overcharge you for exceeding the weight limit, bring a regular-sized backpack. This size (not the ones used for camping or similar huge sizes) is much less obvious than a rolling carry-on suitcase and is easier to bring onto planes. You’ll avoid getting it weighed (and eventually overcharged) but you’ll still have enough room for all of your things. Make sure to add a security feature on your bag such as a small padlock to make sure nothing gets stolen.
Perhaps makeup isn’t at the top of your solo travel packing list but that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your skin. The trick for solo female travelers who want to downsize their toiletry bag is to use products that have multiple uses. Instead of bringing two separate bottles of sunscreen and foundation, opt for a tinted moisturizer with SPF in it. Ditch your night creams, lotions, and serums at home for a moisturizer that can also double as a neck and hand cream. Bring along a lip balm with some pigment instead of your liquid lipstick so that your lips stay hydrated and colored.
Many women aren’t too keen on wearing a money belt because it’s not the most fashionable item. But traveling solo means you can’t always rely on your accommodation’s safe or locker to keep your cash intact. The good thing about modern money belts is that they’re often super thin and lightweight that they’re unnoticeable under your clothes, and they come with features like multiple pockets and RFID-protection. That way, you can keep all your valuables on you without it looking bulky or obvious.
If you tend to get chilly easily, especially on planes or trains, then make sure to pack a blanket-sized scarf. These kinds of scarves are lighter than actual blankets and don’t take up as much space, but can still keep your neck and hands warm. If you ever run out of space on your carry-on or luggage then you can easily just drape this scarf around your neck. It’s also useful if you’re traveling to places with temples and need a quick way to cover up any sleeveless tops or shorts.
Foldable Reusable Bag
Always bring something like a lightweight reusable or canvas tote bag that can fold up really small. It’s good for when you don’t want to bring your backpack around while touring (but still need a lot of space) or for when you’re doing some shopping. Some reusable bags even come with zippered pockets that you can store money in so that your cash isn’t all just in one place.
Plastic Folder for Documents
As a woman traveling solo, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst. Besides keeping digital copies of your files, always print out your important documents like itineraries, flight bookings, hotel reservations, and passport copies. Store them in a small plastic folder so they don’t get wet or torn. You can also keep receipts in here for when you’re doing tax-free shopping and the like.
Customized First-Aid Kit
In case you get any scrapes or cuts while on the go, always keep a first-aid kit handy. It’s best to make one yourself depending on your medical needs and preferences instead of just relying on a pre-packaged one you can get at your local pharmacy. Include in this kit things like diarrhea medication, painkillers, cold medicine, and bandages. Medicine isn’t always the easiest to find while traveling so make sure you pack these along with some immune-boosting multivitamins.
As tempting as it might be, it’s just not reasonable to bring multiple pairs of shoes while traveling solo. Sticking to one good pair of multipurpose shoes and a pair of flip flops, if you’re headed somewhere warm, is enough. Multipurpose shoes can be a pair of durable sneakers or loafers that work well for both a long day of touring and a night out in the town. Make sure to pack closed shoes so your feet are protected and so you can enter theaters and museums with no problems.
Getting sick is the last thing you want to happen while traveling solo. Transportation is crawling with illness-causing germs, so besides washing your hands often with soap and water, bring along antibacterial wipes. Wipe down surfaces like plane tray tables, hotel room remotes, and train seats. You can also bring along personal flushable wipes so you can stay fresh in (often unreliable) public restrooms.