14 awkward first-time solo female travel moments: How to tackle them
I believe solo female traveling also contributes towards women empowerment. It is a form of freedom in solitude. However, if you are travelling alone for the first time, there could be A LOT of unavoidable awkward moments. It can be dangerously embarrassing if it lingers in the memory forever lol. On a serious note, following are the 14 top awkward solo travel moments I faced during my first solo trip. I’m not sure whether you’d face one, but just trying to give you a heads-up!
1. Explaining family/friends about your decision on solo travel
This must be the most awkward thing to do for a person who is not very expressive with words. Sometimes, it is not easy to make people understand certain things. Need I say, it is almost impossible if you are from an Asian family! Travelling alone as a woman can be scary to your parents. You may even come across as a depressed person to some of your well-wishers for deciding to travel alone. Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone with your choices in life.
It is completely impossible to make everyone happy with your decision. However, it is important to let your loved ones know that you are responsible enough to look after yourself. So, give yourself a pep talk before opening up to your family and best friends about it.
2. Being questioned like a suspect by immigration officer
If you are one of a very few unlucky ones, you’ll spend extra time with an immigration officer at the airport. You might be interrogated on the purpose of your travel, etc. If you are travelling solo for the first time with no previous intentional flight experience, it is going to be intimidating. Furthermore, you’d feel awkward when you spend more time at the desk than rest of the people in the line.
In that case, calm down, it is no big deal. Think of it as a casual conversation with a friend. They are just doing their job! Also, you’re not going to be held back!
3. Getting hit on by locals
There are only 2 possible options. You can either enjoy it or be completely disgusted with it! Honestly, it is not very surprising if you encounter a casual flirtatious moment with a local taxi driver, tour guide, etc. However, you should stay away from creepy stalkers or people who try to get all your personal details. Ok, let’s not get to the creepy part now!
You just need to smile and brush-off any “You look gorgeous” compliments before you continue with your journey. It is better to stay away from any unwanted interaction with suspicious people no matter how safe the destination is. Talking of safety, read to know the 10 safest destinations for solo female travellers. But don’t forget to flaunt it to your friends, boy friend and partner back home!
4. Realising that you’re the only solo traveller at the place
This is like the ultimate facepalm moment of your entire trip. Imagine checking in at the hotel reception desk and finding only “honeymooning” couples around you. Or realising you’re the only solo traveller in the zoo. How would it be? You might secretly regret in your head when the hotel staff is looking behind if there’s anyone to join you.
I know this is not how you wanted your trip to kick off. But tell you what, you need to be proud of yourself for going against the stereotypes. I bet a lot of people in the trip would want to swap places with you. And please don’t expect to find fellow solo female travellers wherever you go.
5. Dining alone on a huge table
There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and having a huge table all for yourself. The smaller tables in the hotel are either occupied or nowhere to be found! So, you are left with no choice but to take the 6 seater table!
On a positive note, you have one big advantage over others and that is you can make your meal grandeur with all the food on the table. You would feel like a royal highness, and also have a sophisticated meal like Mr. Bean at the same time. And that’s a rare combination! Also, you can just do take away! It is as simple as that.
6. Asking strangers to click your pictures
Trust me, it is going to be even more awkward if a stranger ignores your request to click your pictures! Selfies are not going to help you get those beautiful pictures for your blog. And it is nearly impossible to always depend on tripods too. Unfortunately, there is no other choice than to ask strangers to click your pictures.
Please don’t hesitate to ask help, otherwise you may regret it later. And it is ok if someone ignores your request! Don’t be offended by it because they’re probably running late for the day or not good at clicking pictures. Who knows! So, don’t stop trying until you get your job done.
7. Trying to pose for a fake candid photography
Sometimes, you may want to get your pictures clicked like the ones from fancy travel blogs. However, not everyone at the tourist spot can understand when you try out various poses with your backpack for a fake candid. They’d wait until you stand straight and look at the camera with a wide smile. As a result, it would be a cringeworthy photoshoot of you posing like ‘Dora the Explorer’!
To avoid all the confusion, make sure you explain the person about the fake candid photography before you hand over the camera. If language is a barrier, use Google Translate to convey your requirement. It would make the whole situation less complicated!
