Solo female traveling has existed longer that you may think, but in older times brave ladies (such as Catalina de Erauso http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalina_de_Erauso, or Isabelle Eberhardt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabelle_Eberhardt) had to dress up in men’s clothing in order to be independent and have all the freedom in the foreign lands. At some point of my backpacking trip I realized that unlike most of my male travel companions, I actually want to look pretty from time to time. NOT carrying a mirror is one good tip. Kudos to the hippies who manage to live over a week without shower, but most of us need our toiletries and at least one dress to remind ourselves that we are not ready to grow a forest on our legs and run away into the jungle.
General items aside, here is an essential solo female travel packing list:
Now, I do not want to advise you anything illegal, but a taser or a small pepper spray is a great thing to have. Tasers are illegal in many countries, hard to get and surely will be confiscated at the airport. This pepper spray may be a great solution to avoid airport security: shaped as a lipstick, small and easy to keep in your pocket! http://www.amazon.com/Self-Defense-Store-PS-LS-BLACK-Lipstick-Pepper/dp/B0025P4ATA
Packing cubes are my #1 essential item when packing for any trip. They allow me to stay organised and pack more strategically. I keep one for tops & scarves, one for underwear and one for dresses, pants & shorts. Here is a useful guide to the best packing cubes for travel so you can see just how effective they can be and also compare some of the different brands on the market. Really though, get these immediately!
Sarong / scarf
In more conservative countries, covering your head and all body curves is advisable and sometimes obligatory by law. Big scarf can also be used as a skirt, beachwear, blanket and a towel. In some countries, in rural areas all women wash themselves right in the middle of the yard, but instead of stripping naked they wrap themselves in sarong and use it as a bathing suit.
Wet tissues, dry tissues, hand sanitizer
Wet tissues are absolutely necessary to wipe the dust off your face and neck, hand sanitizer is useful for, well, sanitizing your hands before you eat, dry tissues can double as toilet paper or tablecloth for camping trips. Never leave these behind.
Tampons / menstrual cup
Pads and tampons are not easy to get in some places, so you better have an emergency stash at all times for your days of the month. Menstrual cup is another travel alternative: it can be washed and re-used several times, but takes time to get adjusted to.
To avoid unwanted attention, simply pretend that your music is too loud and you are disconnected from the outside world.
I mean The Ring of Power. ‘Are you married?’ is the second most-asked question for female travelers. Even ‘What is your name?’ is less important for many aspiring husbands. Assure them that your spouse gives you money for your travel and will be joining you this evening. For obvious reasons, the ring should better look cheap.
Toiletries bag: moisturizing cream, sunblock, vaseline, insect repellant, etc.
Zip all your toiletries in one bag. All sorts of skincare products will come in handy at some point: moisturizing cream for windy mountain hikes, facial wash for sweaty tropical countries, sunblock for the burning beach bumming days, mosquito repellant for jungle adventures.
A comfortable pair of sandals are essential for every traveller. Sandals can be worn throughout the day or teamed with a nice dress for evenings. They work well for Asia, Europe, cruising the Caribbean… basically anywhere! Here are some good ideas on the best comfortable travel sandals that are available.
Loose trousers and baggy shirts
Last but not least, baggy clothes are nice for hot weather, great for hiking and make you look like the most typical backpacker.