A Helpful Guide To Solo Travel For Female/LGBTQ+ Travelers

We spoke to a handful of travel bloggers, and translated some of the phrases you might need while you’re abroad.
Solo travel for women and members of the LGBTQ community represented by a woman sitting alone in the car of a train, staring out the window on the bright fields passing by.

In the past, solo travel wasn’t a hugely popular pastime. Moreover, it wasn’t considered to be widely available to people who don’t easily pass for straight, cisgender men. But that’s rapidly changing.

Roughly one in four people said they would travel solo in 2018, according to a survey by MMGY Global. The number of Google searches for “solo women travel” increased by 32 percent in 2017, 59 percent in 2018, and 230 percent in 2019. Solo travel in 2024 is a particularly popular choice among Gen Z travelers. Things get especially interesting when you take a look at who’s striking out on their own. In a 2023 Solo Traveler World survey of over 2,300 people, 83 percent identified as female.

When polled about why they like traveling on their own, 46 percent of Solo Travel Society’s female members said it had to do with freedom and independence, and 66 percent said they weren’t willing to wait around for other people to join them.

The group also came up with a few answers to the question of why women travel solo more than men do. Among these are that women are generally restricted by their responsibilities more often in their lives than men are, and that solo travel offers a break. Another possible reason: women are more adventurous than men, and also more comfortable being alone.

Of course, women are not a monolith, and they share a demographic overlap with the queer and trans community — as well as certain safety considerations to be mindful of when traveling alone. The potential dangers that a straight, cisgender woman might experience on the road are often considerably different than the risks associated with being gay, transgender and/or nonbinary in a foreign country, but they all share an implicit threat of violence.

In spite of this, the terrain is expanding for these demographics, and so is the old, dusty definition of “adventurer.” Bani Amor, a queer travel writer who blogs about the decolonization of travel culture, started a POC Travel Book Club that spotlights travel writers of color and challenges the stereotype of “travel as a white boy’s club,” which has all kinds of troublesome roots in European imperialism.

Though many parts of the world are still considered unsafe for women and LGBTQ people to travel to (alone, or even in a group), bloggers and influential travelers are leading by example and walking through doors that were previously assumed closed. As pointed out in the 2017 Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, there was once only a small number of vacation destinations in America and Europe that were considered safe for openly LGBTQ travelers. Today, LGBTQ-friendliness is less of a consideration for travelers setting their sights on a destination. A 2015 global study conducted by Community Marketing, Inc. found LGBTQ-friendliness was one of the least important factors for younger Gen-X and millennial travelers when selecting a hotel, and that 68 percent of parents ranked child-friendliness as more important in a vacation destination — up 10 percent from 2012.

That this is something one can reasonably expect to pull off does not always lessen the bittersweet nature of such experiences.

Taylan Stulting, author of The Trans Traveller, wrote in their account of traveling to Dubai: “In Dubai, I felt like there was nothing I could do to sacrifice my identity in order to blend in — leaving my safety in constant question. In some ways, this has turned me off from traveling to other places in the Middle East. But in other ways, I now more than ever want to see what it’s like because despite the horrible challenges I faced, I did love Dubai.”

Though it’s important to thoroughly research your destination and understand the associated risks, more and more people are finding out for themselves how entirely worthwhile it is to not let fear guide their choices. We spoke to a handful of influential travelers to get their stories and advice — and we also put together a few handy phrases you might want to keep in your back pocket. Here’s our official solo travel guide.

Advice From Other Travelers

What are your top tips for solo travelers?

Have a confident mindset! It’s easy — especially when you’re first traveling solo — to feel like you can’t do it, that it’s too hard. And sometimes friends or family will also tell you that you shouldn’t do it. But believe that you can, and that each time you’ll feel better about it, and quickly learn to love it.

Know yourself well — know how much interaction you need with other people to feel happy and structure your travel to get it. This might mean staying in a dorm room at a hostel, or joining a walking tour with other sightseers, or taking a class. Meeting other travelers and locals means that solo travel will never be lonely.

Plan ahead for safety … it’s worth doing a bit of research to find out if a destination might be a risky place to walk around at night, for example, and then plan to stay in [an] accommodation that’s really central or easy to reach without a long walk. — Amanda Kendle

From 2012 to 2013, I visited 15 countries around the world looking explicitly for queer artist and activist communities. For me, it was important to learn about the variety of ways in which people abroad organized as queer artists and activists. In visiting these places, I looked at the culture primarily through a queer lens but I knew that wasn’t the only way I could experience a country. It’s important therefore to be cognizant of how our intentions play out in our daily lives abroad.

