As a solo female traveler, there are certainly some downsides in regards to safety and unwanted attention. But these are often outweighed by the positives. As a woman, you are often more welcomed and your needs are more accommodated. Since a woman is seen as less intimidating in general, getting help and making friends tends to be easier. Add some freebies and female-only benefits, traveling as a girl is, well, pretty sweet.
Staying in female dorms
If you’re traveling on a shoestring, staying in a hostel is well known to be a great way to save money. Women get the added benefit of many hostels offering female dorms. Often, these dorms have added amenities geared towards women (vanity counter, big mirrors) and additional security such as a separate locked floor. But the best benefit is that all-female dorms are the last to fill up at hostels. There has been an instance where the mixed dorms were full at a choice hostel, but there was availability in the female dorms. Score.
Easier to approach people
In general, being a woman makes it easier to approach people you don’t know. A woman on the street is generally perceived to be less threatening. I have talked to countless strangers to ask a question, for help, or to just strike up a conversation. They usually are more than willing to respond and be friendly. I have found it very easy to make new friends while on the road, especially when I’m alone.
Being looked after
While traveling, I met a number of local gentlemen who went out of their way to be kind and helpful. In Seoul, I got lost in finding my hostel and a man sensing my confusion asked if I needed help. He called the hostel and walked with me until I got to my destination. After getting off the plane in Bangkok, a man helped me carry my luggage down several flights of stairs and get a taxi. There were no ulterior motives—just looking after a girl in need. They simply left with a smile and a wave.
Sharing with other girls
Similar to asking for directions, men are often too embarrassed to ask to borrow something they may need, such as shampoo. Other women, myself included, are more comfortable with sharing. There was a time when my period started unexpectedly at a rest stop during a 12-hour bus journey. I had no supplies on me and meekly went to a couple of girls and explained the situation. One girl smiled and opened her purse, where she had several options available. “Take whatever you need.” Awesome.
On occasion, as a woman you sometimes get free drinks or a meal paid for. Although I made it clear that I was in a relationship, I received at least one free drink in every country I visited. I also was treated to several meals, including an excellent sushi dinner bought by a man I had met the night before. Most would write it off as me flirting, but this was not the case—there are some really giving and nice people out there!