Travel to Cuba: Do you have what it takes?

Think Cuba, and classic cars, the rhythm of live music and the fresh taste of a mojito come to mind. Yet as alluring as Cuba is, it’s not an easy place to travel to. Here are some of the difficulties that you may encounter while solo traveling to Cuba, and how to overcome them. 

Despite it’s troubled past, the small Caribbean island of Cuba has seen a massive increase in tourist numbers over the recent decade. The country is modernising – but slowly, as due to complex political relationships it is still largely cut-off from the outside world. Western amenities we take for granted such as WiFi and fast-food are non-existent. This is an aspect embraced by locals who retain their laid-back heritage, and celebrated by travelers wanting to escape more established tourist routes. Here are a few challenges that you may encounter when you travel to Cuba. 

1: Scarcity of accommodation options in Cuba

Although Cuba now has its fair share of five-star hotels, particularly in the beach destination of Varadero, small businesses and non-government owned properties are not typical in Cuba, so it’s extra important to support locally owned businesses. Many of the accommodations are called casa particulares, which are people’s homes that they open up for guests. Each Casa or Casita is different. There are huge advantages to these homestays. Staying with a local means you’ll have someone who knowns the best sights and hangouts, can advise you on how to get around, as well as help you navigate things you may not have considered, such as grocery shopping or finding internet. Casas are far more affordable than hotels and can be found online or on sites like Airbnb. However, remember that in Cuba certain websites are unavailable so it’s always best to book in advance.

2: Food options IN CUBA are LIMITED

Prepare for ‘Menu of the Day’ to take on a very literal meaning. There is no one flavour or dish that defines Cuba (except perhaps rum!). Food options are varied due to embargos, meaning locals cook what is available that day. Supermarkets as we know them are scarce in Cuba, but cafes and casas usually serve excellent breakfasts which include omelettes and fresh fruit to set you up for a day of exploring. Common meals are eclectic mixes of Latin American and Caribbean food – think barbecued meats, rice, beans and plantain.
However, since the country has westernized, a whole host of restaurants have popped up serving international cuisine. 5 Esquinas Trattoria in Havana serves some of the best Italian around, while 304 O’Reilly’s serves fresh seafood, empanadas and excellent tacos. Also, if you’re heading to Viñales, many restaurants and cafes on the main road offer a free mojito and WiFi with your meal!


Say goodbye to fast internet – or easy WiFi access, for that matter! The question on many people’s lips when visiting Cuba – is there internet? In short, yes. A decade ago, internet didn’t exist in Cuba but since then it has been introduced for the benefit of both locals and tourists. The strength is fairly weak and certain sites are blocked by the government. 

You can find WiFi in Cuba at five-star hotels have a monopoly on WiFi spots in many places. Pop into a hotel for a quick drink if you need access. You can also try cafes, squares and parks.

Now for the technical part! To access the internet in Cuba you’ll need an ETECSA card. You can buy these from outlets across the country (go early as there’s often queues) and pre-pay for a certain number of hours – the maximum is usually five hours per card for $5, and you can buy up to five cards in one go. Next, head to a WiFi hotspot, rub the back of the card to reveal your log-in code and connect to the internet! Just remember, you’ll also need to log out each time, otherwise your card continues running.

3: Travel logistics in Cuba are Challenging

Think packed public buses, non-existent timetables and endless queues. There are no trains in Cuba, so buses, taxis and classic cars are the main modes of transport. Transport in Cuba can be fairly hit and miss, which is why we suggest the Cuba Meetup Tour as the easiest way to see the highlights of Cuba. 

In central Havana you can explore on foot however to reach its sprawling neighbourhoods such as Vedado and Miramar you will require a bus. The hop-on-hop-off bus runs to all areas of the city. Tickets cost approximately $10 per person and last for the entire day, meaning you can go from Parque Central to the Hotel Nacional and back to the Malecon with ease. It also has an open-air roof which has the best views along the way. 

Travelling between cities, such as from Havana to Varadero, Viñales, Trinidad and even Santiago de Cuba can be done by local bus however timetables vary and safety concerns have been raised. Luckily, Cuba has adapted for tourists and an equally affordable tourist bus service, Cubanacan, now has air-conditioned services running directly to all the popular destinations on the island, including overnight trips to the east. These are considered a good way to get around, however an alternative would be hiring a driver, which is more flexible but also more expensive.


Cuba is without a doubt one of the most unique travel destinations in the world. If you love adventure, discovering new cultures and pushing your boundaries, it’ll be right up your alley. Here are the must-see places in Cuba:


Havana is the perfect introduction to Cuba. You can wander the historic streets and admire the colourful buildings, get an iconic photo riding in a classic car and see some of the city’s most famous attractions such as Old Havana (Habana Vieja), El Capitolio and the quirky, mural-covered neighbourhood of Fusterlandia, before finishing the day with a stroll along the Malecon.


A must-visit town is Viñales, a mountainous region covered in lush jungle and working tobacco plantations. Take a tour of one to see how tobacco is produced and used to make cigars and make time to take a short hike up one of the many hills for spectacular views across the area.


Trinidad is a tiny, hot southern town with real-life cowboys, beautiful landscapes and one of Cuba’s best beaches, Playa Ancon, nearby. History buffs can add in a stop at Playa Giron and the Bay of Pigs, the site of the famous 1961 invasion, which is also home to sparkling blue waters famed for snorkelling and diving. 

To better prepare you for travel, The Solo Female Traveler Network has listed the top books, movies and artists to research before you travel to this incredible country to better prepare you for what to expect, and give you insight into cultural values and history. Read it here.

If solo travel to Cuba isn’t your thing, why not join us on a women-only group tour? We cover the highlights of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Havana, Viñales and Trinidad on the SoFe Travel Meetup tour to Cuba, plus more. You’ll find a nation filled with welcoming locals, home cooked meals, a rich history and a country once trapped in time, that is slowly opening up to the modern world. 


Best Travel Hacks for Solo Female Travelers

When it comes to finding travel hacks, The Solo Female Traveler Network audience of over 500,000+ women have a few tricks up their sleeve! Here’s a collection of their top recommendations for you to try on your next trip abroad. 

We’ve collated the best suggestions from our Facebook audience from fund saving techniques to apps to everything in between. Some you may know already, and some might surprise you. Take a look!

