Traveling alone as a woman can be scary, but it is also incredibly empowering, according to those who have dared to do it. Express.co.uk spoke to two women, Maria Riesco and Jess Bevan, who decided to travel solo this year, for different reasons. For both of them, it was one of the best things they’d ever done.

After breaking up with her boyfriend at the start of the year, Maria decided to try something she’d never done before: travel solo.

She opted for a trip to Sri Lanka through WeRoad, an organization that groups strangers together to go traveling.

Maria told Express.co.uk: “My life changed a lot this year – I decided to make a career move and not long after my long-term boyfriend broke up with me.

“With spare holiday from my previous job I had a lot of free time and needed a distraction, so I thought it was the perfect time to travel and after the break-up, I really wanted to try something new.”

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Maria always wanted to visit Sri Lanka, and the tour took her from the busy streets of the capital Columbo to the sandy beaches of the south coast.

However, Maria explained she had a “weird mix of anxiety and excitement before heading off”.

“I was definitely most nervous about the solo aspect,” she said.

“Although I knew there were going to be other people in the same situation as me, I was worried about making connections and after going through a break-up I felt less like myself and was definitely feeling some classic post break-up anxiety.”

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But Maria made friends quickly with the group she traveled with.

“Booking onto a group tour that targets solo travelers meant that everyone was super like-minded and we clicked straight away,” she explained.

“By the time we’d all chatted at the welcome dinner it felt like we’d known each other for years.”

Maria added: “If you’re worried, book a tour. I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough.

In 2019, Jess decided to go to Mexico alone, where she met Sarah, now one of her best friends.

“I decided on a month of traveling in Mexico, I booked myself some hostels and researched places to go, but to be honest I just wanted to see how I felt when I was there,” Jess explained.

“In hindsight, I probably should have been a bit more thorough with my research and planning.

“My favorite place was Puebla by far and it’s down to the food which was incredible. Merisa was also absolutely beautiful.”

As a woman traveling alone, Jess made sure to pack essentials that would keep her safe and comfortable.

She recommended: “Pack safety locks for all your luggage and plenty of padlocks for hostels as these aren’t provided.

“I heard a horror story from a girl at one hostel who had everything stolen and she was left stranded with only the money she had on her and with no passport. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

Jess’ other pieces of advice included “looking at hostel reviews and always having a plan B”.

She added: “Before I went traveling I was just so unaware of how much there is to do and see in the world, my mind is well and truly open now and it’s safe to say I’ve caught the travel bug.”