I tend to be very forthright about my queerness when I’m abroad. Usually the responses I get are positive or neutral. But I realized this could possibly be because as a foreigner I was exempt from the local rules. Therefore, I like to gauge where pushing the boundaries will result in a productive conversation and where I really don’t need to come out. — Miyuki Baker, via this post

Number one, listen to your intuition — but don’t listen to fear! It is not yet the norm for women to travel solo, although things are changing! People may try to discourage you or tell you how unsafe it is, but if you’ve thoroughly researched and picked a good destination, then you have to just go for it!

Planning ahead is key. I would start by reading a few female travel blogs. You could even start with mine! Research destinations where women have already gone solo like Iceland or France, and build up your itinerary from there.

Make sure you’re well-equipped. Have a working SIM card so you can reach someone in case of emergency, and enough cash in the destination’s currency so you don’t find yourself desperate at an ATM at night or in a shady place. Also make sure you bring essentials like feminine products and whatever will make you feel more comfortable while traveling. — Francesca Murray (@onegrloneworld)

The more you push yourself to do things that scare you, the better your experience becomes.

If men are staring at you, don’t shy or look away. Stare them directly in the eye and give them a friendly hello (preferably in their language).

Get all the information you can about the safety of the area — and any other tips — from the place you are staying (and have the address and phone number written down). — Jessica O’Reilly

Mixed-gender dorms at hostels are not only cheaper than gender-segregated dorms, but they give trans travelers, especially those of us who travel solo, a degree of safety and comfort because everyone is welcome in them regardless of gender. Pay a tad more to get one with an ensuite bathroom, and you eliminate the need to go into gendered spaces at your lodging, which can often be a safety concern for trans folks.

Know the laws — if any — that specifically apply to trans people for the place you’re traveling. In some parts of the world, this may mean outright criminalization of trans folks. In other areas, it may mean strict regulations on hormones, and in other areas, you may be completely protected. Don’t let these laws stop you from going, but being aware can help you plan accordingly and decide if it’s worth the risks. I’ve traveled to a few places were it is criminalized to be trans, and those places have ended up being some of my favorite countries. But it was always carefully planned.

If your gender presentation doesn’t match your legal documents, have an explanation prepared in case it ever comes up at a border crossing or airport security (and it has happened to me, more than I would like). But being prepared can make it so much easier. And it doesn’t have to be a blatant explanation where you come out to total strangers in a foreign country as trans. My documents still say female, but I’m often read as a man, so when it’s become an issue for me in the past, I just make a joke about how I got a bad haircut that makes me look like a boy. Generally it makes people laugh, and then it becomes a non-issue. — Taylan Stulting

Give a copy of your itinerary to your friends/family and let someone at home know if you change anything. Trust your intuition, and if you feel uncomfortable in any situation, get yourself out of it where possible. Always keep a copy of your passport with you in a separate place to your actual passport, in case of theft or damage. You can even just email a photo of your passport to yourself so that you always have it stored somewhere. — Tara Povey

Though of course it depends on how you plan on traveling and how you would like to be read, it’s good for trans travelers, especially those who plan on spending time in queer and trans spaces, to know how to communicate their [pronouns] and ask for others’ gender pronouns in the local language. This can also be useful for dealing with authorities.

I’d advise solo queer travelers to do research on the place they plan on visiting from a local’s perspective, not just asking other queer tourists where the spots are, because you might just be surrounded by tourists instead of getting to know the local queer scene. Anything from gay bars to organizations can lead you in the right direction. — Bani Amor

Be confident. Trust your instinct. Be well-researched and planned for your destination. Keep in touch with your people back home. — Renuka Walter

What’s a memorable mistake you made when you were first starting out?