  • Set your Lock Screen to a screenshot of a bunch of basic phrases in the country you’re going to (excuse me, hi, bye, yes, no, I don’t speak _______). – Skylar K
  • Invest in a charging phone case so you never need to worry about running out of battery – Skylar K
  • When you arrive in a new country exchange your SIM card for a local one to avoid roaming charges by your home cell provider. You can sometimes buy SIM cards at the airport or at large grocery stores, pharmacies, even some corner stores and of course stores that sell cell phones. – Heather H
  • I always search with hashtag # on Instagram the countries I’m gonna visit, and I take ideas and see places where other people have been. – Mary P
  • Never book walking tours through Viatour, Trip Advisor etc. Rather Google free walking tour (x city). Every big city has them. They’re usually in a variety of languages. You’ll get a smaller group and remember to tip your tour guide! It supports locals, not conglomerates! – Diane L
  • GPSmycity app is also pretty nifty. They provide self-guided walking tours if you don’t want to do free walking tours or you miss the time for them. I love walking tours on my first day to get to know the area a bit. – Michelle P
  • Greether– they connect travelers with a female local tour guide who can help you with whatever; tours, safety tips, anything! Also helps you get a more authentic cultural experience by hanging out with a local. – Ashley C
travel hacks
  • Use Stasher – If I get into a town early or check out early and my flight is later, I can store my bags at a local shop and it works out great… – Julie A
  • Try an e-sim: I just discovered Airalo while traveling to Europe from Canada. It saved me so much money. My Canadian provider was going to charge me $400 for a month in Europe. The eSIM was $20 for 5G of data. It worked great and you didn’t have to physically put in a new card. It was all through the app. – Jill A
  • app is great because the more you book, the bigger the discounts you get. You also get complementary room upgrades and it’s super easy to manage all your bookings in one place. Also, you save even more by booking through the app! This sounds like an ad lol – Angela L
  • I book through the Moneybox app and get cash back for every stay! – Debbie S
  • Download Splitwise to calculate costs shared between friends and groups. It’s a must-have for tallying who spent what, and reconciling it all at the end. It couldn’t be easier! – Lyn R
  • I recently discovered Instabridge.  It’s an app where you can see the passwords of public wifi connections (for example from a restaurant/café). Sometimes it’s nice when you don’t have mobile data and quickly want to search online. It has some ads. But when you download a region offline, you don’t have to watch the ad. – Jasmien T
  • Google Maps has an option to download an offline map so you can access it anytime even if the service is spotty – Emily B
Travel hacks
  • If you need an ATM, look for an ATM outside of a big bank because their fees are usually lower than the sketchy looking ones just out and about. – Skylar K
  • Get an RFID protective card holder for your debit and credit cards. My card has been swiped multiple times. RFID stops this. It’s very annoying when your card is cancelled while overseas. – Monique C
  • I love GTFO (Get the flight out) for random lady minute trips. You save the airports you most regularly fly from, and it sends you super discounted rates for flights departing from locations on your list 🙂 – Staci L
  • Once you identify a place you want to stay and lowest price possible on any app, call that place directly and ask them if they can offer you the same thing for less if you book directly by phone right then and there. – Elaine M
  • If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, use Google Flights and set your browser to Incognito mode. Reset the dates and don’t put an “end” destination – it will scroll through and find the cheapest current rates per weekend, 1 week and 2 week searches. Widen the map and it will include international flights . Love it! – Zuri J
  • I pack protein bars, jerky, and mixed nuts…those I eat for breakfast and lunch and only eat out for dinner. You still get to try local dishes, but it saves a ton of money because you aren’t impulse spending on food during the day! – Audrey S
  • Pick airlines that allow you to extend layovers so you can add stops to your vacation (TAP airlines, Icelandic air, Norwegian airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines) – Christine S
  • Busses and trains might be cheaper than flights (and more environmentally friendly in general). You can cover great distances for as cheap as 1$ per ticket; if you travel overnight, you even save on the ho(s)tel. Look out for coupon codes.. Buy things in supermarkets; even if you can’t cook, there often is a bakery stuff or so that is cheaper than takeaway food. – Louise O
  • Bring a collapsible, reusable water bottle – in some countries water is expensive. – Fatima C
  • I will plan out where and when I’m going, and then look into food/hostel/hotel prices, flight estimates, etc and create a budget for myself. Then I’ll split that budget into however many months I have until the trip and save slowly but intentionally, and book things as I go so that by the time the trip comes around I’m set to go. – Kelsey H
  • I live a pretty humble life and save all year. Here’s a “hack” for every week of the year…put away the $ amount for that week. Week 1=$1. Week 52=$52. At the end of the year you’ve got something like $1400. It’s not alot but it’s something that you’ve built up to add to other savings without really thinking about it impacting your wallet ♡ – Anna B
  • I try to travel during shoulder seasons for whatever country I’m going to. I also always plan my trips a year in advance so I know how much to save each month and sometimes the earlier you book stuff, you can get discounts or prices are cheaper. – Massiella P
  • Whenever I am about to buy something I don’t need, I just stop and put that money in a piggy bank . Let’s say I’m about to buy a top from H&M for 15€, I forget about it and save that 15€. I want to buy a 3€ slice of cake? Walk away from that shop and save 3€. It also helps me eat a lot healthier 😂– Alexandra S
  • I save on Qapital, where whenever you spend I have it set up to round off to the next dollar and that change goes into my Qapital account. You don’t miss it and before you know it… you have saved quite a bit!!!!!
best travel hacks

Have other great suggestions? Mail us on [email protected]!

Ed’s note: This post contains affiliate links to help support the running of the SoFe Travel team and SoFe community at large. Wherever possible, we support women-owned businesses and ethical, sustainable organisations. Got suggestions on blog topic ideas or want to contribute your travel stories? We’d love to hear from you! email us on [email protected]

Media Guide to Northern India

The Solo Female Traveler network's Guide to what to read, watch and listen to before you travel to Northern India.

India is a vast, diverse, and vibrant country that offers endless exploration. On our Meetup Tour to Northern India, your local guide will give you an insider’s view into the bustling cities, ancient wonders, and breathtaking monuments like the Taj Mahal. But with so much to discover, why not get acquainted with India before your departure?. Below are a few of our favorite books, movies, music, and video clips that begin to scratch the surface of India’s beauty, history, and modern culture.


The White Tiger
By Aravind Adiga 
The Inheritance of Loss
By Kiran Desai
The Space Between Us
By Thrity Umrigar 

The White Tiger follows a darkly comic driver in Bangalore through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram Halwai tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Born in the “dark heart” of rural India, Balram catches a lucky break as the chauffeur for a wealthy family. Soon, he becomes ensnared in the family’s corruption, and his ambition to escape a life of poverty leads him down a dark and dangerous path.

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

This poignant novel about a wealthy woman and her downtrodden servant offers a revealing look at class and gender roles in modern day Bombay. It follows the close but unusual bond between Sera, a Parsi widow whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law share her elegant home, and Bhima, the elderly housekeeper who must support her orphaned granddaughter. Through their triumphs and tragedies, Sera and Bhima always shared a bond that transcended class and race; a bond shared by two women whose fate always seemed to rest in the hands of others, just outside their control.

TOP Movies TO Wacth BEFORE TRAVELING TO Northern India

Monsoon Wedding
The Darjeeling Limited
Punjab 1984
Dilwane Dulhania Le Jayenge

Monsoon Wedding follows a Delhi family’s frantic preparation for the marriage of their only daughter, Aditi, to a computer programmer from Houston. This 2001 hit has a bit of everything: comedy, drama, music, and of course, all the decadence of a traditional Indian wedding!

