Woman Alone In Pool

In my last post I looked at the truths of traveling alone by speaking with fellow bloggers who also travel solo. While responses were different, one theme remained constant: the difference between men and women traveling alone.

Everyone acknowledged that there were challenges for both genders. Some challenges were the same — like feeling endangered while walking alone at night. And others differed. For instance, in some places foreign men are heckled by prostitutes. On the other hand, in certain countries women traveling alone symbolizes another meaning — hence why it’s sometimes smart to wear a wedding ring even if you’re not married.

Nevertheless, these conversations led me to wonder, “Where are the best vacation spots for women traveling alone?” As a younger lady there are certain places that I would definitely avoid traveling to solo. (Like countries with known violence against women.) However, what destinations are ideal for solo women travelers?

Little Information On Vacations For Women Traveling Alone

When I began researching there were surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, not very much relevant information in my Google search results. I was looking for data backed by research. Not some BS list talking about countries where guys have the cutest accents. Or the best shopping deals. Just because a country has cheap silk scarves doesn’t mean it’s the best place for a woman to go alone!

So I decided to utilize my finely tuned research skills (I was a History and Economics major…) and aggregate the best vacations for women traveling alone. I confided in data sets from governments, think-tanks and related agencies. I also took into consideration personal experience and what others, such as friends and people on the web, had to say on the topic.

Below is my version of the five best vacation spots for women.

Costa Rica

Costa RicaCosta Rica was a country that kept popping up on “best solo travel” lists. Crime rates may not be as low as some other destinations that follow, but apparently Costa Rica is the “happiest country on the planet.” How do they measure that, exactly?

Well, it’s:

experienced well-being X life expectancy / ecological footprint

(I do want to point out that just because a country has a high HPI (Happy Planet Index) score, doesn’t mean it’s ideal for solo ladies. Looking over the 25 countries with the highest HPI, there are many I’m not dying to go to any time soon.)

Nonetheless, Costa Rica is an amazing country. I actually went there on a family vacation years ago. It’s a great place because there is so much to offer. Our trip to Costa Rica was one of the best family vacations we ever went on. We spent time all over the country and did activities like horseback riding on the highest peak in the country, a walk through the rain forest, visited the volcano and ended the trip at a beach resort.

Trust me, if my worrisome mother (who is not very fond of international travel) agreed to go to Costa Rica on a vacation, it’s a pretty safe bet.

Iceland

Aurora Borealis, IcelandIceland is another country that kept reappearing on ideal places for solo travelers, women and otherwise. I have to be frank — I’ve never been to Iceland. But it’s definitely a place I’d love to check out.

So, why is it a great vacation for women traveling alone?

Here’s a few reasons:

  • It’s incredibly safe
  • It’s a pretty easy culture adjustment (great for less intrepid travelers)
  • People are very friendly to foreigners (apparently most friendly in the world)
  • And of course the gorgeous scenery, which apparently is like Narnia because everywhere you look there are waterfalls, glaciers, lava fields and mountain ranges

Ireland

IrelandOver and over again Ireland kept appearing on lists of top places for women to travel alone.

And it’s another country I have never been to. But based off my countless friends in college who studied abroad in Ireland and bawled their eyes out on the plane ride home, I’m assuming it must be something special.

Like Iceland, Ireland offers gorgeous natural beauty. However you can also enjoy a bustling city-center in the country’s capital Dublin.

Ireland, also like Iceland, have a very friendly populace. Apparently some of the most friendly people in the world. Moreover, the country is very safe with a low crime rate—only 0.32 homicides per 100,000 people.

Lastly, Ireland is a great choice for the more timid solo female traveler because English is the native language — making cultural adjustment a piece of cake.

Japan

TokyoAny good researcher knows various factors come into play and data sets can vary. So let’s take it with a grain of salt. Some research says Japan is the safest in the world. Others rank it towards the top.

Either way, Japan is a safe bet for females traveling alone.

Japan has so much to offer. Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and arguably the most modern. At the same time, Japan has plenty of outdoorsy activities. Oh, and sushi. And cafes filled with cute cats so you can sip cappuccino and pet kitties. 

However, right now I’d like to address the rumors that it’s the most expensive city in the world. It was, once upon a time. But not any longer.

“In its 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, the EIU said the world’s ten most expensive cities to live in are: Singapore, Paris, Oslo, Zurich, Sydney, Caracas, Geneva, Melbourne, Tokyo and Copenhagen, respectively.” – CNBC

So, if costs are a concern, it should be relieving to know that Tokyo is now at the ninth spot worldwide.

Singapore

SingaporeAccording to Retire In Asia’s infographic on safest places for women to travel alone, Singapore is the safest spot in the Asia Pacific for solo women travelers.

With extremely low crime rates, 98% of citizens report feeling safe when walking home at night. A recent US-based World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2014 found Singapore to be the second safest country in the world following Japan.

However, beyond safety, Singapore is a tropical country with a lot to offer. Sure, it may be small in size. Nonetheless Singapore boasts countless outdoor activities, top-notch museums and culinary distinction in the region. Moreover, Singapore has a fantastic public transportation system that connects the entire county.

The only downside is that it is pricey. In fact, as of 2014, it’s actually the most expensive city (for living) in the world. But hey, you pay for quality. I was in Singapore recently and cannot emphasis how safe I felt the entire time. The country is like Disney land or something — you feel like nothing could ever go wrong.

(Read more about Singapore here and why it tops so many lists. Because it’s a lot more than safe.)

Additional Countries For Women Traveling Alone

Here are two honorable mentions.

Vietnam

Vietnam keeps reappearing on these lists. I have a problem with Vietnam, though, since during my ten days there I was a victim of petty crime. And in those same ten days, my friend was a victim, too. So I don’t understand why I keep seeing it being referred to “safe.”

Sure, Vietnam was gorgeous. And inexpensive. And according to the happiness index, it’s second in the world. But it’s filled with petty crime. If I were to go back, I doubt it would be alone. I didn’t even go alone the first time around.

Netherlands (specifically Amsterdam)

Amsterdam (or Netherlands) is another spot that keeps reappearing on these lists. I’ve been to Amsterdam, too. However, it was with a friend. Looking back I’m not entirely sure it’s a city I’d like to tackle on my lonesome.  I guess when I think about my time in Amsterdam and the activities I engaged in… I think it is a city where having a pal in tote is a good thing especially as a girl. I recall there being some sketchy people in Amsterdam — like those who approach you and try to sell hard drugs.

However, the people are extremely kind. Probably some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. That’s one thing I’ll never forget.

Final Thoughts

In the end, there are many countries I traveled to alone as a woman and felt no risk. Countries, like Brunei or Cambodia, that would probably never be recommended as a top vacation spot for women traveling alone.

Be aware of your surroundings and avoid situations where you may become vulnerable — like walking alone at night or drinking too much. If you take the proper precautions, you will have a fun and safe time almost anywhere.

Are you a solo female traveler? If so, where are your favorite vacation getaways when traveling alone? Tell me in the comments below or tell me in a tweet!

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(Please note, for the purposes of myself and my readers, I did not consider any cities within the US or Canada.)

If you’re a solo female traveller looking for inspiration, check out Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo.


Images: Deanoakley/Flickr; Kansas Photo/FlickrVictor Montol/Flickr; Guiseppe Milo/Flickr; Guwashi999/Flickr; William Cho/Flickr

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  • Hana B. Mos

    This is such a great article! Thank you Laurence!