8. Doing an adventurous activity alone
You’d look clueless when the guy who does safety-check expects someone to join you for the activity. Things can get weird if you’re the only person on your own amidst couples/friends/family at the spot. But that’s ok! Be a sport and finish the activity so you can sulk about it later in your hotel room lol!
The beauty of travelling solo is trying out things that you once thought were difficult to do. You win an extra bonus point if you’re able to do an activity on your own. It is definitely an achievement hands down! So, be proud of yourself and own it like never before!
9. Getting lost on the way back to hotel/hostel
Taking a stroll along the market area in the evening and getting lost on the way back to hotel is common. Every solo traveller can relate to this feeling! Unfortunately, you may forget to act smart and look like a lost child in the carnival. But it is not the end of the world yet!
Calm down and reach for your phone to get help from Google Maps or the hotel/hostel reception desk number in the contact list. Try to locate a safe place where you can do all this with no disturbance before you go ahead with the journey. Also, read to know all the 21 safety tips for solo female travellers.
10. Using public transport hesitantly
Using public transport in the foreign location requires a bit of experience. In order to save money, some solo travellers use tram, metro, etc. However, it is not that easy to get used to public transportation services in largely populated countries. You may end up using it with a lot of hesitation which in turn makes you look like an odd one out in the crowd.
First of all, don’t panic and give it away on your face. It is important to gather information about the public transport specific to your destination from travel blogs before using it. Furthermore, you can take help from locals or help desks (if any) near you. Also, you can laugh at yourself for tripping on the subway stairs due to anxiety! It happens because no one is perfect…
11. Wearing something completely irrelevant to the place
Nothing is as embarrassing as wearing a long dress paired with denim jacket to a waterfall! ‘Wait a minute, are you kidding me?’ would be your ideal reaction when you can only spot half-naked people at the waterfall. But you cannot avoid certain things on your first solo trip no matter what! And it is no big surprise even if you cringe at yourself.
Try doing a quick fix with the help of spare clothes or scarf (one of the important things to carry in your backpack). Remember, it is ok to be different in a crowd. Being unique is part and parcel of being a solo female traveller. And no, these are not words of encouragement!
12. Declining someone’s help and end up accepting it later
The first key rule of solo travelling is to let go of your shyness when it comes to taking help from locals. Sometimes, you may hesitate to reach out to people during an emergency. Also, it is not a crime to get rid of your awkwardness, and accept someone’s help.
It is ok if you feel like a stupid by declining the offer and end up accepting it later. Nobody is going to judge you for that. You are just a random solo female traveller surrounded by strangers in a new location. So, why do you even bother about coming across as a clueless person to them?
13. Replying that you’re not travelling with husband
You can relate to this if you are someone who’s in late 20’s and been travelling solo for a while now. The hotel staff looking for your imaginary husband to join you at the reception desk would be an awkward moment for sure! Relax, it is fine. Don’t start overthinking like,
- Am I looking old?
- Do I look like a married woman?
- Why can’t married women travel alone?
Please stop right there! You have every right to live your life the way you like. Stop worrying too much about what others think of you. Smile away and give a fitting reply.
14. Expressing your emotions in public
It is natural to lose self-control and let go of your emotions in public at times. Be it crying, excitement, happiness, anxiety, you name it! I was very emotional during my first solo trip to Bali. It happens. And it is no big deal either! However, I agree that it could be off-putting when you think about the moment later in the trip.
Embrace your flaws and don’t be so hard on yourself! It is just the beginning. You learn as you grow. Being vulnerable makes you stronger. Also, remember to keep your emotions in control when you’re all on your own. You do not want anyone to take advantage of it!
What is your awkward solo travel moment?
Solo travel is not a joke. I think every solo female traveller must face awkward moments to be able to travel solo forever. It is all about the baby steps! You make mistakes only to learn from them. Be a sport and stop feeling embarrassed, awkward, insulted with the moments that wouldn’t matter AT ALL down the road. You are good to go! If you have awkward solo travel moments or mistakes to share, please leave a comment below.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.