Three estranged brothers reconnect on a journey through India a year after the death of their father. This film showcases the starkly beautiful hills of Northern India, as well as the romance and surprises of train travel, with a colorful Wes Anderson flair that’s sure to get you excited for your visit.

A woman searches for her missing son, who has been misjudged and labelled a terrorist, during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This award-winning film sheds light on one of the darkest periods of India’s recent history and the tension between its diverse ethnic groups.

This beloved Bollywood classic is an essential introduction to the genre; it’s also the longest-running film in India’s history, airing in theaters for over 25 years! It features a classic hatred-turned-romance and an arranged marriage love triangle. The movie’s most famous romance scene will have you searching for the nearest field of mustard flowers outside of Delhi for a photo op!

TOP Music TO Listen To BEFORE TRAVELING TO Northern India

Guru Randhawa

Guru Randhawa is one of the biggest names in Indian pop music today, shooting to stardom after his debut in Hindi Medium. We can’t get enough of this party anthem and Nora Fatehi’s incredible dance moves!

Neha Kakkar

Singer Neha Kakkar is the reigning queen of Bollywood vocals. The romantic ballad “Oh Humsafar” is one of her classics, but there’s much more to explore!

Raja Kumari

Raja Kumari is a bad B if we ever saw one. Previously a songwriter for Gwen Stefani and Iggy Azalea, this Indian-American artist now performs a mesmerizing blend of West Coast rap and Indian influences under her own name. She even has her own record label, Godmother Records.

Asha Bhosle

An absolute legend of Bollywood, Asha Bhosle has recorded more than 11,000 songs in 20 different languages, landing her in the Guinness Book of World Records. This popular number from the ’90s will make you want to dive head-first into the world of Bollywood.

TOP Videos TO Watch BEFORE TRAVELING TO Northern India

Along the River Ganges: India's Holy River Cities

Explore daily life, sacred rituals, and stunning scenery along the Ganges River—the physical and spiritual heart of India. This documentary features gorgeous photography that will make you wish your trip could start right now.

15 Local North-Indian Dishes to Try

Whether it’s Kashmiri waazwan, Kakori kebabs from UP, Delhi’s butter chicken, or Chandigarh’s chole bhature, these are some local and authentic dishes from states of Northern India that you should definitely try. Don’t watch hungry, because this video will have your mouth watering in anticipation of your trip! 

Thar Desert: Sacred Sands

During your journey in India, you’ll experience desert glamping and authentic cultural connections in the Thar Desert. Uncover the strange beauty of this region in Part 1 of the Wildest India miniseries—from the sunbaked desert, to the Temple of Rats, to city-loving monkeys that are as mischievous as they are cute.

Ed’s note: This post contains affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you purchase something. It costs you nothing and every penny goes towards improving and operating our free community, The Networkthe running of the SoFe Travel team and SoFe community at large. Wherever possible, we support women-owned businesses and ethical, sustainable organisations. 

Media Guide to Southern India and Sri Lanka


Our Meetup Tour in Southern India and Sri Lanka takes you to some of the most magical places on earth. You’ll enjoy insider access to tea and spice plantations, mind-boggling ancient monuments, and local home-cooked meals. But with so much to discover, why not get acquainted with India and Sri Lanka before your departure? Below are a few of our favorite books, movies, music, and video clips that begin to scratch the surface of India and Sri Lanka’s rich cultures


The God of Small Things

By Arundhati Roy

Song of the Cuckoo Bird
By Amulya Malladi  
Midnight's Children
By Salman Rushdie

This critically acclaimed, modern classic is equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama. The story centers on twins Estha and Rahel, who live in Kerala. Their lives are destroyed by the “Love Laws” prevalent in 1960s India. The novel explores how small, seemingly insignificant things shape people’s behaviour and their lives.

Barely a month after she is promised in marriage, eleven-year-old orphan Kokila comes to Tella Meda, an ashram by the Bay of Bengal. But instead of becoming a wife and mother as planned, Kokila decides to remain at the ashram. Through the years, Kokila makes a home in Tella Meda alongside other strong yet deeply flawed women. From the 1940s to the present day, this novel chronicles India’s tumultuous history as generations of a makeshift family seek comfort and joy in unlikely places.

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.

Top Movies to Watch before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

The Lunchbox
Life of Pi
The Great Indian Kitchen

A lonely housewife in Mumbai tries adding some spice to her marriage by preparing a special lunch for her husband… but the delivery winds up in the wrong hands, sparking an unusual friendship. Besides being a heartwarming tale, this movie is sure to get your mouth watering with its focus on home-cooked Indian dishes!

Life of Pi is the awe-inspiring true story of a boy who survives a shipwreck and, as fate would have it, spends many months on a lifeboat with a live Bengal tiger before finally returning to civilization. The first act of the movie was shot in the coastal paradise of Puducherry, so it gives you an alluring taste of the beauty you’ll see in Southern India.

After marriage, a Kerala woman struggles to be the submissive wife that her husband and his family expect her to be. The story is not exactly uplifting, but gives a realistic and nuanced view of how the patriarchy and modern caste system affect women in India today.

Top Music to Listen to before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

A.R. Rahman

Known as the “Mozart of Madras,” A.R. Rahman is a legendary Tamil musician who’s won countless awards, including two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, Golden Globe, and four National Film Awards.

Tribe Mama Marykali

Tribe Mama Marykali, who hails from beautiful Kerala, creates an irresistible blend of musical styles including hip hop, reggae, jazz, and pop. She’s also well known for celebrating femininity in her lyrics and music videos. 

Anirudh Ravichander

While Northern India has Bollywood, Southern India has Tollywood (Telegu-language cinema) and Kollywood (Tamil-language cinema). Anirudh Ravichander is one of the most popular Kollywood musicians today; this infectious song from the movie Master will have you ready to dance in the streets!

Celebrating Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan students at the Berklee College of Music created this project to showcase traditional musical styles from their home country. It’s an enticing introduction to the music, dance, and costume of Sri Lanka!

Top Videos to Watch before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

Who are the Tamil People?

Tamil culture is the last surviving classical civilization, having preserved their beliefs, culture, and language intact for 2,000 years. Who are the Tamils, what is their story, and what does it have to do with 700 billion golden coconuts? Let’s find out!

Wildest Islands: Sri Lanka

Get a small (virtual) taste of some of the delicious dishes you’ll be noshing on in Havana and beyond! Keep an eye out for these staples in restaurants and street carts.

Greeks and Romans in Ancient India: 8 Things You Might Not Know

In ancient times, the Greco-Roman world and India were closely interconnected. The religion, trade, philosophy, science, and art of these regions influenced one another and created a fascinating melting pot of ideas and peoples.

Ed’s note: This post contains affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you purchase something. It costs you nothing and every penny goes towards improving and operating our free community, The Networkthe running of the SoFe Travel team and SoFe community at large. Wherever possible, we support women-owned businesses and ethical, sustainable organisations. 