Not being prepared for illness! For example, I moved to Japan to teach English in the middle of the Japanese summer, and the day after I arrived, having a spare day before work started, I went out exploring in Nara. It was extremely hot and humid, I’d come from winter, I couldn’t figure out how to buy a bottle of water (the Japanese stores were confusing me utterly) and I ended up with heatstroke — not fun at all. And a few months later I ended up with an infected root canal and really struggled to find good pain killers ahead of getting to an English-speaking dentist. Those kind of moments when you’re traveling can be scary! I’m much better organized about this these days. — Amanda Kendle

I didn’t plan enough! I went to Portugal solo about five years ago, before the big tourism boom, and I assumed everyone would be able to speak English. That wasn’t the case, and I found myself lost in a residential neighborhood without a working phone or WiFi. I also didn’t know the language or have a phrasebook on me. People were kind and did their best to get me on the right bus back into town, but that could have been avoided if I had been better prepared. Even picking up a few key phrases or learning the numbers would have helped! — Francesca Murray

Letting nerves and unfair suspicion stop me from interacting with locals and keeping me inside when I should have been exploring. Also, booking all my flights ahead of time, so I was stuck in an annoying itinerary, making it difficult to adjust plans after I met people traveling. — Jessica O’Reilly

A memorable mistake would easily be taking taxis/Uber when I was by myself because they are typically SO expensive if you aren’t splitting it with someone. There are some circumstances where they are relatively cheap and there isn’t a good public transport option (a recent trip to Moscow proved to be one such case when I was going to/from the airport: Uber was only about 100 rubles more than the train, and much more convenient). But when I first started traveling, I would often just feel safer taking taxis and would burn through my daily budget before I got to actually do or see anything, which I now regret. It took me a while to realize that just doing research to become familiar with public transportation (and become aware of any potential scams/safety concerns for that specific area) made me feel just as safe as taking a taxi, saved me loads of money, and often forced me to become familiar with the language if there weren’t English translations on the subways or buses. — Taylan Stulting

I used a backpack (suitcase for me all the way now) and packed way too many clothes. I threw the clothes away as I went so I had space for the things/souvenirs I bought on the road. My back used to hurt if I had my backpack on for more than 5 minutes. It’s just not the right style for me, as I have back problems as it is. I remember a group of people were taking FOREVER to check in at the airport and I was queueing behind them, cursing their names as my shoulders were being slowly sawed off by the straps of my backpack. — Tara Povey

The only mistake I remember making as a solo traveler was setting out for the airport in the wee hours of the morning. My cabby lost his way, stopped the cab and pulled down the window glass to ask directions from complete strangers! It was scary! — Renuka Walter

Useful Phrases In Nine Different Languages


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Quel est le moyen le moins dangereux pour me déplacer en ville ?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Oui, j’ai envie d’aller chez toi.
No, I would not like to go home with you.Non, je n’ai pas envie d’aller chez toi.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Je suis d’accord pour qu’on s’embrasse mais je ne veux pas qu’on couche ensemble.
I would like to use a condom. — Je voudrais que tu mettes un préservatif.
I would like to use protection. — Je veux qu’on se protège.
Please stop. — Arrête.
Sorry to bother you. — Désolé/désolée de vous déranger. (The use of désolé and désolée depends on the gender of the person you’re speaking to, though they are pronounced the same way.)
Can I sit here?Est-ce que je peux m’asseoir ici ?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?Est-ce qu’il y a des bons restaurants/bars sympas fréquentés par des gens du coin dans les environs ?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Je suis un homme/une femme/homosexuel/homosexuelle/transgenre. (Homosexuel/homosexuelle would be the most neutral term in French, as “queer” isn’t often used. You could also just say trans instead of transgenre.)
I go by she/he/they. Vous pouvez vous adresser à moi en utilisant elle/il/ille/iel. (In French, the neutral pronouns are still not really defined; these are probably the most commonly used gender-neutral pronouns within the community, but not everyone will understand these.)
What are your gender pronouns?Comment souhaitez-vous être désigné/désignée lorsque l’on parle de vous ? (For someone you know well, you would use Comment souhaites-tu être désigné/désignée lorsque l’on parle de toi ?)


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Welches Transportmittel ist am sichersten?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Ja, ich möchte mit dir nach Hause gehen.
No, I would not like to go home with you.Nein, ich will nicht mit dir nach Hause gehen
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Küssen ist okay, aber ich will nicht mit dir schlafen.
I would like to use a condom. — Ich möchte ein Kondom verwenden.
Please stop. — Bitte hör auf.
Sorry to bother you. — Bitte entschuldigen Sie, dass ich störe. (Use the formal Sie for people you don’t know, above the age of 30. You could also say du, depending on the situation.)
Can I sit here?Darf ich mich setzen?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?Kennen Sie gute Restaurants/Bars, wo die Leute von hier hingehen?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Ich bin männlich/weiblich/queer/transgender.
I go by she/he/they. Mein bevorzugtes Pronomen ist er/sie/sie.
What are your gender pronouns? — Welche Pronomen bevorzugst du?

