If you’re a woman going on a solo trip for the first time, packing can be a daunting task. What bag should you bring? And what should absolutely go in it? In this guide, we’ll go through some packing tips and essentials for women traveling alone.
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Don’t know where to go on your solo vacation? Click here for the best female solo traveling destinations.
If you want to read about other great places to visit, see this list of best travel destinations to use the points and miles you’ve earned with your credit card rewards and loyalty programs.
Yes, we know. You might not necessarily be backpacking. But a suitcase with wheels in most parts of the world is annoying, especially in areas with rough roads and no sidewalks. Suitcases don’t roll nicely over cobblestone, nor up and down stairs. We also prefer backpacks because they’re easier to manage when you need to use the restroom.
This seems obvious, but pack matching clothes. Base your travel wardrobe around a color scheme and pack things that complement well with each other. As a rule of thumb, make sure every item goes with more than one other piece of packed clothing. By the end of your trip, you should’ve worn everything at least once.
This is another obvious one. But if you’re traveling alone, no one’s going to carry your bags for you. Make it easy on yourself and start off with a minimal, light load by getting rid of the extra clothes and toiletries you won’t miss.
Keep a little extra cash and a credit card stashed away, separate from your wallet. That way, if your purse gets lost or stolen, you’ll still be able to get by. Hide some local currency in your eyeglass case, in an empty lipstick tube or rolled inside an cleaned-out sunblock tube.
For credit cards, consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for its travel protection and overall versatility. We listed other great cards to carry on you at the end of this post.
What To Pack
Long-Sleeved Shirt & Pants. Even if you’re heading to a warm and sunny destination, you’ll still want at least one long-sleeved shirt and a pair of pants. They’re great for a long flight, visiting sacred temples where shoulders and legs need to be covered, and to detract from unwanted attention.
Crossbody Purse or Daypack. These are great for wandering around the city or going on a day hike. Carry your daypack on the plane with you and pack your crossbody bag in your big backpack.
Sarong. These are very versatile. Use one as a towel, beach wrap, scarf, blanket, pillow or knapsack. Plus, they don’t weigh much and they don’t take up much room.
Pocket Knife. A small, multi-use pocket tool is very helpful when you travel and absolutely necessary for camping. They usually come with tweezers, nail clippers, a serrated knife and a can opener. You can even open a wine bottle with the right one. Just be sure to pack it in your checked bag.
Headphones. They’re great for watching movies and listening to music, without bothering anyone near you.
Flashlight or Headlamp. A small keychain flashlight or a headlamp is a lifesaver if your phone dies. We recommend keeping one in your shoe while you sleep, so you don’t have to dig around for it in the dark.
Power Bank. Having backup power is important, especially since most travel information is connected to our phones these days: boarding passes, hotel confirmation numbers, rideshare, safety apps and etc. It’s best to pack a power bank with you to keep you charged.
Adapters. Make sure to check what type of plugs your destination uses. If it doesn’t match American plugs, you’ll need an adapter. And if different voltages are at play, you’ll need a converter. Most electronics have a built-in converter, but we suggest playing it safe and getting a universal adapter just in case.
Selfie Stick. If you want any photos of yourself while traveling solo, a selfie stick is a must.
Tissues. Toilet paper is a luxury in many places abroad. Tissues work great as toilet paper, napkins and, of course, wiping your nose. Have a small pack with you at all times.
Hand Sanitizer. Soap is another luxury. Stay clean and healthy with a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Feminine Hygiene Products. Although readily available in the United States, tampons aren’t as popular worldwide. Pack some for your trip, or even better, a reusable menstrual cup.
First-Aid Kit. You don’t want to fall ill and then have to drag yourself to the pharmacy for medication. Plus, certain types of meds aren’t as readily available abroad. Make sure to include bandages, disinfectants, painkillers, bug repellent, anti-itch cream, ear plugs and upset stomach medication.
Safety Whistle. You should carry some form of personal safety gear while traveling alone. Pepper spray isn’t an option because it’s banned in most countries. Instead, carry a safety whistle. We recommend the ones that double as a necklace for easy reach.