Media Guide to Cuba


On our Meetup Tour in Cuba, you’ll enjoy true insider access to this fascinating island. You’ll be welcomed into locals’ homes for authentic meals, witness the art of cigar making firsthand, and much more. But before you go, read this media guide to Cuba to get a taste of what makes this country so special—from its complicated political history to its bold new voices. Below are a few of our favorite books, movies, music, and video clips that will introduce you to Cuba before your trip.


Made in Cuba
By Molly Mandell
The Old Man and the Sea
By Ernest Hemingway
Cecilia Valdés
By Cirilo Villaverde

Years of cultural and economic isolation made DIY culture a necessity in Cuba—and this ethos goes well beyond classic cars. Made in Cuba features 30 creative professionals, makers, and entrepreneurs on the island with deeply personal interviews and beautiful photographs. From farmers living almost entirely from their land to artists restoring once-luminous neon signs, this book highlights the resilience and creativity of Cuba’s citizens.

The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Not only is this a literary classic, but with Hemingway’s firsthand experience living and fishing in Cuba, it truly captures the spirit of the country.

Cecilia Valdés is arguably the most important novel of 19th century Cuba, in which a vast landscape emerges of the moral, political, and sexual depravity caused by slavery and colonialism. Set in the Havana of the 1830s, the novel introduces us to Cecilia, a white-passing Black woman, who is being pursued by the son of a Spanish slave trader named Leonardo. The ensuing story of passion, betrayal, and revenge sheds light on the complexities of race in colonial Cuba.


Buena Vista Social Club
Cuban Food Stories
Chico and Rita

If you’re interested in Cuban music, this documentary is essential. Filmed in 1996, it brings together legendary Cuban musicians—all of whom were over 60 years old at the time of filming—and illuminates the country’s thriving music scene of the 1950s, as well as the political turmoil that followed.

After a decade of living in the United States, filmmaker Asori Soto returns to his homeland of Cuba to search for the missing flavors of his childhood. This unique (and mouthwatering) film about food, society, and culture on the island of Cuba will make you eager to visit and experience Cuban cuisine for yourself! 

This one’s for the romance lovers out there! Chico and Rita is an enchanting, animated, musical love story. A Cuban pianist falls in love with a sultry singer, leading to a passionate but star-crossed romance that reaches across six decades. We dare you not to fall in love with Cuban music after watching this!

An amateur photographer documents the disappearing way of life of Cuba’s Campesino farmers over the course of 15 years. On your trip to Cuba, you’ll visit Viñales and see firsthand the amazing work and artistry that goes into a Cuban cigar—all of which is still done by hand. Consider this excellent film a sneak peek!


Los Van Van

Want to feel like a local in Cuba? Get acquainted with Los Van Van, one of the country’s most famous and influential post-revolutionary bands! “Me Mantengo” is a fabulous introduction to Cuban salsa. 

Daymé Arocena

This up and coming neo-soul artist is developing a cult following in the U.S. thanks to her enchanting musical fusions and infectious energy. Her ode to rumba music is essential listening before you witness a live rumba performance in Cuba!

Danay Suárez

Danay Suárez represents Cuba’s new and evolving musical styles, blending hip hop, R&B, and reggae. Her second album Palabras Manuales earned her four Latin Grammy nominations, including best new artist and best new song.


Female duo PAUZA is another excellent example of Cuba’s new wave—in this case, the rising house and techno scene. This irresistible track offers a fresh take on traditional Cuban styles.


History vs. Che Guevara

His face is recognized all over the world—the young medical student who became a revolutionary icon. But was Che Guevara a heroic champion of the poor, or a ruthless warlord who left a legacy of repression? This quick and engaging overview examines both sides of the story.

Wildest Islands: Sri Lanka

Get a small (virtual) taste of some of the delicious dishes you’ll be noshing on in Havana and beyond! Keep an eye out for these staples in restaurants and street carts.

Cuba in a Bottle

Anyone with even a fleeting relationship with Cuba knows that rum has influenced virtually every aspect of Cuban culture. From belief systems to music to revolution, rum has been there, playing its part. This excellent documentary tells the story of rum throughout each step of the island’s history.

*Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you purchase something. It costs you nothing and every penny goes to improving and operating our free community, The Network

How to Begin Solo Female Travel

Want to begin solo female travel, but nervous to take the plunge? HERE ARE 8 easy steps to take you from housebound to solo female traveler extraordinaire.

We all hold a certain version of ourselves in our heads. A version that ‘defines’ who we are. When we hear the term “solo female travel” thoughts may pass through our minds, unknowingly hindering us from reaching our full potential. Well meaning family say “It’s too dangerous for you to travel alone,” and friends might ask “Wouldn’t you get bored all by yourself?” You may find yourself thinking, “Well, it’s just not for me.” 

I remember the first time I thought about solo traveling as a woman. It was after a friend had returned from a solo trip to the Philippines, and I remember seeing her photos and thinking it looked like so much fun -but she was insane for doing it alone! Solo traveling was never thought that it was something I could do.  Personally, I’ve found that limiting myself to that version of me has only made me regret not getting out of my comfort zone sooner. Unlearn the version of yourself that you have in your head. It doesn’t matter “who” you are – if you want to travel, you should fulfill your dreams. Start by with these steps, and soon you’ll become a fully fledged solo traveler.
Step one: Join up with solo female travel groups online.

Many SoFe members became solo travelers because of the stories and support they found on The Solo Female Traveler Network. The sense of community is truly inspirational, and the heartfelt, authentic messages that come through motivate us to journey out into the world. If we see other people doing it, it becomes easier to imagine ourselves doing it. Read articles on brave women who don’t let anything hold them back, like Chelsea Lew who travels while bing both deaf and blind. Follow solo female travelers on social media, and read books written by solo female travels. We recommend avoiding travelers who over-glamorize travel, and learn instead from women who share honest truths and insights. 

Step two: start close to home.

One of the first things you can do to start getting a feel for solo travel is to take explore your own home city. Date yourself! This way, you can get to know yourself. Ask yourself what you want to do. Start with something small, like a comedy club, a movie, or a community event. In my hometown, we had concerts in the park every week over summer. I used to go alone, and at places like this, it wasn’t unusual. Everyone was out enjoying the sun, swaying to the music, and bonding over cover bands during hot summer nights. Going out for adventures in your own city can help give you the confidence to know that you can do it, no matter how uncomfortable you may be when you first start.

While it's tempting to reserve sight-seeing for grand vacations, it's best to start the building bocks of solo female travaling in your hometown instead of delaying for the 'perfect time'.
Step three: go for a meal by yourself. 

One of the most intimidating things for many solo travelers is eating out by themselves. Oftentimes, it has a stigma attached to it that many of us have to work hard to unlearn. So, take yourself out to eat. Whether you plan a fancy dinner date or decide to grab a bite at your favorite taco truck, try to spend time getting comfortable not only eating, but enjoying your ‘meal for one’ with only your own company. Sometimes I like to journal or read while waiting for my food. If you’re looking for conversation, a  good tip is to sit at the bar – there’s often other people eating there alone.

Step four: book a solo weekend away.