You might encounter Germans who use gender-neutral pronouns like sier and xier, but most people are unlikely to understand these outside of queer and activist spaces.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Qual è il modo più sicuro di girare per la città?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Sì, mi piacerebbe venire a casa tua.
No, I would not like to go home with you.No, non voglio venire a casa tua.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Mi va bene se ci baciamo, ma non voglio fare sesso con te.
I would like to use a condom. — Voglio usare un preservativo.
I would like to use protection. — Voglio fare solo sesso protetto.
Please stop. — Smetti subito. (Lit. “stop immediately.” Polite words like “please” might not be appropriate in this context.)
Sorry to bother you. — Scusa il disturbo.
Hello! Can I sit here?Ciao! Posso sedermi qui?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?C’è qualche bel bar/buon ristorante qui vicino, magari frequentato da gente del posto?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Sono un uomo/una donna/queer/transgender.
I go by she/he/they. Quando parli di me, per favore usa il femminile/il maschile.
What are your gender pronouns?Quando parlo di te, che genere o pronome devo usare?

Unfortunately, the Italian language doesn’t have neutral pronouns to express non-binary descriptives. The use of the plural is avoided due to cultural implications: It is, in fact, considered classist in the everyday language. The linguistic non-binary issue is currently a topic of discussion in the LGBT community, which introduced the use of the * in written language to avoid declination (mostly as an act of activism), but has not yet found a solution for the spoken language. In conclusion: using the plural as a literal translation of “they” is not a solution and can only cause misunderstanding. For more background on this, click here.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?¿Cuál es la zona más segura para dar un paseo por la ciudad?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Sí, me gustaría ir a tu casa.
No, I would not like to go home with you.No, no quiero ir a tu casa.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Solo quiero que nos besemos, no quiero irme a la cama contigo.
I would like to use a condom. — Quiero usar un condón.
I would like to use protection. — Quiero usar protección.
Please stop. — Por favor, para.
Sorry to bother you. — Disculpa que te moleste.
Can I sit here?¿Puedo sentarme aquí?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?¿Conoces algún restaurante o bar donde suele ir la gente de aquí?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Soy un hombre/una mujer/queer/transgénero.
I go by she/he/they. Mi pronombre es él/ella/elle.
What are your gender pronouns?¿Cuáles son tus pronombres?

For more background on gender neutrality in Spanish, click here.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Qual é a maneira mais segura de dar uma volta na cidade/conhecer a cidade?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Sim, eu quero ir para sua casa.
No, I would not like to go home with you.Eu não ir para a sua casa./Eu acho melhor não dormir na sua casa. (Both mean the same thing, but the second version is slightly more polite.)
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Eu estou de boas em só beijar, mas eu não estou a fim de transar. (Informal)/Eu prefiro ficar beijando/nos beijinhos, eu não estou a fim de transar. (Formal)
I would like to use a condom. — Eu quero usar camisinha.
I would like to use protection. — Eu quero usar preservativo.
Please stop. — Pare, por favor!
Sorry to bother you. — Desculpa incomodar você.
Can I sit here?Eu posso sentar aqui?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?A quais restaurantes/bares na região as pessoas daqui vão?
I am male/female/a trans man/a trans woman; I’m non-binary.Eu sou um homem/uma mulher/um homem (transgênero)/uma mulher (transgênero); O meu gênero é não-binário. (One thing to be aware of is that gender identity is rarely expressed in such a straight-forward manner in Brazil and other countries.)
I go by she/he/they. Eu prefiro que você: se refira a mim usando o pronome ela/se refira a mim usando o pronome ele/não use nenhum pronome para se referir a mim.
What are your gender pronouns?Quais pronomes você quer que eu use com você?

