Sometimes it feels like people think they have solo female travelers all worked out from the get-go.
The reality is, women who travel solo are just as diverse and individual as any other group of people.
Here are some common assumptions I've encountered on my solo travels.
Solo female travelers are all single
I find it quite baffling that people assume a woman must be single, simply because she happens to go somewhere alone.
You wouldn't automatically assume that a woman in your hometown is single just because she leaves the house by herself, so why do people do it on the road?
I cannot emphasize this enough: solo travel does not equal singles' travel! Anybody can travel alone and many people do, for all different kinds of reasons. We don't fit into any set box.
If you really want to know whether a solo traveler is in a relationship or not, maybe you should just ask.
How people react when I tell them I'm married and I travel solo (and how they've got it all wrong).
We are “trying to find ourselves”
A positive side effect of solo travel is that in the process of working things out on our own and encountering new environments, we can often learn a lot about ourselves.
But that doesn't mean we're all “Eat, Pray, Loving it” and on a long journey of self-discovery.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, there are many reasons why a woman might travel alone and it's ridiculous to assume that the number one and only reason she must be out in the world is that she's looking for signs as to how to work through some kind of “void” in her life.
Maybe she just saw a great flight deal on Skyscanner. Ever thought of that?
Solo female travelers are more open to sexual encounters
I find this to be an unfortunate stereotype that stems from the one above – that women must be “trying to work something out” by traveling and that sex is inherently a part of that.
There are many solo female travelers who are happily married or in committed relationships, and just because someone may be single, doesn't mean they are interested either.
It seems crazy to have to say it, but solo travel has nothing to do with relationship status or consent.
We couldn't find anyone else to travel with us
While some women travel solo out of necessity – because they couldn't convince their friends to join, or they couldn't get holidays at the same time as their partner – there are equally as many women who are traveling solo by choice.
There are a lot of benefits of solo travel. It can be incredibly empowering to travel alone, whether you do it regularly, part-time, or even as a once-off. Whether you have others to travel with or not is besides the point.
For many women this is an ideal trip – not making the most of a bad situation.
Solo female travelers are looking for travel buddies
Many of us actually like our own company and love traveling where and when we want, without having to run it past a group.
I love going out at the start of the day with my map in hand, knowing that I can pick and choose all the places I want to go and how much time I spend at them, and that I can change my plans on a whim.
By all means reach out to solo travelers you meet on your travels and invite them to join you when you want. Lots of people travel solo with the hope of meeting some travel companions along the way – they may well welcome the offer.
Just don't be surprised if they turn you down and want to do their own thing. Traveling alone doesn't necessarily mean lonely.
Have you traveled solo? Have you encountered these stereotypes or others? Let me know in the comments!
More solo travel myths debunked:
Solo Female Travel – Nine Myths and One Truth – Stephanie Yoder on Hostelworld
7 Myths about Solo Travel that Need to be Sent Packing – Ansoo Gupta on Huffington Post
Busting the Top 5 Solo Female Travel Myths – Marissa Sutera on Little Things Travel Blog