You’ve ventured out in your home city, and the thought of eating alone no longer scares you – now it’s time to go on a weekend trip! This is where you really start enjoying your own solitude and realise one of the fundamentals about solo travel: what you think you want, when you’re around people, may actually look different to what you actually want. We’re influenced by other people’s opinions, energy and mere presence more on a daily basis. Solitude gives us the clarity to discover who we really are. 

Learn our favourite platforms for booking accommodation on The Network

Step five: learn when you need social interaction.

It’s one thing to take yourself out alone for a night. It’s another thing to do it all weekend. Some people prefer to be by themselves for longer, while others thrive off meeting people. Solo traveling can feel lonely sometimes, but rest assured, you have friends just waiting to meet you in all corners of the world. When you feel like company and your book or podcast just isn’t cutting it, then it’s time to reach out to the communities around you. 

Put your phone down. As tempting as it is to use curb anxiety by scrolling on your phone, its counterintuitive to forming real-life social connections. Phones, headphones and books are all ‘avoidant’ social cues, and people will assume that you do not want to engage. 

Join in on an activity. People bond over doing things together. Search on Facebook for hiking groups, yoga classes and craft makers, leaning into your interests. Your passions are the roadmap to meeting diverse people connected by common interests – no more small talk! 

Make a social goal for yourself. For example, when you go to an event or gathering, aim to talk to at least three people. It could be as simple as giving someone a small compliment; you never know out of which interactions friendships will blossom. Of course, do this all with the same safety precautions you always adhere to when by yourself.

Allow yourself to be spontaneous. Say yes to opportunities and events that your first instinct is to say ‘”no” to. That response has everything to do with the limiting ‘version’ we have of ourselves in our heads, and being open to changing plans leads on to encounters and experiences we would never have expected. This is where the real magic of travel lies! 

Read: How to Handle Loneliness as  Solo Traveler

India Solo Female Network Tour
Having a sense of belonging or community is vital. As much as I may enjoy my own company, the people I meet traveling are always the highlight of my trip.
Step six: Join a group tour.

If you’re still unsure about traveling by yourself, then join up with a group tour. Sometimes we all need a small push before we decide to take the leap. Tours are the perfect way to dip your toe in the water. You’re able to meet other travelers who are also going solo, and often find yourself making plans to meet up again in the future. 

P.S: You can come with us! We travel all over the world with solo women just like you. Check out our Meetup Tour destination list.

Going on a tour by yourself is still solo traveling, and beats sitting at home dreaming about adventure.
Step seven: set yourself some deadlines.

A dream is just a dream without a plan. Jot down your bucket list travel destinations, and collect images that inspire you of places you want to see and experiences you’d like to have. Start researching flights, accommodation costs and transport. Once you have a budget to work off, you can make a saving plan and start working towards your trip. 

Read: Planning a Solo Trip: A Guide for Beginners 

Read: 10 Packing Essentials under $10

Step Eight: book that trip!

Don’t overthink it – book the flight, the roadtrip, or cruise. If you’re feeling nervous before you travel, reach out the The Solo Network Facebook community. There are so many women posting daily who are in the same situation as you. 

Read: How to Maximise your Trip as a Solo Travels

For me, the uncertainty of solo traveling has really never gone away. But it’s embracing the discomfort of solitude, and even learning to love it, that has allowed me to create irreplaceable lifelong memories as a solo female traveler.

It doesn't matter who you are - we can all do solo female travel the way that suits us best.

Featured traveller: Jennifer Fein

At the Solo Female Traveler Network, we want to create a community that celebrates and empowers women and their achievements. We love listening to our network members and hearing stories such as Jen’s, who gives us a first-hand account of her experience summiting Kilimanjaro for her 40th birthday. 

Do you have a story worth sharing? Apply to be featured on our global community!


I spent six months training for summiting Kilimanjaro – although living in a largely flat area of Australia, that training mostly consisted of endurance. I did everything I could to prepare, and I kind of assumed that if I don’t make it, it’d be because my body didn’t adapt well enough. That was almost the case.

I unfortunately didn’t react well at all to altitude sickness. I had nausea and diarrhoea. I couldn’t keep much food down, and was living off of sugar, like candies, because my body wasn’t able to digest rice and food like that. This wasn’t giving me the long-term protein kind energy – afterwards I was like, I don’t ever want to see a hard candy ever again in my life!

The day of the summit begins at 11pm. You are woken up and fed tea and a biscuit, and then you start walking at midnight. You walk in the dark for six hours to the summit. And I’ve never been more cold in my entire life. I read all the blogs and I had like all the layers – now when people ask me what to pack for the ascent, I’m like, you think you have enough layers? Bring one more. At one point I remember thinking that I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes. I started walking with those walking sticks and I had to give them up because I needed to poke my hands in my pockets within the first 10 minutes of walking. 

Along the way I became so dehydrated and hit a crazy sugar low. I just sat down at a rock and started crying. And then the sun came up and I swear it was this moment of like, ‘this is why humans worship the sun’, this moment of salvation of like, ‘I will now live because that ball of fire is coming up over that horizon’.

Within five minutes, all the warmth was back in my body and I thought, ‘I can do this’. A little bit of hot tea and sugar later and I managed to do the last little bit, only another like hundred meters up or so which takes an extra hour to get to the true summit. 


I made it all the way to the top on my own power, and from there the guides assisted me down from the peak because I was moving so slowly, and was so exhausted. They literally just picked me up on both sides, like one big guy on either side, with my feet kind of dangling. It was ridiculous, but at the time I felt like the scarecrow from the wizard of Oz. Because I was so altitude sick, I started singing ‘I’m off to see the wizard.’ I was gone. I was very gone. 

People say that they hallucinate and see fish. I don’t think I hallucinated, although in my mind I remember seeing an aeroplane flying by, but I think that’s an actual true thing that happens because you’re at 5,800-ish meters. We went up the Lemosho route, which takes longer, but is so scenic. I highly recommend following this route up. 

So the big question: would you do it again?

Personally, I’m not hiking above 4500m again. But this experience will always be one of my ultimate success stories, and I am glad that I have done it.

Where to next then, if not a hike?

I’m going to Europe next, starting off in Spain and then attending a wedding inside the Vatican, which comes with a whole host of dress requirements!

Have you read the story of Jeanette Dijkstra, all-round superwoman destroying landmines in Angola? No?  Read here! Or what about tips of preparing for your first solo hike? 

Our Favourite Walking Shoes

‘I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more….’ but only in the right footwear! A good pair of shoes not only lasts you years, but also lives your adventures along with you as a trusted, reliable and utterly-essential gear item. Here’s our selection of the best walking shoes out there right now. 

“Help! I’m going on a trip and am looking for a comfortable pair of walking shoes – what do you recommend?” Questions like this come up often on our FB group and we always love reading the responses. From day walks to Camino hard slogs to preparing for your first solo walk, our community knows just what shoes to recommend based on tried-and-tested experience.