There doesn’t appear to be a well-known gender-neutral pronoun in Portuguese, so many suggest finding a way to phrase things that don’t involve gendering someone if that’s what they prefer.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Nasıl en güvenli şekilde şehri gezebilirim?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Evet, seninle evine gelmek isterim
No, I would not like to go home with you.Hayır, seninle evine gelmek istemiyorum.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Öpüşmek okay, ama seninle yatmak istemiyorum.
I would like to use a condom. — Prezervatif kullanmak istiyorum.
I would like to use protection. — Korunmak istiyorum.
Please stop. — Dur lütfen.
Sorry to bother you. — Pardon.
Can I sit here?Buraya oturabilir miyim?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?Lokaller bu civarda hangi restoranlarda/barlarda takılır?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Ben erkeğim/kadınım/queerim/transım.
I go by she/he/they. — There is only one pronoun in Turkish, so this doesn’t apply.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Apa transportasi paling aman di kota ini?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Ya, saya mau pulang dengan anda.
No, I would not like to go home with you.Tidak, saya tidak mau pulang dengan anda.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Kita ciuman saja, tidak bercinta/seks.
I would like to use a condom. — Saya ingin pakai kondom.
Please stop. — Hentikan.
Sorry to bother you. — Maaf mengganggu.
Can I sit here?Bolehkah saya duduk di sini?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?Dimana restoran/bar yang biasa dikunjungi orang lokal?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Saya pria/wanita/homoseksual/transgender.
I go by she/he/they. — Indonesian only uses one pronoun.


What’s the safest way for me to get around town?Vilket är det säkraste sättet att ta sig runt i stan?
Yes, I would like to go home with you.Ja, jag vill gå hem med dig.
No, I would not like to go home with you.Nej, jag vill inte gå hem med dig.
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex.Jag vill kyssas, men jag vill inte ha sex.
I would like to use a condom. — Jag vill använda kondom.
Please stop. — Sluta.
Sorry to bother you. — Förlåt att jag stör.
Can I sit here?Kan jag sitta här?
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out?Vet du några bra restauranger/barer här omkring, dit lokalbefolkningen går?
I am male/female/queer/transgender.Jag är man/kvinna/queer/trans.
I go by she/he/they. Mitt pronomen är hon/han/hen.
What are your gender pronouns?Vilket pronomen använder du?


What’s the safest way for me to get around town? — Как всего безопаснее передвигаться по городу? (Kak vsego bezopasneye peredvigatsya po gorodu?)
Yes, I would like to go home with you. — Да, я хочу пойти с тобой домой. (Da, ya khochu pojti s toboj domoj.)
No, I would not like to go home with you. — Нет, я не хочу идти с тобой домой. (Net, ya ne khochu idti s toboj domoj.)
I’m okay with kissing, but I’m not interested in having sex. — Я не против поцеловаться, но я не хочу секса. (Ya ne protiv potselovatsya, no ya ne khochu seksa.)
I would like to use a condom.Я предпочитаю предохраняться. (Ya predpochitayu predokhranyatsya.)
Please stop. — Прекратите, пожалуйста! (Prekratite, pozhalujsta!)
Please stop. (more informal) — Прекрати, пожалуйста! (Prekrati, pozhalujsta!)
Sorry to bother you.Извините/Извини за беспокойство. (Izvinite/Izvini za bespokoistvo.)
Can I sit here? — Здесь свободно? (Zdes’ svobodno?)
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out? (formal) — Какие рестораны/бары Вы бы мне посоветовали? (Kakiye restorany/bary Vy by mne posovetovali?)
What are some good restaurants/bars around here where the locals hang out? (informal) — Какие рестораны/бары ты бы мне посоветовал/а? (Kakiye restorany/bary ty by mne posovetoval/a?)
I am male/female/queer/transgender. — Я мужчина/женщина/квир/трансгендер. (Ya muzhchina/zhenshchina/kvir/transgender.)
I go by she/he/they. Ты можешь употреблять он/она/они, обращаясь ко мне. (Ty mozhesh upotreblyat’ on/ona/oni, obrashchayas’ ko mne.)
What are your gender pronouns? — В каком роде к тебе обращаться? (V kakom rode k tebe obrashchatsya?)

Russian is another gendered language that doesn’t have a well-established gender-neutral pronoun. Some non-binary people in Russia take the masculine “он” because it aligns with other terms that are more neutral, some feminist communities use female as a default gender and separate the female suffix with “_,” and some use “они” (“they”). For more background, click here.

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