I’m Reema, STA Travel Ambassador, avid budgeter and outdoorsy backpacker. I’m a fan of globetrotting the world as a solo female traveler, so I’ve put together my ultimate packing list for anyone who is going off on a solo female adventure…
Solo travel teaches you a lot about perseverance, independence, different cultures, and the world! I love it – it’s the best way to catch the travel bug, gain some valuable real-life skills, and find yourself. Really. It sounds cheesy, I know, but I’ve never learned about myself more than when I’ve traveled alone, especially as a young California college girl.
So, what should you pack? Are you bringing a carry on suitcase for a week? Are you backpacking Southeast Asia for 6 months? Or will you be hiking in the Icelandic wilderness for a month? What you pack is largely dependent on how long you travel, where you travel, and how you travel.
Essential clothes to pack
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- 5 Light shirts – tank tops or tee-shirts: bring at least one that will cover your shoulders, in case you’re in a more conservative country or if you want to visit a country abound with temples or other religious buildings (think Thailand, India, Egypt, etc.)
- 2 pairs of shorts: I would avoid bringing the booty shorts that are the norm in my home state of California, as you may get a lot of unwanted attention (plus no one wants to hike in a pair of short shorts, right?!)
- 1-2 pairs of leggings/yoga pants: I tend to live in these when I travel, but whatever you prefer. Remember, you can always do laundry! If you need to be conservative, leggings should be fine usually, but bring one looser pair of pants just in case. I recommend something like a hiking pant; they tend to be more comfortable and great if you plan on adventuring.
- 1 dress: I would recommend something you can wear for any occasion; something you can dress down with flip flops or dress up with ankle booties. You never know what events you might get invited to!
- Comfortable undergarments: bring plenty – bras in large sizes can be really difficult to find in many Asian and European countries, just FYI.
- 1-2 swimsuits: I would recommend 1 bikini, and a one-piece, which can be useful in countries like China, where bikinis are not the norm…
- 1 light, thin rain jacket
Essential toiletries to pack
- 1 compactable toothbrush.
- Sufficient sanitary products: this depends largely on where you go, as in some countries this will be easy to find, but in some, tampons just aren’t available.
- Whatever minimum amount of makeup you feel necessary; when I travel, I bring a travel sized mascara or waterproof mascara, a small brown/black eyeliner, and one lipstick – but I’m not wearing makeup most of the time in hot weather because it’ll just slide off. No one needs that.
- Solid toiletries: from shampoo to conditioner to perfume, solid products are your friend – not only will they help you avoid annoying liquid regulations when going through airport security, but this can help prevent spillage. Many solid products also tend to last a long time and can be very high quality! Take yourself to Lush and stock up.
- Everything else you should be able to buy relatively cheaply in whichever country you visit! However, when you’re mid-flight, you’ll need a toolbox of essentials to keep you sane, especially for the long-haulers. Check out this list of in-flight essentials!
Essential tech to pack
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- Universal adaptor
- Phone charger (I would bring two and leave them in different locations within your luggage, because you do not want to lose battery)
- Laptop: only bring this if you really want/need it. Sometimes it’s nice to really unwind and tech detox for a while (and reduce the weight of your bag for those much needed souvenirs). If you do decide to bring your laptop however, remember that theft can be a serious problem when backpacking in some (usually more heavily-traveled) countries, so take extra precautions; don’t just leave your laptop out on your hostel bed when you leave for the day! And get some decent insurance.
- For more essentials, check out this packing list!
Essential further solo travel reads
- Best places to travel solo: a female guide
- The best trips for solo travelers
- Flying solo: How safe is it to travel in Sri Lanka as a female on their own?
- Six myths about traveling solo