Best shoes for CIty walking

As voted by Mandy: Anothersole is amazing. Free international shipping too. Very pretty and super comfortable. I only wear them for everything now, including travelling for months! Bonus points – they match everything. Even dresses so you don’t have to compromise style for comfort. I don’t work for them I’m just a huge fan.
As voted by Victoria: AllBirds are excellent and can be thrown in the washing machine. I prefer the wool ones (no, my feet don’t overheat in summer) but they also do ones made from bamboo. They’re not the cheapest shoes but I think they’re great value. Comfy. Look smart. Have a variety of styles. No blisters. I live in mine.

As voted by Anne:  Check out Teva Tirra sandals. I find them very comfortable for walking long distances over different surfaces. When my feet tend to swell (e.g., when flying), I adjust the straps. They’re just as effective around water, and they transition from daywear to smart casual in the evening. Look for a colour that will blend with your capsule wardrobe, for me, that’s brown or black.

[These would be the ideal shoe for our Ecuador meetup!]

As voted by Dawna:  I’ve also done pretty well with one set of Tevas and a set of Chacos. The Chacos I have are leather and are a little dressier looking, but unfortunately, I think they’ve discontinued that model… But maybe they have something new that’s similar?

[Readers, we’ve got you! We’ve listed a recent version of Chacos in leather.]

Best shoes for hiking

As voted by Kirsstina: Hoka speedgoats. I wear them for my thru hikes of 400km (250 miles). Altra Olympus are super cozy too. 

As voted by Caroline: I have these, they were perfect for all the hikes I did, including in Borneo. They also seemed to be leechproof as my feet were completely leech-free while other people were less fortunate.
As voted by Rachel: I have these and they’re the best thing I’ve ever bought. Super comfy, didn’t take long to break in and 100% waterproof.
As voted by Kate: Love love love my Lowa Renegades! 4 Camino walks and the W Trek in Patagonia….(3 pair overall) Lightweight!

We’re firm believers in testing shoes out in-store to make sure they are the right fit for your specific shape, however, this list will get you started in the right direction. Take the time to wear your shoes in before embarking on a trip – your feet will thank you later – and be sure to pack moleskin for blisters and wear wool socks.

Planning your first solo hike? Read these tips first. 

best shoes for walking

Ed’s note: This post contains affiliate links to help support the running of the SoFe Travel team and SoFe community at large. Wherever possible, we support women-owned businesses and ethical, sustainable organisations. Got any product recommendations? We’d love to hear about them! email us on [email protected]

The Solo Female Travel Insurance Guide

Everything You Need to Know About Travel Insurance

Plus our tried and tested, favorite providers.

You’ve probably heard the saying – If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel – right? At the risk of sounding like your mother, we agree!  

We don’t mean to scare you, but the fact is, it only takes one pickpocket to set their sights on you, one slip of an ankle on a hike, one new variant of concern, or one irresponsible airline to lose your luggage to make your travel insurance investment completely worthwhile. Things happen — it’s just a fact of traveling!

For all those bad days on the road, you’ll have 10 more magical ones. Don’t let those bad days send you home. Protect yourself with travel insurance, so you can become whole and move on. Travel insurance doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but it does need to cover you from the risks and give you the reassurance & confidence you deserve. This guide will tell you what to look for in a plan, why it matters, and some of our favorite providers.

What to look for in your coverage

There are a lot of different travel insurance policies out there, and your policy needs will differ depending on the details of your trip. Sometimes, it can be worth it to pay a little more to know you’re covered, while other times you might look for the most economical option. It is really up to you, but wherever you’re headed, there are a few key features that it’s good to look for when you’re evaluating the merits of different providers and packages.

Trip cancellation

Nobody ever wants a long-awaited trip to be called off, but sometimes it has to happen. Maybe a relative gets sick at the last minute or your house floods and you need to stay to deal with it, things happen. Like many other travel companies, SoFe’s terms and conditions are pretty clear about the timing of cancellations, non-refundable deposits and refunds; so if you do need to cancel your trip at the last minute, your best bet for recouping those expenses is through the travel insurance provider. That is exactly what it’s there for! 

Perhaps the most important provision of an insurance policy, your trip cancellation insurance coverage would help you to recover the money you lose by doing cancelling, including non-refundable deposits, airfares, accommodation booking fees, and so on. Check the limits of this coverage to make sure the amount you’re entitled to would actually compensate you adequately. You’ll also want to check when you can cancel and still receive a payout. Some companies offer ‘cancel at any time’ coverage, which is more flexible.

Covid-19 + Pandemic Changes

There is no way around it — Covid 19 can really throw a wrench into your travel plans. Whether it is abrupt regulatory changes, border closings or a new variant of concern, a lot of things can change quickly with regards to a destination’s pandemic status. This can wreak havoc on flights, itineraries and much more, so please make sure that you carefully read insurance provider’s Covid-19 policy stipulations. 


Evacuation can refer to medical or non-medical situations, including terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters or other emergencies that require you to get out of that place, STAT. For medical evacuation, this may mean being treated for serious illness or injury in your own country, where the medical staff speak your language and you can be with your loved ones. Yes, please. Repatriation is sometimes included which is the transportation of your body back to your home country if you die overseas. A horrible thought, but an important consideration.

Starting/extending policy while traveling

If you’re the sort of traveler who likes to make up your itinerary as you go (we see you, nomads!), this is definitely something that you should look for in your policy. If you’ve already left your home country and need to get insurance, or if you get to keep journeying for longer than you anticipated (here’s hoping), then it’ll be worth your while to make sure your insurance covers these eventualities.

Medical expenses

This is a major factor for a lot of us. It’s the stuff travel nightmares are made of – falling ill or being injured when you’re miles from home. What makes a bad situation worse is not knowing how to get help and maxing your credit cards just getting admitted somewhere. The good news is medical expenses are covered in just about all travel insurance policies, so this is really about the limits on your coverage. However, medical treatment overseas can be ludicrously expensive. While you’ll usually have to pay yourself then wait for reimbursement, it’s important to note the limits of such reimbursement, any excess you’ll have to pay and any circumstances that are excluded. Depending on your home country and where you’re headed, there may be reciprocal healthcare relationships in place, just ask your provider.

Pre-existing conditions

This can be a real minefield. Definitions of what a pre-existing condition are, the duration of the existence of your condition prior to your departure, the severity of it, the treatment you’ve received and medical opinions all factor in. As a general rule, if you have a managed and relatively less serious condition like diabetes, it would be covered automatically (although you should declare it and always double-check it’s included). If you have a terminal illness, a pacemaker, a condition that requires surgery or has recently required surgery, you can expect to pay more – if you can get cover for it at all. If you’re traveling with a pretty significant pre-existing condition, there are some dedicated travel insurance providers such as All Clear Travel Insurance that are worth considering.

Extreme sports

This is a tricky area. All companies differ in what they categorize as extreme or adventure sports or those that require specific coverage. Climbing at high altitudes, skydiving, shooting sports, some moped and motorbike riding, cliff jumping and sailing generally require extra or different coverage plans. Even things like scuba diving can have limits, according to the depth you’re diving, whether you’re with a qualified instructor, whether you have an open water license and the equipment you use. If you’re planning on running with the bulls in Pamplona or zip lining through a Canadian forest, or even snowboarding, always check that you’re covered.


