Solo female travelers have seen a lot of revolutionary changes the past years. It is now more accessible and more acceptable to travel alone as a woman, even if it is at the other end of our dear world. Something that used to be not done, is now a must do in every woman’s life.

But what is so special and fulfilling about traveling by yourself as a woman?

Maybe it is the courage and strength you show yourself and others in your close environment. Maybe it is the connections you make, the unforgettable experiences you go through, or the realization how much this world has to offer. I find this Spanish saying summarizing solo female travel perfectly: “Todo lo bueno en la vida nace de un salto al vácio.” All the good things in life are born out of a jump in the unknown.

Going on a solo trip is the most terrifying, liberating and eye-opening experience anybody can ever have. Why? Because the best, wildest and most beautiful version of you comes out during this time. You have that “je m’en fou” attitude and you take more risks than you normally would. You can do what you want, not what your friend of family member wants to do. This is time for yourself. Time to ignite your soul and make the jump.

The most used reason to not go on a solo trip as a woman probably is the following: because it is not safe.

Of course, a very important aspect of a solo female trip is to do research. What country do you want to go to? What city? Which neighborhood will you stay in? Be careful and always be safe. Also: respect the local rules and norms. Make connections, talk to people and hear what they have to say about where not to go (alone) or how to act/ dress in certain areas.

If you did proper research and you don’t go looking up danger, or entering a church wearing just a bikini, you should be totally fine.

So go on. Make that jump, accept that frightening challenge, take your salto al vácio. Because I, together with all other solo female travelers, promise you: it is worth it.

That deep state of relaxation, that immense thrill of expanding your boundaries, that exciting feeling of strolling around in unknown streets and that spontaneous, wild version of you being outside your comfort zone and away from the daily life; going on a holiday is something we all cherish. It has become an essential part of our lives. But how do you book your dream holiday while being on a budget?

Personally, 2018 and 2019 – so far – were two years full of traveling and adventures. Some were unplanned, some were solo, some were in another continent, some ended in me celebrating my seventh month of being an expat in a foreign on this day.

One question I frequently hear is: “Where do you get all the money from for your travels?”

Prioritise your dream holiday

Let me make one thing clear. If you want something, really want something, you make it a priority. This is applicable on all things in life. With traveling, it’s the same. There is no magical, hidden treasure for people who want to go on holiday – unfortunately. You make money for it, like you make time for it.

However, I have one golden rule when it comes to planning and booking a holiday, and that is the following:

Set up a budget.

Wherever you want to go on holiday to, whenever you want to go, with whomever you want to go; you will need to set a budget for all your costs and keep some “emergency money” extra. Because while you’re traveling, anything can happen – don’t be scared, I’m not talking about medical emergencies, I’m talking about ordering too many of those delicious cocktails, planning another trip in your trip,… life happens, you know?

A for Effort

Next up is the planning part. My best experience is putting a trip together by yourself. That means you have to do all the work, like: checking multiple websites, OTA’s, apps, and online searching tools. It sounds exhausting and you probably want to click away this tab and look for package deals, but trust me, it is worth the effort.

Here are some tools I recommend: Skyscanner and Google Flights helped me out a lot during my quests to the best flights with my preferred airlines and dates. Google Flights even lets you choose your stop (which airport, how many hours, etc). Booking.com has a Genius reward program which allows you to get extra benefits out of your booking. And lastly, websites of hostels always guarantee you the lowest price.

Here’s a tip for when you have no clue where in this beautiful world you want to go to: on Skyscanner, you can put as destination ‘anywhere’ and they will provide you the cheapest flights for periods of whole months. That rule applies as well for known destinations: just click on ‘entire month’ when selecting the date.

When you have set your budget, you can start filtering on this, the date you had in mind for your ideal holiday, and/or the destination. The more information you possess, the merrier; it will be a lot easier to find your perfect holiday combination.

Sidenote: are you still doubting about certain flights? Create a price alarm so you get a notification you when there has been a price change in your selected flights. On some websites you can also reserve your flights: KLM lets you reserve your flight prices for €15.

So you already have your flights reserved or booked. Now it is time to book your accommodation before the prices go up – the disadvantage of checking everything by yourself (make sure to always clean up your cookies too).

Another important detail to remember is your included luggage when booking a light. For example, Lufthansa included my checked-in luggage in the flight prices, while Turkish Airlines didn’t, and my flight prices went up with €140. It may seen unimportant and just a small detail you can ‘arrange later’, but it is an essential part to not get caught in the flight deals. Always read the conditions of the flight fares.

Booking your stay on a certain location is more a question of personal preferences. Some would prefer the budget hotel, others see themselves being in a surf hostel, you may prefer an Airbnb: the cost may be the same, but of course, you aren’t the same as your fellow travellers.

If it is the first time you are using Booking.com, Airbnb, or another OTA, make sure to use your leverage as being part of the late majority and get extra discounts on your very first booking.

Livin’ la vida loca

Finally, you got your flights and accommodation all set up. Next up is planning your activities and discovering the city or country you will visit. My personal favourite guide is Lonely Planet’s “Guides”. They have offline city guides for a collection of cities worldwide. You can filter on different categories like food, attractions, etc. and within those categories you can filter on degree of popularity, price, etc. Culture Trip offers you a wide variation of blogs about different fields of interests for your next destination.

To summarise my collection of tips: always set up a budget, use the right sources to check your flights and accommodation options, use those online advantages such as discounts and never forget to read the small letters. Hopefully, these tips will facilitate the booking of your next holiday so you can enjoy it even more. I wish you happy travels and lots of eye-opening adventures.

To me, traveling is not about getting to new countries as much or soon as possible.

It’s about the entire journey. Traveling is about the smell of that sweet coffee of the place around the corner you never planned on going to, but is now your favourite place to have breakfast and plan your day.

It’s about that bar two blocks from your residence, where you see all the people you’ve met so far on the trip gathered together, all on one spot, and you are the glue connecting them all together.

It’s about long waiting periods at the airport, but enjoying them and making the best out of it. In the end, you did want to meet new people and be in an international surrounding, so why should an airport be less than your destination?

It’s about that boat ride you took because you wanted to visit another island. That ride that you secretly regret, because all you have been is nauseous. But it doesn’t matter, because you are on a boat. You have the entire ocean ahead of you. Feel the freedom. Watch the boat hitting the waves and creating that endless, bright white foam. Watch out for some sea creatured you might see passing by. Look at the sparkling water and the shining sun and just take it all in.

That’s what traveling is about for me. The small moments, as we call them. The moments you didn’t plan on having or seeing as “big” moments. That fraction of time where you have absolutely no worry in the entire world. That moment where you enjoy. Your journey. That sweet coffee. The vibrant atmosphere in the bar. The waiting at the airport. The boat ride. Enjoy it, every second of it.