We recently sat down with frequent adventurer Chloe Krueger to talk about solo female travel. Chloe, who’s been on two solo bike tours abroad, is a resident of Chattanooga, TN (BikeTours.com headquarters!). She is an avid rock climber and enjoys all things nature, reading, and traveling. Chloe’s traveled the Prague to Vienna via Cesky Krumlov guided tour, and the Danube Bike Path 7 Nights self-guided tour.
Check out our chat with Chloe, and get some expert advice on solo female travel!
Q: Let’s start with the first question that everyone is asking: “Is it safe?”
Solo female travel, generally speaking, is safe. However, here are some great tips to remember!
- Use common sense. Pay attention to your surroundings. Are there other people around? Is the street dark? Just be aware.
- Be confident. Speak clearly, and answer questions with certainty. Be polite, and don’t get angry, but also don’t worry about another’s feelings if you need to remove yourself from a situation.
- Trust your intuition. If something or someplace doesn’t feel right, move along.
Q: Where should I begin in planning my own such trip?
- Research the destination. Is this an area/country/region that is stable (politically, socially, economically, etc)? Here are a few things worth researching:
- What currency does this destination accept?
- What language do they speak? (You don’t need to be fluent, but knowing a few key terms are really helpful here!)
- Are there any major customs to be aware of?
- What kind of food do they eat?
- What is the cultural atmosphere and dominant religion? What are their views of women?
If the destination is within your comfort zone for questions 1 and 2, please proceed. If not, perhaps you should consider other options.
Would you recommend a guided or self-guided trip?
So, yes, there are two main options: 1) a solo self-guided tour or 2) a group-guided tour. A solo self-guided tour is when you have maps and directions and you cycle on your own each day. A group-guided tour is where you join up with a group to cycle with for the duration of the tour.
I did both! Here are my thoughts, along with some background information.
My guided tour
My first tour was a group-guided tour. There was a guide (on a bike) and a driver (who transported the luggage and also served as a SAG wagon). There were eight total in our group. The tour was a level 3 tour (on a scale of 1-5) and the fitness ability of the group was varied.
I thought this was a great way to travel solo without feeling totally outside of my comfort zone. I had my own room each night, and was able to cycle at my own pace (on my own) and also with the group (I had maps and instructions with me.) You are free to get up in the morning and go to bed at your leisure, within the constraints of having breakfast each day before leaving at a specified time, and having dinner at a set time each night. I really enjoyed having company for dinner and during the rides each day.
My self-guided tour
My second tour was a solo self-guided tour. I had a map book, a hotel list (with directions for each one) and several other documents (list of bike shops, tourist information, etc).
Each day I woke up at my leisure. My only constraints were when breakfast was offered at the hotel in the morning, and my destination at the end of each day. Otherwise, I was free to proceed along the suggested route (or not), visit whatever town, attraction, restaurant, I wanted to, or not. I could lie in the sun in a nice park all day. The possibilities were endless.
What were the pros and cons of your guided tour?
- Building friendships with fellow group members
- The guide has useful information (historical, best restaurant, alternate fun routes, language!!)
- Support vehicle
- For me, none. I really enjoyed this tour! And admittedly, I am an introvert. I need alone time to rejuvenate and re-energize. This tour was not overwhelming in that sense.
What were the pros and cons of your self-guided tour?
- Freedom, freedom, freedom.
- I really enjoyed breakfast each day. Waking up whenever, sauntering down to the hotel lobby, enjoying a cup of coffee, and slowly eating my way through that morning’s offerings. Yum!
- I traveled at my own pace, and stopped to take one photo (selfie) fifteen times, until it was perfect.
- Freedom, freedom, freedom. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to go out, explore, or talk to strangers when you are craving some human connection (especially if you are an introvert like me).
What advice would you give to other solo female travelers?
Be confident, and be smart. Do your research about your destination. And if you don’t feel comfortable, go with a friend or pick a different tour!