Lost or stolen baggage is one of the most commonly claimed items in travel insurance policies. This is sometimes an additional, separate policy that you can purchase as an add-on to your regular package. If you’re taking valuables away with you, like expensive jewelry, musical instruments, sporting gear or electronics (as mentioned above), it’s really important to check that they are covered, don’t just assume they are. The wording on policies can be really sneaky and providers are especially careful about this, because so many people do make this sort of claim. You may only be covered if your provider deems you were acting responsibly (not leaving items unattended) and this can be a really grey area.

packing for a trip


Some companies only cover electronics like laptops, phones, iPads and camera gear if they’re in your baggage. Even then, the coverage may only apply if the items are in checked baggage that has been lost (so the limits in baggage coverage will apply). These days, our electronics are a pretty important part of travel for many of us, especially those of us who are digital nomads. Protecting your electronics in your insurance protects your ability to work, document your travels and stay connected.

Other tips:

– Keep documentation for everything – police reports, receipts, emails from your airlines about delays, all of it. Record and keep everything with accurate dates and times. Take photos of paper receipts on your phone. Use an app to record phone calls, if you need to show evidence of verbal agreements or instructions. Take time-stamped photos of any valuable gear you take with you.

– Read the fine print of your policy to know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. Empowering yourself with this knowledge will save you the stress of what-ifs and wondering what to do when there is an emergency.

– When you’re deciding what level of coverage to get, don’t skimp on it. Get the highest level of coverage you can afford. There’s nothing more frustrating than paying for a policy, trying to claim, and realizing you’re not actually covered for the circumstance you’re in. Expect the unexpected, both good and bad, that’s what travel is about!

women traveling in Bali

Compare, contrast, choose

There are tons of travel insurance companies in the world. Some are specific to a country’s residents, an age range, a type of traveler, or a pre-existing condition. There are too many providers for us to cover (get it?), so this list includes not only what to look for in a plan, but also the ones we use and love ourselves as travelers from all over the world.

The plan you choose depends on what is most important to you. If you don’t have a return ticket booked, for instance, World Nomads and SafetyWing will still cover you. World Nomads also has a plan for adventure sports that a lot of other companies shy away from. But, they are a little more expensive. Allianz has a great reputation for paying out on claims quickly and with minimum fuss, but the coverage they offer isn’t as comprehensive as some others.

Female Hiking Solo

SoFe Travel's Preferred Insurance Providers List

World Nomads

Many of our members, mentors, and the SoFe Travel team choose World Nomads. When you look at the reviews for World Nomads, there are some stories that are not so good. The complaints are mostly around their actual claims process, which can take a little longer than we like, but in our experience they prioritize what’s urgent. Some of our claims have come back within a couple weeks and others a couple months.

For us, World Nomads has been great. When one of our team was robbed in Mexico, she lost just about everything: her computer, camera, lenses, all her dive gear (she’s still crying about it), and cash. Everything except her pile of dirty clothes was gone. World Nomads sent her a check for the maximum their policy allowed within a week. One week, guys. That’s pretty good.

For less serious claims like a $50 doctor visit, they take a little longer. Another SoFe team member also used them when she was in Australia and just feeling tired and sluggish. She went to a naturopath and got some fancy, expensive vitamins, and World Nomads paid for it. All of it. We love that it didn’t have to be traditional western medicine to be covered.

  • Pros: Flexibility for anyone, anywhere
  • Cons: Can take a while for reimbursement to come
  • Insider Tip: Check out their Explorer plan if you’re into adventure sports and getting off the beaten track.
Get a World Nomads Insurance Quote today


SafetyWing is the answer to many of our travel insurance dreams. They were founded by Norwegian digital nomads and focuses on providing great coverage for travel nomads. There’s an interesting thread on ProductHunt where the CEO and Co-Founder, Sondre Rasch, chats to commenters about how the start-up began and grew here.

Their insurance plans clock in at around 1/3 of the price of their competitors. You choose your start and end dates and can cancel at any time,  ideal for the lifestyle of digital nomads who may not know where they’ll go next or when. Some home country coverage is also included, which is unusual, and a major perk.

SafetyWing describes their products as travel medical insurance protecting nomads worldwide. They’ve partnered with Tokio Marine, one of the big guns in the insurance world, and are underwritten by Lloyds, another big name.

  • Pros: Can be purchased while already traveling, low prices
  • Cons: They’re a new company, so not quite as established as some of their competitors
  • Insider Tip: They have a subscription model for their services, making them pretty flexible and great for frequent travelers. 
Get a SafetyWing Insurance Quote Today.
Ocean painting on a wall, holding paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other hand.

Allianz Travel

Allianz is another name that comes up a lot when you search for travel insurance recommendations. They’re a robust and credible brand, backed up by one of the world’s biggest diversified insurance companies, so they know their stuff. Although they don’t have coverage that encompasses the breadth of activities that World Nomads does, they have a rep for good, reliable standard coverage. Their customer service standards get a good rap and ease of claims processing is pretty great.

They also have an option for annual coverage, which could suit you if you travel frequently. Allianz has a 24-hour hotline with multilingual staff on hand, so you can get help whenever and wherever you are. While the premiums are generally lower at Allianz, so are the limits, meaning the caps on reimbursement for things like lost luggage may not be as high as other providers.

  • Pros: Good customer service and ease of claims processing
  • Cons: Unlikely to cover some of the more ‘adventurous’ activities out there
  • Insider Tip: Allianz gets a great score on Trust Pilot, check it out here.
Get a Allianz Insurance Quote Today.

Bupa Global Travel

Bupa is another solid all-around provider. With reasonable coverage options for pre-existing conditions, travelers who are over 60 and some adventure sports (though not all) they have a wide net, and a fairly good advocacy base across the interwebs. Like Allianz, they have an annual plan that is good for frequent travelers, provided that no trip is longer than 30 days.

Bupa widely publicizes the fact that they have a variety of medical consultants available via their customer service helpline, so you can get professional advice over the phone if you require treatment for illness or injury on your travels. We don’t know if this is a huge selling point for us, because likely they will send us to the doctor in most circumstances but maybe we are too skeptical. 

  • Pros: Reasonable prices, personal liability coverage option
  • Cons: Not available for US and Canadian residents
  • Insider Tip: they provide cover for travelers up to 69 years of age, where some other providers stop their coverage at 65 years of age.
Get a Bupa Insurance Quote Today.
bali solo female travelers

STA Travel

One of the original backpacker travel insurance providers, STA Travel Insurance is an option that pitches itself squarely at the youth, student, and budget traveler markets. In some countries, STA seems to be going through a bit of an overhaul, hopefully in response to increased competition.