Lock. Bring one with you so you can secure doors, lockers and your belongings if you need to.
Pack a Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fee
When traveling alone, you need access to money and not just cash that can be lost or stolen. You need a credit card. Specifically, you need a card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee when you’re traveling internationally. Here are a few we recommend you carry with you.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a wonderful choice for anyone new to travel rewards for its simple earning structure and no transaction fee. For travelers, you’ll receive credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee. Continue reading to see all of the outstanding benefits from this mid-tier card.
CAPITAL ONE® VENTURE® REWARDS CREDIT CARD
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card currently earns 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening. Or if are unable to meet the $20k spending requirement, you can still earn 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. These bonus miles are equal to $1000 or $500, respectively, in travel and are easy to redeem as a statement credit towards the cost of your travel purchases. Take advantage of Capital One’s travel partners and these up to 100k miles can be worth around $1400 in value.
This card will earn an ongoing 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards. If you don’t redeem towards travel purchases, your miles will have less value.
The annual fee is $95.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best luxury card with no foreign transaction fees. It offers a wealth of premium benefits that you need as a traveler including Uber credits, airline credits, access to airport lounges, travel protection and more. Plus you’ll get automatic Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status. Read more below.
THE PLATINUM CARD® FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has a special offer for 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in purchases within your first 6 months.
Membership Rewards® points are some of the most valuable in the market. Redeeming these points by booking travel through American Express or by redeeming for gift cards will give you a standard 1 cent per point value. The 100k bonus points are worth $1,000 going this route.
You can potentially get more value by transferring your points to Membership Rewards travel partners. Using this strategy can get you up to an average value of 2 cents per point. Get around $2,000 in value with 100,000 points this way. Read more on this here.
With this card, earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
The biggest drawback to this card is the $695 annual fee (see Rates & Fees, Terms Apply), which puts it in the premium class of credit cards. The card has a market because it offers premium travel benefits, such as 5X points for flights (up to $500,000 on these purchases) and eligible hotels, access to 40+ Centurion Loung and Studio locations worldwide, up to $200 airline fee credit annually, and an annual Walmart+ membership. These benefits are given as statement credits.
For frequent travelers, the added benefits make sense in terms of value and added luxury.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is everybody’s favorite no-foreign-transaction-fee card with a big welcome bonus. The card rewards you with Ultimate Rewards points, one of the most valuable rewards currencies in existence.
Anytime you have Ultimate Rewards points, consider transferring them to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners for maximum value. To find out more about this card, keep on reading.
CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED® CARD
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently has an offer for 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Redeeming the 60,000 bonus points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which is praised by users, will get you $750 in value towards travel. The 60K bonus points are worth $750 because you get 25% more value whenever you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Even better, strategize with Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partners to potentially get even more value. Each point can be worth up to 2 cents apiece (60k points = ~$1,200). Read more on this here.
For United Airlines frequent flyers, this card is for you. The United℠ Explorer Card offers many benefits to frequent flyers and it charges no-foreign-transaction-fee. Continue reading for all of the benefits you’ll get from this card.
CHASE UNITED℠ EXPLORER CARD
The Chase United℠ Explorer Card from Chase has an offer for up to 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 total in the first 3 months. We value these 50k miles at around $700.
The card earns 2X miles on dining and eligible delivery services, hotel stays and United® purchases. United purchases include:
- Economy Plus
- Inflight food, beverages, Wi-Fi
- Other United charges
You’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Other benefits include up to $100 as a statement credit for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ application fee every 4 years. You and a traveling companion on the same reservation will each receive the first standard checked bag free. This card provides priority boarding privileges and 2 one-time passes each year to United Clubs.
The Chase United Explorer Card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 thereafter.
For further reading and find more no-foreign-transaction fee cards, check out our post The Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees.
With this guide, we hope you’ve learned that it’s possible to pack light with just one big bag, while keeping yourself comfortable and safe.
Does travel take a toll on your health? Click here for 12 tips for staying healthy while you travel.
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