Traveling alone as a girl has a lot of perks to it – and of course, a lot of disadvantages too.
Gender stereotypes are alive and will hang around for centuries ahead. Women are generally viewed as physically weak, victimized objects, and in some countries their duties and abilities are limited by being a housewife and popping babies. As a girl who is globetrotting alone, you will have to answer a lot of questions and surprised looks. If you travel cheaply, always keep safety in mind. Camping on the outskirts of town is cool and free, but a single girl camping alone may attract unwanted attention in some countries. Arriving to a sketchy bus station after midnight with no place to stay: shall we go to that cheap roadside guesthouse with blinking lights or add extra $$ for a clean and safe hotel nearby? Balancing your safety and tight budget will always be your big concern.
On the other hand, as a girl you may get a unique access to the life of local people. In many traditional and conservative countries, such as Pakistan, for example, however hospitable the locals may be, a head of the family will never invite a male stranger into the house, concerned by the safety of his women. If you are a girl, no one will ever be afraid of inviting you across their threshold, and you will be able to access the women’s quarters of the house – something that male guests can never do.
When traveling alone, you have your ultimate freedom: choose your destination, wake up whenever you want, eat whatever you want, spend as much as you can afford. Traveling alone helps you build confidence. All of us felt intimidated and confused on our first epic trips, but gradually we grew more secure and learned many lessons: how to develop trust, build friendships and say good-byes. When you travel alone, you make up your own travel style and travel routine: what kind of accommodation you prefer (CouchSurfing, hostels, hotels, camping?), what kind of places you visit (all of UNESCO Heritage sites or only off-track routes for cool kids?), what timetable you follow (exploring in the morning, having an afternoon siesta, partying at night?).
Also, it is worth mentioning that if you are a solo female traveler, nobody gives two damns about your looks. Following old habits, you may keep using makeup for a few weeks. But after all, in a fisherman village in Cambodia the only person who cares about your lipstick is you. You have no travel buddy who would remark on your jungle hair style.
At the same time, in difficult situations, which you will encounter sooner or later, you always wish someone was there with you, to laugh about it and help you find the right solution. Being wholly responsible for yourself and aware of everything around is tiring: if you travel with a companion, you take care of each other and share the happy and the crappy times.
But setting off on your trip alone does not mean you will stay so until the end! Traveling solo means you will be more open to new friendships (however socially awkward you may be at the start) and finding temporary travel companions. It will also improve your foreign language skills: being alone in a remote village in China means you must start using your Chinese phrasebook in order not to starve!