They have some decent basic plans, but they really are basic, and you’ll have to comb through them to check that the items you need are included in your policy. STA is underwritten by Allianz, but this doesn’t mean that the service, packages, pricing and policy details are the same. We wouldn’t put this high on our list, but it is right for some travelers.

  • Pros: Good options for students studying abroad
  • Cons: Payouts aren’t great. You are unlikely to be able to claim benefits if you choose a basic policy
  • Insider Tip: This is kind of the insurance you would go for just to be able to tell your parents you are covered.
Get a STA Insurance Quote Today.
Female Solo Tour South Africa

Policy Comparison Chart

For your ease, we have added all the policy providers into one chart to help compare the offerings. Obviously, individual policy options change regularly and often. This is a broad overview. You are likely to see different details on the insurance provider’s website. You should always check the specific details of the plan directly on the insurance provider’s website before submitting any payments. The available coverage for the items in this table may only be in plans that are beyond or additional to standard or basic options. 

Can I get coverage for:World Nomads AllianzBupa GlobalSafetyWingSTA
Starting/extending policy while travellingYesExtending onlyExtending onlyYesExtending only
ElectronicsDepends on country of residenceIncluded with baggageIn some circumstancesOnly if part of lost checked baggageYes, in premium plans with limits per item
Trip cancellationYesYesYes, additionalUnclearYes
Pre-existing conditionsUnlikely to coverYes, on applicationYes, on applicationNoYes, on application
Extreme sportsYesNoMany but not allNoSome, additional
Medical expensesUp to $100,000 USDUp to $50000Mostly unlimited, little or no excessSomeYes but very limited in basic plan
BaggageYesYesYesLost onlyYes but limited in basic plan
India Solo Female Tour

You Can Afford to Travel. Here’s How.

You’re scrolling through travel posts and websites, all of these beautiful & exotic places….and you’re thinking where will I find the money?

I’ve been jetting around solo for years, so how have I been able to find the money to travel? It’s called a Lifestyle Spending Plan (“LSP”). But, it’s oh, so much more than JUST a plan – notice I didn’t say budget – nobody likes a budget. The LSP is a blueprint for all of your income, expenses and financial goals. it helps establish accounts that you build monthly to pay for your needs and wants (including a travel account).

1. Income

Your income should cover all of your expenses PLUS leave a surplus for your emergency fund, savings, retirement and a sinking fund. (A sinking fund is where you accumulate money for future expected expenses).

If there’s a shortfall, you’ll need to find a way to increase your income – maybe it’s time to ask for that raise or find a side hustle.

women budget solo travel
Women Solo Travel
2. Expenses

This alone can have a major impact on your finances. Not going to brag (well, maybe a bit) but reducing my expenses on a day-to-day basis using the LSP method has been my secret to finding the money to travel. 

And if you can’t increase your income as noted above, you MUST decrease expenses.


Here’s how you can decrease your expenses: 

Where did the money go? Look back to the last 2 months and categorize all of your expenses. You can do this on a spreadsheet or by using a pen & paper.

Do the math. do you have money left over? Terrific, use the surplus towards an emergency fund first. That balance should be the amount of your monthly income x 3, at least.

There’s no money left over? Yikes, go back and analyze each category to make changes.

Going forward. Start to track every dollar spent and record it in your LSP. You’ll quickly see exactly where your money is going.

budget travel women travel

These small changes can add up: 

  • Turn off the lights at home & hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Cell phone companies want your business as do many utility companies. There’s no harm in calling up the competition to look for a deal.
  • If you have consumer or student loans consider refinancing and/or consolidating.
  • Does anyone still have cable?? With so many free online options, this is an easy expense to eliminate.
    Speaking of entertainment, there are a ton of FREE concerts, plays & fairs.
    Local libraries offer FREE services, not to mention all of those books!
  • Look around your home, there are many items that you are no using or maybe have never used! I just sold $890 worth of “stuff” that was in my closet & that money now sits comfortably in my Travel fund.
  • It’s so easy to open your ride-share app and order up a cab but why not start using a bike, public transport and good, old-fashioned walking? With some planning, you can easily schedule everything. Caveat: it’s late, after dark and safety is a concern, jump in that cab!
  • Take out food is costing you a fortune and you don’t even know it! Or maybe you do and don’t know how to stop? YouTube has lots of ideas on meal prepping that will save you hundreds of dollars a year. What’s also great about planning around food is that you are only buying groceries that you need.

Pro Tip:

  • You may be spending $12 on lunch/coffee/snacks each day
  • You work 5 days a week for 4 weeks = 20 days
  • $12/day x 20 days = $240/month
  • In 3 months, that’s $720. Do you think that can be spent another way?
    Hint: I hear it’s beautiful in Prague this time of year!

Needs Versus Wants

You’re at your favorite store and about to buy yet another “thing”. Ask yourself, do you NEED this or do you WANT this.

Knowing the difference and making a conscious decision on your purchases can save you thousands over your lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having nice things but I have a very clear list of what I Need. And yes, sometimes I need a new pair of shoes! As for Wants, I work with my LSP and create a category for it. The LSP will also help avoid any impulse buying if that happens to be what’s holding you back from a good financial situation.

Using Cash Instead of credit

Credit cards are great to have, convenient and part of being an adult. But they are often the biggest culprit behind a person drowning in debt or having little to no savings. Credit card companies love it when you charge a purchase. In January of 2018, the average credit card debt per borrower in the U.S. was $5,472 (source: I’m not picking on our U.S. friends, the statistics are similar in the UK, Canada and Australia.

When you use cash instead of credit you will have paid for the item outright (without interest) and you have thought twice about the purchase. You can make some real progress with your financial goals using the cash approach. You may be using your credit card in hopes of accumulating loyalty points. Rest assured, those points benefit the credit card company, not you.

3. Debt Elimination

Notice the word, elimination not reduction. You’ll begin with reducing debt but the key is to ELIMINATE it completely.
List all of your debts. This is where you have to be very honest with yourself – but be kind too – it’s ok, you’ve started and that’s the hardest part. 

As you list each amount you owe, include the interest rate for each one. There are two schools of thought on whether to pay the debt with the highest interest rate first OR pay the debt with the smallest balance. I like the latter as it creates momentum. If you owe $700 dollars on your credit card and $4,000 on a loan, it will feel good when the $700 is paid off.


solo female travel

I wish they taught us these things in school.

They should replace Algebra with “Financial Planning for your Life” as far as I’m concerned. I’m on a mission to change this because it took me a few years and many financial mistakes to create a system that works well for me. Now that you have a better idea on how to do this, you can make better choices too because you’re either managing your money or it’s managing you.

About the author

author of female travel budget

Leigh Aslanis

Using her expertise & experience from her career in business, Leigh has been “unofficially” coaching women for almost 10 years in both money & overall life goals. Now, she’s taking a more formal approach to it and is thrilled to be meeting so many great ladies around the globe that have been reaching out.

Leigh loves travelling (obvs!) hiking, yoga, tennis, reading and learning new languages; she’s up to 3 now and hoping to be fluent in the 4th one soon – choose a language & say hello.

Learn more about Leigh.